Mar 7, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Biden gets cold shoulder from progressive "Squad" at State of the Union

Reps. Summer Lee, Rashida Tlaib and Cori Bush, wearing black suits and keffiyehs, sitting in the House chamber.

Reps. Summer Lee, Rashida Tlaib and Cori Bush. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynold/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden received a chilly reception at the State of the Union on Thursday from several members the progressive "Squad" who are incensed at his continued support for Israel.

Why it matters: It's the kind of treatment lawmakers typically reserve for presidents of the opposite party.

Driving the news: Reps. Summer Lee (D-Pa.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and several other pro-Palestinian progressives noticeably withheld their applause for Biden, even as the vast majority of their Democratic colleagues gave standing ovations.

  • The three were wearing keffiyehs — black-and-white scarves that serve as symbols of support for Palestinian nationalism.
  • Lee, Tlaib, Bush and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Delia Ramirez (D-Ill.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) declined to join several chants of "four more years" that most Democrats participated in.
  • Biden's arrival at the Capitol was also delayed by pro-Palestinian protesters on Pennsylvania Avenue, the typical route from the White House.

The backdrop: Several progressives, including Bush and Omar, told Axios ahead of Biden's speech that they want to see him go much further on the Israel-Hamas war than he plans to in the speech.

Zoom out: The war has created a growing schism within the Democratic Party that has caused political woes for Biden and many Democrats.

  • Biden has struggled to mollify left-wing complaints that he is too supportive of Israel, prompting many Arab American and young voters to vote "uncommitted" in Democratic primaries in protest.
  • Tlaib voted "uncommitted" in the Michigan primary. Omar said she did not vote in Minnesota's primary, while Bush declined to say whether she would vote for Biden in Missouri.
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