Latinx Rep. Veronica Escobar is Set to Give Democrat’s Spanish SOTU Rebuttal

Democrats are set to deliver two rebuttals, one in English and one in Spanish, to President Donald Trump’s third State of the Union (SOTU) address on February 4. First-term Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, one of the first two Latinas to represent Texas in Congress, will give the Spanish-language response from her hometown of El Paso, Texas.

Both parties have been delivering Spanish-language rebuttals since President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address in 2011. Former Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) was the first person to deliver a SOTU response in Spanish. In 2013, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) delivered both the English and Spanish rebuttals.

Escobar, 50, will be delivering her rebuttal speech from the Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe, a neighborhood health clinic in El Paso, to highlight healthcare costs. The clinic, which was founded back in 1967, was established by a group of El Paso women to provide for the low-income community.

In a statement in Spanish on Twitter on January 24, Escobar said she was honored to give the Spanish-language response to the president’s annual address. “I hope to share with our nation the progress that we Democrats have reached on behalf of the people,” she wrote in Spanish.

“It’s important to me in my Democratic response, that I remind the country that it’s Democrats who’ve been fighting for their health care,” Escobar told NBC News.

The congresswoman said that although health care often is overshadowed by “the daily scandals coming from the White House,” she often hears about it from her constituents in Texas. Escobar told NBC News that people are concerned about rising prescription costs and “are really afraid that [the] Trump administration is going to erase the gains made by the Affordable Care Act.”

Escobar has railed against rising health care costs in the past. In December 2019, she voted to pass H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, to regulate prescription drug costs.

“While Big Pharma continues to reap profits, our seniors and families are forced to pay three, four, or even ten times higher than they charge for the same drugs in Mexico and other countries,” she said in statement.

Who is Congresswoman Veronica Escobar?

The first-term Democrat was historically elected in 2018 to fill the seat previously held by former Democratic presidential candidate, Beto O’Rourke. Escobar is one of just two Latinas to represent the Lone Star State in Congress.

Escobar was lauded by the Democratic leadership as a relentless advocate of her community who “fights to end the gun violence epidemic and to protect children and families at the Southwest border,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement “[And that Escobar’s] values and vision beautifully represent our party and our country.”

The freshman Democrat has fought against the Trump administration’s immigration policies, including the Migrant Protection Protocols. “My district is ground zero for these atrocities,” Escobar said during a House hearing on child separation, according to NPR. “These policies have created the humanitarian crisis and a moral one.”

In August 2019, Escobar faced a tragic challenge when a white gunman shot and killed 22 people at an El Paso Walmart. The gunman traveled over 600 hundred miles from his Dallas suburb and purposefully targeted Mexicans, authorities said. Escobar quickly blamed Trump’s decisive anti-immigrant rhetoric for the attack.

“What we have seen from the president, especially in the last year, has been the use of words that cause division, racist words, words of hate and those words have a lot of power and they inspire people who already have hate in their heart,” Escobar told Univision in Spanish and has been translated. “I think, in my opinion, that that is why we experienced the attack on August 3 last year.”

Healthcare Costs for Latinx/POC vs White People

Hispanics have the lowest rates of health insurance coverage, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Although the uninsured rate dropped for Hispanics under the Affordable Care Act, Hispanics remain more likely to be uninsured than other racial or ethnic groups.

A 2018 Census report revealed that 82.2 percent of Hispanics had health insurance coverage, significantly lower than Blacks (90.3 percent), Asians (93.2 percent) and whites (94.6 percent). The report also found that Hispanics also have the lowest rate of private coverage at 49.6 percent, compared to 74.8 percent of whites. Blacks followed closely behind with low rates of private coverage at 55.4 percent, while Asians narrowly trailed whites at 73.1 percent.

According to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), Hispanics (22 percent) were more likely than whites (13 percent) to go without care due to costs. And at at 25 percent, they were also more likely to have no usual source of care, compared to 14 percent of whites.

The KFF report stated Hispanic non elderly adults faced a range of health challenges that their white counterparts are less likely to face, including obesity and diabetes. Hispanics are more than three times as likely to be diagnosed with HIV than whites and have a teen birth rate more than two times higher than whites.

State of the Union and the Democratic Responses

The President will deliver his third State of the Union address from the U.S. Capitol on February 4 at 9 p.m. ET. The annual address will be held the night before the Senate is set to issue its verdict on the president’s impeachment. The Republican-led Senate is expected to acquit Trump of both articles of impeachment.

Democrats will respond with two rebuttals in two different languages immediately afterward. Escobar will deliver the Spanish-language response, while Democratic rising star, Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, will deliver the English-language rebuttal. The 48-year-old, who won the governorship in 2018 with 53.5 percent of the vote over Republican Bill Schuette, will deliver her speech from Lansing, the state’s capital, CNN reported.

“Democrats across the country have a plan to improve education, fix our infrastructure, expand and protect healthcare coverage and build an economy that works for everyone,” Whitmer said in a statement on February 3. “Our nation deserves this type of leadership, and we are ready to take action to get it done.”

How to Watch

The SOTU, set to begin at 9 p.m. ET, will be available across several cable and broadcast networks, including CNN, FOX, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS. The New York Times and The Washington Post will live-stream the address online. The president’s speech will also air on the official White House YouTube channel.

Whitmer will give the first, English-language rebuttal after the president’s address. Escobar’s Spanish-language response will air after Whitmer’s.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.