Politics

Katie Britt in national spotlight with response to State of the Union

Sen. Britt is the youngest female Republican elected to the U.S. Senate, and serves as part of Sen. Mitch McConnell's leadership team.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Katie Britt.
Photo/Butch Dill, FIle
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Sitting behind a table in Alabama, Republican Sen. Katie Britt, 42, delivered the much-anticipated response to President Joe Biden's critical election year State of the Union address on Thursday night. 

Sen. Britt's age is significant. She is the youngest Republican woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate, and serves on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's leadership team as a member of the Appropriations Committee. She stands poised to ascend to greater prominence as Sen. McConnell, 82, announced in late February that he plans to step down from his position. He has been the longest-serving Senate leader in the history of the United States.

Sen. Britt, delivering remarks from an undisclosed part of the state, spoke as her state faced weeks of national scrutiny after a legal decision ruling that embryos were children caused panic among providers of in vitro fertilization services.

It was a jarring series of moves from lawmakers in the state and courts that caused three major IVF providers to pause services, after an Alabama Supreme Court ruled last month that three couples who had frozen embryos destroyed in an accident at a storage facility could pursue wrongful death lawsuits for their "extrauterine children," the Associated Press reported.  

The ruling raised concerns about civil liabilities for clinics.

On Wednesday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed new legislation to protect in vitro fertilization services in the state. That signature came just hours after Alabama lawmakers passed a bill through Alabama's House and Senate. 

The legislation protects health care providers from the Alabama Supreme Court's February ruling.

President Biden said before Congress on Thursday night, "In its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade the Supreme Court majority wrote 'Women are not without electoral or political power.'"

Sen. Britt said in the GOP response to President Biden's address late on Thursday, "The country we know and love seems to be slipping away. It feels like the next generation will have fewer opportunities — and less freedom — than we did. I worry my own children may not even get a shot at living their American Dreams."

President Biden to deliver his 3rd State of the Union address
President Biden to deliver his 3rd State of the Union address

President Biden to deliver his 3rd State of the Union address

President Biden delivered his annual State of the Union address, discussing foreign policy, abortion protections, the economy and immigration.

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The White House said President Biden's State of the Union address had been planned to focus on optimism about America's future as a nation. 

Sen. Britt delivered what appeared to be a different side to that effort for optimism, saying, "The true, unvarnished State of our Union begins and ends with this: Our families are hurting. Our country can do better."

The ongoing crisis with migration at the southern U.S. border was a priority topic for Republicans' response. 

Sen. Britt said, "Minutes after taking office, [President Biden] suspended all deportations, halted construction of the border wall, and announced a plan to give amnesty to millions. We know that President Biden didn't just create this border crisis. He invited it with 94 executive actions in his first 100 days." 

The senator said, "President Biden's border crisis is a disgrace. It's despicable. And it's almost entirely preventable."

About eight months before the general election, border security was already pitched as a certainty for a top hot-button issue. Former President Donald Trump and President Biden went on what was called dueling visits to the U.S.-Mexico border.

In the four years under Trump's previous administration in the White House, border encounters averaged around 572,000 per year. However, it's important to note that the COVID-19 pandemic did have an impact on the last year of data in his presidency. When Trump tried to limit border crossings through an executive order, he was ultimately sued and lost the case in court. President Biden faces the same legal hurdles.

Sen. Britt said in Thursday's GOP response, "For years, the left has coddled criminals and defunded the police — all while letting repeat offenders walk free. The result is tragic but foreseeable — from our small towns to America's most iconic city streets, life is getting more and more dangerous."

The message was a stark contrast to President Biden's remarks before Congress on Thursday when he said, "I came to office determined to get us through one of the toughest periods in our nation's history. And we have. It doesn't make the news, but in thousands of cities and towns the American people are writing the greatest comeback story never told. So let's tell that story here and now. America's comeback is building a future of American possibilities, building an economy from the middle out and the bottom up — not the top down, investing in all of America — in all Americans — to make sure everyone has a fair shot and we leave no one behind."

Sen. Britt remarked on campaign promises as the 2024 election year heats up and debates between who will be the next nominees on the ballot are highly anticipated. 

"Where I'm from, your word is your bond. But for three years, this President has demonstrated that America's word doesn't mean what it used to. From abandoning allies in his disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan ... to desperately pushing another dangerous deal with Iran, President Biden has failed. We've become a nation in retreat. And the enemies of freedom see an opportunity," said Sen. Britt. "Right now, our Commander in Chief is not in command. The free world deserves better than a dithering and diminished leader. America deserves leaders who recognize that secure borders, stable prices, safe streets, and a strong defense are the cornerstones of a great nation."

Sen. Britt said in the response, "There is no doubt we're at a crossroads. We all feel it. But here's the good news: We the People are still in the driver's seat. We get to decide whether our future will grow brighter, or whether we settle for an America in decline. Well, I know which choice our children deserve — and the choice the Republican Party is fighting for."