Katie Britt to Deliver Republican Response to Biden’s State of the Union


Republicans have chosen Senator Katie Britt of Alabama to deliver their response to President Biden’s State of the Union address next week, turning to one of their youngest members of Congress to burnish the image of their aging, male-dominated party and draw a contrast with a president nearly 40 years older.

Ms. Britt was sworn in last year after being endorsed by former President Donald J. Trump, whom she has endorsed in his 2024 campaign. She is the first elected female senator from Alabama and, at 42, the youngest Republican woman to have been elected to the Senate. She was born while Mr. Biden, 81, was serving his second term there.

“The Republican Party is the party of hard-working parents and families, and I’m looking forward to putting this critical perspective front and center,” Ms. Britt said in a statement Thursday. “There is no doubt that President Biden’s failed presidency has made America weaker and more vulnerable at every turn. At this decisive moment in our country’s history, it’s time for the next generation to step up and preserve the American dream for our children and our grandchildren.”

Speaker Mike Johnson noted in announcing her selection that Ms. Britt is the “only current Republican mom of school-age kids serving in the Senate.”

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, said: “Senator Katie Britt is an unapologetic optimist, and as one of our nation’s youngest senators, she’s wasted no time becoming a leading voice in the fight to secure a stronger American future and leave years of Washington Democrats’ failures behind.”

But in choosing her, Republicans were saddling Ms. Britt with a tradition so difficult to perform well that it has come to be seen as somewhat cursed: delivering the opposing party’s on-camera rebuttal to the president’s annual prime-time address to the nation, filled with pomp, ceremony and standing ovations. The State of the Union response is notoriously awkward, and has been notable in recent years more often for its gaffes than for the message delivered.

Bobby Jindal was widely panned in 2009 when, as governor of Louisiana, he delivered the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s joint address to Congress, and Senator Marco Rubio’s response in 2013 is remembered mostly for his sudden lunge for water.

Last year, Republicans chose Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders of Arkansas, the nation’s youngest governor, who served as Mr. Trump’s press secretary during his presidency, to respond to Mr. Biden, the oldest man to be sworn in as president.

Just as all three of them were, Ms. Britt is regarded as a rising star in the Republican Party, which is represented disproportionately in Congress by older men. An informal adviser on Mr. McConnell’s leadership team, she is the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee’s homeland security panel, and sits on the Banking, Housing and Urban Development Committee and the Committee on Rules and Administration.

Ms. Britt’s address will come just weeks after the top court in her home state ruled that frozen embryos should be considered children, imperiling the legality of fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization in Alabama. Ms. Britt, who has described herself as “100 percent pro-life” and said that she believes life begins at conception, came out in support of access to I.V.F. after the ruling. She added that she expected the state Legislature to move quickly to protect it.

Democrats pounced on the selection of Ms. Britt as they seek to make reproductive rights — and Republicans’ records of opposing policies to ensure access to abortion, birth control and fertility treatments — a top campaign issue this election year.

“Republicans have been running, dodging and hiding their extreme position against I.V.F. all week, but today they chose to catapult their anti-freedom extremism to center stage by tapping anti-choice extremist Katie Britt to deliver their State of the Union response,” said Alex Floyd, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee.

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, Republican of Mississippi, blocked passage this week of a bill that would protect access to I.V.F. and other fertility treatments, and many Republicans said they opposed a federal bill on an issue that they maintained should be left to each state.

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