Republicans select Sanders to give State of the Union response

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks before signing HB 1023, which requires flags purchased with public funds to be made in the United States, Thursday at the state Capitol in Little Rock. (Staci Vandagriff/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

WASHINGTON -- Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders will give the Republican response to President Joe Biden's State of the Union address next week, Republican congressional leaders announced Thursday.

The announcement comes early in Sanders' tenure as governor; the former White House press secretary began her first term in office last month, becoming the first female governor in Arkansas' history.

She began her governorship by signing numerous executive orders, including orders to freeze new government hires; prohibit teaching critical race theory and lessons examining racism in existing laws and institutions; and make steps to reduce state regulations.

Biden will give his second State of the Union address of his presidency next Tuesday before members of Congress and their guests. The address is early in the new 118th Congress; Democrats have a majority in the Senate, while the start of the new Republican-controlled House was marked with a multi-day battle over electing California's Kevin McCarthy as speaker.

House Republicans have since worked on advancing their legislative priorities, such as cutting funds for hiring new Internal Revenue Service agents.

"As House Republicans work to fix these problems in Congress with our Commitment to America, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders is addressing them head-on with her conservative agenda outside of Washington," McCarthy said in a release.

McCarthy stated Sanders is "bringing new ideas for a changing future" while utilizing skills from past leaders, naming her father, former Gov. Mike Huckabee.

"She is a servant-leader of true determination and conviction," the speaker continued. "I'm thrilled Sarah will share her extraordinary story and bold vision for a better America on Tuesday. Everyone, including President Biden, should listen carefully."