Biden address to joint session of Congress to be decided by Capitol physician: Pelosi

By Tamar Lapin

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said she’s waiting for the advice of the Capitol physician and the sergeant-at-arms before inviting President Biden to give his first address to a joint session of Congress.

The California Democrat was asked about the timing of Biden’s initial address to Congress during her weekly news conference.

“That will be soon I hope,” Pelosi told reporters.

Part of the decision, she said, depends on Dr. Brian Monahan, the current attending physician for Congress, and Maj. Gen. William Walker, the newly-named House sergeant-at-arms.

They will be deciding how the address can be held safely amid the coronavirus pandemic, and how many people would be able to attend, Pelosi said.

“We’ll await the advice of the Capitol physician, of the sergeant-at-arms, about how many people can be accommodated,” she said.

“But whatever the number,” Pelosi added, “we’ll be ready whenever the president is ready to come. We’ll extend that invitation, which is the tradition.”

Presidents typically make the speech in the first few weeks after entering the White House, but it is not called a “State of the Union” speech, which comes in the second year of the term.

Biden, however, still has not set a date for the address. The date is picked in coordination with the White House, Pelosi said.

She noted that this would be the first joint address to Congress since the coronavirus emerged, as former President Donald Trump’s last State of the Union was last February, before the pandemic hit.

Pelosi also reminded reporters about how she dramatically ripped up a copy of Trump’s SOTU address at the end of that speech.