The Speech: Where and When
In modern practice, the State of the Union address is delivered in the House Chamber. Prior to the Capitol’s move to Washington, DC., the Annual Message was often delivered in the Senate Chamber.
A House concurrent resolution sets aside the day and time for a Joint Session “for receiving such communication as the President of the United States shall be pleased to make to them” and is passed by both the House and Senate.
The ratification of the 20th Amendment on January 23, 1933, changed the opening of Congress from early March to early January, affecting the delivery of the Annual Message.
- Until 1934, the Annual Message was delivered every December.
- Since 1934, the Annual Message or State of the Union address is delivered every January or February.
The following officials occupy floor seating in the House Chamber during the address:
- Members and former Members of the House of Representatives.
- Members and former Members of the Senate.
- The President’s Cabinet, save one secretary, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- The Chief Justice of the United States and the Justices of the Supreme Court.
- Diplomatic Corps.
Seating in the gallery is for ticket holders only and is coordinated by the Sergeant at Arms of the House.
Since President Ronald Reagan’s State of the Union addresses, some of the President's personal guests in the House Gallery have been publicly recognized in the course of the address.