As it happened: Obama's State of the Union address

Key points

  • President Barack Obama has delivered his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress and a television audience of millions
  • Mr Obama pledged to bypass the fractured Congress to address economic inequality
  • Republicans Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Mike Lee and Rand Paul offered responses
  • All times Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5)

Live text


  • Daniel Nasaw 
  • Taylor Kate Brown 

Last updated 29 January 2014


Welcome to the BBC's live online coverage for President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, where the US president will report to the Congress - and to the American people.


According to advance excerpts of the speech released by the White House, Mr Obama will call for "a year of action" to address the growing economic inequality in the US.

"That's what most Americans want - for all of us in this chamber to focus on their lives, their hopes, their aspirations."


Mr Obama will promise "concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class".

"Some require Congressional action, and I'm eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still - and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that's what I'm going to do."


Whatever he promises this evening, what can Mr Obama do without the co-operation of Republicans in Congress? Not much, Howard Dean, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and governor of Vermont, tells the BBC's Katty Kay.

"The president is out of options" legislatively. "But he does have bully pulpit."


Mr Obama is talking, but is anybody listening? Over on our Echo Chambers blog, Anthony Zurcher notes Americans may suffer State of the Union fatigue: "The modern State of the Union address, arriving in the doldrums of winter, usually has all the interest and excitement of an annual performance review."


Mr Obama gives the speech in the chamber of the House of Representatives with members of Congress and the presidential cabinet in attendance. Seated behind Mr Obama will be Vice-President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House John Boehner, a Republican.


Ashley Semler

sends this picture from the US Capitol's Statuary Hall:

Capitol Statuary Hall


The big set-piece State of the Union address is a recent tradition. The US constitution requires the US president to deliver a message to Congress on the state of the union "from time to time" - but there's nothing to say it can't be in writing. In fact, for about 100 years, that's exactly what presidents did. In 1913, Woodrow Wilson undid a tradition begun with Thomas Jefferson and spoke in front of a joint session of Congress.


Guests invited by the White House to observe the State of the Union address from the House gallery signal some of the themes of the speech - and the political priorities of the president.


Among those joining First Lady Michelle Obama in the gallery this evening will be Jason Collins, a professional basketball player who came out as gay last year, two survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing, and the fire chief of a tornado-hit Oklahoma town.