The Margin: State of the Union moments: Marjorie Taylor Greene calls Biden a ‘liar’ as atmosphere in House chamber gets heated

Talk about a raucous caucus. 

President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address got spicy a few times on Tuesday night, with the commander-in-chief growing downright combative with Republicans at some points — and GOP lawmakers responding with jeers and boos. 

A year ago, many viewers and Congress members were shocked by House Republicans Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert heckling Biden during his first State of the Union address. But this year’s speech saw Republicans interrupting several times — and Biden even giving back as good as he was getting. 

So if you missed the State of the Union speech, the following are some of the most viral moments that everyone will be talking about.

Biden went off script while congratulating GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy 

Before the president got things rolling, the Democratic president congratulated the members of the 118th Congress, including the new House speaker, Republican Kevin McCarthy. 

And then he tossed out his first laugh line: “Speaker, I don’t want to ruin your reputation, but I look forward to working with you,” he said. 

It was the first sign that Biden’s gloves were off this evening. And, indeed, Biden remained smiling, and often responded in the moment to the interruptions that peppered his lengthy speech.

Read more: State of the Union address: full text of Biden’s speech

Biden blamed Trump for driving up the national debt

“No president added more to the national debt in any four years than my predecessor,” Biden said, adding that “nearly 25% of the entire national debt, a debt that took 200 years to accumulate, was added by just one administration alone — the last one.”

(CNN’s fact checkers noted that the national debt, now at more than $31 trillion, increased by just under $8 trillion during Donald Trump’s four years in office, in part because of the Republicans’ 2017 tax-code overhaul that slashed taxes particularly on business and high earners.) 

This drew immediate outcry from the Republican side of the chamber. “Check it out!” Biden instructed them.

But the murmurs got louder when Biden observed that some Republicans were looking to cut safety nets like Social Security and Medicare … 

Marjorie Taylor Greene calls Biden a ‘liar’ over Social Security claims 

Biden seemed to be baiting Republicans when he accused the GOP of wanting to “take the economy hostage” over the debt ceiling rather than elucidating an economic plan. “All of you at home should know what their plans are,” he said. “Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset every five years.” 

This led to the loudest outcry of the night, with plenty of booing from the Republican side — and a microphone catching a fur-coated Greene standing up and shouting “Liar!” 

But Biden turned the ruckus in his favor, saying, “I enjoy conversion.”

“So, folks, as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books now, right? All right,” he said, giving a thumbs-up signal. “Let’s all agree — and we apparently are — let’s stand up for seniors. If anyone tries to cut Social Security — which apparently they’re not going to do — and if anyone tries, and Medicare, I’ll stop them. I’ll veto it.” 

Read more: ‘Social Security and Medicare is off the books now?’ — Biden causes uproar over cutting programs during State of the Union 

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, a former hospital-chain executive, had published a plan ahead of the midterm elections last fall suggesting that Social Security, and Medicare along with it, should be forced into the congressional reauthorization process every half-decade rather than remaining an ironclad promise to American workers and retirees.

Fellow Senate Republican Mike Lee in 2010 suggested his run for Senate was largely animated by a desire to pull Social Security, and other so-called entitlement programs, out of the U.S. social fabric “by the root.” And there is tape.

From the archives (November 2022): Yes, some Republican senators really are talking openly about Social Security cuts

Also see: McConnell ousts Senate Republicans Rick Scott and Mike Lee from Commerce Committee. Both opposed McConnell’s continued leadership.

A Republican heckler blames Biden for the fentanyl crisis

Toward the end of his speech, when Biden addressed arresting 8,000 human smugglers and seizing more 23,000 pounds of fentanyl over the last several months, reporters picked up Greene yelling “It’s coming from China!” and another heckler calling out “It’s your fault!” 

“You got it,” Biden responded.

Before the speech, Mitt Romney and George Santos had a tense run-in

Rep. George Santos, the New York Republican who’s been in hot water for lying about his background, was caught on camera having an exchange with Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney before Biden arrived. 

The two men didn’t shake hands. And while no microphone picked up exactly what was said, some journalists reviewing the footage speculated that Romney told Santos he should be “embarrassed” and that “you don’t belong here.” And an ABC News reporter suggested that Santos responded by calling Romney an ass—.

Santos tweeted at Romney after the speech, “just a reminder that you will NEVER be PRESIDENT!”

Romney later said it was inappropriate that Santos, given his multifaceted controversies, was not only in the House chamber but had positioned on the aisle to shake hands with every senator and the president of the United States. “He’s a sick puppy,” said Romney.

Read more:

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Biden is ‘doubling down on crazy’ in GOP rebuttal.

The new Arkansas governor, the second of four White House press secretaries during Donald Trump’s four-year presidency,. gave the Republican response to the State of the Union address in a speech that was itself highly combative, opening with a claim that she hadn’t believed a single word from Biden’s mouth.

 “The dividing line in America is no longer between right or left. The choice is between normal or crazy,” she said, going on to advance a notion that Biden was “unfit to serve as commander in chief.”

And she wrapped her remarks by noting that “it is time for a new generation of Republican leadership.”

Read more: Sarah Huckabee Sanders gives Republican response to Biden: Full text

More State of the Union coverage on MarketWatch:

In State of the Union, Biden vows to slash deficit by $2 trillion

Biden’s State of the Union: Here are key proposals from his speech

Biden on tech: ‘Pass bipartisan legislation to strengthen antitrust enforcement’

Biden claims green-job surge in State of the Union — is his boast justified?

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