What Is the State of the Union?


Quick Answer

The State of the Union is a speech given by the President of the United States either in-person or by proxy in front of Congress. Between 1790 and 1946, the State of the Union was formally referred to as the Annual Message.

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Full Answer

The State of the Union's formal basis is derived from Article II, Section 3, Clause I of the U.S. Constitution. Prior to the 20th century, the speech also included a general report on the country's economy as well as any budget requests. These two aspects were later removed and relegated to specialized reports called the Budget Message and the Economic Report.

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