Republicans streamed out of the House chamber Tuesday night after President Joe Biden’s State of the Union, almost universally disavowing the speech, which had been marked by an unusually vocal and, at times, combative audience reacting to Biden’s remarks in real time.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) told reporters the speech was like “an alternate reality.”
“It was like listening to Ronald Reagan in 1984 ‘Morning in America,’ except for most Americans say that their economic prospects are worse, that their family is less safe, that their neighborhood is in shambles, and they can’t get good paying jobs,” he said.
Several Republicans appeared particularly struck by the fact that Biden did not talk in detail about the concerns many Americans have with security threats from China, which were underscored in a high-profile balloon incident last week.
“The China piece? He said almost nothing, you notice, about the balloon. In fact he said nothing specifically about the balloon incident because he doesn’t want to talk about it,” Hawley said. “He has no plan to deter China. We’re weaker vis-a-vis China than we were just two years ago,” Hawley continued, adding that he wanted to see a ban on Chinese corporations owning farmland and a more secure supply chain that is less reliant on the Communist-run country.
Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL) told Breitbart News Biden’s mere brief acknowledgement of the balloon occurrence, as well as his omission of the disastrous military withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, was “disingenuous.”
“Honestly it was like whiplash,” Cammack said. “It was really two State of the Unions happening at the same time, one that was completely divorced from reality and the other one that was absolutely infuriating. It’s frustrating.”
At one point during the speech, a chorus of Republicans reacted to Biden with boos when the president falsely claimed that Republicans wanted to make spending cuts to Social Security and Medicare, which House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had, just one night prior to the State of the Union, unequivocally vowed not to do in a speech about the debt ceiling.C-SPAN
“I think it’s really indicative of the fact that Republicans have had enough. We weren’t going to sit there and listen as the president lied,” Cammack said.
Another moment of frustration for Republicans was the president’s acknowledgment of the growing and deadly fentanyl epidemic while omitting the record numbers of migrants, both those apprehended by Border Patrol and “got-aways,” crossing the border illegally into the country during his presidency.
“The border wasn’t truthful. The border’s a disaster, the fentanyl is coming across, and if they were so concerned, quite frankly, of casualties on the ground, they probably would have shut down the border so we don’t have 200 fentanyl deaths a day,” Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) said to reporters after the speech.
Rep. Andy Ogles (R-TN), a freshman congressman who previously worked with the anti-human trafficking Abolition International, could be heard among the outspoken reactions to Biden’s fentanyl comments yelling, “It’s your fault!”U.S. House of Representatives
Ogles told reporters after the event when asked if speaking out had been appropriate, “You just had almost the entirety of the conference speak out against his words. It just so happened as they were getting quiet, I got louder. So my timing, my cadence might have been slightly off.”
He added though that his response was “visceral” because of “horrors” he has seen through his past work.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) gave a comprehensive breakdown of his issues with Biden’s speech on the border, economy, and China, calling the speech overall “angry” and “partisan”:
Joe Biden stands up and says he wants to secure the southern border. That is nothing but a laugh line because he spent two years undermining security at the border. When Joe Biden says he’s concerned about inflation, he takes the responsibility for the trillions in spending and debt that have caused the out-of-control inflation. … When he says that Americans’ enemies are weaker today. He’s standing up to China. Sadly, the entire world has laughed at the president while the Chinese spy balloon hovered over America for over a week. … We should have shot it down the instant it entered U.S. airspace. So I thought it was an angry speech. I thought it was a partisan speech. I thought it was a speech disconnected from working men and women.
Sharpening the divisions between the two parties, Democrats left the event largely pleased with the speech.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said it was “good” as she exited the chamber and gave reporters a thumbs up, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) also said it was “good” while nodding in approval.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) said, “The president was awesome. He was absolutely strong. … He talked about everything from the least of these who pay less taxes than the billionaires. I mean, it doesn’t get any better than that. I mean, he was good.”