President Joe Biden is giving his first speech to a joint session of Congress tonight. The speech is typically referred to as a “State of the Union,” but during a President’s first year it’s simply referred to as a message to Congress. Biden’s speech is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. Eastern. But what time is it expected to end?
Most Speeches to Congress Last Between an Hour and 90 Minutes
Typically, most speeches to a joint session of Congress and State of the Union speeches last anywhere from an hour to 90 minutes in length. Since Biden’s speech is beginning at 9 p.m. Eastern, this would put his speech as ending sometime between 10 p.m. Eastern and 10:30 p.m. Eastern. Because Biden hasn’t given a joint speech to Congress before, we don’t have any previous speeches to base an estimate on. However, simply by looking at previous President’s speech lengths, it’s likely that Biden’s will end between 10 and 10:30 p.m. Eastern.
In 2020, Trump’s speech was roughly 78 minutes long. His 2019 SOTU speech was 82 minutes long, NBC News reported. His speech in 2018 was 80 minutes long, making it the third-longest in history. However, Trump’s speeches were typically known to be longer than most Presidents’ speeches. His rally speeches almost always clocked in around 90 minutes in length. His Republican National Convention speech in 2016 was 75 minutes long (compared to Mitt Romney’s 40-minute speech in 2012.)
However, Trump’s first speech to a joint session of Congress was only 60 minutes long, lending more credence to the idea that Biden’s first speech will also be on the shorter side.
According to The American Presidency Project, Obama’s first speech in 2009 was even shorter than Trump’s, clocking in at only 51 minutes in length. He got longer after that, but not much longer. His 2010 speech was 69 minutes, his 2011 speech was 61 minutes, his 2012 speech was 64 minutes, his 2013 speech was only 59 minutes, his 2014 speech was 65 minutes, his 2015 speech was 59 minutes, and his 2016 speech was only 58 minutes long.
Thus, given the lengths of past Presidents’ speeches, Biden’s will likely be closer to 60 minutes in length, ending near 10 p.m. Eastern. You can watch Biden’s speech in the embedded video below.
However, it’s worth noting that most major TV stations have allotted two hours for Biden’s speech tonight, which also makes time to include Sen. Tim Scott’s response from the Republican party following Biden’s speech.
What To Expect Tonight
Tonight’s speech is different than previous State of the Unions and speeches to Congress. Vox reported that only 200 members of Congress were even given invitations to attend, based on recommendations from the Capitol physician. In addition, the only members of the Cabinet invited were the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense. Chief Justice John Roberts is the only Supreme Court Justice attending.
Biden’s speech isn’t a State of the Union, since he hasn’t been in office for long. Rather, it’s a time of sharing his vision for the future with America. He’ll be speaking about two main infrastructure bills, and will likely talk about the current state of the pandemic.
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