President Joe Biden gave his first State of the Union address Tuesday night in front of an unmasked (but COVID-19-tested) Congress and invited guests.
The State of the Union, in the words of a Tuesday afternoon campaign email from Seventh District Rep. Michelle Fischbach, “is typically an opportunity for the President to brag about successes of the last year and highlight things they want to accomplish in the coming year.”
This has always been true — of Democratic and Republican presidents alike. And Biden’s address was no different.
The president spent the first portion of his speech talking about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He commended the U.S. on its quick response and ability to maintain a strong partnership with the European Union.
“Throughout our history we’ve learned this lesson – when dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos,” Biden said. “They keep moving. And the costs and threats to America and the world keep rising.”
The president said that he would not put American troops on the ground in Ukraine, but if Russia invaded any European Union country, it would be a different story.
Some awkward moments arose when members of the GOP shouted at Biden during his speech. When he was referencing burn pits that had caused a multitude of health issues for U.S. military veterans, Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert yelled, “you put them there, 13 of them,” referencing U.S. troops killed during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Biden also addressed the rising inflation in the U.S., giving a rather watered-down policy statement.
“I think I have a better way to fight inflation: Lower your costs, not your wages,” Biden said. Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R) apparently wasn’t fond of that line.
Biden at times seemed to embrace progressive ideals, calling for fighting climate change, increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour and lowering the cost of child care. But in parts of his speech, to some on the left, Biden spoke almost as if he were part of the GOP.
“We should all agree,” he said. “The answer is not to defund the police, but to fund the police. Fund them. Fund them with resources and training — resources and training they need to protect their communities.”
Minnesota Second District Rep. Angie Craig (D) — who is up for re-election this year in a swing district — expressed support for Biden’s middle-of-the-road approach.
“It’s long past time for us to take off our red and blue jerseys and work together,” Craig said. “I was grateful to hear President Biden express his commitment to unity and cooperation – which will be crucial in the coming days, weeks and years both here and abroad.” Craig sat next to Fourth District Rep. Betty McCollum (D) during the speech.
The rest of Minnesota’s delegation responded fairly predictably to Biden’s address, with Republicans slamming him for what they called failing on the world stage and presiding over a faltering economy at home and Democrats commending him for strong leadership amid global crisis of war and COVID.
Tom Emmer, Minnesota’s Sixth District Representative and chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said that Biden, “reaffirmed that not only are his policies responsible for the numerous crises our nation is facing, but he has no real plans to fix them.” He blamed Biden for the nation’s highest inflation rate in 40 years.
Eighth District Rep. Pete Stauber (R) agreed, saying that Biden should, “find common sense solutions to providing relief from these high prices for Americans.” Stauber did not suggest what any of those common-sense solutions might look like. He also called on Biden to “restore American energy independence” and secure the Southern border with Mexico.
Craig, on the other hand, said that she was happy with Biden’s “intense focus on lowering costs for working families, strengthening our supply chains and continuing to grow our economy.”
Third District Rep. Dean Phillips (D) did not release a full official statement post-State of the Union, but tweeted that the speech was “a refreshing return to dignity, competency, and unity this evening.”
Fifth District Rep. Ilhan Omar (D) did not tweet a response nor did she issue a statement on the president’s speech.