Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., stood up from her seat in the back of the House chamber to heckle President Joe Biden after he said during his State of the Union address Tuesday that "some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset" while discussing the need to raise the debt ceiling in order to avoid a US default.
"Liar!" she said. Other lawmakers in the chamber booed him. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, seated behind Biden, shook his head in disapproval.
The president leaned over the podium and began to go off script.
"Anybody who doubts it, contact my office," Biden said. "I'll give you a copy of the proposal."
Live updates: Biden tells Americans economy roaring back, spars with GOP over debt
Why cutting Social Security and Medicare is controversial
Social Security and Medicare are two of the federal government's most expensive and most popular programs and have long been a source of heated debate during discussions about the national debt and federal spending.
The government cannot pay its debt if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling, and tension has been building between the two parties, with Republicans seeking to lower spending as part of any deal to raise the debt ceiling.
McCarthy said Republicans won't cut the programs, but Democrats say the math will force those cuts if the GOP demands lower government spending.
How Biden responded to State of the Union hecklers
As boos continued, Biden turned toward the House gallery to address an audience member not seen on camera.
"It's being proposed by individuals," he said. "I'm politely not naming them, but it's being proposed by some of you."
More booing came from the chamber.
"Look, folks, the idea is we're not going to be moved into being threatened to default on the debt if we don't respond."
As the camera landed on individual lawmakers, it captured a shot of a stunned Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who looked around the room with his mouth wide open.
"So folks, as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books now," Biden said. "They're not to be touched? All right. We've got unanimity!"
Cheers erupted in the chamber.
"Tonight, let's all agree, and apparently we are - let's stand up for seniors," Biden said, raising his fists in the air. Speaker McCarthy took to his feet.
"If anyone tries to cut Medicare, I'll stop them," he said. "I'll veto it. I'm not going to allow them to be taken away - not today, not tomorrow not ever. But apparently it's not going to be a problem."
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Greene, Republicans spar with Biden over Social Security, Medicare