Who attends the State of the Union?

U.S.

President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, Tuesday, March 1, 2022, in Washington. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP)

(NEXSTAR) – If you watch President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union Tuesday night, you may some familiar faces, and others you’ve never seen before. So who really attends the State of the Union?

In addition to President Biden, you’ll primarily see two other people sitting behind him: Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Who sits behind the president is based on the order of presidential succession. First in line after the president is the vice president, followed by the Speaker of the House, hence the seating arrangements.

Outside of these three attendees, every member of Congress is invited to attend the State of the Union. In a usual year, lawmakers can also bring guests. This year, because of COVID-19, the in-person guest list was cut to 200 people – far less than 535 members of Congress – and guests of lawmakers were not allowed.

Some justices from the Supreme Court, however, were in attendance.

Guests of President Biden, though, were allowed. One of those was a young boy with Type-1 diabetes, who President Biden highlighted while calling for the cost of insulin to be capped.

First Lady Jill Biden is also in attendance.

Multiple Republican lawmakers are not attending the State of the Union. Among those is Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) who announced on Monday that he would not attend Biden’s speech because he did not have the time to get tested for the virus. 

Also not in attendance is Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who is the designated survivor for the night’s events. The designated survivor tradition involves a member of the president’s Cabinet staying at an undisclosed location during the State of the Union to preserve the government’s succession in the case of a catastrophic incident during the address at the Capitol.

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