U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today expressed his strong disappointment in the lack of bipartisan cooperation in the first 100 days of the Biden administration ahead of President Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress this evening. Thune stressed that what matters most is not what the president says tonight, but his actions in the days and weeks to come.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, this evening President Biden will deliver his first address to Congress.
“I’m interested to hear the direction the president will set in his speech.
“The president’s inaugural address leaned heavily into the theme of unity and bipartisanship.
“But unity and bipartisanship have not been distinguishing features of the Biden presidency.
“The president’s first major bill – a COVID bill – broke a nearly year-long streak of bipartisanship on COVID legislation.
“Under Republican control of the Senate and a Republican president, we passed five COVID bills with overwhelming bipartisan margins.
“Under President Biden, Democrats shoved through a totally partisan bill filled with non-COVID-related liberal priorities.
“Republicans were more than ready to work with Democrats on additional coronavirus legislation.
“In fact, 10 Republican senators developed a COVID proposal and then met with President Biden to discuss it.
“But Democrats and the president were having none of it.
“It was their way or the highway on COVID legislation.
“No bipartisanship. No compromise.
“It was support Democrats’ bill – and its wasteful spending on non-COVID-related priorities – or be left out of the discussion.
“It was a deeply disappointing start to the Biden presidency – and a betrayal of the unity President Biden had pledged himself to in his inauguration address.
“And unfortunately the Biden presidency has mostly continued along in the same partisan fashion.
“The president promised to be a president for the whole people, yet he seems more focused on making sure that he’s a president for the far left.
“And you don’t have to take my word for it.
“One of the leading voices of the far left in Congress recently stated that President Biden had exceeded progressives’ expectations.
“Mr. President, between Democrats and the White House, the first three months of the Biden presidency have been a long stream of policies and proposals that seem to have come right from progressives’ playbook.
“Proposals for tax hikes and more tax hikes and still more tax hikes to pay for new government programs, like the president’s Green New Deal-esque Civilian Climate Corps.
“A union bailout.
“Cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline – and the jobs it was creating.
“A sharp retreat from border security – with a huge crisis at the border as a result.
“A series of moves to address the priorities of the radical pro-abortion wing of the Democrat Party.
“Legislation to dramatically revise our electoral system to secure Democrats’ hold on power.
“The list goes on.
“Once a defender of America’s core institutions, the president recently established a commission to explore the idea of court-packing – perhaps the most outrageously partisan and political proposal we’ve seen this century.
“Mr. President, from the way Democrats are behaving, you would think the American people had elected overwhelming Democrat majorities and a president with a reputation as a strong leftist.
“But of course that isn’t even close to being the case.
“Democrats have a razor-thin majority in the Senate and an almost equally thin majority in the House, where they lost a substantial number of seats.
“As for the presidency, while certainly a Democrat won the election, it’s worth noting that the only candidate who could win the Democrat primary was a man historically regarded as a moderate.
“Yes, even among Democrat primary voters, Democrats’ far-left liberal candidates did not fare so well.
“If there was any mandate in the election, it was a mandate for moderation. For compromise.
“And yet the president and Democrats are behaving as if they had been delivered a mandate for a partisan revolution.
“Mr. President, there has been one encouraging thing lately, and that is the fact that President Biden seems to actually be considering pursuing bipartisanship on an infrastructure package.
“He’s had multiple meetings on infrastructure with Republican members, and while I’m still waiting to see just how committed Democrats are to achieving a bipartisan result, I am encouraged that the president is at least talking to Republicans.
“A bipartisan infrastructure proposal should be a slam dunk.
“Congress has a history of bipartisan collaboration on infrastructure legislation.
“Our last major infrastructure bill, the FAST Act, received strong support from both Democrats and Republicans and was a remarkably successful bill.
“As chairman of the Commerce Committee, I helped spearhead a bipartisan reauthorization of the FAA, including critical programs to improve airport infrastructure.
“And last Congress, the Environment and Public Works Committee developed major bipartisan infrastructure legislation.
“In fact, yesterday the Senate voted overwhelmingly to proceed to the bipartisan water bill we are currently considering.
“There is no good reason that we shouldn’t reach bipartisan agreement on another substantial infrastructure bill.
“But it will require a commitment from Democrats and the president to real bipartisan work – and a recognition that bipartisanship involves compromise, and that no one side is going to get everything its members want.
“Bipartisanship is not Democrats inviting Republicans to support Democrats’ ideal bill.
“Bipartisanship is sitting down at the table, identifying what we agree on, and then working out a solution to our differences that involves both sides accepting compromises.
“So, Mr. President, I hope that tonight the president will go beyond empty talk about bipartisanship, and make an actual, concrete commitment to achieving bipartisan results, starting with infrastructure legislation.
“I hope – although do not really expect – that he will move away from the policies and partisan priorities of the far left and toward a more moderate vision more in keeping with bringing Americans together as he spoke of in his inaugural address.
“But ultimately, Mr. President, what matters the most is not what the president will say tonight, but what he will do in the days and weeks to come.
“Will he finally deliver on that promise of unity that he spoke of in his inaugural address?
“Or will he continue to pursue the partisan path progressives have laid out for him?
“For the sake of our country, I hope he chooses bipartisanship.”