Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., participates in the Senate Democrats' news conference to unveil a plan to protect and expand retirement savings on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017.
Bill Clark—CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images
February 6, 2019 1:55 PM EST

Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan clearly had strong feelings about watching President Donald Trump deliver his 2019 State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

But while some spectators may have believed that his speech lulled her to sleep — based on a photograph circulating of the Senator appearing to have her eyes closed while she listened — she has a very different explanation for what was going on in her head during the address.

“I wasn’t sleeping. I was trying not to scream,” she tweeted in response to the photo.

Stabenow is the senior senator from Michigan, a Democrat who was first elected to her office in 2000 and is now serving her fourth term. She also is currently the Chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. Bills she’s working on at the moment include efforts to improve healthcare for children in schools and extend community health center funding.

In response to the State of the Union address on Tuesday, she released an official response of her own, doubling down on her interest in bipartisanship. “I am deeply concerned about the direction of our country reflected in the President’s address this evening,” it reads. “We need to come together and find bipartisan solutions on issues important to Michigan like fixing our nation’s infrastructure, lowering the cost of health care, and keeping jobs in the United States.”

But it’s her fiery comeback to that now-viral photo that has her supporters rallying behind her. Stabenow isn’t the only member of Congress who struggled with containing her reactions during the speech, either — and probably won’t be the last.

Write to Raisa Bruner at

Read More From TIME

Related Stories