Recent Press Releases

Thune: President Biden’s Calls for Unity Must Turn Into Action

“The president has a chance to genuinely unify our nation. But he will have to decide whether or not he wants to take it.”

February 4, 2021

Washington — 

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today voiced his disappointment in President Biden’s decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, which has served as a prominent source of oil and energy for the U.S. The cancellation potentially jeopardizes the stability of the country’s affordable energy supply and eliminates good-paying jobs for 11,000 Americans. Thune also discussed Senate Democrats’ unwillingness to reasonably work together with Senate Republicans to provide relief for the American people, and urged all Democrats to acknowledge their duty to represent all Americans, rather than to pursue the left-wing agenda.

Excerpt of Thune’s remarks:

“Mr. President, in his victory speech, and in his inauguration address, President Biden pledged to be a president for all Americans.

“‘I pledge to be a President who seeks not to divide, but to unify,’ he said in his victory speech. ‘Who doesn't see Red and Blue states, but a United States.  And who will work with all my heart to win the confidence of the whole people.

“He reiterated that sentiment at his inauguration, stating, “On this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation.”

“It’s a sentiment I honor, Mr. President.

“And as I said the day after the inauguration, if President Biden can truly be a president who governs for all Americans, who respects all Americans, and who works to win the confidence of the whole people, he will have done our nation a great service.

“But it’s not enough to talk about unity.

“It has to be matched with action.

“And too many of the president’s actions so far have been more calculated to appeal to the far-left wing of the Democrat Party than to unite Americans.

“In his two weeks in office, the president has signed off on a long list of executive actions, many of which read like a wish list of leftist priorities.

“In a nod to the far-left environmental wing of the Democrat Party, the president has issued a moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on federal lands and called a halt to the Keystone XL pipeline – even though we’re a long way away from significantly reducing or eliminating our need for oil and natural gas.

“Domestic oil and gas production is essential to maintaining an affordable and reliable energy supply here at home.

“Halting new oil and gas drilling could jeopardize the stability of our affordable energy supply, and will definitely jeopardize American jobs that are supported by this industry.

“As for the Keystone XL pipeline, stopping this project – which, I would point out, is well underway – is nothing more than a symbolic gesture.

“America will still need reliable sources of oil, and a modern pipeline is a cleaner way to transport it.

“Keystone XL has been through multiple exhaustive environmental reviews, and on top of that, its builder has committed to fully offsetting its operations with $1.7 billion in renewable energy purchases.

“The oil trains, trucks, and other pipelines still moving crude oil today aren’t doing that.

“In fact, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – a staunch liberal – included the pipeline in Canada’s clean energy plan.

“It’s also worth noting that in addition to eliminating an environmentally responsible means of transporting oil, canceling the pipeline project will cost thousands of jobs – which is particularly unfortunate given the many jobs that have been lost during this pandemic.

“On day one of his presidency, President Biden effectively fired 2,000 pipeline workers and told another 9,000 to never show up.

“Then, of course, there’s the president’s order halting construction of the border wall on our southern border.

“The Biden administration has plans for sweeping immigration reform, but does not seem to be placing much of an emphasis on border security.

Instead, they’ve reduced the wall to a symbol of the Trump administration and chosen to satisfy immigration activists by halting construction – without offering adequate alternate ways to secure our borders against a flood of illegal immigration or drug and human trafficking and other criminal activity.

“Then of course there’s the president’s decision to overturn the Mexico City policy, which prevents taxpayer dollars from being used to fund abortions in other countries.

“Mr. President, the majority of Americans do not believe in unrestricted abortion.

“And a new poll released last month showed that a majority of Americans do not want their tax dollars going to fund abortions.

“Yet the president has acted to ensure that American tax dollars can go to fund overseas abortions – whether Americans want them to or not.

“In addition, this administration has given every sign that it intends to pursue a radically pro-abortion agenda that is out of step with the views of the majority of Americans.

“Mr. President, last week, the New York Times published an editorial urging the president to slow down the executive orders and embrace policy-making.

“The Times correctly pointed out that permanent legislation on issues like immigration is better for the country than wild policy shifts between administrations.

“And the Times urged the president to focus less on executive orders and more on legislating.

“The editorial noted the president’s pledge to seek unity and that on the campaign trail he, quote, “often touted his skill at finding compromise, and his decades as a legislator, as reasons to elect him over Mr. Trump.”

“Mr. President, now is the time for the president to show that he does really mean to live up to his inaugural pledge and unify our nation.

“And that means not just talk, but action.

“It means working with lawmakers of both parties to develop legislation – not pushing exclusively Democrat measures.

“It means urging Democrat congressional leaders to actually negotiate with Republicans, instead of trying to force through an agenda that lacks the support of half or more of the country.

“And it means focusing less on checking off the priorities of the far left and more on actually representing the views of a majority of Americans.

“The president has a chance to genuinely unify our nation.

“But he will have to decide whether or not he wants to take it.

“Mr. President, yesterday I came down to the floor to talk about Democrats’ decision to pursue a partisan budget resolution designed to pave the way for a partisan COVID relief measure – despite the fact that Congress has produced five prior COVID relief packages and appropriated trillions of dollars on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis.

“Republicans have put forward several ideas to improve this measure:

“An amendment to protect small businesses hit hard by the pandemic from sudden tax increases.

“An amendment to ensure that schools actually reopen, especially after teachers receive the vaccine.

“An amendment to ensure that states deal honestly and transparently with the tragic COVID deaths that have happened at certain nursing homes.

“And my amendment to protect health care workers who traveled to other states to help during the pandemic from getting surprise tax bills from those states as a thank you note.

“I’d like to think that Democrats would support some of these amendments.

“My amendment to protect health care workers is based on legislation I advanced that has received strong bipartisan support – although it has been opposed by a handful of states, like the Democrat leader’s, that aggressively tax mobile workers.

“But so far Democrats have not shown much of an inclination to entertain Republican ideas – no matter how much they would help address the effects of the pandemic.

“Democrats have indicated that they may allow a handful of amendments that enjoy some Republican support, but that doesn’t change the essentially partisan character of this undertaking, which is designed to allow Democrats to pass the legislation they want on an entirely partisan basis.

“Will we see political amendments on the floor during this process?

“Yes, we will – from both parties.

“Democrats have chosen a political maneuver instead of seeking to replicate the bipartisan success we had with COVID bills like the CARES Act.

“So yes, Republicans will offer some political amendments.

“But we will also offer COVID-related amendments that Democrats should support if they truly want to deliver help to those who need it.

“Mr. President, it’s deeply disappointing that Democrats are heading down this partisan path.

“If they really wanted to govern for all Americans, they would work with Republicans to pass another bipartisan COVID bill.”