Even though President Joe Biden began his State of the Union address with a humorous gesture of bipartisan friendliness, he quickly lost their support by making many points that angered the Republican majority in the House.
On February 7, the Democratic president gave his yearly address to the country while facing a House of Representatives controlled by the Republican party for the first time since Joe Biden took office in 2021.
Biden argued that the last few years have proven that Democrats and Republicans can cooperate by passing a once-in-a-generation statute to improve the country’s infrastructure and create new connections between the people of the United States.
But during his 75-minute speech, Biden made several statements that angered the Republican Party, most notably when he said that Republicans intended to “sunset” Medicare and Social Security. Biden said he was not stating it was the majority, as Republicans booed and accused him of lying.
Biden answered inexplicably by adding that he takes pleasure in being converted. Biden avoided a confrontation with Republican senators by remarking, “everyone seemingly believes that Social Security and Medicare is off, off the books,” following an exchange with the latter group.
Cheers and applause followed. But then Biden issued a threat:
“I’ll veto it,” he threatened if anyone tried to reduce funding for those initiatives.
He also implied that he would veto any legislation Congress passed to restrict access to abortion.
President Biden made an effort to bring together the House, which Republicans control, and the Senate, which Democrats control, on the issue of immigration. A sore spot for Republicans who have blamed Biden for allowing illegal immigrants to flow into America was the president’s claim that he attempted to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, and the GOP side of the chamber again erupted in heckling.
As another bone of contention, Biden acknowledged a father who had lost his daughter to a fentanyl overdose and lamented the 70,000 deaths attributable to this poison in the United States. Some Republicans loudly voiced their dissatisfaction with Biden, and many have chastised him for doing too little to stem the flow of fentanyl from Mexico into the United States.
As the speech progressed and his fellow Republicans made their disapproval of Biden plain, McCarthy maintained a relatively calm demeanor. He clapped his hands gently a few times. Vice President Kamala Harris, sitting next to McCarthy, regularly shook her head in approval as Biden spoke.
Biden’s recognition of Tyre Nichols’s mother and stepfather, RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, brought the crowd together. Nichols, a black man aged 29, was beaten to death by police in Memphis in January.
Everyone stood and applauded in honor of the couple and all they have been through.
Vice President Biden noted that Nichols’ mother had informed him she wished for a positive outcome from her son’s tragic death. It was an opportunity the president did not waste. He pleaded with lawmakers to overhaul the police force.
He also avoided talking about the Chinese spy balloon floating over American territory for days before being shot down. The government received harsh criticism for not taking action sooner.
The national debt is another pressing issue that Biden mostly ignored.
Twenty-two Republican senators warned Vice President Biden in a letter last month that they would vote against extending the debt ceiling unless Biden reduced spending and restored fiscal sense to Washington. The United States owes $31 trillion, more than the GDP.
When all else failed, President Biden tried to end on a positive note by saying that, as Americans, we are capable of accomplishing anything.