Republican House Conference Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., delivered the official GOP rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union Tuesday evening with an appeal to America’s equality of opportunity.
She invoked her own story of achievement as testament of how far potential can go in America — “a nation where a girl who worked at the McDonald’s drive-through to help pay for college can be with you from the United States capital.”
She quickly diverged from Mr. Obama’s calls for legislative and executive action to combat inequality, instead identifying America’s homes and hearts, and not Capitol Hill or the Oval Office, as the catalysts for offering a better future for all Americans. The Republican vision, she said, “champions free markets — and trusts people to make their own decisions, not a government that decides for you.”
Her party’s mission, she declared, is to close the opportunity gap: “It’s the gap we all face: between where you are and where you want to be.” Mr. Obama, she suggested, has been preoccupied with income inequality while allowing the opportunity gap to widen.
“Last month,” she went on, “more Americans stopped looking for a job than found one. Too many people are falling further and further behind because, right now, the President’s policies are making people’s lives harder.”
But through lower taxes and cheaper energy and health care costs to help Americans take home more of their pay, McMorris Rodger vowed, Republicans will be able to say that they closed the gap.
McMorris Rodgers is the highest ranking Republican woman in Congress, and currently chairs the House Republican conference — the party’s No. 4 leadership post. McMorris Rodgers is now in her fifth term representing a district in eastern Washington state.
The congresswoman is also the mother of three small children and often speaks out on issues affecting American families.
— CathyMcMorrisRodgers (@cathymcmorris) January 23, 2014
House Speaker John Boehner hailed the announcement.
“Cathy will share our vision for a better America built on a thriving middle class, guided by a fierce belief in life and liberty, and grounded in greater trust between citizens and their government.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also welcomed her selection.
“Her experience, hard work and commitment to family provide an example that Americans outside the halls of Congress understand. A strong advocate of empowering citizens rather than just the federal government, Cathy is the right choice to deliver this important address.”
It’s been more than a decade since a female Republican lawmaker has delivered the party’s State of the Union response. The last time was back in 2000 when Sen. Susan Collins of Maine spoke with then-Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee following President Bill Clinton’s speech.
You can watch the president’s State of the Union and the GOP response on your local PBS station and on the PBS NewsHour’s website.