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First-year Senator to Give Republican Response to Obama


Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa rehearses her remarks for the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address in Washington, Jan. 20, 2015.

Republicans tapped Joni Ernst, a newly elected senator from Iowa, to deliver the party's response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Ernst, 44, was elected in November to a seat previously held for three decades by a Democrat.

Ernst has delivered on a number of "firsts" with her election.

She is the first woman elected to represent Iowa at the federal level and the first female combat veteran to serve in the U.S. Senate. As of Tuesday night, she'll become the first first-year senator to give the Republican response to a Democratic president's State of the Union address.

Chance to respond

It is customary for the party not in power in the White House to be granted national television time to respond to the president's speech.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Ernst "is the perfect choice" to deliver the speech.

She is expected to tout the Republicans' agenda, which includes approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, action to block Obama's immigration orders, investment in road and infrastructure, tax reform and alternatives to Obama's health care reforms.

Delivering the response to the State of the Union can sometimes prove a perilous turn in the spotlight.

Two years ago, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida was ridiculed after lurching for a drink of water in the middle of his response, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is still remembered for his awkward performance in 2009.

Material for this report came from Reuters and AP.