HELENA — On Tuesday night, President Joe Biden highlighted what he saw as his administration’s accomplishments from 2022 and goals for 2023, in his annual State of the Union address. The members of Montana’s congressional delegation had strong and varying reactions to the speech.
Democratic Sen. Jon Tester released a video statement, praising Biden for what he laid out in the address.
“I appreciate the fact that the president talked about what he was going to do to lower costs for working families and small businesses, and how he's going to fight inflation, how he's going to continue to take care of our veterans in a way that our veterans deserve,” Tester said. “I hope he continues to work with folks on both sides of the aisle, particularly in areas like the southern border, which needs some attention; particularly in areas like China, as we saw this last weekend with a balloon that floated over the United States. But the bottom line is this: We need to continue to work together in a bipartisan way to move this country forward. We've got to quit the petty bickering and we've got to move this country forward so that our kids and our grandkids have opportunity like we have.”
But Republican Sen. Steve Daines was sharply critical. On Twitter, he accused the president of “wildly misleading the American public.”
“@JoeBiden missed his moment to take accountability for any of the failures of his admin the last two years,” Daines said in a tweet. “From #Bidenflation to the southern border crisis, from the Afghan withdrawal to attacks on U.S. sovereignty — the state of the nation is anything but ‘strong.’”
Rep. Ryan Zinke, the Republican representing Montana’s western congressional district, also pushed back in a statement.
“Montanans deserved to hear a lot more from President Biden at the State of the Union, but unfortunately this is exactly what we have come to expect,” he said. “He did everything but admit our country is worse off than it was before he took office. And the things he did admit were worse, he blamed on other people. Leadership matters, Mr. President. The issues Montanans are facing are fixable – but we need the President to listen to and be willing to work with us, rather than cast half the country aside as political opponents.”
In 2022, Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale – then Montana’s only U.S. House member – didn’t attend the speech, as he objected to a requirement established by the Democratic leadership that lawmakers get a COVID test to enter. This year, the GOP majority has eliminated those COVID protocols, and Rosendale – now representing the state’s eastern congressional district – was in attendance.
After Biden’s speech, Rosendale released a video on Twitter, calling the address a “bedtime story.”
“It was just a fairy tale,” he said. “We didn't hear anything about the record-high inflation. We didn't hear anything about the record-high energy costs. We did not hear an acknowledgment of the record-high crossings of illegal immigrants that we have coming across the southern border. And we heard some kind of vague story about the Chinese and how they are able to work with us, and no acknowledgment of the spy balloon that was just shot down over our country. It's quite disappointing, quite frankly.”
Gov. Greg Gianforte, a Republican, also released a statement in response to Biden’s address.
“Americans across our country are worried about making ends meet, rising prices they pay for groceries and gas, the safety and health of our communities, and whether their kids are getting the best education possible. Washington, D.C. is broken, chaotic, and dysfunctional. We need leadership from the White House, and it’s time for President Biden to put aside petty partisan games and work with Republicans and Democrats to get the job done, just like we do here in Montana. The president should take note of what we’re accomplishing in Montana to create jobs, support small business owners, make our communities safer, improve education for our kids, and boost opportunities for all Montanans.”