Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

‘A campaign speech,’ Hern, Bice leave State of the Union frustrated

Rep. Kevin Hern after the State of the Union Address on Thursday. May 7,2024, Capitol Hill. Photo by: Analyse Jester

WASHINGTON – Disappointed with the State of Union address on Thursday, Oklahoma Republican House members Kevin Hern and Stephanie Bice said they were left wishing President Joe Biden had properly discussed issues rather than pointing fingers.

During an interview after the address, Hern, who represents Oklahoma’s First District, told Gaylord News that he “didn’t hear much of a State of the Union.”

“What I heard was a campaign speech talking about his predecessor, which we also know is his opponent,” he said. “I didn’t hear any real policy changes other than a lot of big government, a lot more spending and a lot more regulation, and that’s why we have $34 trillion in debt.”

Following major Super Tuesday victories for Biden and former President Donald Trump, the State of the Union had the hallmarks of a rally as Democrats chanted “four more years” multiple times throughout the address.

“This was not supposed to be a progressive campaign stump speech,” said Bice, who represents the Fifth District. “This was supposed to be a State of the Union, and I’m not sure we really got that.”

Rep. Stephanie Bice after the State of the Union Address on Thursday, May 7, 2024, Capitol Hill. Photo by: Analyse Jester

Biden did not mention the nation’s border crisis until midway through his speech, when he referenced House Resolution 815, Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford’s bipartisan border policy proposal. Biden called it “the toughest set of border security reforms we’ve ever seen in this country,” a statement that provoked outrage among Republican House members.

“He tried to blame Congress for what’s happening at the southern border and said that he wants to pass the bipartisan bill that was worked on,” Bice said. “I would remind the American people that the House passed H.R. 2, the strongest border security bill ever put together a year ago, and the Senate has not bothered to take it up.”

Lankford’s border package passed in the Senate while tied to aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, but the House has yet to take up the measure and likely never will, assuming Speaker Mike Johnson holds true to his statement declaring it “dead on arrival.”

Despite the Senate and the House blaming each other for refusing to take up either H.R. 2 or H.R. 815, Republicans in both also continue to blame Biden for rolling back Trump-era border policies on his first day in office in January 2021, saying Biden can reinstitute them at any time.

Hern invited Tulsa County District Attorney Steven Kunzweiler to the speech on Thursday. Kunzweiler raises awareness about the deadly impact fentanyl is having on communities. According to his office, fentanyl prosecutions have doubled in the past year.

Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid typically used for pain relief, but it is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

In 2021, 72% of unintentional drug overdoses by opioids were caused by fentanyl, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Sponsor of the Disrupting Fentanyl Trafficking Act of 2023, Bice is hoping to decrease that statistic, but her bill has yet to be heard in committee.

“The fentanyl crisis that we are seeing across the country is a leading cause of death for people ages 18 to 45,” Bice said. “It is a direct result of all the fentanyl coming across the southern border, manufactured at least partially by the Chinese Communist Party, being shipped to Mexico and then brought across the southern border, and unless we can secure the border and close down these trafficking pathways, this is going to continue.”

During his address, Biden said he would not cut Social Security or Medicare or raise the retirement age to qualify. Republicans insist doing so is how Congress can best address the $34 trillion national debt as entitlement programs take up nearly half of the federal budget’s mandatory spending while interest on the national debt takes up the remaining half.

“The message that President Biden delivered is that he’s okay with the insolvency of Social Security and Medicare within the next 10 years,” Hern said. “He’s okay with that, and that’s just not right for the American people. That shows you the lack of courage that he has to be able to go out and address the real problems before us.”


Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. For more stories by Gaylord News, go to

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