State of the Union 2011: A One-Click Guide

What will the president say and who will be there to listen to him?

ByABC News
January 25, 2011, 7:53 AM

Jan. 25, 2011 -- Each winter in recent memory, the U.S. president takes the short ride to Capitol Hill to give Congress his assessment of the "State of the Union."

Here's a one-click guide to the speech, its history and what to expect this year.

This year President Obama will call for a modified freeze in discretionary spending, according to ABC's Jake Tapper. While the President will suggest spending increases in education and infrastructure, he will follow a Republican talking point and endorse freezing spending on non-defense-related items.

He will also respond to many Republicans and call for a ban on earmarks.

Read more about what will be in the speech in Jake's report.

Why does the President give this annual address; What is the State of the Union?

Mandated in the Constitution, the report must be given "from time to time." But since Woodrow Wilson started giving the speech in person, it has evolved into an annual pageant. For more on the history of the State of the Union, including a look at how all the speeches have very similar themes, from biblical verses to pledges to wean America off foreign sources of energy, check out John Donvan's "This Week" report.

The president makes bold pronouncements each year about how he will guide the ship in the next year. For a look at what promises President Obama made last January and which ones he kept (or not), click HERE.

And for a list of recent allusions to the Bible in State of the Union addresses, click HERE.

What to Expect This Year

The first thing to expect is a new audience. When Obama gave his first State of the Union address last year, his party controlled both houses of Congress. But 112 new Republicans came to Washington after the November midterm election.

Republicans now control the House of Representatives and instead of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sitting behind him while he gives his speech, it will be House Speaker John Boehner.

Read more about the Republican takeover HERE.

While the election was heated, there has been a move since to tamp down the rhetoric and move toward bipartisan solutions. The lame-duck period after the election was particularly productive as Democrats and a few Republicans passed a number of bills before Republicans took control of the House this month.

Obama will likely point to this period as the way government should work. Obama will likely point to this period as the way government should work. Republicans grumbled at the time that Democrats took advantage of the lame-duck session, passing legislation before Republicans officially took control of the House in January.