Far-left “Squad” member Rep. Rashida Tlaib will give one of two Democratic rebuttals to President Biden’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday, drawing the ire of centrists in her own party, including one who described it as “keying your own car.”
Tlaib (D-Mich.) said she would speak on behalf of the progressive Working Families Party in response to Biden’s address in order to call out fellow Democrats who blocked the president’s nearly $2 trillion Build Back Better social spending program last year.
“No one fought harder for Build Back Better and a pro-democracy agenda than progressives,” Tlaib said in a statement to Politico. “The work is unfinished and we’re not giving up on what our communities deserve. We need to get as much done for the people as we can this year, and elect a majority that can deliver for working families in 2023.”
But some questioned her loyalty to the party and the administration by making a major speech as Democrats are trying to hold on to narrow majorities in the House and Senate in November’s midterm elections.
“It’s like keying your own car and slashing your own tires,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) told Axios, adding that the idea was “massively counterproductive.”
“This only highlights the real tension between the socialist far left and the common-sense moderate wing, which is focused on crime, costs, tax cuts and affordability, and turning the page on COVID,” he said.
Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), another centrist, argued that “we should all stand by our president” in times of crisis.
“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,” she told Axios.
Tlaib is expected to single out Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who objected to parts of the Build Back Better legislation and effectively killed the bill in the 50-50 Senate.
“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. Look past the headlines & hear progressives’ vision for working with the President & Congress to deliver for our residents,” Tlaib said on Twitter last week.
It’s rare for a lawmaker to give a response to their party’s president. However, in addition to Tlaib’s remarks, Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas) will respond to Biden on behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus, which is made up of all Democrats.
Last year, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) delivered the rebuttal to Biden’s joint address to Congress on behalf of the Working Families Party.
But Biden’s 2021 address wasn’t a State of the Union speech because he hadn’t been in office for a full year.
The official Republican response Tuesday night will be delivered by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.