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Heckles, spats and deflection: The biggest moments you missed from Biden's State of the Union

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden delivered his second State of the Union address Tuesday night to cheers and standing ovations from Democrats and heckling from Republican  lawmakers.

The president stressed bipartisanship, his economic plan and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, among other accomplishments of his administration.

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"Because the soul of this nation is strong, because the backbone of this nation is strong, because the people of this nation are strong, the state of the union is strong," he said.

But amid the grand sweep of the president's annual address to Congress, there were moments – combative and comforting – that also stood out. Here's what you may have missed from Biden's State of the Union address:

Mitt Romney, George Santos face off before speech

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, had a tense exchange with Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., as they entered the chamber, CNN reported.

“You don’t belong here,” Romney told him, a lawmaker who witnessed the exchange told CNN. 

Santos is facing intense criticism for fabricating parts of his resume and is under investigation for campaign finance reports that have raised questions.

Romney told reporters after the speech that Santos "is a sick puppy" and "shouldn't have been there," adding that Santos should have been in the back row of the chamber "sitting quietly" instead of "parading in front of the president" as he sat in an aisle seat.

Pushing police reform, Biden acknowledges Tyre Nichols' parents at SOTU

Biden on Tyre Nichols: 'Everybody has right to be able to go home at night.'
Biden on Tyre Nichols: 'Everybody has right to be able to go home at night.'

The mother and stepfather of Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old Black man who died after being beaten by Memphis police officers, attended the speech as guests of first lady Jill Biden.

Nichols died after he was stopped for a traffic violation. His mother and stepfather have vowed to fight for police reform.

"There's no words to describe the heartache or grief of losing a child, but imagine if you lost that child at the hands of the law," he said in a hushed chamber, glancing toward Nichols' parents, who were tearful in the upper part of the chamber.

Biden said the country needs to come together to finish the job on police reform.

"Let's commit ourselves to make the words of Tyre's mom true: 'Something good must come of this,'" he said to a standing ovation from the chamber.

'Liar!' Republicans boo Biden on Social Security, Medicare

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., yells during President Joe Biden's State of the Union address on Feb. 7, 2023.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., yells during President Joe Biden's State of the Union address on Feb. 7, 2023.

Tension has been building between the two parties over Social Security and Medicare. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has said Republicans will not cut the programs, but Democrats argue that lowered government spending could result in reductions because those entitlement programs make up an enormous portion of the federal budget.

"Some of my Republican friends want to take the economy hostage unless I agree to their economic plans," Biden said. "All of you at home should know what those plans are. Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset."

The comment led to Marjorie Taylor Greene standing up and yelling “liar!” as other Republican lawmakers booed. McCarthy shook his head.

More: Marjorie Taylor Greene, other Republicans spar with Biden over Social Security, Medicare

"Anybody who doubts it, contact my office. I'll give you a copy of the proposal," Biden responded.

“OK, so we all apparently agree,” Biden said later. “Social Security and Medicare is off the books now, right?”

His comment resulted in bipartisan cheers. Biden promised he would veto anything that sought to cut Social Security or Medicare.

Biden: 'No place for political violence'

Paul Pelosi, right, is recognized by President Joe Biden during the State of the Union address from the House chamber of the United States Capitol in Washington.
Paul Pelosi, right, is recognized by President Joe Biden during the State of the Union address from the House chamber of the United States Capitol in Washington.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband, Paul Pelosi, attended the speech as a guest in his first appearance during a joint session of Congress since he was attacked in his home last October.

Suspect David DePape is accused of breaking into the Pelosis' San Francisco home and assaulting Paul Pelosi with a hammer. The attack fractured his skull, and he needed surgery.  DePape yelled, "Where's Nancy?" after he entered the home and carried zip ties with him during the break-in, police said.

Biden referenced the political violence and the insurrectionists who used similar language when storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

"There's no place for political violence in America," Biden said. "We must give hate and extremism in any form no safe harbor."

Republicans to Biden: 'It's your fault'

Biden said fentanyl is killing more than 70,00 Americans a year and the comment brought backlash from Republicans in the chamber.

"It's your fault!" a few Republicans shouted, including Greene, a member of the House Oversight Committee which is looking at issues at the southern border.

"Let's start a major search to stop fentanyl productions," Biden said, calling for a campaign to stop the sale and trafficking of the drug.

Biden blames deficit surge on Trump

President Joe Biden during the State of the Union address from the House chamber of the United States Capitol in Washington.
President Joe Biden during the State of the Union address from the House chamber of the United States Capitol in Washington.

Biden took a jab at former President Donald Trump's administration for increasing the federal deficit, which he said has been significantly cut under his administration.

“For the last two years, my administration has cut the deficit by more than $1.7 trillion, the largest deficit reduction in American history,” Biden said.

His comments led to booing from Republicans.

Contributing: Candy Woodall contributed to this reporting. 

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Heckles, spats and deflection: What you missed at State of the Union