The head of the House Homeland Security Committee scolded President Obama on Wednesday for failing to mention last month’s deadly shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., during his State of the Union address.
Obama’s neglect to mention the massacre of 14 people during the speech, Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulBiden threatens more sanctions on Ethiopia, Eritrea over Tigray conflict More Republicans call on Biden to designate Taliban as terrorist group How lawmakers aided the Afghan evacuation MORE (R-Texas) said, was especially biting, since police and emergency responders involved in the attack were in the audience on Tuesday.
It was “a bit of a disgrace that that was not even acknowledged last night,” McCaul said in remarks at the Hudson Institute. “Or the heroism that was shown by the first responders, as they sat in the audience of the State of the Union, at least should have been recognized.”
San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan was invited to the speech by Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.). County Sheriff John McMahon used a ticket from Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) to attend. Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) invited James Parnell, a emergency nurse who helped care for people shot in the terror attack.
The White House also brought a boyfriend of one of the victims of the attack. Ryan Reyes watched the president’s speech from a seat in the first lady’s section.
Obama’s speech — his final State of the Union address — focused largely on touting the progress made in the economy and appeals for a less hostile political environment. While the president made reference to international terrorism and pledged to “go after” the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), he dismissed more dire concerns about the threat that the extremists pose to the U.S.
“As we focus on destroying ISIL, over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands,” Obama said on Tuesday, using an alternate acronym for ISIS.
“Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages pose an enormous danger to civilians and must be stopped. But they do not threaten our national existence.”
The reason Obama decided not to devote the majority of his speech to terrorism, McCaul insisted on Wednesday, was that his record is “lacking.”
“I continue to be baffled by the fact that he doesn’t address these issues head-on that so many Americans are concerned about,” McCaul said.