Republican congresswoman Lauren Boebert sought to distract attention from US president Joe Biden during his address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday by producing a thermal space blanket in the middle of his speech.
Mr Biden was speaking 100 days after entering the White House, describing the opening months of his tenure as a moment of “crisis and opportunity”, declaring that “America is rising anew” and detailing his plans for reviving the economy following the coronavirus pandemic and for tackling the global climate emergency.
But the first-term Colorado representative demonstrated her lack of interest in the occasion and disagreement with the president’s remarks throughout, tweeting more than 30 disparaging comments over the course of the address and declining to stand or applaud.
“What I want to hear in Biden’s speech is how to solve the border crisis,” she wrote in one post. “What I will hear are plans to spend trillions of dollars and raise taxes. What I don’t want to hear are disingenuous calls for unity from this authoritarian leader and his radical administration.”
She later noisily produced the foil blanket and draped it across her lap, distracting political correspondents like Matt Fuller of The Daily Beast, who reported on it.
Ms Boebert’s communications director Ben Stout later told Business Insider that she intended the gesture as a means of drawing attention to the influx of asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border.
“President Biden did not address or bring attention to the crisis at our southern border. So Rep Boebert did,” he said.
Mr Biden actually did address the issue, calling on lawmakers to “get at the root of the problem of why people are fleeing to our southern border” from Central American nations like El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
“Let’s end our exhausting war over immigration,” he said, calling on the Senate to consider legislation passed by the House of Representatives in March granting legal status to “Dreamers” who arrived in the US illegally as children and to agricultural labourers and those with Temporary Protected Status.
“If Congress won’t pass my plan - let’s at least pass what we agree on. Congress needs to pass legislation this year to finally secure protection for the Dreamers - the young people who have only known America as their home,” Mr Biden said.
Congresswoman Boebert subsequently issued a statement calling the president “a left-wing extremist” and declaring: “My reaction to the speech can be summed up in four words: I miss President Trump.”
Fortunately for her, Mr Trump duly gave a phone interview to Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business in which he accused the president of receiving undue credit for the US coronavirus vaccine rollout and of “destroying our country” with his policy on immigration, warning without evidence that “murderers” are flooding in.
Mr Trump’s own administration was notorious for its draconian “zero tolerance” policies at the border, which included caging children and forcibly separating families as a deterrent.
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