politics

Biden Promises to ‘Inflict Pain' on Putin in State of the Union Address Overshadowed by Russia's Attack on Ukraine

Saul Loeb | Reuters

This is CNBC's live blog following President Joe Biden's first State of the Union address.

President Joe Biden delivered his first State of the Union address Tuesday, promising to "inflict pain" on Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

"We are choking off Russia's access to technology that will sap its economic strength and weaken its military for years to come," said Biden.

Speaking directly to members of Russia's kleptocratic ruling class, Biden pledged that the U.S. will "seize your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets. We are coming for your ill-begotten gains."

He also lauded the courage and resilience of the Ukrainian people, who on Tuesday night faced a vicious barrage of missiles on their major cities and continued to resist Russia's advance.

"Putin may circle Kyiv with tanks, but he will never gain the hearts and souls of the Ukrainian people. He will never extinguish their love of freedom. He will never weaken the resolve of the free world," Biden said.

Republicans pit 'pro-parent' GOP against Democrats on Covid, schools, crime

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds' response to President Joe Biden's address framed the GOP as the "pro-parent, pro-family" party, connecting that message to a range of perennially divisive issues, such as immigration, crime and education.

Reynolds peppered her speech with criticism of the pandemic-related social distancing policies — especially those involving schools — that Republicans have tied to Biden and the Democratic Party.

"Republican governors faced the same Covid-19 virus head on," Reynolds said. "But we honored your freedoms."

"That's why Iowa was the first state in the nation to require that schools open their doors. I was attacked by the left; I was attacked by the media. But it wasn't a hard choice. It was the right choice," she said.

"We're getting people back to work, not paying them to stay home. Most of all, we're respecting your freedom," Reynolds said later in the speech.

"We are standing up for parents and kids; we're standing up for life. We're keeping our communities safe and thanking those in uniform," she said. "We're fighting to restore America's energy independence, including biofuels. We're getting people back to work, not paying them to stay home. Most of all, we're respecting your freedom."

Kevin Breuninger

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds delivers GOP response

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, delivering the Republican response to the State of the Union address, couched her criticisms of President Joe Biden's foreign-policy stance in the context of Russia's war on Ukraine.

"All Americans must stand united in solidarity with the brave people of Ukraine as they courageously defend their country against Putin's tyranny," Reynolds said.

"But we shouldn't ignore what happened in the run-up to Putin's invasion. Waiving sanctions on Russian pipelines while limiting oil production here at home; focusing on political correctness rather than military readiness; reacting to world events instead of driving them," the two-term governor said.

"Weakness on the world stage has a cost. And the President's approach to foreign policy has consistently been too little, too late," she said.

Kevin Breuninger

Biden: In spite of hard times, 'the State of the Union is strong'

President Joe Biden ended on an optimistic note, declaring "the State of the Union is strong — because you, the American people, are strong."

"We are stronger today than we were a year ago. And we will be stronger a year from now than we are today," the president said.

"Now is our moment to meet and overcome the challenges of our time. And we will, as one people. One America. The United States of America. May God bless you all. May God protect our troops," Biden finished.

Kevin Breuninger

Biden calls for ban on targeted social media ads to children

Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen reacts during an interview with Reuters ahead of a meeting with German Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht, in Berlin, Germany, November 3, 2021.
Michele Tantussi | Reuters
Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen reacts during an interview with Reuters ahead of a meeting with German Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht, in Berlin, Germany, November 3, 2021.

Biden called for a ban on targeted advertising to children and for stronger privacy protections.

"It's time to strengthen privacy protections, ban targeted advertising to children, demand tech companies stop collecting personal data on our children," Biden said after pointing to former Facebook employee Frances Haugen, a guest at the address. Haugen is the whistleblower who helped spur a series of hearings and new legislation to protect kids online after she leaked internal research on how the platform impacted children and teens.

As Haugen has showed, he said, "we must hold social media platforms accountable for the national experiment they're conducting on our children for profit."

The push to enact privacy legislation and bills that will mitigate harms to kids on the internet have seen bipartisan support. Though privacy legislation has stagnated in Congress despite broad agreement on the need for strong protections, kids-focused internet legislation has seen more momentum in recent months. Biden's explicit call is a sign it's also a priority for the White House.

—Lauren Feiner

Members of Congress don blue and yellow to express solidarity with Ukraine

Ukrainian-American Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN) wears the colors of the Ukrainian flag as she and other Republicans applaud for U.S. President Joe Biden during the State of the Union address in the U.S. Capitol's House Chamber March 1, 2022 in Washington, DC, U.S.
Win McNamee | Reuters
Ukrainian-American Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN) wears the colors of the Ukrainian flag as she and other Republicans applaud for U.S. President Joe Biden during the State of the Union address in the U.S. Capitol's House Chamber March 1, 2022 in Washington, DC, U.S.

Members of Congress from both parties expressed solidarity with the besieged people of Ukraine on Tuesday night by wearing the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag to President Joe Biden's first State of the Union address.

Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) wears a Ukrainian flag to US President Joe Biden's State of the Union Address in the US Capitol in Washington, DC, U.S., March 1, 2022. Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via REUTERS
Jim Lo Scalzo | Reuters
Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) wears a Ukrainian flag to US President Joe Biden's State of the Union Address in the US Capitol in Washington, DC, U.S., March 1, 2022. Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via REUTERS

In his speech, Biden promised to bring together scores of U.S. allies and to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to send weapons and humanitarian aid to Ukrainians resisting an unprovoked Russian invasion.

Meanwhile 4,900 miles away, the residents of Kyiv and Kharkiv huddled in bomb shelters as Russian artillery pounded the cities' residential areas.

Democratic Representatives take a selfie ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden's State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress in the U.S. Capitol's House Chamber March 1, 2022 in Washington, U.S.
Sarahbeth Maney/ | Reuters
Democratic Representatives take a selfie ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden's State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress in the U.S. Capitol's House Chamber March 1, 2022 in Washington, U.S.

--- Christina Wilkie

Biden urges passage of innovation bill to expand U.S. chip industry

Michaela Rehle | Reuters

Biden urged Congress to get bipartisan legislation to his desk that would help expand the U.S. semiconductor industry.

Versions of the bill, which includes funds to make chips and strengthen critical supply chains, have passed both chambers, but the final iteration still needs to be negotiated. Semiconductors have been among the many items that fell to shortages during the pandemic, delaying auto production and other manufacturing. Major chip manufacturers are based abroad, complicating the supply chain issues.

Patrick Gelsinger, chief executive officer of Intel Corp., left, attends the State of the Union address by U.S. President Joe Biden at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 1, 2022.
Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Patrick Gelsinger, chief executive officer of Intel Corp., left, attends the State of the Union address by U.S. President Joe Biden at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 1, 2022.

Intel, whose CEO Pat Gelsinger was a guest at the address, has promised to invest up to $100 billion to build what could be the world's largest chip-making facility in Ohio. That includes an initial investment of $20 billion. Gelsinger has previously said the ramp up of the facility would not happen as quickly without government help.

—Lauren Feiner

Biden evokes the military service of his late son Beau

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden talks with his son U.S. Army Capt. Beau Biden (L) at Camp Victory on July 4, 2009 near Baghdad, Iraq. Bidden's first visit to Iraq as the Vice President comes days after U.S. forces pulled out from Iraq's cities.
Khalid Mohammed | Getty Images
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden talks with his son U.S. Army Capt. Beau Biden (L) at Camp Victory on July 4, 2009 near Baghdad, Iraq. Bidden's first visit to Iraq as the Vice President comes days after U.S. forces pulled out from Iraq's cities.

Biden evoked the military service of his late son Beau Biden when discussing his plan to better support U.S. veterans and their families.

"Veterans are the best of us. I've always believed that we have a sacred obligation to equip all those we send to war and care for them and their families when they come home," Biden began.

"Our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan faced many dangers. One was stationed at bases and breathing in toxic smoke from burn pits that incinerated wastes of war," Biden explained. "When they came home, many of the world's fittest and best-trained warriors were never the same."  

"Headaches, numbness, dizziness. A cancer that would put them in a flag-draped coffin, I know, one of those soldiers was my son Major Beau Biden," the president said. 
  
"We don't know for sure if a burn pit was the cause of his brain cancer," Biden said of his son Beau, who deployed to Iraq for a year and later died of cancer in 2015.

Biden is the first president in 40 years to have a child serve in the U.S. military and serve in a war zone.

— Amanda Macias

Biden says U.S. forces won't engage with Russia, but will defend NATO allies

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is the designated survivor

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, November 9, 2021.
Leah Millis | Reuters
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, November 9, 2021.

As nearly every member of America's political leadership gathered in one room in the Capitol Tuesday night for Biden's State of the Union address, there was one member of the president's Cabinet who was conspicuously absent.

Biden's Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo, was far from the Capitol Tuesday night at an undisclosed location, serving as the "designated survivor."

A designated survivor is a person chosen to stay far away from a gathering that brings together the president, vice president and other top U.S. officials.

The designated survivor must be someone whose title places them within the presidential line of succession, and who could legally be sworn in as president if a catastrophic event were to befall the large gathering.

A former governor of Rhode Island, Raimondo is 10th in the presidential line of succession.

--- Christina Wilkie

Biden calls for 'infrastructure decade'

U.S. and allies vow to make Putin's war funds "worthless"

Biden rallied allies Tuesday night and praised joint economic measures imposed on Russian President Vladimir Putin's economy.

"We are cutting off Russia's largest banks from the international financial system," Biden said. "Putin is now isolated from the world more than ever," he added, referencing retaliatory measures taken for the Kremlin's war in Ukraine.

Biden said that the U.S. and its allies were making "Putin's $630 billion war fund worthless," by preventing Russia's central bank from defending the Russian ruble.

"We are choking off Russia's access to technology that will sap its economic strength and weaken its military for years to come," he added.

— Amanda Macias

Ukrainian Ambassador to U.S. gets standing ovation

U.S. first lady Jill Biden applauds her guest Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova in the first lady's box as President Joe Biden welcomes Markarova during his State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the House of Representatives Chamber at the Capitol in Washington, U.S. March 1, 2022.
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters
U.S. first lady Jill Biden applauds her guest Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova in the first lady's box as President Joe Biden welcomes Markarova during his State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the House of Representatives Chamber at the Capitol in Washington, U.S. March 1, 2022.

Congress gave a standing ovation to Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S., after President Joe Biden called for a show of solidarity with Ukraine.

"The Ukrainian ambassador is here tonight, sitting with the first lady. Let each of us, if you're able to stand, stand, and send an unmistakable signal to the world and Ukraine," Biden said, prompting a swell of applause.

As they clapped, the lawmakers turned to face Markarova, who was sitting in the House balcony next to first lady Jill Biden.

"Thank you," Markarova mouthed after receiving a hug from the first lady.

Kevin Breuninger

Biden to Russian oligarchs: We will seize your yachts, luxury apartments and private jets

U.S. bans Russian aircraft from American airspace

Biden said the United States will ban Russian aircraft from flying through American airspace.

The announcement comes on the heels of similar moves by the European Union and Canada.

"We will join our allies in closing off American air space to all Russian flights – further isolating Russia – and adding an additional squeeze –on their economy," Biden said.

The move would prohibit planes that are owned or registered by Russians from flying over the United States, the latest coordinated approach between U.S. and its allies amid the Kremlin's war in Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

Five of nine Supreme Court justices attending Biden's address

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts greets Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley as he arrives to attend President Joe Biden's State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress and Associate Justice Stephen Breyer looks on in the House of Representatives Chamber at the Capitol in Washington, U.S. March 1, 2022.
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters
U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts greets Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley as he arrives to attend President Joe Biden's State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress and Associate Justice Stephen Breyer looks on in the House of Representatives Chamber at the Capitol in Washington, U.S. March 1, 2022.

Five Supreme Court justices are attending the address in person, the court told NBC News.

They are Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor and Neil Gorsuch will not be present, NBC reported.

Only Roberts had attended Biden's address to Congress last year, due to coronavirus-related restrictions. Sotomayor — who has diabetes and is therefore at a higher risk of serious illness from Covid — had been participating remotely in court proceedings amid the spread of the omicron variant, and only recently returned to the Supreme Court bench for oral arguments.

Kevin Breuninger

Ukraine's Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova will sit with first lady

Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova speaks to reporters about Russia's attack on Ukraine, at the Ukraine Embassy in Washington, U.S., February 24, 2022
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova speaks to reporters about Russia's attack on Ukraine, at the Ukraine Embassy in Washington, U.S., February 24, 2022

Ukraine's Ambassador to the U.S., Oksana Markarova, will attend the address as a guest of first lady Jill Biden, a White House official confirmed. Markarova will be seated in the first lady's viewing box.

Last week, Markarova, who is the former Minister of Finance, welcomed all the sanctions levied thus far against Russia.

— Amanda Macias

Covid masks will be optional

Win Mcnamee | Getty Images
Rep. Lauren Boebertwears a shawl with "Drill Baby Drill" printed on it as she speaks with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyand other Republicans as they wait for U.S. President Joe Biden's State of the Union address in the U.S. Capitol's House Chamber March 01, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Covid masks will be optional for the first time in nearly two years at President Joe Biden's first official State of the Union address.

The seismic shift in policy was announced in a memo distributed Monday to congressional offices and first obtained by NBC News.

"KN95 or N95 mask wear is no longer required, and mask wear is now an individual choice option," said the memo. The change could already be seen Tuesday afternoon, as senators appeared maskless to speak to reporters after their weekly party lunches.

Biden's State of the Union attendees will be required to show a negative PCR Covid test prior to entry, however.

The newly revised congressional mask rules could mark the end of a particularly ugly chapter in the history of the legislative branch, during which bitter fights over Covid precautions culminated in several House members racking up fines of more than $50,000 for repeated mask violations.

---Christina Wilkie

At least four lawmakers test positive for Covid before Biden's address

U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) listens to testimony during a hearing by the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 27, 2021.
Chip Somodevilla | Reuters
U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) listens to testimony during a hearing by the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 27, 2021.

At least four members of Congress won't be attending tonight's speech after testing positive for Covid.

Those results came hours before the joint session of Congress was set to convene at the U.S. Capitol for President Joe Biden's speech. The Capitol's attending physician, Dr. Brian Monahan, told members' offices on Sunday that wearing masks during the address would no longer be required.

None of the four lawmakers — all Democrats who are vaccinated against the virus — said they were experiencing severe symptoms.

They are:

  • Sen. Alex Padilla of California, who said he is asymptomatic;
  • Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, who said he is experiencing "pretty mild" flu-like symptoms and will be "closely" listening to Biden's speech from home;
  • Rep. Suzan DelBene of Washington, who said she is isolating and working remotely after receiving a positive test result this morning;
  • and Rep. Pete Aguilar of California, who said he has mild symptoms. "I'm incredibly grateful for the protections against serious illness provided by the free and widely available vaccine," Aguilar said in a statement.

Kevin Breuninger

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