[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/24/sotn.bethea/art.girl.speech.afp.gi.jpg caption="South Carolina student Ty'Sheoma Bethea was invited to the speech after she wrote a letter to lawmakers."]
(CNN) - Her school has become a symbol of the kind of crumbling infrastructure that President Obama hopes his stimulus bill will improve.
But on Tuesday, Ty'Sheoma Bethea became the face of the issue, when she joined first lady Michelle Obama as her guest for the president's first speech to a joint session of Congress.
The White House invited Ty'Sheoma, a student at the J.V. Martin Junior High School in Dillon, South Carolina, after a letter she sent lawmakers appealing for help rebuilding her school made its way to the president.
The eighth-grader reportedly boarded her first plane with her mother, Dina Leach, from South Carolina to Washington to attend the speech.
The eighth-grader was inspired to write the letter by Obama, who mentioned her school in his first presidential news conference on February 9. After visiting the school, he referenced J.V. Martin as evidence of educational institutions that would benefit from school construction funding in his $787 billion stimulus package.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/24/obama.guests/art.abess.pool.jpg caption="Leonard Abess Jr. was recognized by President Obama during Tuesday's State of the Nation speech."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - More than two dozen guests joined first lady Michelle Obama at the president's speech to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night.
One person on the first lady's guest list was Leonard Abess Jr., a Miami banker who received a $60 million bonus from the proceeds from the sale of shares of City National Bank in Florida and gave it out to his 399 workers and 72 former workers.
During his speech, President Obama said Abess didn't tell anyone about his generosity, but when the local newspaper found out, Abess simply said, "I knew some of these people since I was 7 years old. I didn't feel right getting the money myself."
Abess demonstrates the kind of "responsibility" the president has called for from high-profile financial CEOs, the White House said.
Obama contrasted Abess' story with the greed that he said got the country into the problems it faces now.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/24/obama.health.care/art.obama.health.gi.jpg caption="President Obama tells Congress Tuesday night: I have no illusions this will be an easy process."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama pledged Tuesday night to cure Americans from what he called "the crushing cost of health costs," saying the country could not afford to put health-care reform on hold.
"This is a cost that now causes a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds. By the end of the year, it could cause 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes," Obama said in his speech to a joint session of Congress.
Obama pointed to the increasing number of uninsured and rapidly rising health-care premiums, which he said was one reason small business closed their doors and corporations moved overseas.
Obama's prescription for health-care reform included making "the largest investment ever" in preventive care, rooting out Medicare fraud and investing in electronic health records and new technology in an effort to reduce errors, bring down costs, ensure privacy and save lives.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/24/art.getty.obama.address.jpg caption="President Obama inspired a flurry of tweets on Tuesday night."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Members of Congress twittered their way through President Obama's nationally televised speech Tuesday night, providing a first-of-its-kind running commentary that took users of the social networking site inside the packed House chamber.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah, began sending tweets from the House chamber nearly two hours before the speech, commenting on the staffers assigned to set up the president's teleprompters.
"One tele-prompter appears broken. Still 1.5 hours to go but I bet they are nervous," he wrote from the seventh row of the chamber, where he said he was sitting next to Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona.
As the speech neared, more members of Congress reached for their mobile devices and signed into their Twitter accounts, typing missives to their followers.
Texas Republican Michael C. Burgess spent his time examining the president's prepared remarks. "Not much healthcare in tonight's speech it seems," he tweeted while waiting for the President to arrive.
Montana Republican Denny Rehberg said the excitement in the room was palpable. "Waiting to hear Barack," he wrote. "Place is on fire." South Carolina's Gresham Barrett tweeted that the "Capitol is buzzing."
Rep. John Culberson of Texas, a prolific twitterer and one of the first members of Congress to embrace the technology, not only tweeted from the chamber ("TV lights are so bright I could get a suntan") but also sent live video updates to the site Qik.com as he hustled his way to the Capitol.
Though Republicans have proven themselves more eager to tweet than their colleagues on the other side of the aisle, some tech-savvy Democrats were also offering play-by-play as the night unfolded.
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com.
President Obama on Tuesday outlined an ambitious agenda that requires "significant resources," even as he aims to halve the deficit by the end of his first term.
A national poll indicates that two-thirds of those who watched President Barack Obama's address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night had a very positive reaction to his speech.
Members of Congress twittered their way through President Obama's nationally televised speech Tuesday night, providing a first-of-its-kind running commentary that took users of the social networking site inside the packed House chamber.
Seated in Michelle Obama’s box on Tuesday night were living symbols of the ideas in President Obama’s first speech to a joint session of Congress, including a bank executive, Leonard Abess, who shared a vast fortune with his employees, and an eighth-grade student from South Carolina, Ty’Sheoma Bethea, who in a letter had urged Congress not to neglect education financing.