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Biden concludes State of the Union Address: Full coverage and analysis

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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene yells in the chambers as President Joe Biden speaks during the State of the Union address. (Jack Gruber/USA Today Network)

President Joe Biden regained control of an increasingly rowdy House chamber – and even managed to quickly turn heckles into a standing ovation from most Republicans, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy – during his State of the Union speech Tuesday night. 

The president was speaking about the national debt – a debt he said took “200 years to accumulate,” but was increased by 25% under the last administration. 

“Those are the facts, check it out,” Biden said, as boos and chatter started in the chamber. “Check it out!,” he continued over the ruckus. 

“How did Congress respond to all that debt?” Biden asked. “They did the right thing, they lifted the debt ceiling three times without preconditions or crisis.” 

Democrats cheered while Republicans quieted. But when the president accused some Republicans of wanting to cut Social Security and Medicare, the protests erupted again. 

“Some of my Republican friends want to take the economy hostage, I get it, unless I agree to their economic plans. All of you at home should know what their plans are,” Biden said. “Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset. I’m not saying it’s a majority,” he said to a rising chorus of boos. 

“Anybody who doubts it, contact my office, I’ll give you a copy of the proposal.” 

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green appeared to stand and shout, “you lie.” 

The White House has repeatedly accused Republicans of wanting to make cuts to Social Security and Medicare, but McCarthy explicitly said recently that those cuts were off the table. 

The president said he was “glad to see” the reaction, adding, “I enjoy conversion.”

“I’m not saying it’s a majority of you, I don’t think it’s even a significant – but it’s being proposed by individuals. I’m politely not naming them but it’s being proposed by some of you,” Biden said. Someone from the crowd shouted “liar,” among other heckles.

McCarthy shook his head and appeared to shush his members. 

The president continued, saying he wasn’t going to “be moved into being threatened to default on the debt if we don’t respond.”

“Folks – as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books now, right? They’re not to be touched,” he said, to what turned into claps. “We’ve got unanimity!” 
“Let’s all agree, and apparently we are, let’s stand up for seniors,” he said, encouraging lawmakers to stand up. “Stand up and show them! We will not cut Social Security; we will not cut Medicare.” 

He added: “if anyone tries to cut Social Security – which apparently no one is going to do – I’ll stop them. I’ll veto it.”  

“Apparently it’s not going to be a problem,” he said. 

Biden then said when he brings his budget proposal to Congress, he wanted to “sit down together and discuss our mutual plans together. Let’s do that.” McCarthy stood and clapped.

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