“Finish the job.”
That was the demand President Joe Biden had for Congress, as he uttered the phrase 12 times during his State of the Union address last night. Biden spent a lot of time highlighting accomplishments from his first two years in office, both attempting to unite the parties by highlighting bipartisan achievements like the CHIPS and Science Act, while also touting a 50-year low unemployment rate during his term.
It was a speech where the President not only showed a willingness to spar with a combative Republican audience, but also challenged them to work with him on issues like balancing the budget and raising the debt ceiling — without touching Medicare and Social Security.
But by repeating the phrase “finish the job,” Biden not only acknowledged the reality that he will need help from at least some House Republicans to accomplish his agenda moving forward, he also hoped to pressure them into reaching bipartisan agreements.
Is there room for Democrats and Republicans to collaborate on the issues highlighted by President Biden? What are Democrats willing to do to get their counterparts in the GOP’s support?
U.S. House Reps. Debbie Dingell and Elissa Slotkin, as well as New York Times White House correspondent Katie Rogers, joined Detroit Today to discuss Biden’s speech, and the theatrics some of their congressional colleagues displayed Tuesday night.
Listen: What happened at the State of the Union address
Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin is the Democratic Congresswoman representing Michigan’s 7th Congressional District. She says the address was part theater and part policy, which is a normal state of affairs.
“It wasn’t a big cultural speech. It was just kind of a hard policy conversation. There were certainly moments that were not bipartisan, but I think, in his bones, he just holds out hope that we can actually work together, particularly on really big and important issues,” says Slotkin.
Katie Rogers is a White House correspondent for The New York Times, covering life in the Biden administration, Washington D.C. culture and domestic policy. She says the Biden administration will need to find honest brokers in Washington if he wants to pass legislation.
“The Biden White House is really going to have to find some sort of counterpart in someone like Speaker McCarthy to really take these negotiations seriously and in good faith,” says Rogers.
Congresswoman Debbie Dingell is a Democrat from Dearborn representing Michigan’s 6th Congressional District. She says the president laid out accomplishments made, but was dismayed by the response from Republican Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
“I really was disappointed in the governor’s response. I think she was like the MAGA Republicans that we are concerned about,” says Dingell.