WASHINGTON- Speaking in front of a divided Congress for the first time during his presidency, President Joe Biden rooted his State of the Union address in bipartisan appeals, while also drawing a distinct contrast between Democrat and Republican priorities.
The President touted bipartisan legislative accomplishments of the past two years, such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the CHIPS and Science Act, and summoned the 118th Congress to adopt his agenda.
“To my Republican friends, if we could work together in the last Congress, there is no reason we can’t work together in this new Congress,” Biden said. “The people sent us a clear message. Fighting for the sake of fighting, power for the sake of power, conflict for the sake of conflict, gets us nowhere.”
But beyond these moments of bipartisan appeal, Biden didn’t back away from signaling out Republican economic proposals. He attacked the GOP for threatening to “take the economy hostage” with debt ceiling negotiations.
Some members of the GOP did not hold back during Biden’s remarks, with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.) shouting “liar!” as the President accused some Republicans of wanting to make cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters that he instructed Republican lawmakers to behave during Biden’s speech, and the Speaker appeared to shush his heckling colleagues during the address.
Biden appeared to play along with Republican jests throughout the night. He told Republicans who asked for infrastructure funding after railing against the bill that “I’ll see you at the ground-breaking,” and encouraged doubters of the GOP’s proposed economic agenda to “contact my office.”
Ahead of his widely expected 2024 election campaign announcement, Biden has ramped up verbal attacks toward the GOP, with phrases such as “extreme MAGA Republicans” and “not your father’s Republican party” peppered into his remarks in Virginia, New York and Philadelphia.
During Tuesday’s address, bipartisan applause stretched across the chamber when Biden touted toxic burn pit legislation and honored the parents of Tyre Nichols, a Black man brutally killed by police in Memphis, Tennessee.
Biden also pledged to advance his unity agenda, a four-part bipartisan framework he introduced in last year’s State of the Union. He announced new initiatives related to the Cancer Moonshot initiative, support for veterans, mental health services, and addressing the opioid epidemic.
The President steered clear of directly naming former President Donald Trump, who has already announced he is running for president in 2024. The only mention of the 45th President came when Biden accosted his “predecessor” of raking up the national debt during his administration.
Biden, whose approval rating stands in the mid 40s according to a series of recent polls, is looking to levy support ahead of his widely expected reelection campaign. He appeared to use his platform during the State of the Union to frame his candidacy in his own terms, simultaneously touting the promises of bipartisanship and drawing a comparison between the ideologies of the two parties.
Excerpt: During his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden appealed to Democrats and Republicans to work together, but also didn’t hesitate from calling out the GOP at times.