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Alabama Sen. Katie Britt says ‘the American dream has turned into a nightmare’ in GOP rebuttal to Biden’s State of the Union


By Clare Foran and Kaanita Iyer, CNN

Alabama Sen. Katie Britt, the youngest Republican woman elected to the US Senate, criticized President Joe Biden and his administration over the border, the state of the US economy and crime and safety issues as she delivered the GOP’s rebuttal to Biden’s State of the Union address.

“Right now, the American dream has turned into a nightmare for so many families,” the senator said in her remarks Thursday evening, delivered from her kitchen table in Alabama. “The true, unvarnished state of our union begins and ends with this — our families are hurting, our country can do better.”

GOP leaders have touted Britt, 42, as a leading voice in a new generation of Republican lawmakers in an attempt to draw distinction between the Alabama senator and Biden, the oldest president at 81. Republicans often point to the president’s age to make the case that Biden should not serve a second term, although Trump is only a few years younger at 77.

“Right now, our commander-in-chief is not in command. The free world deserves better than a dithering and diminished leader,” Britt said. “America deserves leaders who recognize that secure borders, stable prices, safe streets and a strong defense are actually the cornerstones of a great nation.”

Alyssa Farah Griffin, a former White House communications director during the Trump administration who is now a CNN political commentator, called Britt “a rising star” and praised the substance of the remarks, but called the staging “bizarre.”

“Women can be both wives and mothers and also stateswomen, so to put her in a kitchen, not in front of a podium or in the Senate chamber where she was elected after running a hard-fought race, I think fell very flat and was confusing to some women watching it,” Farah Griffin said on CNN. “I think that was a missed opportunity.”

In her speech, Britt focused heavily on immigration and the border, calling Biden’s border policies “senseless” and “a disgrace.” Referring to Laken Riley, Britt said, “tonight, President Biden finally said her name, but he refused to take responsibility for his own actions.”

Riley was found dead last month after jogging near a lake on the University of Georgia campus. Police say she was killed by a man who illegally crossed the border. The 22-year-old died from blunt force trauma to the head, according to Athens-Clarke County Coroner Sonny Wilson.

On the economy, Britt portrayed Biden as out of touch and insulated from the concerns of the average American over affordability and the cost of living.

“Let’s be honest, it’s been a minute since Joe Biden pumped gas, ran a carpool or even pushed a grocery cart,” Britt said. “Meanwhile, the rest of us see our dollar and we know it doesn’t go as far.”

“President Biden just doesn’t get it – he’s out of touch. Under his administration, families are worse off, our communities are less safe and our country is less secure,” she added.

Britt was first elected in 2022, when she also became the first woman elected to the Senate from Alabama. With Trump’s endorsement, she succeeded retiring Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, whom she previously served as chief of staff.

Biden delivered the annual presidential remarks before a joint session of Congress Thursday evening. It has been an annual tradition for the opposing party to respond to the president’s address since the Reagan era, according to the Senate’s website.

Britt’s state has recently been at the center of national headlines after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled last month that frozen embryos are children and those who destroy them can be held liable for wrongful death — a move that is seen as infringing on IVF and has prompted a number of GOP lawmakers to distance themselves from the decision.

In her remarks, Britt said that Republicans “are the party of hard working parents and families and we want to give you and your children the opportunities to thrive and we want families to grow. It’s why we strongly support continued nationwide access to in vitro fertilization. We want to help loving moms and dads bring precious life into this world.”

CNN reported that some providers in the state resumed some in vitro fertilization services Thursday, the day after the state’s governor signed a new bill into law aimed at protecting IVF patients and providers from the legal liability imposed on them by the state Supreme Court ruling.

The White House pushed back against the rebuttal speech, criticizing Britt for not supporting a major bipartisan border deal and foreign aid package in the Senate and over the issue of IVF access.

“Last month, Senator Britt sided against President Biden, the Border Patrol Union, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce by opposing the toughest bipartisan border deal in modern history – instead voting with fentanyl traffickers,” White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said in a statement, adding Britt “just sided with Vladimir Putin and the regime in Tehran in opposition to one of our most urgent national security interests.”

Bates specifically criticized Republicans for the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, saying, “Because an extreme Supreme Court decision overturned Roe v. Wade and set American women back nearly 50 years – with Senator Britt’s support – women across Alabama were just cut off from IVF treatment and dreams of growing their families.”

In contrast, he said, the president’s remarks displayed a “vision for the future in which our core freedoms are restored, the middle class is the center of our economy, and our nation is more secure.”

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Haley Talbot, Kaitlan Collins, Lauren Mascarenhas and Isabel Rosales contributed to this report.

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