State of the Union live updates: 'Putin was wrong. We were ready,' Biden to say

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(WASHINGTON) — The nation and the world will be watching tonight when President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address at 9 p.m. ET with a main focus expected to be on how he and the U.S. are responding to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

As he is set to speak, Russian strikes are killing civilians, forces are massing near Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and Russian President Vladimir Putin shows no sign of backing down.

Biden is expected to highlight his leadership in the allied response and call on Americans to deal with higher gasoline prices in order to help defend democracy.

On the domestic front, he will also address the inflation that is driving his job approval rating at just 37% and highlight progress in dealing with the pandemic that allows many mask mandates to be dropped, including, symbolically, in the House chamber as he makes his high-profile speech.

Latest headlines:

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  • Biden on his plan to fight inflation
  • Biden to say war in Ukraine was ‘premeditated and unprovoked,’ highlight strong NATO alliance
  • Biden to signal new phase in pandemic
  • Iowa Gov. Reynolds to deliver GOP response
  • Biden says he’ll discuss ‘determination’ to keep allies on same page over Russian sanctions

Here is how the news is developing today. All times Eastern. Check back for updates.

Mar 01, 7:17 pm
Biden to announce new ‘test-to-treat’ program for COVID-19 pills

The president will announce a new “test-to-treat program” for COVID-19 during his State of the Union address tonight, his chief of staff said during an interview on CNN.

“Because we’re getting millions of these new Pfizer pills, we’ll be able to test people in drugstores, and if they test positive, immediately give them medicine that prevents hospitalization, free of charge,” Ron Klain said.

“And so we’re taking the next steps to make sure that COVID does not control our lives, that we can get this country closer to being back to normal,” he added.

Klain did not give any more details on how the program would work, such as if people would need a prescription.

The Biden administration has purchased 20 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 oral therapy, Paxlovid, although the pill is not expected to be widely available until later this spring. The current plan calls for gradually ramping up to 10 million doses by the end of June and another 10 million by the end of September.

-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson and Anne Flaherty

Mar 01, 7:15 pm
Biden seen in Ukrainian colors ahead of address

Hours before delivering his first State of the Union address, Biden was photographed sporting a blue and yellow tie, the colors of Ukraine.

Biden was wearing the tie while on a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy “to discuss our continued support for Ukraine” amid Russian aggression, he said in a Twitter post.

It is unclear what the president will ultimately wear during his address, though several members of Congress have announced plans to wear blue and yellow ribbons in support of Ukraine.

Mar 01, 5:57 pm
House Republicans: ‘The State of the Union is in crisis’

Ahead Biden’s first State of the Union address, House Republicans claimed the “state of our union is in a crisis,” which they say is directly caused by Biden and House Democrats’ “failed far-left socialist agenda.”

“Tonight, President Biden will try to rewrite history of the past year and pass the buck instead of taking responsibility for the failures of his radical far-left Democrat agenda,” the third-ranking House Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik said at a press briefing Tuesday.

Republicans are holding Biden personally responsible for several issues, from inflation to high gas prices to supply chain issues to the invasion of Ukraine.

“The war on Ukraine represents one of the greatest foreign policy failures in modern history,” Stefanik said. “For months, President Biden failed to engage in meaningful deterrence against Russian aggression.”

Ukrainian-American Rep. Victoria Spartz gave an emotional plea calling for the Biden administration to do more to help Ukraine.

“This is not a war, this is a genocide of the Ukrainian people,” Spartz, who represents Indiana, told reporters. “They want to be free people. They want to be with the West.”

-ABC News’ Mariam Khan

Mar 01, 5:52 pm
Biden on his plan to fight inflation

Biden will discuss his plan to fight inflation, which he says will aim to lower both costs and the deficit, according to an excerpt of his State of the Union address released by the White House.

“We have a choice. One way to fight inflation is to drive down wages and make Americans poorer. I have a better plan to fight inflation,” he said in the prepared remarks.

“Lower your costs, not your wages. Make more cars and semiconductors in America. More infrastructure and innovation in America. More goods moving faster and cheaper in America. More jobs where you can earn a good living in America. And, instead of relying on foreign supply chains — let’s make it in America,” the speech continues.

“Economists call it ‘increasing the productive capacity of our economy,'” the president said in the prepared remarks. “I call it building a better America.”

Mar 01, 5:45 pm
Biden to say war in Ukraine was ‘premeditated and unprovoked,’ highlight strong NATO alliance

Biden will call out Russian President Vladimir Putin by name in his State of the Union address, saying that Putin’s actions in Ukraine have solidified the NATO alliance, according to an excerpt of his prepared remarks released by the White House.

“Putin’s war was premeditated and unprovoked. He rejected efforts at diplomacy. He thought the West and NATO wouldn’t respond. And, he thought he could divide us here at home,” Biden is expected to say. “Putin was wrong. We were ready.”

-ABC News’ Justin Ryan Gomez

Mar 01, 5:39 pm
Biden to signal new phase in pandemic

President Joe Biden tonight will shy away from any suggestion of “mission accomplished” when it comes to the pandemic, or even that the virus had morphed into an “endemic” state — a term reserved to describe a virus that persists but is mostly predictable — a White House official told ABC News.

Instead, the official described the president’s speech as noting the nation is now able to “move forward safely in a way in which COVID no longer disrupts our lives the way it has previously.”

The president also will “emphasize the need for the U.S. to remain vigilant in the face of an unpredictable virus, including by preparing for future variants,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss details in advance of the speech.

-ABC News’ Anne Flaherty

Mar 01, 4:56 pm
Manchin, hours before, reiterates ‘There is no Build Back Better,’ wants Biden to address inflation

In advance of tonight’s speech, Sen. Joe Manchin reiterated his long-held view that has blocked Biden’s domestic agenda, saying, “There is no Build Back Better.”

“What we should be looking at is what we can do and what we have done,” the West Virginia Democrat said.

He told reporters he wants Biden to talk about inflation and about energy independence instead.

“Inflation is basically destroying the country as we know it from the standpoint of making it harder on the people they were trying to help — so we have to get energy under control,” Manchin said. “And next of all, be energy independent. Putin has weaponized energy, so shouldn’t we be using energy to counter what he’s been doing?”

-ABC News’ Allison Pecorin

Mar 01, 3:14 pm
Biden to stress leadership on Ukraine

President Joe Biden’s 9 p.m. ET speech, to be carried live on national television and seen around the world, will be delivered just days after Russia invaded Ukraine — and days after he nominated the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court.

But he’ll also be speaking to Americans suffering from historic inflation as the nation continues to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.

With his job approval at an all-time low of 37%, Biden faces the difficult task of balancing their pain with his desire to reap the political benefits of his legislative wins so far — a massive COVID relief package and a once-in-a-generation investment in the nation’s infrastructure — while also demonstrating his leadership on one of the greatest threats to European stability since World War II.

-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson

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