Lacking the presidential bully pulpit but boasting the largest congressional majority in generations, top
GOP leaders tapped one of their newest faces to give their official prime-time response to the president's address. Rather than respond directly to the president’s speech, though, Sen.
"We heard the message you sent in November — loud and clear. And now we're getting to work to change the direction Washington has been taking our country," she said.
Republicans have seemed determined since the election to shake the GOP's image of catering to the nation's wealthy elite. Ernst, calling herself a mother and soldier, recalled that while growing up she had to put plastic bread bags around her one good pair of shoes to keep them dry in the rain. These Americans "have been hurting" in the current economy, but "too often, Washington responded with the same stale mind-set that led to failed policies like Obamacare."
"That's why the new Republican majority you elected started by reforming Congress to make it function again. And now, we're working hard to pass the kind of serious job creation ideas you deserve," Ernst said.
In an unusual three-week buildup to the president’s annual address to Congress, the
“The American people have spoken,”
But instead, McConnell said, Obama has "indicated he's not for much of anything the American people voted for last November."
"I just say this with all due respect to him. He doesn't set the agenda in the Senate. We're going to try to do the things that we think will make America a better place," he said.
In a morning address to the
"[It] is unfortunate, because we're going to need real leadership from the White House – not just liberal talking points – if tax reform is going to be successful," Hatch said.
"If President Obama has his way, hundreds of billions of dollars in new taxes will undeniably trickle down on to consumers. They'll face fewer choices, higher costs and less economic freedom," he said.
After Obama announced sweeping new policies to loosen trade and restore relations with Cuba, several Republicans who oppose that approach invited like-minded activists to attend the speech as their guests in the House chamber.
House Speaker John A. Boehner invited two other Cuban pro-democracy advocates, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez and Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera.
As in recent years, a prominent conservative political group organized the so-called
But, returning to English, he said: "As we respect our immigration laws, we've also got to be fair to the more than 10 million Americans currently struggling to find good jobs.… To do this, we need to secure our borders first."