Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) has condemned the incessant GOP heckling during President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night, saying that Republicans’ behavior is indicative of the party’s current extremism.
Republicans continually shouted and jeered during Biden’s speech as he addressed issues like taxing the rich or the GOP’s plans to go after Medicare and Social Security, repeatedly calling him a “liar.” At one point, Republican Rep. Andy Ogles (Tennessee) yelled “it’s your fault” after Biden expressed sympathy for a parent whose child had died of a drug overdose. Commentators observed that the heckling seemed to be louder and more forceful than in previous years.
In an MSNBC appearance after the speech, Ocasio-Cortez pointed out that Republicans jeered at even the most basic policies mentioned by the president as the most extremist members of the party have been “embraced and uplifted as the center of the Republican Party.” The interruptions to the speech were far more frequent than she had ever seen during a State of the Union address, she observed.
“It’s really shocking even the things that the overall Republican Party refuse to stand for: paying public school teachers, public health policy, basic education policy, raising the wage for some of our lowest paid workers in the United States,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “This should be really basic stuff, sky is blue kind of stuff.”
“The Republican Party kind of really showed the country who they are tonight,” she continued.
Indeed, former House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California) pointed out in an interview on CNN that this sort of heckling is typical for the party — and that Republicans were displaying better behavior than they do in normal legislative hours.
“Well, actually, it was, for them, fairly well-behaved, from what we see every day of the week in the House of Representatives, unfortunately,” Pelosi said.
Ocasio-Cortez noted that while Biden’s speech didn’t go far enough on some levels, it was “impactful” and “surprising to some of us compared to his past State of the Unions.”
Indeed, left-leaning commentators have expressed mild surprise over Biden’s speech, which appeared to be somewhat influenced by ideas championed by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. While Biden praised law enforcement and emphasized his stance as a capitalist, he also celebrated populist policies like guaranteed paid family and medical leave, some of which have become a running thread through his presidency.
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