State of the Union address: What time is it and what issues will President Obama tackle?

He wants to focus on 'the big things, that will guarantee a stronger, better and more prosperous America for our kids'

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The Independent US

What is it?

President Barack Obama will be giving his seventh and final State of the Union address, which is an annual speech to Congress. It is the President’s chance to update the nation on his policies and to set out a plan for the year ahead. 

When is it it?

The speech will be televised on Tuesday night at 9pm ET (2am GMT).  

How can we watch?

The White House will be streaming the speech live on YouTube and on its website, as well as on Amazon video, for the first time. 

What’s different this year?

This year, the White House has said it will take a "non-traditional" approach to Mr Obama’s speech. 

Instead, of laying out a list of policy proposals and posing them to Congress, the President plans to deliver a speech about "who we are" and talk about wider issues of the country. 

Mr Obama only has a matter of months left of his presidency, and he strongly believes that the US can pull itself closer to the country it believes in, which is a factor he wants to focus on in his speech. 

What’s he going to talk about? 

In a video previewing his last state of the union, he said he would focus on "The big things, that will guarantee a stronger, better and more prosperous America for our kids. The America we believe in."

The President says in the preview that he has "never been more optimistic about the year ahead than I am now." 

He goes on to say that what makes America great is "out capacity to change for the better."

He also wants to talk about the progress made during the past seven years, what he wants to complete in the year ahead of the next presidential election in November, as well as "what we all need to do together in the years to come."

Mr Obama, his speechwriters and his national security team were still working on drafts of the speech last week and over the weekend, White House officials said. 


What else is different this year?

The White House announced a list of 23 people invited as the First Lady’s guests – a tradition that started with President Ronald Regan in 1982. 

The President hopes the people invited this year will represent the progress he has made in the last seven years of his presidency. 

Among that list is Refaai Hamo, a 55-year-old Syrian refugee who settled in Detroit last month. 

Mr Obama invited Mr Hamo to the address after seeing his story on the popular Humans of New York blog, where he spoke about losing the majority of his family to a bomb attack and struggling to find treatment for stomach cancer in Turkey. 

The invitation counters Republican front runner Donald Trump’s rhetoric on proposing to ban all Muslim refugees from entering the US, in the wake of last year’s terror attacks. 

Among other guests will be Major Lisa Jaster, the first female army reservist to graduate from the elite Ranger School and Spencer Tone, the US Air Force sergeant who, along with two others, helped foil a terrorist attack on a French train. 

One seat in the first lady’s box with be left empty, which will represent victims of gun violence in America, after the President took steps to help reduce gun crime in America last week.