A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News. Delivered to your inbox on Fridays.
Leading the week
President Joe Biden delivers his second State of the Union address on Tuesday (February 7), and his first since Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives. The speech comes after Biden held talks with Speaker Kevin McCarthy on raising the debt limit earlier this week, and it’s a subject Biden is likely to raise during his remarks, pointing to recent positive economic data to argue that his Administration’s economic policies are working and warning of the risks of a default to the lives of ordinary Americans.
He’s also almost certain to raise the death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police and urge Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, something Vice President Kamala Harris brought up when she spoke at Nichols’s funeral earlier this week. Nichols’s parents have confirmed they’ll be attending after being invited as guests of the Congressional Black Caucus. Biden may also touch on gun violence, given the spate of mass shootings since his last State of the Union, as well as the planned end of the Covid public health emergency on May 11. Looking abroad, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is sure to loom large ahead of the anniversary of the invasion on February 24, and Biden may also have words on China after Antony Blinken’s planned trip to Beijing was postponed at the last minute amid the row over a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the US.
On Wednesday (February 8), House Republicans are holding the first in a series of hearings on alleged government interference in free speech and social media bias. The House Oversight and Accountability session is focused on Twitter’s handling of reporting in the New York Post regarding information allegedly from a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden that tuned up at a computer repair shop in Delaware in April 2019. Witnesses include several former Twitter staff members, among them former head of safety and integrity Yoel Roth. Republican claims of bias at the social media network have had a new lease of life in recent months following Elon Musk’s takeover of the platform and his promotion of the so-called Twitter Files, which he has said show evidence that the site suppressed the New York Post’s reporting ‘acting under orders from the government’, despite the fact that Donald Trump was president at the time.
The Super Bowl takes place in Glendale, Arizona on Sunday (February 12) as Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs take on Jalen Hurts’ Philadelphia Eagles, both recent Lombardi Trophy-winners (in 2018 and 2020 respectively). This year’s match up sees two notable firsts: it will be the first final to feature two Black starting quarterbacks, and the first to see siblings compete on the field, with Jason Kelce of the Eagles taking on his brother Travis of the Chiefs. Halftime entertainment this year comes courtesy of superstar Rihanna, who makes her first major public performance since 2018.
EU leaders hold a special summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday (February 9-10) with migration and green industry funding top of the agenda. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen signaled a stronger approach on migration in a letter ahead of the summit, touting a pilot scheme to immediately return failed asylum seekers and urging governments to work together to strengthen external border controls. But much of the focus ahead of the summit has been on the bloc’s response to the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), with European leaders eager to find a way to compete with the $369 billion in green industry subsidies that they fear will drive investment stateside.
Green Industrial Deal proposals unveiled on Wednesday include loosening state aid rules to allow further government support and repurposing some €250 billion from the EU’s pandemic recovery fund to help smaller countries subsidize investments at the same level as richer nations. But the plan has already come under fire from some quarters, with MEPs and ministers among those who have warned of the negative effects of increased state aid and likened drawing on existing funding and proposals to ‘little more than old wine in new bottles’.
French President Emmanuel Macron will have to get through a tough week at home first as the National Assembly takes up his controversial pension reform bill on Monday (February 6). Some 7,000 amendments have been proposed ahead of the first reading as the left-wing Nupes alliance looks to block the legislation amid fierce opposition from unions. Over a million people took part in protests on Tuesday against plans to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64, and coordinated strike action is set to continue this week with mass demonstrations planned for Tuesday (February 7) and Saturday (February 11). It’s a similar story across the Channel, where the UK faces the biggest-ever day of disruption to its National Health Service on Monday (February 6) as nurses and ambulance drivers walk off the job to protest inadequate pay offers in an ever-widening dispute between the government and public sector.