Biden speech: How long was his joint address to Congress and how does it compare to previous years?

Only 200 members of Congress were invited to president’s first address to the joint session of Congress

Maroosha Muzaffar
Thursday 29 April 2021 09:05
Key moments from Biden's joint session of Congress

Joe Biden outlined his vision for the country and spoke about his administration’s accomplishments since being elected in his first address to the joint session of Congress.

On Wednesday Mr Biden told Congress it must prove “democracy still works” and that it can “deliver for the people.”

The address was held in the House chamber and due to Covid-19 safety protocols only about 200 people were allowed to attend on the recommendation of a Capitol physician.

The secretary of state and the secretary of defense were the only Cabinet members attending the speech, and only Chief Justice John Roberts attended from the Supreme Court.

In a historic first, the vice president, Kamala Harris, and house speaker, Nancy Pelosi, sat behind Mr Biden during his speech.

“Madam Speaker. Madam Vice President,” he said as he turned to the women and began his address. “No president has ever said those words from this podium. And it’s about time.”

Mr Biden’s speech was around 65 minutes, shorter than his predecessor, Donald Trump, who addressed the joint session of Congress for about 78 minutes in 2020 and whose State of the Union address in 2019 was around 82 minutes long.

The longest State of the Union speech was given by Bill Clinton, who spoke for around 88 minutes in 2000. He is also credited with delivering the second-longest speech in history, having delivered a one hour and 24 minutes long speech in 1995.

Meanwhile, the shortest-ever speech by a US president was given by George Washington in 1790, which was just 10 minutes long. Historians have noted his speech had only 833 words.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in