Biden Chastises Republicans in State of the Union, Prompting Boos, Heckling
Biden Chastises Republicans in State of the Union, Prompting Boos, Heckling

By Jeff Louderback

During his second State of the Union address on Feb. 7, President Joe Biden encouraged “unity” to “finish the job” and to make life easier for working Americans.

Minutes later, he chastised Republicans and wandered off script in response to boisterous boos and jeers.

Biden said that his administration has “cut the deficit by more than $1.7 trillion—the largest deficit reduction in American history” and that under his “predecessor,” the country’s deficit increased for four consecutive years.

“Because of those record deficits, no president added more to the national debt in any four years than my predecessor,” Biden explained.

“Nearly 25 percent of the entire national debt that took over 200 years to accumulate was added by just one administration alone—the last one,” he continued before Republicans in the chamber responded with resounding displeasure.

Venturing away from the speech that was released to the media before the address, Biden interjected by saying, “They are the facts, check it out. Check it out. How did Congress respond to that debt? They did the right thing. They lifted the debt ceiling three times without preconditions or crisis. They paid America’s bills to prevent an economic disaster to our country.

“So, tonight, I’m asking this Congress to follow suit. Let’s commit here tonight that the full faith and credit of the United States of America will never, ever be questioned,” Biden added.

Biden immediately transitioned to Republicans, who have said they will not approve raising the debt ceiling unless the president agrees to spending cuts.

“Some of my Republican friends want to take the economy hostage unless I agree to their economic plans. All of you at home should know what their plans are,” he explained.

“Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset every five years.”

The claim drew more boos and jeers from Republicans.

“Anyone who doubts it, contact my office. I’ll give you a copy of the proposal,” Biden said.

“I enjoy conversion,” he added.

Biden continued by saying, “As we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books.”

President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Feb. 7, 2023. (Jacquelyn Martin/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Earlier in the address—as he touted what he called lower unemployment, reduced inflation rates, and strong job growth—Biden boasted about bipartisan cooperation.

“You know, we’re often told that Democrats and Republicans can’t work together,” Biden said. “But over these past two years, we proved the cynics and naysayers wrong.”

It wasn’t long after that point where issued his first warning to Republicans.

“Some members here are threatening, and I know it’s not an official party position, so I’m not going to exaggerate, but to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act,” Biden said. “That’s ok, that’s fair. As my football coach used to say lots of luck in your senior year.

“Make no mistake, if you try anything to raise the costs of prescription drugs, I will veto it,” Biden added.

Biden admonished GOP members who voted against the $1 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

The president praised projects being funded by the legislation he signed into law last year and said Republicans continue to request financial support for infrastructure projects in their areas

“I want to thank my Republican friends who voted for the law and my Republican friends who voted against it as well. But I still get asked to fund the projects in those districts as well,” Biden said. “But don’t worry. I promised I’d be the president for all Americans. We’ll fund these projects. And I’ll see you at the ground-breaking.”

Before the address, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy said that he intended to be “respectful” of Biden, adding that he would not “tear up the speech” or “play games.” His comments hinted about former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who ripped up then President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in 2020 while standing above the podium.

McCarthy was visibly disgusted upon hearing Biden’s comments, which drew negative responses from Republicans in the chambers, but he applauded the president’s remarks several times, including comments encouraging care for seniors.

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