Everything You Need To Know: The Republican Response to The State of the Union Address

Maria Cifuentes, Reporter

On March 1, 2022 President Biden delivered the State of the Union Address to the nation and US Congress. His message focused on the war in Ukraine, inflation, the coronavirus pandemic, and plans to make America strong and united. On the same night, the Republican Party delivered their response to the President’s address. The Republican Response was given by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, who detailed a list of criticisms and presented alternate solutions to the current issues our country is facing. 

In order to break down the Republican Response and to be able to fully understand its importance in American politics, we must first define it. The State of the Union Address is an annual message delivered by the President of the United States to Congress. Shortly after, the minority party which opposes the President’s party delivers a rebuttal argument. Delivering this argument can be beneficial for the speaker because it is an opportunity to gain publicity and campaign for their potential candidacy for a higher position. It serves as a chance to introduce themselves to the entire nation. The response includes criticism, opposing viewpoints, and different solutions than those the President offered. 

This year, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds had the opportunity to deliver the rebuttal. Reynolds is widely known for her disapproval of mask mandates and shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to CNN, Reynolds signed a “legislation into law last year that blocks mask mandates from being implemented in K-12 schools and prohibits cities and counties from requiring facial coverings in businesses.” She is also an advocate for protection of the unemployed. Last year, she pushed for and signed a law that would ensure unemployment benefits to those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, but more specifically to those who lost their jobs on the basis that they refused to get vaccinated. Additionally, Reynolds has signed legislation that banned controversial books and teachings from schools. This included lessons about systematic racism and white privilege. 

The rebuttal argument opened with Reynolds’ statement, “It feels like President Biden and his party have sent us back in time — to the late ’70s and early ’80s, when runaway inflation was hammering families, a violent crime wave was crashing on our cities and the Soviet army was trying to redraw the world map.” With this Reynolds expressed the discontent her party and fellow Republicans had towards President Biden, specifically the lack of action being taken and the continuous mistakes being made by government officials. They believe President Biden has failed to make America respected around the world and has failed to unite those at home. Reynolds then addressed the people of Ukraine, praising them for their strength, courage, and bravery they have maintained throughout the horrific events occurring in their country. She commended their willingness to persevere even under the tyranny of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Reynolds also wore a pin of crossed American and Ukrainian flags, symbolizing U.S. support during these unprecedented times

Immediately after, Reynolds called out President Biden on his actions leading up to the invasion of Ukraine. She said, “We shouldn’t ignore what happened in the run-up to Putin’s invasion.” This is referring to Biden’s decision to waive sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines to Germany and limiting oil production at home. She also argued that Biden’s action regarding foreign policy is too little too late. She specifically called the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan a disastrous decision. 

The Republican governor refuted a claim made by President Biden about America needing to project strength abroad in order to support Ukraine. She stated that we cannot project strength abroad if we are weak at home, referring to the current economic situation Americans are facing due to inflation. She stated that Biden and democratic officials were warned that spending trillions would lead to soaring inflation. The message embedded in this rebuttal was that government officials must step out of the DC bubble and reach out to American citizens. They must learn to listen to the people’s concerns and make a change. 

As the speech went on, topics concerning immigration policies and vaccinations were addressed. Reynolds argued that there is an issue with Biden’s current immigration policies and border control, specifically that the current action being taken is not enough to protect our country’s borders and preventing sex trafficking. She stated, “And we’ve actually gone to the border—something that our President and Vice President have yet to do since taking office.” This claim was later disproved as it was known that Vice President Kamala Harris did in fact visit the U.S.- Mexican border in June 2021. 

One of Reynolds’ arguments was rooted in her party’s disapproval of mask mandates and shutdowns due to the coronavirus. She emphasized that mask mandates are not the answer to stop the spread of COVID 19. The argument was made that mental health issues, unequal education, and social issues caused by quarantines will leave a huge loss for our country. Reynolds reiterated that Iowa was the first state to require schools to be open and that although she received an overwhelming amount of hate, it evidently worked. However, it was later released that Iowa was not the first state to require schools to be open.  Arkansas and Florida were actually the first to require full in-person instruction. 

Overall,  the State of the Union Address was delivered with a message of hope and unity for the American people but the Republican party painted a different picture. The response brought to light a new perspective of how government leaders are lacking in their leadership and must do better; it painted a picture of a country amidst a storm of crises. They advocated for change and better solutions so that the United States can become stronger at home.