Sen. Joni Ernst to deliver 'prebuttal' to Biden's State of the Union address

US needs to ‘cut off Russian energy sources’: Sen. Ernst

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, argues the U.S. must do everything possible ‘to allow the Ukrainians freedom and democracy.’

FIRST ON FOX: Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, on Tuesday morning will deliver a “prebuttal” speech ahead of President Biden’s State of the Union address at 9 p.m. ET.

Ernst will note in her speech that inflation, violent crime in major U.S. cities, the national debt, illegal border crossings, fentanyl deaths and the U.S. trade deficit are all up, while the president’s polling numbers are down.

Biden’s approval rating fell below 40% in February for the first time since he took office, according to a Real Clear Politics average of all the most recent national surveys measuring Biden’s standing put the president’s approval.

“On nearly every key issue facing the country, Americans by and large just do not think Mr. Biden is up to the job,” Ernst will say in her speech Tuesday. “And more than two-thirds of Americans lack confidence that President Biden can bring the country closer together — something he promised the American people he would do.”

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 11, 2022.  (Al Drago/Bloomberg)

Inflation went up 7.5% in January, a 40-year high, as strong consumer demand and pandemic-related supply-chain snarls fueled rapid price gains that wiped out the benefits of rising wages for most Americans.

The murder rate in the U.S. reached a 25-year high in 2021, surging 5% in major cities since 2020, even as instances of nonviolent crime such as burglary declined. The murder rate was estimated to be 6.9 murders per 100,000 people in 2021 – just 0.5 lower than the 1996 murder rate of 7.4, according to FBI data examined by data analyst Jeff Asher.

The U.S. national debt has surpassed $30 trillion after the coronavirus pandemic prompted record government spending from both the Trump and Biden administrations. The national debt was $24 trillion in April of 2020.

“And the Biden administration has repeatedly denied that rising prices and empty shelves are even a problem, while fanning the flames of inflation with out-of-control spending,” Ernst will say in her speech on the Senate floor Tuesday.

Ernst will be joined during her speech by fellow GOP senators Ted Cruz, Texas, John Barrasso, Wyo., John Hoeven, N.D., and Chuck Grassley, Iowa. 

Gas prices grow along with inflation as this sign at a gas station shows in San Diego, California, Nov. 9, 2021.
(REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo)

Fentanyl deaths have become an ever-growing crisis in the nation. Fentanyl poisoning deaths doubled — or more than doubled — in 30 states between 2019 and 2021 and a record amount of the dangerous opioid was seized at the U.S.-Mexico border last year.

The record opioid seizures at the border also come as an estimated 220,000 illegal immigrants have evaded Border Patrol since October, a Department of Homeland Security official told Fox News last week. The source said that there are approximately 220,000 known “gotaways,” meaning those who get past Border Patrol when coming across the border.

That number is separate from border encounters. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced last week that there were 153,941 migrant encounters in January 2022. In January 2021, there were 78,414 migrant encounters.

“It’s really quite stunning – and gravely concerning – what an incredible mess President Biden has created in such a short period of time,” Ernst will say in her speech.

President Biden gives remarks at a Black History Month celebration event in the East Room of the White House on Feb. 28, 2022 in Washington, D.C. 
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

She will also criticize the president’s handling of national security issues, stating that “his doctrine of appeasement has resulted in America becoming more dependent on foreign adversaries, like Russia, for the energy necessary to heat our homes and keep our country on the move.”

“[W]ith the Russian military on the march in Europe, and terrorists in control of Afghanistan once again, the national and economic security of our nation, has been set back decades,” she will say, adding later: “And no matter who he blames for the security crises we are now in, it is the president’s poor decisions and lack of leadership that continue to make our nation less safe at home and abroad.”

In his State of the Union speech, the president is expected to address Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, his administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and his plan to lower costs for American families while continuing economic recovery, among other topics.

Democrats will have not one but two responses to Biden’s address. Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan was already poised to deliver one response. On Monday, it was announced that Rep. Colin Allred of Texas will deliver the Congressional Black Caucus’ response. 

Biden’s SOTU address will be aired on Fox News and FOX Business at 9 p.m. ET.

Fox News’ Megan Henney, Stephanie Pagones, Adam Shaw, Bill Melugin, Kyle Morris and Bradford Betz contributed to this report.

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