The U.S. Constitution mandates in Article II, Section 3, that presidents “shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
It’s always been up to POTUS to decide when and how they fulfill this obligation. Until Wilson, most of them have submitted their reports in writing. But modern U.S. presidents have generally given their annual “State of the Union Address”, live before a joint session of Congress at some time in January or February.
And why not? It’s a great opportunity for the president to get a lot of attention, something they have exploited increasingly as technology has advanced. In 1923, Coolidge’s was broadcast over radio for the first time. In 1947, Truman’s was the broadcast on television for the first time. In 1965, LBJ moved his from mid-afternoon to prime time to maximize his television audience. And in 2002, Dubya had his broadcast live over the internet.
Only on a handful of occasions did modern presidents interrupt the tradition. In 1944, FDR’s scheduled delivery was canceled due to his poor health, but the speech was transmitted in writing. And in 1986, Reagan’s was postponed after the Challenger space shuttle exploded.
The only modern president I could find who did not deliver an annual address was Jimmy Carter during in his inaugural year of 1977. I looked for quite a long time, but was not able to find any reason that he skipped the opportunity to lay out his vision for his administration. In addition, while he technically fulfilled his constitutional obligation by submitted an “Annual Report to the Congress for 1977” in writing, it wasn’t published until March of 1978 … more than month after he delivered his 1978 State of the Union speech before Congress on January 19, 1978.
In January, FAUXTUS said he would be talking about his “Build Back Better Plan” during his first address to a joint session of Congress “next month.” Multiple sites quote AP reporting that it was likely to be held on February 23. One included the AP link below, which no longer shows the report. Best guess … they scrubbed it to avoid embarrassing President Dementia. However, one included this screen shot:
On February 16, press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about it and said, “I’ve not Nancy Drewed that one out today, but it was never planned to be in February and we don’t have a date for a joint session at this point.”
Thomas Lifson wrote the obvious at American Thinker, that is that “The lickspittle media are rushing in with ‘fact checks’ to assure the nation that there is no requirement or deadline for a SOTU speech.” But hey … we all know the real reason, right?
NOTE: In 2019, VOA News (link below) published an article that claimed, “Recent presidents — Reagan in 1981, George H.W. Bush in 1989, Clinton in 1993, George W. Bush in 2001, Barack Obama in 2009 and Trump in 2017 — have chosen not to deliver official State of the Union addresses during their first years in office. Those speeches would have come soon after their inaugural addresses. However, many, including Trump, have delivered major speeches in front of Congress that have had the feel of the State of the Union without the title.”
I googled “SOTU YouTube” for each of those years and found videos of said “major speeches in front of Congress that have had the feel of the State of the Union without the title.” They are all labeled “State of the Union.”