House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington will deliver the annual GOP response to the State of the Union, party leaders announced Thursday.
McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress, will deliver the response address directly after President Barack Obama speaks on Jan. 28.
“I am honored to speak with Americans in every corner of the country on Tuesday and to share our Republican vision for a better future – one that trusts the American people and doesn’t limit where you finish because of where you started,” McMorris Rodgers said in a statement.
Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky announced the address in a statement, along with a biographical video, highlighting the congresswoman's family — she has a son, Cole, who has Down syndrome — and her humble beginnings, including the fact that she was the first member of her family to graduate from college.
“Cathy McMorris Rodgers is proof that with humility, hard work and dedication, you can overcome any obstacle – a story to which many Americans can relate,” Boehner said in the statement. “Through the lens of her family’s experiences, Cathy will share our vision for a better America built on a thriving middle class, guided by a fierce belief in life and liberty, and grounded in greater trust between citizens and their government."
“Cathy McMorris Rodgers is an excellent choice to present the Republican Address and share an alternative approach to the President’s plans to grow an already enormous federal bureaucracy,” McConnell said. “Her experience, hard work and commitment to family provide an example that Americans outside the halls of Congress understand. A strong advocate of empowering citizens rather than just the federal government, Cathy is the right choice to deliver this important address.”
McMorris Rodgers first rose to prominence as the conference vice chairwoman during the 112th Congress, and ascended in the party ranks to claim the chairmanship in this Congress, despite a heated challenge from Rep. Tom Price of Georgia. Her allies at the time spoke of the importance of lifting a GOP woman into leadership, particularly as they tried to weather Democratic attacks that the party is out of touch on policy affecting women.
This is not the first time a Republican woman delivered the State of the Union response. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine joined Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee for the response in 2000.