Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will deliver the Republican response to President Joe Biden's State of the Union address on March 1, GOP congressional leaders announced Tuesday as they look outside Washington to appeal to voters in a midterm election year. Reynolds is the first woman to be elected governor in Iowa. She also was the first governor in the country to require schools to open for full-time in-person learning, the AP reports. The GOP is anxious to portray GOP-led states as doing a better job of navigating the pandemic than the federal government, where Democrats control the levers of power. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell praised Reynolds for fighting COVID-19 "without forgetting common sense."
Reynolds pushed back against mask and vaccine mandates amid the coronavirus pandemic. She was chided by the Trump administration’s White House Coronavirus Task Force for ending mask mandates while Iowa was seeing a rapid increase in cases and deaths. States around the country are easing restrictions as cases begin to drop and as a large majority of people become vaccinated. That is also true at the US Capitol, where some GOP lawmakers have incurred fines for refusing to wear a mask while in the House chamber.
But the scene at the Capitol will be one that starkly reminds Americans that the pandemic has not gone away. Increased protections are being taken to protect the health of the president and those in attendance. Those attending Biden's first State of the Union address must undergo a COVID-19 test, avoid physical contact with others and wear a KN95 or N95 mask that completely covers the nose and mouth. Those precautions are being taken even as the District of Columbia’s indoor mask requirement for most indoor gatherings and businesses is to be lifted on the same day as Biden’s address.
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