NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — President Joe Biden delivered his first formal State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
As expected, Russia's invasion of Ukraine remained a central topic as the world tries to stop further escalation with diplomacy and sanctions.
Inflation and the wake of a pandemic-era economic recovery is also a central topic weighing on the minds of much of the country as the president tried to reassure voters that the country is on the right track.
Read the full text of the State of the Union address here
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds delivered the Republican response to the speech, criticizing the president for being "weak." Reynolds said the conflict in Ukraine is a direct result of the Biden administration's actions or inactions.
Tennessee's two U.S. senators, both Republicans, have also released their reactions to the speech.
In her statement, which was recorded before the speech was delivered, Sen. Marsha Blackburn called for the country to become energy independent.
“Inflation is at a record high. Crime like we have not seen in decades. Much of that is because of that open southern border with illegal immigrants coming into this country—cartels that are setting up shop on U.S. soil. Human trafficking, sex trafficking, record numbers, drug trafficking, and American citizens and Tennesseans who are losing their lives. 3,000 Tennesseans last year lost their lives to drug overdoses. Add to this, the issue of energy independence… Under Joe Biden, after one year, we are buying 600,000 barrels of oil from Russia every single day. This means Joe Biden is financing Vladimir Putin's war. It is time to stop buying oil. It is time to return to energy independence.”
- Sen. Blackburn
Sen. Bill Hagerty's statement echoed much of Reynolds' response. Hagerty called the president's speech a "sad attempt to create an illusion of success and false hope."
"Good evening. President Joe Biden has just concluded his first State of the Union address.
Hundreds were permitted to gather to listen to our President’s empty rhetoric in the United States Capitol building. Meanwhile, the American people watching at home—to whom the Capitol actually belongs—have remained locked out, two years after the first COVID-19 mandates were put in place. Thankfully, earlier today, Democrats finally re-joined reality and agreed to pass my commonsense resolution to re-open your Capitol.
But President Biden’s weak leadership goes far beyond this inexplicable lockdown on democracy and the pandemic power grab he refuses to fully relinquish.
Since his last address to Congress, we’ve witnessed failure after failure from President Biden, each of which has further damaged our Nation’s reputation, compromised our security, and demonstrated demoralizing weakness to Americans across the country and our adversaries around the globe.
Because of President Biden’s big-government socialist spending, Americans are bearing the burden of historic inflation that’s getting heavier by the day. I’m glad to recently see him finally acknowledge the inflation that is crippling families and businesses alike. But instead of implementing sound, pro-growth economic policies that would give Americans relief from skyrocketing prices, he continues to push programs and plans that will only exacerbate the problem and beget perpetual cradle-to-grave government dependency.
In 2021, more than two million illegal immigrants have unlawfully crossed our southern border and entered our country. This record-breaking crisis and the President’s blatant refusal to secure our border have created a crisis that extends thousands of miles beyond our southern border. Tennessee has seen an unprecedented increase in fentanyl transported from Mexico. This fentanyl is flooding into our communities and killing our kids. Now, every town is a border town.
Every action—or lack of action—in his first year has resulted in another adversary emboldened. President Biden’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, which led to the heartbreaking loss of 13 brave U.S. servicemembers, including a brave Tennessean, sent a message loud and clear to other foreign leaders—that President Biden prioritizes sound bites over sound security; that he’s more focused on press releases than policy.
How do we know this? Look no further than what has followed: Communist China has escalated its harassing posture in the Pacific with an aim to push the U.S. out of the region, endangering Democratic Taiwan. And now, Vladimir Putin has launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine—the largest attack on European soil since World War II.
President Biden’s speech tonight was a sad attempt to create an illusion of success and false hope, to distract from heartbreaking failures both at home and abroad. Don’t mistake this smokescreen for the fog of war that President Biden’s policies have precipitated.
As I serve the people of Tennessee in the Unites States Senate, “America First” is my guiding light—as an ally, the world needs a strong America; an America that puts its own interests first and works closely with its allies to strengthen free-minding partners around the world. I will support the Biden Administration when they are right, and I will call them out when they get it wrong. I had hoped coming into the new year that this Administration would put politics aside to advance American strength, security, and prosperity, but thus far I’ve been sorely disappointed.
Tennesseans want a President who leads America with strength and resolve—not a leader who capitulates to dictators and communist regimes whilst ‘leading from behind.’
Tennesseans want to put the pandemic behind them and make personal decisions for themselves—not bow to the ‘expert’ class and submit to draconian mandates.
Tennesseans want a secure border and safe neighborhoods—not a free pass for illegal migrants to enter our communities and free rein for drug cartels to poison our kids—while ‘smash and grab’ and ‘no cash bail,’ the mantra of the Left, have become the descriptors of a new wave of crime across America.
Tennesseans want smaller government and individual liberty—not big-government control and socialist spending that will fall onto the backs of our children and grandchildren.
As your United States Senator, I will fight against President Biden’s destructive policies and for our Tennessee values every day.
Thank you, and God bless."
- Sen. Hagerty