2011 State of the Union Address
Full video of the speech as published by the White House
DateJanuary 25, 2011 (2011-01-25)
Time9:00 p.m. EST
Duration1 hour, 1 minute
VenueHouse Chamber, United States Capitol
LocationWashington, D.C.
Coordinates38°53′19.8″N 77°00′32.8″W / 38.888833°N 77.009111°W / 38.888833; -77.009111Coordinates: 38°53′19.8″N 77°00′32.8″W / 38.888833°N 77.009111°W / 38.888833; -77.009111
TypeState of the Union Address
ParticipantsBarack Obama

The 2011 State of the Union Address was given by the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama, on January 25, 2011, at 9:00 p.m. EST, in the chamber of the United States House of Representatives to the 112th United States Congress.[1] It was Obama's second State of the Union Address and his third speech to a joint session of the United States Congress. Presiding over this joint session was the House speaker, John Boehner, accompanied by Joe Biden, the vice president, in his capacity as the president of the Senate.

It was the first address to a Republican-controlled Congress since 2006. It was also the first to be simulcast online as an "enhanced version" featuring accompanying graphics for key points of the address, a style which would be replicated throughout Obama's future State of the Union addresses.

In this joint session Obama outlined his “vision for an America that’s more determined, more competitive, better positioned for the future—an America where we out-innovate, we out-educate, we out-build the rest of the world; where we take responsibility for our deficits; where we reform our government to meet the demands of a new age.”[2][3][4]

Disposition, seating, and attendance

As always, the presiding officers of the Senate and the House of Representatives, Vice President Joe Biden (as Senate President) and House Speaker John Boehner sat behind the president. This is the first time a Republican has sat behind President Obama during a joint session of Congress.

In light of the 2011 Tucson shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords and others, the Washington Third Way think tank sent a letter to Congressional leadership proposing members of Congress abandon a 96-year-long tradition of sitting with their party and instead sit together in a show of national unity. Senator Mark Udall of Colorado picked up Third Way's proposal and sent a letter to Congressional members urging them to sit together regardless of party, breaking with tradition.[5] Sixty members of the House and Senate signaled their support for the plan,[6] and members of both houses sat with members of the opposite party. Groups included Arizona's House delegation of five Republicans and two Democrats (with an empty chair for Giffords), past presidential candidates John Kerry and John McCain, and campaign leaders John Cornyn and Patty Murray.[7] Legislators wore black-and-white ribbons in honor of the victims of the shooting.

After visibly reacting to President Obama's criticism during the 2010 State of the Union of the Citizens United decision, Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas did not attend the speech.[8] Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar served as the designated survivor and did not attend the speech.[9]

U.S. President Barack Obama is greeted by House Speaker John Boehner, before delivering the 2011 State of the Union Address.
U.S. President Barack Obama is greeted by House Speaker John Boehner, before delivering the 2011 State of the Union Address.


According to a White House fact sheet published by NMD Newswire US-President Obama underscored in his 2011 State of the Union Address "the need to maintain America’s leadership in a rapidly changing world so that our economy is competitive – growing and working for all Americans."[10] In order to achieve this Obama outlined "a plan to help the United States win the future by out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building our global competition. At the same time, the President understands the need to reform the way our government does business and take responsibility for our deficit - by investing in what makes America stronger and cutting what doesn't."[10]

Speechwriter Jon Favreau and President Obama work on the 2011 address in the Oval Office the day before the session.
Speechwriter Jon Favreau and President Obama work on the 2011 address in the Oval Office the day before the session.



Other topics and goals


Obama greets members of Congress after the address.
Obama greets members of Congress after the address.

Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Chair of the House Budget Committee, gave the Republican response afterward.[11] Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, gave a Spanish version of the response.[12]

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota gave an address in response to Obama's speech on behalf of the Tea Party Express.[13] Some Republicans opposed Bachmann's decision, worrying she would draw attention away from Ryan. Bachmann was refused access to the Capitol Hill Club to make her speech, forcing her to give the speech from the National Press Club.[14]

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio gave a mixed review of Obama's speech, saying, "While I was encouraged by the President's support for an earmark ban and will work with him towards that goal, his call for a mere budget freeze does not go far enough in tackling our record debt. At the very least, we should freeze non-defense and non-veterans discretionary spending to what it was before Washington began its unprecedented, record-setting spending binge two years ago. But most importantly, we need to finally begin fundamentally reforming the way our government spends the American people's money." Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, also of Florida, praised Obama for "bringing us out of recession with jobs, helping small business, helping seniors with retirement security, getting government spending under control. Then he talked about civility. How do we treat each other? That’s going to matter a lot."[15] Florida Governor Rick Scott strongly criticized Obama's speech while New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand praised his economic agenda.[16][17]

Leaders of several smaller political parties also gave prepared responses to the speech. The Libertarian Party's response was delivered by Executive Director Wes Benedict.[18] Billy Wharton, co-chair of the Socialist Party USA, released a response through his party's website.[19] Sam Webb, chairman of the Communist Party USA, released a response through the party's main website.[20]


  1. ^ H.Con.Res. 10
  2. ^ "Remarks by the President at Families USA Health Action Conference". January 28, 2011. Archived from the original on October 7, 2011. Retrieved January 29, 2011.
  3. ^ "Obamas Speeches: Remarks by the President at Families USA Health Action Conference". January 28, 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. Retrieved January 29, 2011.
  4. ^ "Video: President Addresses Health Care Advocates--"I'm happy to report that granny is safe"". January 28, 2011. Archived from the original on September 23, 2012. Retrieved January 29, 2011.
  5. ^ "Sen. Udall Urges Bipartisan Seating for State of the Union". NPR.org. January 13, 2011.
  6. ^ Felicia Sonmez. "Sixty lawmakers back bipartisan State of the Union seating plan". WashingtonPost.com.
  7. ^ Bendavid, Naftali (January 26, 2011). "Signs of Harmony, if Not Quite 'Kumbayah'". Wall Street Journal.
  8. ^ Barnes, Robert (January 24, 2011). "Supreme Court won't be fully represented at State of the Union". Washington Post.
  9. ^ O'Keefe, Ed. "State of the Union: Ken Salazar to serve as 'designated survivor'". Washington Post. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
  10. ^ a b "White House Fact Sheet "The State of the Union: President Obama's Plan to Win the Future"". MMD Newswire. January 26, 2011. Archived from the original on September 30, 2011. Retrieved January 28, 2011.
  11. ^ "Paul Ryan delivers State of the Union response". Washington Post. January 21, 2011. Retrieved January 21, 2011.
  12. ^ "Ros-Lehtinen to deliver Spanish SOTU response". The Hill. January 28, 2014. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  13. ^ Mark Murray. "Bachmann's rival SOTU response?". MSNBC. Archived from the original on 2011-01-23.
  14. ^ Bachmann blasts president in first Tea Party rebuttal Archived 2012-10-14 at the Wayback Machine Star Tribune
  15. ^ +tampabay.com) Florida reacts to the State of the Union St. Petersburg Times
  16. ^ +tampabay.com) Scott chides Obama's 'history lesson' and promises he'll lead St. Petersburg Times
  17. ^ Senators React to State of the Union New York Observer
  18. ^ Libertarian response to State of the Union and Republicans
  19. ^ Wharton, Billy. "Response to State of the Union". Socialist Party USA. Retrieved January 26, 2011.
  20. ^ Webb, John. "State of the Union and openings for progress". Communist Party USA. Retrieved January 28, 2011.

Opposition responses