How Republicans and Democrats responded to Biden's State of the Union and Sen. Katie Britt's GOP rebuttal

The reviews are in for President Biden’s State of the Union address and Sen. Katie Britt’s official Republican rebuttal. Here’s a roundup of notable reactions to each from both Republicans and Democrats.

📢 How the GOP reacted to Biden's speech

Marjorie Taylor Greene heckles President Biden during the State of the Union.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene heckles President Biden during his speech. (Shawn Thew/AP)

Biden was heckled by several Republican members of Congress, most notably Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Republican provocateur from Georgia.

Before the speech, Greene, sporting a red "Make America Great Again" hat and a red blazer, approached the president as he walked into the chamber and tried to hand him a button in memory of Laken Riley, a 22-year-old college student who was allegedly killed by an undocumented immigrant in Georgia last month.

Greene, who held up her phone to record their exchange, told Biden: “Laken Riley.”

“I know how to say the name,” Biden replied in the video she later posted on X.

➡️ Some Democrats criticize Biden for using term ‘illegal’

Biden holds up a button in memory of Laken Riley while delivering his State of the Union address.
Biden holds up a button in memory of Laken Riley. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

During the speech, Biden got into a fiery exchange with Greene over Riley’s death.

At one point, the president said that Riley was killed by an “illegal,” a politically charged term that irked some Democrats.

“Let me be clear,” Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota wrote on X. “No human being is illegal.”

“No human being is illegal,” posted Rep. Delia Ramirez of Illinois.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, dismissed Biden’s use of the term.

“He should have said undocumented,” Pelosi said on CNN. “But it’s not a big thing.”

🐘 How the GOP’s new House speaker reacted to Biden

Biden smiles as he delivers his State of the Union address in front of Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Mike Johnson.
Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Mike Johnson. (Shawn Thew/AP)

House Speaker Mike Johnson, who was seated next to Vice President Kamala Harris and behind Biden in the chamber for the speech, seemed to nod in agreement with the president at several points during the address.

But afterward, Johnson was sharply critical in his formal response.

“President Biden and I have a decidedly different view of the present state of our union,” Johnson said in prepared remarks shortly after the speech concluded. “While I appreciate his optimism tonight, no amount of flowery prose or aspirational promises can mask the failures of his time in office.”

After criticizing his handling of the border, Johnson said that despite Biden’s “rose-colored depiction of our economy,” the president “has turned the American Dream into a mirage.”

“The state of the union is in chaos, but it doesn’t have to be this way,” Johnson added. “If we lead with conviction, transparency and common sense, we can reverse this decline and usher in a new era of American greatness — and we will.”

The response to the Britt’s Republican rebuttal

Johnson tapped Sen. Katie Britt of Alabama to deliver the Republican party’s official rebuttal to Biden’s State of the Union.

Sitting in her kitchen, Britt called Biden a “dithering and diminished leader” and warned of a bleak future under his presidency. But it was the setting and Britt’s awkward delivery that got the most attention.

“Women can be both wives and mothers and also stateswomen,” Alyssa Farah Griffin, former Trump White House aide, said on CNN. “So to put her in a kitchen, not in front of a podium or in the Senate chamber where she was elected, where she won a very hard-fought race, I felt fell very flat and was confusing to some women watching it.”

“What the hell am I watching right now?” one unnamed adviser to then-President Donald Trump wondered aloud as Britt spoke, according to Rolling Stone.

“I’ll give Biden this,” another national Republican consultant told the magazine. “He at least gave a better speech than Katie Britt.”

📺 How TV viewers reacted to Biden’s speech

Biden delivers the State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress.
Biden addresses a joint session of Congress Thursday evening. (Alex Brandon/AP)

The ratings for the State of the Union have yet to be released. But according to a text message poll of viewers conducted by CNN, 65% had a very positive or somewhat positive reaction to Biden’s address.

That’s a lower figure than it was for Biden’s previous State of the Union speeches.

Last year, 72% had a very positive or somewhat positive reaction to Biden’s SOTU address — 1 point above the 71% who viewed his 2022 State of the Union positively and 6 points below the 78% who viewed the president’s first address to a joint session of Congress in 2021 the same way.