Democrats Fuming Over Tlaib's State of the Union Plan

'Squad' member will give a progressive response to Biden's speech
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2022 10:05 AM CST
Updated Mar 1, 2022 6:00 PM CST
Before Biden's Big Speech, Friction From the Left
Barricades surround the US Capitol at sunset before President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union, Tuesday, March 1, 2022, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Update: This story has been updated with new developments. President Biden delivers his first State of the Union Address in prime time Tuesday night, with no shortage of big-ticket items to discuss. What to know ahead of the speech, which is scheduled to begin at 9pm Eastern:

  • President will say Putin misjudged Western resolve. According to excerpts released by the White House, Biden will say Vladimir Putin badly misjudged the resolve of the US and its allies when he invaded Ukraine, the Washington Post reports.
  • A "test-to-treat" program. The Hill reports that according to White House chief of staff Ron Klain, the president plans to announce a "test-to-treat" COVID program, in which people will be tested in drugstores and given free medicine to prevent hospitalization if the result is positive.
  • Zelensky urges Biden to send a strong message. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN Tuesday that he hopes Biden will use the speech to send a strong and "useful" message on the Russian invasion. He said it's important for the US to understand that although the war is happening in Ukraine, it is a "war for the values of democracy, freedom."
  • A shift: Biden had planned on focusing mostly on domestic issues—the US pandemic response, worries about inflation, Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, his stalled agenda in Congress, etc., reports the New York Times. Putin's invasion of Ukraine changed that. "I think people can expect to hear him position that as the importance of the United States as a leader in the world, of standing up for values, standing up for global norms,” press chief Jen Psaki told reporters.

  • GOP: The Republican response will be delivered by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. As NPR notes, her profile rose amid the pandemic because she pushed back against many of the COVID rules advocated by federal officials.
  • Progressives: This year, it won't just be Republicans responding. "Squad" member Rep. Rashida Tlaib will offer the perspective of progressives. Politico reports she is expected to go after centrist Democrats who opposed Biden's legislation on social spending and climate change. Coming just months ahead of the midterms, her speech may expose "the deep rifts within the Democratic Party that have marked Biden’s presidency," writes Holly Otterbein.
  • Tlaib's critics: Axios reports that more mainstream Democrats are fuming at Tlaib. “It’s like keying your own car and slashing your own tires,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer tells the outlet. “It is astonishing that the radical left continues to promote a Democratic death wish, and sees no problem relegating our party to the permanent minority," says Rep. Filemon Vela. On his HBO show, meanwhile, Bill Maher said "it's like sacking your own quarterback," per Fox News.
  • What Tlaib says: The congresswoman defended herself on Twitter: "Despite some sensational coverage, it’s simple: I’m giving a speech about supporting President Biden and his Build Back Better agenda for the people," she wrote. "Look past the headlines & hear progressives’ vision for working with the President & Congress to deliver for our residents."
  • Nuts and bolts: Biden in his speech will push Congress to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and the maximum Pell Grant to $2,000, per the Washington Post. He'll also push for a family paid-leave program and energy tax credits.
(More State of the Union address stories.)

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