President Biden's State of the Union address

By Maureen Chowdhury, Mike Hayes, Jason Kurtz and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 2235 GMT (0635 HKT) March 2, 2022
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11:36 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Fact check: Biden's claim about economic growth

From CNN's Anneken Tappe

President Biden said the US economy had its strongest year in nearly four decades in 2021, growing at a rate of 5.7%.  

Facts first: That is correct. But it also needs some more context because the economy is still recovering from the devastating impact of the pandemic. 

The US economy was strong last year. The nation’s gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic activity, increased at a pace of 5.7%, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. That was the fastest growth rate since 1984, when Ronald Reagan was in the White House. 

That said, America is also still recovering from the worst of the pandemic. In 2020, GDP contracted as a result of the economy shutting down in response to Covid-19. Last year’s upswing was still making up for lost ground.  

But the economic growth came at a price: inflation has soared, and Americans face higher prices everywhere from food to gasoline to furniture. At the start of 2022, two of the most-watched inflation indicators — the Labor Department's consumer price index and the Commerce Department's personal consumption expenditure price index — increased at the fastest pace since 1982 during the year ending in January. 

11:27 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Fact check: Biden on support for his SCOTUS nominee 

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

During his speech, President Biden touted his Supreme Court nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, and claimed that her appointment has been embraced by a bipartisan array of interest groups and legal experts.  

“Since she’s been nominated, she’s received a broad range of support, from the Fraternal Order of Police, to former judges appointed by Democrats and Republicans,” Biden said.  

Facts First: This is correct.  

Jackson, who is the first Black woman nominated to the Supreme Court, comes from a law enforcement family. Her brother was a detective in Baltimore and two of her uncles were police officers, including one who was the police chief in Jackson’s hometown of Miami.  

Fraternal Order of Police National President Patrick Yoes issued a statement saying Jackson “has the temperament, intellect, legal experience, and family background to have earned this appointment” and will be a fair justice on the high court. This was a surprising endorsement, as the group endorsed former President Trump in 2020 and the group’s vice president recently slammed Biden for “demonizing” police officers.   

Biden also accurately pointed out that Jackson has support from some retired GOP-appointed judges. This includes Judge J. Michael Luttig, who served in the Virginia-based federal appeals court for 15 years and informally advised former Vice President Mike Pence regarding Jan. 6. And according to Axios, Jackson is also supported by former Judge Thomas R. Griffith, who was an influential conservative voice on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals from 2005 until his retirement in 2020.  

But there are limits to the bipartisan support for Jackson’s nomination. Some Senate Republicans have criticized her record and the Republican National Committee called her a “radical, left-wing activist.” 

 

1:08 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Iowa governor encourages President Biden "to put his faith" in the American people

(Pool)
(Pool)

Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican from Iowa, said that she encourages President Biden "to put his faith" in the American people.

While delivering the GOP response to the State of the Union address, Reynolds said that Americans "have never wavered" their "belief in this country regardless of who leads it" because "the soul of America isn't about who lives in the White House." 

"It's men and women like you in every corner of this nation who are willing to step up and take responsibility for your communities, for your neighbors, and ultimately for yourselves. By that most important measure at least, the state of our union is indeed strong," she concluded.

1:08 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Iowa governor says Americans believe "enough is enough" in GOP response

In the GOP response to President Biden's address, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said that President Biden's Build Back Better agenda didn't pass "because even members of his own party said enough is enough." 

"Well, the American people share that view. Enough is enough. It's not just with DC spending. Americans are tired of a political class trying to remake this country into a place where an elite few tell everyone else what they can and cannot say," she said. 

Reynolds said Americans "are tired of the theater where politicians do one thing when the cameras are rolling and another when they believe you can't see them."

Watch the moment:

1:09 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

GOP governor says she's "worried our country is on the wrong track" in response to Biden's address

(Pool)
(Pool)

Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican from Iowa, is delivering the GOP response to President Biden's State of the Union address.

"I listened as the governor of our state, as a mom, and a grandmother of 11, who is worried our country is on the wrong track," she began her speech. 

"We're now one year into his presidency, and instead of moving America forward, it feels like President Biden and his party have sent us back in time to the late '70s and early '80s when runaway inflation was hammering families, a violent crime wave was crashing our cities, and the Soviet army was trying to redraw the world map."

Watch the moment:

11:25 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Fact check: Biden's claims on global supply chains and inflation

From CNN's Anneken Tappe 

(J. Scott Applewhite/Pool/AP)
(J. Scott Applewhite/Pool/AP)

President Biden said the pandemic disrupted global supply chains and in turn boosted inflation. A third of last year’s inflation was due to higher car prices, he said. 

Facts first: That’s roughly correct.  

As of January, inflation for used and new vehicles made up nearly a third of overall price increases. 

The Labor Department’s consumer price index rose by 7.5% in the 12 months ended in January. Prices for used cars contributed roughly 1.7 percentage points of that, while new vehicles added another half percentage point. 

Car prices rose as manufacturers faced a shortage of computer chips used in new vehicles, hampering new production. As a result, used car prices spiked. 

10:45 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Biden: "The State of the Union is strong—because you, the American people, are strong"

From CNN's Allie Malloy

President Biden closed his first State of the Union speech with a message of strength and patriotism.

“The State of the Union is strong—because you, the American people, are strong,” Biden said.

"I know this nation. We’ll meet the test, protect freedom and liberty, expand fairness and opportunity. And we will save democracy,” the President added.

Biden called this a "moment of responsibility," adding that this current time is the “moment that the character of this generation is formed. Our purpose is found. Our future is forged.”

Of the United States, the President said, "there is simply nothing beyond our capacity. We are the only nation on Earth that has always turned every crisis we have faced into an opportunity. The only nation that can be defined by a single word: possibilities.”

Set upon a backdrop of a conflict in Ukraine that grows deadlier each day, Biden closed his State of the Union by saying, "This 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 and may God protect our troops.”

10:42 p.m. ET, March 1, 2022

Fact check: Biden's claim on suing gun manufacturers

From CNN's Holmes Lybrand 

Addressing gun control, President Biden repeated his claim that “gun manufacturers (are) the only industry in America that can't be sued.” 

CNN has previously fact checked this claim. Here’s what we found:

Facts First: This is false. Gun manufacturers are not entirely exempt from being sued, nor are they the only industry with some liability protections. 

Under the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, gun manufacturers cannot be held liable for the use of their products in crimes. However, gun manufacturers can still be held liable for (and thus sued for) a range of things, including negligence, breach of contract regarding the purchase of a gun or certain damages from defects in the design of a gun. 

In 2019, the Supreme Court allowed a lawsuit against gun manufacturer Remington Arms Co. to continue. The plaintiffs, a survivor and families of nine other victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, wanted to hold the company — which manufactured the semi-automatic rifle that was used in the killing — partly responsible by targeting the company’s marketing practices, another area where gun manufacturers can be held liable. On Feb. 15, those families reached a $73 million settlement with the now-bankrupt gun manufacturer and its four insurers. 

Other industries also have some exemptions from liability. For example, vaccine manufacturers cannot be held liable in a civil suit for damages from a vaccine-related injury or death. And for the next four years, pharmaceutical companies developing the Covid-19 vaccines will have immunity from liability under the 2005 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act. Those who claim to have been harmed by vaccines may receive money from the government, not the pharmaceutical company, via the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. 

1:09 a.m. ET, March 2, 2022

Biden interrupted by GOP Rep. Boebert as he paid tribute to military members sickened by burn pits

From CNN's DJ Judd and Lauren Fox

(J. Scott Applewhite/Pool/Getty Images)
(J. Scott Applewhite/Pool/Getty Images)

President Biden’s remarks were briefly interrupted Tuesday when, during a portion of his State of the Union remarks, he paid tribute to members of the armed forces who were sickened by burn pits, including his son, Beau Biden, who died from brain cancer in 2015.

“Our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have faced many dangers — one being stationed at bases and breathing in toxic smoke from burn pits," Biden said. “Many of you have been there. I’ve been in and out of Afghanistan and Iraq over 40 times that incinerated waste, the wastes of war—medical and hazardous material, jet fuel, and so much more—and they came home, many of the world’s fittest and best trained warriors in the world, never the same. Headaches. Numbness. Dizziness. A cancer that would put them in a flag-draped coffin. I know.”

Biden’s comments were interrupted by GOP Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, who audibly interrupted, “You put them there—13 of them” — an apparent reference to soldiers killed during the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. Boebert was quickly shushed by lawmakers.

“One of those soldiers was my son Major Beau Biden. I don’t know for sure if the burn pit that he lived near, that his hooch was near in Iraq, and before that in Kosovo, is the cause of his brain cancer, the diseases of so many of our troops. But I’m committed to finding out everything we can.”

Boebert later tweeted about her outburst.