Tennessee congressmen flock to Biden as he comes to State of the Union: Read the reaction

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As President Joe Biden arrived at the U.S. House chamber on Thursday evening for his State of the Union address, three Tennessee congressmen — including two Republicans ― were among the first members of Congress who clamored to greet him.

U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Knoxville, engaged in an extended side conversation with the president, apparently in a jovial mood.

“We talked about Corvettes, chocolate chip ice cream, he asked for my wife’s phone number, and I forget what else – oh yeah, he told about how fast electric Corvettes go, and in reality they don’t go that fast,” Burchett said during a TV appearance Friday morning, adding that colleagues Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert had joked that he should take up more of the president's time than he did last year. "I think I did a pretty good job."

U.S. Rep. Andy Ogles, R-Columbia, greeted Biden briefly when he first arrived. Ogles later shared on social media that he urged the president to say the name of Laken Riley ― a 22-year-old nursing student who was killed while jogging at the University of Georgia last month. Jose Antonio Ibarra, the 26-year-old man charged with her murder, entered the United States illegally, but was released after being detained by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

Many members of the House Republican Conference, including Ogles, wore lapel pins with Riley's name to the speech Thursday to draw attention issues on the border with Mexico.

“I was the first to speak to sleepy Joe and I said: 'Laken Riley' as I wear her name on my lapel. #SayHerName,” Ogles, shared on social media.

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, was also on the aisle, and appeared to warmly welcome the president to the chamber.

Members must arrive early to secure seats along the aisle of the chamber to shake hands with the president.

Here’s how others from Tennessee responded to Biden's speech:

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn

“You chose, Mr. President, to take 94 executive actions in your first 100 days that opened up our border and made our country less safe. You weakened immigration laws in those executive orders. It was you, Mr. President, that has let 9 million illegal aliens cross into this country.

"Tens of thousands from countries of concern and interest. Hundreds of terrorists have come in. And it is you who has paroled more than 200 times as many parolees – illegal immigrants into this country as Barack Obama. He paroled about 5,600 a year. You chose to parole 800,000 in 2022, and in 2023 that number rose to 1.2 million. Indeed, when you talk about rapes and murders and crime in communities, there is something that can be done: it is called secure the border.”

U.S. Sen. Bill Hagerty

“Three years later, Joe Biden remains completely out of touch with the needs of the American people, and once again, I walked out of the House chamber shocked at his persistence in doubling down on the failed direction that he is taking our nation.

“By far President Biden’s greatest betrayal of our citizens and our nation has been his calculated, catastrophic effort to throw open our country’s borders.

“Immediately upon taking office, President Biden halted border wall construction, reinstituted catch and release, and stopped deportations. He sent a clear message to the world that now was the time—our border was wide open for illegal immigration. The Mexican and Chinese international crime syndicates were ready to partner with Biden—and they have.

“This has created not just an unprecedented economic, health, and humanitarian crisis at the southern border, but a full-blown national security crisis for our nation.”

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen

“He hit a grand slam!”

U.S. Rep. Mark Green

“We all know that President Biden and now-impeached Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas have intentionally opened the borders and refused to enforce our laws, all to process as many migrants into the country as possible. Having caused this crisis, he then dared to blame Congress for refusing to go along with these dangerous agenda,” Green said. “This kind of blame-shifting is unbecoming of the president of the United States and an affront to a co-equal branch of government. It is also an insult to the parents in attendance tonight who have lost children due to this crisis.”

“This is a crisis of leadership, not resources. The Republican-led House is the only chamber that has passed a legislative solution to this crisis, and it is collecting dust in the Democrat-led Senate. The president should urge the Senate to pass H.R. 2 and commit to signing it into law. He should also, as soon as tomorrow, instruct his administration to reimplement the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, end the abuse of the CBP One app, stop mass parole, and comply with statutory detention mandates.”

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann

"Tonight, we heard one of the most outrageous and worst State of the Union addresses in our history. Biden took no responsibility for his border crisis, our failing economy, or weakening America's standing and security abroad. This was a terrible speech."

U.S. Rep. Diana Harshbarger

"Despite what we heard last night, our state of the union is unrecognizable. I'd like to take a moment to set the record straight. Students are being murdered on college campuses and poisonous drugs continue to flow into our country. It's caused by the invasion of illegal aliens at our southern border. East Tennesseans are paying thousands more for the same goods and services that they purchased during the previous administration. Our adversaries continue to wage war on our allies threatening both global and national security. Under Joe Biden's failed policies, hardworking everyday Americans are suffering under crippling inflation, soaring prices for consumers, and the misguided priorities of the liberals in Washington. It's high time that the Biden administration reverse course on their disastrous policies."

U.S. Rep. John Rose

"@SenKatieBritt delivered an inspiring rebuttal to President Biden's boring and outright dismal #SOTU Address. The contrast is clear: Republicans offer a plan and a vision of prosperity and security while President Biden's policies wreak havoc on our nation."

U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett

“The State of the Union speech was full of lies and expensive campaign promises that he intends to make you pay for. None of them included closing our border, getting veterans off the streets, or fixing our economy.”

U.S. Rep. David Kustoff

“Tonight, we saw President Biden’s State of the Union speech. We can all agree that the state of our Union today is not good. Americans are dealing with skyrocketing inflation. We have violent crime plaguing our communities and big cities. This nation is experiencing the worst border crisis in our history. All of these problems go back to the policies implemented by President Biden and his administration.

“In his speech President Biden failed to offer good, viable solutions to the nation. The American people do not feel any better after watching the State of the Union than they did before it started.”

U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais

“President Biden’s speech tonight is further proof that he and his Administration are out of touch with the American people and the very serious issues facing our country. The entire speech was incredibly divisive and an attempt to win over the most far-Left in his party.

“Under his leadership, over 7 million illegal migrants have entered the United States. Over 100,000 citizens are dying of drug overdoses per year and being murdered by dangerous unvetted border crossers. Inflation has skyrocketed. American families are struggling to make ends meet. Our adversaries have been emboldened by Biden’s weak national security policies and lack of deterrence efforts.

His speech was calloused, and he never once accepted responsibility for the damage and destruction he has caused our great Nation. The clear attempt to further divide our country was abominable. This speech was not that of a President of the United States, but that of a man no longer completely in control of his own thoughts and emotions and being controlled on the strings of his far-Left puppeteers. President Biden’s efforts to win over the American people in the wake of an election year have fallen flat.”

Gov. Bill Lee

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee attended the speech as Hagerty’s guest.

“While the American people see dysfunction in Washington and face the daily consequences of failed federal policies, conservative-led states are a steady reminder that America’s best days are still ahead. We have reason to be hopeful because of states like Tennessee that are unwavering in their commitment to the fundamentals that make America the greatest country in the world – opportunity, security and freedom for all.“Americans deserve a plan of action from the White House to address the worst border crisis in decades, get rampant crime under control and ease the heavy burdens of inflation that make it harder for everyday families to thrive.“In the meantime, states are leading the way with conservative governing principles that drive economic prosperity, empower thriving communities and safe families, and lift up a nation where every individual has the opportunity to succeed.”

Vivian Jones covers state politics and government for The Tennessean. Reach her at vjones@tennessean.com.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Biden talked Trump, immigration at SOTU; TN congressmen flock to him