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U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed how President Biden’s reckless and radical agenda has produced record-high inflation, soaring energy prices, and an unprecedented humanitarian crisis at the southern border. Thune noted that Democrat control in Washington is hurting family budgets and jeopardizing the safety of our communities.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, the first year of Democrat governance in Washington produced surging inflation, a disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, and a massive border crisis.
“And unfortunately, so far 2022 isn’t looking much better.
“Our inflation crisis keeps getting worse.
“Energy prices are soaring.
“And the Biden border crisis is reaching new heights.
“Mr. President, when President Biden took office inflation was at 1.4 percent – well within the Federal Reserve’s target inflation rate of 2 percent.
“And it might have remained there had Democrats not decided to pass a $1.9 trillion partisan spending spree under the guise of COVID relief – mere weeks after Congress had approved a fifth bipartisan COVID relief bill that met essentially all current pressing COVID needs.
“Democrats’ decision to flood the economy with unnecessary government money set off an inflation crisis that shows little sign of stopping.
“March saw inflation hit 8.5 percent, a 40-year high.
“Everywhere Americans look, they’re paying more.
“More for groceries.
“More for gas.
“More for utilities.
“More for furniture.
“More for used cars and trucks.
“The list goes on.
“While wages increased in 2021, inflation outstripped wage growth, which means that instead of a pay increase, many Americans saw a de facto pay cut.
“And needless to say, inflation is having the biggest impact on those who can least afford it.
“The president likes to tout job creation and economic growth – although most of what he takes credit for is the natural consequence of economic recovery after the pandemic – but his claims mean little to families who are wondering how they’ll be able to pay their soaring grocery bills or whether they can afford the gas they need for the rest of the month.
“And speaking of affording gas –
“Thanks to Democrats, we’re also rapidly approaching a full-blown energy crisis.
“Gas prices increased on average to an all-time high in March, according to AAA.
“That’s on top of the soaring inflationary costs of electricity and home gas services, among other energy commodities.
“As of yesterday, gas was $4.12 a gallon – up from $2.39 when President Biden took office.
“The administration, of course, has attempted to blame this hike on Putin.
“But the vast majority of the 72 percent increase in gas prices since President Biden took office pre-dates the war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia.
“Every gallon of gas purchased at current prices hits family budgets hard, especially in rural states like South Dakota, where driving long distances is the norm.
“Diesel averaged $2.68 a gallon in January 2021.
“As of yesterday, it was $5.07.
“That not only hits our transportation sector and truckers but farmers across the country as they plant their fields this spring.
“Mr. President, there is no easy solution to inflation.
“But the first imperative is to do no more harm.
“Once Democrats saw the inflationary effects of their $1.9 trillion spending bill, they should have instantly resolved to refrain from any more unnecessary government spending.
“Big spending, however, is a way of life for Democrats, and so instead of committing to spending restraint, they spent last fall pushing for a SECOND massive spending spree that would have made our inflation situation even worse.
“And while that reckless tax-and-spending spree was mercifully halted in the Senate last December, the president’s recent budget request made clear that Democrats are still intent on implementing many of their tax-and-spending spree’s measures.
“Democrats unleashed the worst inflation in 40 years by flooding the economy with unnecessary government money, and they still want to double down on that strategy.
“If Democrats have their way on government spending, our inflation crisis could last for years to come.
“Mr. President, while there are few things the president and Democrats can do to speed up the end of their self-inflicted inflation crisis – other than not making it worse – there are actions Democrats can take to address the high energy costs Americans are facing.
“And chief among those things is unleashing American energy production – of both alternative and conventional energy.
“Unfortunately, the president seems pretty committed to doing the opposite when it comes to conventional energy.
“He’s asked other countries to increase their conventional energy production, but he has made it clear that he is not interested in seeing the United States do the same.
“While his administration is finally conducting sales for new onshore oil and gas leases, it has reduced the land available for such leases and substantially increased the royalty rate – sending a clear signal to American energy producers that the administration is reluctant to collaborate with them.
“Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed requiring costly new financial disclosures that would discourage investment in conventional energy production.
“Mr. President, while Democrats may wish it weren’t so, the fact of the matter is that our country will still need oil and natural gas for years to come.
“And if Democrats and the president don’t want Americans to be paying sky-high prices to fill their cars, they need to focus on encouraging responsible oil and gas production here at home – which, I might add, puts Americans to work in good-paying jobs and develops these resources with fewer emissions than are produced in other countries.
“Forcing our country to increase our reliance on foreign energy sources will do nothing but drive up energy prices – not to mention jeopardizing our national security.
“Boosting domestic production, on the other hand, would drive down energy prices while ensuring that we don’t have to rely on dictators or unstable countries for energy.
“Mr. President, in addition to our energy and inflation crises, we are also facing a massive crisis at our southern border.
“Almost from the day the president took office, we’ve seen a huge surge in the number of individuals attempting to illegally make their way across our southern border.
“In March alone, U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered 221,303 individuals attempting to cross our southern border illegally.
“In the first quarter of 2022, more than half a million individuals were apprehended while trying to get across our southern border.
“And the influx shows no signs of stopping.
“And what has the president done to address this crisis?
“Next to nothing.
“In fact, the truth is that this is a crisis largely of the president’s own making.
“The series of actions he’s taken to weaken border security and immigration enforcement has encouraged a flood of illegal immigration across our southern border.
“In fact, the president’s lawyers are over at the Supreme Court today arguing against a measure to discourage illegal immigration.
“And now the president is on track to make our current border crisis much worse by lifting Title 42 COVID-19 restrictions that have provided for the immediate deportation of individuals who have crossed the border illegally.
“Once these restrictions are lifted, the Department of Homeland Security expects as many as 18,000 migrants per day to attempt to cross our southern border.
“I mentioned that we’ve seen more than half a million attempted illegal crossings in the first three months of this year.
“Without Title 42 restrictions, we could be seeing more than half a million attempted crossings each month.
“And it is clear that the president has no substantive plan in place to deal with such a surge.
“I was relieved that yesterday a federal judge issued an order temporarily preserving Title 42, but this is not a permanent solution to the problem.
“Title 42 should not be lifted until the president has a robust plan in place for discouraging illegal immigration, securing our border and preventing human trafficking and drug trafficking, and quickly deporting those who seek to illegally enter our country.
“So here’s where we are, Mr. President:
“We have an inflation crisis that is driving up costs for American families.
“We have an energy crisis with sky-high gas prices fueling pain at the pump.
“And we have a security, humanitarian, and enforcement crisis at our southern border.
“That’s what a year and a quarter of Democrat governance looks like.
“And, since Democrats show no signs of taking steps to address these crises, that’s what Democrat governance is likely to look like for the foreseeable future.
“Meanwhile, the American people will continue to pay the price.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”