What Is the State of the Union Address?

The State of the Union address is the annual address given by the president of the United States in a joint session of the U.S. Congress. It is designed to be a report on the economic and social state of the nation.

The State of the Union address is mandated by Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution. Although early addresses concerned only a budget message and a general report on the health of the economy, more recent addresses have evolved to include reports on the various departments of the executive branch. They have also become a platform for the president to articulate and garner support for his agenda. Historically, the president only submitted a written status to Congress; however, advances in radio and television afforded the president an opportunity to deliver the State of the Union address directly to the people.