2011 State of the Union

  • US President Barack Obama stakes out political centre ground, reaching out to both parties in State of the Union
  • He says the US is facing a "Sputnik moment" - an imperative to invest in science and education to create jobs
  • Republicans say they wil oppose moves to increase government spending
  • All times are Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5)
  • Live page reporter: Katie Connolly

2309 Thank you for joining us for our live coverage of President Obama's second annual State of the Union address. Here at the live blog we're calling it a night, but please check the BBC news website homepage for more of our expert analysis, views and commentary.

2306 @clairecmc tweets: Liked bipartisan seating tonight. Less like a team sporting event, more serious. Got to know new Sen Moran(R-KS) better since we sat together.

2304 @janehamsher tweets: Pollster Stan Greenberg compares Obamas SOTU ratings vs. last year: positive rating up 22, approval rating up 26, "cool" rating down 35.

2301 @pwire tweets: Republicans have to be angry that Bachmann distracted from the "official" response…

2257 Ms Bachmann says that the Tea Party is a "history-making" movement which is just starting to "undo the damage" done over the last few years. She criticizes cap-and-trade and health insurance reform.

2255 Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is giving a unofficial Republican response now. She is speaking on behalf of the Tea Party movement.

2241 @michaelpfalcone tweets: ABC #SOTU counts: bi-partisan applause: 45, bi-partisan standing O's:16; laughs: 4

2238 Mr Ryan, who is well known for controversial proposals like replacing Medicare with a voucher system, adds: "We need to reclaim our American system of limited government, low taxes, reasonable regulations, and sound money, which has blessed us with unprecedented prosperity. And it has done more to help the poor than any other economic system ever designed."

2236 Mr Ryan says that if America continues along the same path, he is concerned that its greatest days are behind it. "This is a future in which we will transform our social safety net into a hammock, which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency," he says. Then, he voices concern that America will end up in similar economic distress to Ireland and Greece if changes aren't made.

2235 This line of Mr Ryan's is sure to please Tea Party supporters: "We believe, as our founders did, that 'the pursuit of happiness' depends upon individual liberty; and individual liberty requires limited government."

2233 Mr Ryan vows that Republicans will govern responsibly. He adds: "Americans are sceptical of both political parties, and that scepticism is justified — especially when it comes to spending. So hold all of us accountable."

2230 Mr Ryan's response is very critical of Mr Obama. After condemning spending increases under Mr Obama's watch, he says: "Then the president and his party made matters even worse, by creating a new open-ended healthcare entitlement. What we already know about the president's healthcare law is this: Costs are going up, premiums are rising, and millions of people will lose the coverage they currently have. Job creation is being stifled by all of its taxes, penalties, mandates and fees."

2225 Mohamad Z tweets: Very productive speech by Obama. I'm finally convinced that the country is on to something from an educational standpoint. #SOTU.

2228 In the opening moments of the official Republican response, Rep Paul Ryan pays tribute to Gabby Giffords: "We all miss Gabby and her cheerful spirit; and we are praying for her return to the House Chamber."

2225 Tonight marked the first occasion that Facebook has been mentioned in a SOTU.

2220 Mr Obama is shaking hands and saying: "We're going to get some things done. You watch." He then greets a very excited group of young congressional pages who tell him "great speech!"

2217 Following the speech, Mr Obama moves through the crowd signing the programmes of members of Congress. He jokes that they shouldn't sell the autographed keepsakes on eBay. Many are congratulating him on his performance. One member thanks him for the clean coal references; another for the high speed rail promises. Others are telling Mr Obama they root for his Chicago football team, who lost a semi-final game on Sunday, so they won't make it to the superbowl.

2214 BBC North America Editor Mark Mardell says: "We will argue about everything" - Obama is certainly right about that. At the end he is bringing them back together with heavy riffing on the American Dream and affectionate jokes about the achievements of Biden and Boehner. But this is not a speech that has tried to paper over the differences or disguise them in a flood of warm euphemisms. Some may like it the better for that. But this is raw meat to feed an argument that will go on for the next two years.
Matt Frei

2213 Mr Obama tells the story of Brandon Fisher, an engineer whose ingenious ideas helped free the the Chilean miners, saying his was a little company who did big things. That's the essence of the American dream: "From the earliest days of our founding, America has been the story of ordinary people who dare to dream. That's how we win the future."

2211 Mr Obama references Vice-President Biden and Speaker Boehner respectively: "That [American] dream is why a working class kid from Scranton can stand behind me.  That dream is why someone who began by sweeping the floors of his father's Cincinnati bar can preside as Speaker of the House in the greatest nation on Earth."

2208 BBC North America Editor Mark Mardell says: Members of the military in the crowd look a bit uncomfortable after the line about troops not forbidden to "serve the country they love because of who they love".
Matt Frei

2206 After lauding the successful passage of the non-proliferation treaty called Start, and America's contribution to the recent elections in southern Sudan, Mr Obama says: "We saw that same desire to be free in Tunisia, where the will of the people proved more powerful than the writ of a dictator. And tonight, let us be clear: the United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia, and supports the democratic aspirations of all people.

2204 Mr Obama raises the prospect of ending combat in Afghanistan: "We are strengthening the capacity of the Afghan people and building an enduring partnership with them. This year, we will work with nearly 50 countries to begin a transition to an Afghan lead. And this July, we will begin to bring our troops home."

2200 @brianstelter tweets: Watching the SOTU live by cell phone for the first time. Got a couple funny looks on the bus.

2158 Mr Obama speaks of the need to streamline the departments of the federal government. He says he will ask Congress to vote on a plan for reorganisation in the coming months. He jokes about this example of inefficiency: "The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them in when they're in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they're smoked."

2157 Asking millionaires to give up tax breaks is for the sake of America - what is striking about this speech is how Mr Obama has not run away from the very real, big differences between the parties. He is talking about moving forward together but very few offers of compromise.
Matt Frei

2156 Although Congress just voted in December on a deal, brokered by Mr Obama, to extend the Bush era tax cuts he says: "If we truly care about our deficit, we simply cannot afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Before we take money away from our schools, or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break."

2152 BBC North America Editor Mark Mardell says: Finally something Republicans can clap for - a freeze on government spending for five years. But, it was quickly followed by a plea to make sure it won't hurt the vunerable. Mr Obama likens cutting education to taking the engines out of a plane. A small puff of laughter from Boehner.
Matt Frei

2151 Mr Obama jokes that he's heard rumours that some people don't like his healthcare bill. He asks that Republicans work with him to change and improve the bill but says: "What I'm not willing to do is go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition....So instead of re-fighting the battles of the last two years, let's fix what needs fixing and move forward." He says he is open to medical malpractice reform.

2146 BBC North America Editor Mark Mardell says: So a promise to get rid of some red tape, but a strong defence of why some regulations are need: A standing ovation from some.
Matt Frei

2144 Mr Obama urges Congress to pass the free trade agreement with South Korea, which, after many years, was finalised last month. It has the support of both business and unions.

2143 Mr Obama calls on both parties to simplify the tax code to eliminate unfairness. He says, "To help our companies compete, we also have to knock down barriers that stand in the way of their success. Over the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries. Those with accountants or lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all. But all the rest are hit with one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and it has to change."

2142 BBC North America Editor Mark Mardell says: The State of the Union is often called a laundry list. This is more like a shopping list. Crumbling infrastructre. High speed rail. High speed wireless. This is more like throwing down the gauntlet than reaching across the aisle.
Matt Frei

2141 Mr Obama says that America's infrastructure - like railroads, highways and internet access - is falling behind the rest of the world, including some parts of Russia, Europe and South Korea. He pledges that "within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying - without the pat-down. As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway."

2138 BBC North America Editor Mark Mardell says: He's calling for a bipartisan apprach to illegal immigration, but clearly saying that the eductated but undocumented should not be sent back home. This is going to be a very interesting debate.
Matt Frei

2137 @FiercelyMadeMe tweets: I won a science fair and it landed me a scholarship to college. I am that story.

2134 @ErinMcPike tweets: Huh. Big standing ovation for the teachers line - but Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell were about the only two who didn't stand.

2133 BBC North America Editor Mark Mardell says: In Korea, Mr Obama says, teachers are called "nation builders" - time for more respect here. That will go down well with a core constituency.
Matt Frei

2131 Mr Obama talks about the critical importance of education to the nation's future prosperity. He says that parents and teachers have a shared responsibility to enhance the learning opportunities for children. He also says Americans need to change the culture of success: "We need to teach our kids that it's not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair; that success is not a function of fame or PR, but of hard work and discipline."

2130 @PaulRieckhoff tweets: Smart language. Americans love competition. Framing a race against China and others is a way to motivate and rally the nation. #SOTU.

2129 Mr Obama speaks about the need for investment in research and development, particularly on clean energy. He says: "To help pay for it, I'm asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don't know if you've noticed, but they're doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's."

2127 BBC North America Editor Mark Mardell says: The Sputnik moment. Obama is talking about investing in education, research and technology to an audience where more than half of them want to hear cut, cut, cut.
Matt Frei

2125 @BarackObama tweets: We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world. We have to make America the best place to do business. #SOTU.

2124 In a veiled reference to the American vs Chinese parenting debate that has taken America by storm in recent weeks, Mr Obama says that American idealism is "why our students don't just memorize equations, but answer questions like 'What do you think of that idea? What would you change about the world? What do you want to be when you grow up?'"

2123 BBC North America Editor Mark Mardell says: "Out innovate, out educate ...win the future "..that got them on their feet. Nothing like a bit of pride and optimism to please an American audience.
Matt Frei

2122 Days after meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Mr Obama raises the spectre of Chinese economic competition. He then says, "Remember - for all the hits we've taken these last few years, for all the naysayers predicting our decline, America still has the largest, most prosperous economy in the world. No workers are more productive than ours. No country has more successful companies, or grants more patents to inventors and entrepreneurs. We are home to the world's best colleges and universities, where more students come to study than any other place on Earth."

2120 BBC North America Editor Mark Mardell says: It will be interesting how this goes down. It is a bit of a lecture on the effects of technology and globalisation. Long time without applause.
Matt Frei

2118 Vicky tweets: The first time I've ever teared up during a State of the Union Address: the President acknowledges Rep. Gifford's empty seat.

2117 After receive a standing ovation for mentioning Gabby Giffords, Mr Obama says: "Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us is a part of something greater - something more consequential than party or political preference".

2112 Included in First Lady Michelle Obama's guest list tonight are Dr Peter Rhee, who operated on Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta who is the first living American to receive the nation's highest military award, the Medal of Honor, since Vietnam.

2110 BBC North America Editor Mark Mardell says: Mr Obama is working his way through the room. "How are you? Good to see you," says the president as he moves down what I am told is called "kiss ass ally".
Matt Frei

2109 Mr Obama enters the chamber to rapt applause. He is captured on camera greeting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Good speech, she tells him.

2105 Mr Obama's cabinet has now entered. As has been the case for the past few years, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's hand is the one many members of Congress seem most eager to shake. Mrs Clinton served as senator from New York for eight years, before resigning to assume her current position, and has many friends in Congress. Her successor, Kirsten Gillibrand is sitting with Republican John Thune - a possible 2012 candidate - with whom she worked on a bill to grant health care to 9/11 first responders.

2103 The BBC's Katty Kay tweets: Conservatives furious at "investment" plans. Liberals furious at spending freeze. Just what WH wants-now they look like reasonable centrists.

2101 Michelle Obama enters the chamber, looking resplendent in a silvery grey dress. She sits in a balcony overlooking the floor with a group of handselected guests. In a tradition that goes back many years, usually the people chosen to sit with the first lady represent aspects of the speech: soldiers, war heroes, small business owners, high achieving students and the like. This year is no excpetion.

2057 @AntDeRosa tweets: Arizona shooting hero and Rep Gifford's intern, David Hernandez, will be guest of the first lady this evening.

2055 Tonight, for the first time, the Tea Party will have an official response. It will be delivered by a fiery conservative favourite, Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann from Minnesota. for a speech she gave last week where she appeared to have her facts wrong about slavery and racism in America.

2049 It also looks as though John McCain will sit near John Kerry. Both men are failed presidential candidates, but it's no secret on Capitol Hill that they don't get along particularly well. Usually Mr McCain prefers the company of his best friend in the Senate, South Carolina Republican Lindsay Graham.

2047 After the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords in Tucson, which some commentators linked to an increase in rancorous partisanship, many members of Congress pledged to sit next to a member of the opposite party. Usually each party sits together. CNN's Dana Bash notes that Joe Wilson, the man who famously yelled "you lie" at Mr Obama during a speech to Congress, is sitting with Democrat Susan Davis of California.

2041 Members of the US Senate, led by Vice-President Joe Biden are streaming into the House chamber ready to take their seats. After two years of sitting next to Nancy Pelosi at the front of the chamber, Mr Biden will this year take his seat next to the new Speaker of the House, Republican John Boehner.

2035 The BBC's Rajini Vaidyanathan in Washington says: The White House is hoping it can get people to interact with the SOTU It's hosting a series of forums to explain what's in the speech - including a YouTube chat with Mr Obama on Thursday.

2029CNN host Piers Morgan says the State of the Union reminds him of "the primary purpose of the British Queen's speech, which is to restore confidence in the country".

2024 Because the president, the vice-president and the entire Congress and Cabinet are present for the SOTU, the White House will designate one cabinet official - usually a lower profile individual - to watch the speech from a different location. Why? In case the chamber comes under attack and the nation's leadership is incapacitated. This year's designated safe guy is Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

2020 Republicans have tapped Congressman Paul Ryan to deliver their response to the SOTU. Mr Ryan, an avowed fiscal conservative and deficit hawk, is considered a rising star in the Republican party. He is currently the chairman of the House Budget Committee.

2017 The BBC's Katie Beck, on Capitol Hill, says: Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland has jobs and the economy on her mind tonight. She has just told the BBC she believes the president "wants us to look at new frontiers in science and technology and harness the brain power of our own people for the future".

2012 More SOTU facts: President Harry Truman in 1940 gave the longest SOTU in history; President George Washington the shortest in 1790. Mr Obama is the first African-American to address a joint session of Congress.

2004 Traditionally, the Speaker of the House of Representatives invites the President to give an address about the State of the Union each year to a joint session of Congress. This invitation stems from a clause in the US Constitution. George Washington gave the first State of the Union (SOTU) speech but for decades afterwards it was a written report. Woodrow Wilson decided to deliver a SOTU speech to a joint session in 1913, and every president since then has chosen give a speech rather than a written report.

2001BBC North America Editor Mark Mardell says: Some will see Mr Obama's mention of the "Sputnik moment" as merely another optimistic note: recalling another time when the USA was fearful of falling behind the international race when we all know it went on to far outstrip its rivals. His message is not explicit but it's there. America didn't beat the Soviet Union to the moon by guts alone. It took government (Nasa) and spending (research and education).
Matt Frei

2000 Hello and welcome to our live coverage of President Barack Obama's third annual State of the Union address. We will be streaming the speech live on this page as well as providing expert analysis and commentary from our Washington team of correspondents. We will also be rounding up the best reaction from around the web - including from Facebook and Twitter. Stay tuned!

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