In her official Republican response to the State of the Union, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) said she would talk about voters’ priorities “rather than respond to a speech.” Her short response included details about her childhood in Iowa and the importance of honoring veterans, but ignored most of the concrete policies Obama announced in his address. Here are four topics that Ernst totally sidestepped:
While the Tea Party response to Obama’s address highlighted the party’s opposition to the executive order granting amnesty to millions of undocumented immigrants, Ernst did not mention immigration once. It’s not like she didn’t have anything negative to say — it’s no surprise that Republicans will do whatever it takes to reverse Obama’s action and Ernst said while campaigning last year that she does not support amnesty for adults or expanding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
2. Policies For Working Families
Obama’s sixth State of the Union focused largely on his proposals for helping working families — raising the minimum wage, guaranteeing paid sick leave to all workers, providing a tax credit to make childcare more affordable and making community college free for all Americans. Though these policies were highlighted early in Obama’s address, Ernst did not give them any time. “Many families feel like they’re working harder and harder, with less and less to show for it,” she said before abandoning the topic.
3. Foreign Policy
Obama drummed up support Tuesday night for the changed policy on Cuba. “When what you’re doing doesn’t work for fifty years, it’s time to try something new,” Obama said. But Ernst failed to mention relations with Cuba. While she briefly talked about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and combatting terrorism and “threats posed by Al Qaeda, ISIL, and those radicalized by them,” Ernst didn’t provide any clarity about the Republican party’s foreign policy positions.
4. Climate Change
“I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists,” Obama said. While Ernst falls into that category — she said during her campaign that she doesn’t know the science — her response speech didn’t respond to Obama’s call to action to prevent rising oceans, hotter heat waves and dangerous floods and droughts. But Ernst did find time to talk about the Keystone XL pipeline, calling it “the Keystone jobs bill” — even though it would only create 35 permanent jobs — and saying it would have a “minimal environmental impact” despite evidence otherwise.