President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech started with a lighthearted gesture of bipartisan goodwill, but that evaporated as he repeatedly made statements that irked the Republican side of the aisle.
His Feb. 7 speech marked the first time that the Democrat president, in office since 2021, faced a Republican-controlled House of Representatives as he gave his annual report to the nation.
Biden began by congratulating Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R- Calif.) for being chosen as Speaker of the House, then joked, off-script: “Mr. Speaker, I don’t want to ruin your reputation, but I look forward to working with you.”
And, Biden said, during the past couple of years, Democrats and Republicans have shown they can work together, noting they approved a “once-in-a-generation infrastructure law, building bridges connecting our nation and our people.”
Jeers and Cheers
But Biden ran afoul of the GOP several times during his 75-minute speech, especially when he accused Republicans of wanting to “sunset” Medicare and Social Security. As Republicans booed and accused him of lying about that, Biden said, “I’m not saying it’s the majority.”
Biden responded, “I enjoy conversion.” After going back and forth with Republican lawmakers who were shouting from their seats, Biden backed away from the confrontation, saying, “So folks, as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off, off the books now.”
Applause and cheers followed. But Biden followed up with a threat: If anyone tries to cut those programs, “I’ll veto it,” he said.
He also threatened to veto any anti-abortion law that Congress might pass.
Biden attempted to urge the Republican-controlled House and the Democrat-controlled Senate to “come together” on immigration. “Make it a bipartisan issue once again,” he said.
But the GOP side of the chamber again erupted with heckling as Biden claimed he was trying to secure the U.S.-Mexico border—a sore point with Republicans who have criticized him for allowing illegal immigrants to pour into America.
By Janice Hisle