Ahead of President Joe Biden's second State of the Union address, Townhall headed to Capitol Hill to interview Republican members of the House of Representatives to get their takes on the effects of Biden's policies and the last two years of single-party Democrat control in Congress.
"Our border is a mess, inflation is still very, very high — even though the president chooses not to acknowledge it — we had a Chinese balloon in our airspace for crying out loud, we're not respected around the globe, our economy is shaky at best, what good is actually happening?" Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) remarked to Townhall. "Unemployment is down, but one of the reasons for that is there's a lot of people who are not looking for work. The inflation reduction act?" Donalds continued, "give me a break. That was the Green New Deal's little sister dressed up as trying to do something."
On the hot topic of the Chinese spy balloon, Rep. Mike Collins (R-GA) told Townhall that, to understand why the state of the union under Biden is less than strong, "all you got to do is look back a few days ago and we had a balloon traveling across this country that could have been shot down before it ever came across the Pacific Ocean. It's just another example of how this administration has just capitulated to everything that China has been trying to do to us," Collins added. "What's going on is you have a Biden administration has gone from the 'America first' agenda to 'America last' agenda."
"We have serious challenges," Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY) emphasized to Townhall. "The White House needs to recognize that one party rule is no longer in effect here in Washington, and they need to work with us to address the challenges facing the American people from inflation and the cost of living, to our porous southern border and the massive inflow of illegal immigration and fentanyl pouring into our country, to the crisis in Ukraine and the challenges we're facing with China, which are significant," he explained.
Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) told Townhall that America is seeing "a disaster on every front: It is the border, it is crime, it is foreign policy, it is the potential for terrorism, it is economics. We were at 40 year highs on inflation, and we will hear nothing but spin tonight coming from the president in his State of the Union," Babin continued. "If he talks about his accomplishments and the effectiveness, it will be a very, very short speech. It will take all night if he wants to talk about the disasters," he noted.
"We need to show leadership in the eyes of the international community and we need to take care of our economy — and that is so simple to do, and it's just not being done," Rep. María Elvira Salazar told Townhall. "Specifically the border. What country on Earth that respects itself opens its borders to say, 'Yeah, come in Mr. Fentanyl. Yes, come in Mr. Child Sex Trafficking. Sure, come in. You're going to come in and we will never see you again,'" Salazar explained. "That can't happen. And I'm speaking from the Hispanic point of view — I represent the largest minority in the country, the Hispanics, the Latinos — and we say 'no open border.' But but the White House is not just listening to us."
Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) told Townhall all people need to do to understand the current state of the union is to "look at what's happened since [Biden took] office. Look at the slowdown in the economy, look at inflation, try buying eggs, try buying gas," he said. "To have a border that was secure under President Trump, to have already paid the contractors and not completing the wall, making it wide open," Norman reminded. "The deaths that have occurred with fentanyl, the crime that's coming in this country — both from the from the Mexican cartels and just in the streets," he added. "His liberal policies have failed and this country is in a downward spiral.," Norman concluded to Townhall. "This is all intentional and I think his words tonight will have no meaning to me," he explained. "I expect tonight it'll be more divisive speech, it'll be how America is bad, it'll be how he's done such a good job," Norman told Townhall. "And name me one thing he's done well — I can't name it."
"We don't know where the economy is heading, we don't know where inflation heading, we don't know where our national security is heading," Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) told Townhall of the pressing issues on people's minds. "That's why when you poll and you ask them, they are convinced that America is not heading in the right direction."
Asked what President Biden ought to say in Tuesday night's address, Republicans had plenty of suggestions even though they're not too hopeful Biden will deliver a speech that matches what Americans want to hear.
"I would love for him to say, 'You know what, I got it wrong — let's reverse course and let's work with everybody to find better solutions,'" said Rep. Donalds. "That would be great, actually. It will be good for him. It will be great for the country."
Rep. Salazar told Townhall that she and her constituents "want to be energy independent, we do not want to pay high interest rates, we want to have a secured border, we do not like the crimes in our cities, we don't want a high, high interest rate, we want to make sure that [small business] employees show up to work and that we're not competing with the United States government that is sending them a check. I mean, easy. It's simple, right? It's simple, but it just doesn't happen," Salazar said in explaining why she doesn't expect Biden to address what's important to Americans.
"I'm not sure Joe Biden is going to be able to say anything that comforts the American people," Rep. Harris told Townhall. "They've put up with inflation now for two years while the president has completely dismissed it. They've watched the horrendous withdrawal from Afghanistan, followed by, you know, what is a questionable involvement in getting the Ukraine/Russia war worked out right and now culminating in...a spy balloon drifting across the United States."
Rep. Lisa McClain (R-MI) told Townhall Americans want to hear answers to what burdens their minds. "What are we doing about inflation, right? How am I going to heat my home? How am I going to stop dipping into my savings to pay my bills? That's what they want to hear about," McClain said. "Let's give the American people what they want to hear. I don't think [Biden will] do that, but I'm hopeful."
"We've got spending problems, border problems, problems with China — the Chinese Communist Party," reiterated Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD). "I really hope the president lays out a clear plan to work with Republicans to address those areas. If he doesn't, it will be a huge missed opportunity."
Stay with Townhall for full State of the Union coverage Tuesday evening and in the days ahead for analysis, fact checks, and more.