Why was Biden heckled by Republicans in the State of the Union?

There were boos, heckles and jeers in Washington on Tuesday. It was not an open mic night at a comedy club. It was a state of the union.

Joe Biden’s second formal State of the Union address to Congress was a strident and, at times, partisan speech that drew a heated response from Republicans.

It wasn’t just a prepared formal Republican response from Sarah Sanders, the newly elected governor of Arkansas who served as Donald Trump’s top press aide, focusing on hot-button culture-war issues. Sanders argued “the dividing line in America is no longer right or left. The choice is between normal or crazy,” and Biden’s capitulation to “a woke crowd that can’t tell you what a woman is.”

Instead, Biden’s suggestion that Republicans wanted to get rid of Social Security, citing a proposal by Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) to allow all government programs to sunset after five years unless expressly reauthorized, drew loud and angry reactions. Although Biden warned that only a few Republicans wanted to take away Social Security and Medicare, almost all of them yelled at him or scolded him in the sense that they would risk touching the biggest third rail in American politics. Both Speaker Kevin McCarthy and former President Donald Trump insisted that Republicans would do no such thing. During Biden’s speech, Representative Beth Van Duyne (R-TX) shouted from her seat, “Name one, name one”.

Afterward, Republicans were outraged by the revelations by Biden. Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) told Vox that “it blows my mind.” One of the Republican Party’s most vocal moderates, Bacon said it was unfair for Biden to assume that all Republicans shared Rick Scott’s views on entitlement reform. “We can say like the entire Democrat Party [Ilhan] Omar and that wouldn’t be right either, would it?”

That was echoed by Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), a longtime McCarthy ally, who noted that when Biden “came out [Republicans are] Trying to cut Social Security, there was a lot of greed.” He added, “And I thought that was pretty fair,” though he expressed frustration at the vocal heckling Biden faced from some Republicans.

Republicans also showed their displeasure with Biden’s allegiance to other progressive stalwarts. Laughter erupted from Republicans when Biden said the U.S. would still need oil for the next 10 years — a line that was not in his prepared remarks — which they saw as deeply unrealistic. Later, LaMalfa immediately mentioned this when he listed his thoughts in the speech. “I really want to [Biden] He was more realistic when he said we would need oil for 10 years. We’ll need it for 150 years.”

That doesn’t mean a bipartisan moment in the upcoming Congress isn’t still a possibility. After all, the first person in the chamber to jump to applaud Biden’s line about cracking down on Big Tech was Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who is hardly the epitome of centrism in modern American politics.

But it sets the stage for a real showdown over the debt ceiling in the coming months. LaMalfa expressed his hope that Biden and McCarthy could develop a relationship in the coming months. He contrasted the Obama administration’s Biden who negotiated a fiscal cliff deal with John Boehner as “Biden 1.0” and the more partisan and progressive Biden of recent years as “Biden 2.0.” And, as for tonight’s Biden, LaMalfa said that “Biden is 1.9.”