Of the handful of duties assigned to the vice president, sitting behind the president and clapping dutifully during the State of the Union is perhaps the worst.
The White House cabinet is settling in. Time to refer back to the slideshow of the one member - U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz - not attending, staying behind as the designated survivor.
The text of President Obama's speech, as prepared, clocks in at 6,778 words. We'll have a transcript up as soon as the speech begins.
The blue ribbons that you see many Members wearing tonight are to demonstrate support for extending unemployment insurance. Many guests in the gallery are also wearing the ribbons -- as more than a dozen unemployed Americans are attending the State of the Union tonight who were cut off when the federal program expired. Emergency unemployment insurance for those who have been jobless for longer than 26 weeks expired in late December.
Obama's prepared remarks run nearly 6,800 words long...
"For several years now, this town has been consumed by a rancorous argument over the proper size of the federal government. It’s an important debate – one that dates back to our very founding. But when that debate prevents us from carrying out even the most basic functions of our democracy – when our differences shut down government or threaten the full faith and credit of the United States – then we are not doing right by the American people."
The opening section of this speech took about 11 minutes. Obama now turning to focus on jobs.