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Joe Biden and the new Congress did not start their relationship in the best way. During the State of the Union, the president was repeatedly booed and muttered at, with a couple of shouts thrown in for good measure. With a cooler head, GOP members of Congress are divided over what happened the night of February 7. Some blame Biden directly and others call for more respect for the inauguration.
The president entered the room to applause and began to wave cheerfully as he made his way to the podium. Once he arrived, he asked for recognition for all the congressional leaders. Up to this point, smiles were the order of the day, but once the applause died down and Biden began his speech, things quickly veered into more hostile territory.
The first tense moment of the evening came when the president accused Republicans of wanting to push for the “sunset” of Medicare and Social Security. This prompted a shake of the head from Kevin McCarthy, standing behind the president, which was followed by a spontaneous reaction among lawmakers.
Marjorie Taylor Greene didn’t pass up the opportunity to yell “liar!” at him. Making up his own statements, Biden tried to clarify, “I don’t think it’s a majority of you,” though he was barely audible above the Republican murmur.
Minutes later, he lamented the number of annual deaths caused by the opioid crisis in the United States. At that point, Rep. Andy Ogles raised his voice and exclaimed, “It’s your fault.”
All these outbursts had their repercussions on social media and there was still one more to come. While Biden criticized the oil and gas industry, he later stated that “we’re going to need oil for at least another decade.” The phrase drew a few chuckles from the Republican side of the aisle. Even Kevin McCarthy succumbed to laughter from his colleagues.
Who is to blame for the shouting against Biden?
The House speaker has little doubt about it. “The president was trying to goad the members, and the members are passionate about it. But the one thing that the president was saying was something that he knew was not true,” McCarthy said on Fox News.
Along the same editorial line is Congresswoman Lisa McCain, who, while noting that the president began his speech “wonderfully,” lamented that he lied “blatantly.”
“So as much as I wish we had had more decorum, you are instigating that behavior. So it starts with the leader,” indicated who represents Michigan’s 9th district in the House of Representatives.
Another who weighed in was Congressman Garret Graves. While he made it clear that the president’s investiture deserves respect, he understood why some of his colleagues could not maintain decorum. “I got a little uneasy in my seat and pretty frustrated listening to some of the allegations that are just patently false,” he added.
On the more centrist side of the scene, Dave Joyce, chairman of the Republican Government Caucus, lamented what happened during the State of the Union. “I think it’s important that proper decorum be addressed not only in the chamber, but everywhere we go. And we should hold ourselves to a higher ground. That’s something we shouldn’t engage in, and we should at least show the respect that’s due and owed [to] the office of president when he comes to our chamber to speak,” he said.
Perhaps the most coveted testimony came from Marjorie Taylor Greene herself, one of the evening’s leading voices. “I let him know exactly how people feel,” she acknowledged to reporters outside the venue, then topped it off with “so no, I have no regrets.”
Joaquín Núñez es licenciado en comunicación periodística por la Universidad Católica Argentina. Se especializa en el escenario internacional y en la política nacional norteamericana. Confeso hincha de Racing Club de Avellaneda. Contacto: [email protected] // Joaquín Núñez has a degree in journalistic communication from the Universidad Católica Argentina. He specializes in the international scene and national American politics. Confessed fan of Racing Club of Avellaneda. Contact: [email protected]