Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) is a combat veteran and the first female in American history to win a U.S. Senate seat from the Hawkeye State. Last night, she gave the Republican response to President Obama’s annual State of the Union Address. She began with her humble beginnings, focusing on the many sacrifices her parents made for her growing up. Later declaring that:
“They had very little to call their own except the sweat on their brow and the dirt on their hands, but they worked,” she said. “They sacrificed. And they dreamed big dreams for their children and grandchildren. And because they did, an ordinary Iowan like me has had some truly extraordinary opportunities. Because they showed me that you don’t need to come from wealth or privilege to make a difference. You just need the freedom to dream big and a whole lot of hard work.”
One big theme of her response was the role the new Republican-controlled Congress will play in passing legislation to help the middle class. She emphasized bringing the Keystone XL Pipeline once again up for a vote -- an initiative, she argued, that will create “thousands of jobs” and have very little impact on the natural environment. Nevertheless, the president refuses to support it. She made it clear, however, that given political realities, the bill will pass.
“President Obama will soon have a decision to make,” she exclaimed. “Will he sign the bill, or block good American jobs?”
She also stressed the importance of tax reform -- an issue congressional Republicans and the president at least broadly agree on -- and fighting terrorism in the 21st century. As part of that effort, she said, the federal government needs to do a much better job taking care of our heroes and their families.
“While deployed overseas with some of America’s finest men and women, I’ve seen how dangerous these kinds of threats can be,” she declared. “The forces of violence and oppression don’t care about the innocent. We need a comprehensive plan to defeat them. We must also honor America’s veterans. These men and women have sacrificed so much in defense of our freedoms and our way of life. They deserve nothing less than the benefits they were promised, and a quality of care we can all be proud of.”
Guy summarized her speech well: It was a “solid,” if perhaps “unmemorable,” performance. But given the negative headlines that usually accompany GOP lawmakers who deliver this speech, that’s a job well done. Watch the full clip below: