When Obama delivered last year's address, it was a very different political climate. He had not yet signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law, and the election of Republican senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts appeared to have derailed the Democrats' efforts to pass healthcare reform legislation. Since then, the legislation has passed and many aspects of the ACA have gone into effect, but Republicans are working to repeal it.
This year, like the members who sat with colleagues in the opposing party, Obama focused heavily on bipartisanship. He reminded the members of Congress how lucky they are to be part of the U.S. government, despite the constant disagreements between the parties.
"As contentious and frustrating and messy as our democracy can sometimes be, I know there isn't a person here who would trade places with any other nation on Earth," Obama said.