State of the Union 2016: Barack Obama to Deliver Final Address
President Barack Obama will give his final State of the Union address.
The president will focus on cementing his legacy rather than unveiling new policies, officials have said.
Barack Obama is expected to frame some of the key issues in a way that fellow Democrats can embrace during campaigning for the upcoming election.
However, recent polls suggest that seven in 10 people in the US do not share their leader’s optimism.
A response by the GOP will be delivered by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.
Barack Obama’s aides have avoided characterizing the speech as a victory lap, but say it will highlight his accomplishments over the past seven years.
They say that it will present an optimistic alternative to the dire narratives put forward by Republican presidential candidates.
Among the events and developments that Barack Obama will tout as successes are: nuclear deal with Iran; rapprochement with Cuba; Paris climate change deal; positive economic indicators; budget deal with Republicans; recent gun control reforms.
Barack Obama will also continue his public messaging campaign aimed at improving the image of his strategy against ISIS.
Keeping with tradition, the president will speak about what he would like to see Congress work on and his vision for the US beyond his last year in office.
While Barack Obama is not expected to offer a large list of policy proposals, he could urge action on a number of items he feels have been left undone or could be accomplished with bipartisan support during his remaining year in office.
Among the items that could be on Barack Obama’s to-do list are: criminal justice reform; closing Guantanamo Bay prison camp; approving the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.
Also keeping with tradition, First Lady Michelle Obama will host several guests that reflect the president’s vision for US society.
In 2016, an empty chair will be featured in remembrance of gun violence victims.
Among guests are: Syrian refugee Refaai Hamo, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, first female US Army Ranger Lisa Jaster, Supreme Court plaintiff Jim Obergefell, Muslim US Army Veteran Naveed Shah, Mexican immigrant and science proponent Oscar Vazquez.
The speech is expected to begin around 21:00 local time, and has – in the past – had a duration of about an hour.
Barack Obama’s remarks mark the fulfillment of a constitutional mandate that requires the president to “from time to time give the Congress information on the State of the Union”.
Historically, the update has usually been given annually, in January, as a speech to a joint session of Congress.