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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed some of the areas where Republicans and Democrats can find common ground in a divided Congress to address many of the issues facing the country. Thune noted that in order to deliver meaningful results for American families and businesses in a divided government, there must be a genuine attitude of compromise between both parties.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, the new Congress is a chance for a fresh start.
“And we need a fresh start.
“We cannot afford a repeat of the past two years.
“Despite the fact that Democrats controlled Congress by the slimmest of margins in the last Congress, Democrats acted as if they had a mandate for radical, far-left change.
“Democrats shoved through multiple partisan spending sprees, including the so-called American Rescue Plan Act, which kicked off our current inflation crisis.
“And what they got through was mild compared to what they wanted to push through – from a federal takeover of elections to some of the most extreme abortion legislation in the world.
“Fortunately some of Democrats’ most radical proposals didn’t ultimately make it through Congress.
“But not for lack of trying on Democrats’ part.
“Despite the fact that they had nothing more than a technical majority, Democrats did their best to eliminate a voice for the minority party in the Senate by attacking the Senate filibuster rule.
“Some contemplated packing the Supreme Court to secure judicial support for Democrat policy priorities.
“And Democrats’ rhetoric was often as extreme and divisive as their policies – with the standout example being an address the president gave a year ago this month in which he suggested that half the country is racist.
“Well, Mr. President, we’ve had another election.
“And the American people rejected one-party rule by electing a Republican House of Representatives.
“They have created a situation in which both parties will have to work together to get anything done.
“And I hope this will mark a new, less partisan moment here in Congress.
“I hope we can move on from the past two years and start afresh to work together to address the challenges facing our country.
“Because there is a lot we can do together.
“Despite the partisanship of the Democrat agenda over the last two years, there were still moments that reminded us that there are many areas where we can agree or are close enough to work together.
“I introduced a number of bipartisan bills in the last Congress.
“And I’m looking forward to working with colleagues of both parties on a number of issues in the new Congress.
“One major piece of legislation we take up every few years is the farm bill, which has a strong bipartisan history.
“During my time in the Senate, I’ve introduced farm bill legislation with both Democrat and Republican colleagues, and I think that working together we can produce a bill this year that will meet the needs of our nation’s farmers and ranchers and strengthen U.S. agriculture production.
“Another obvious area for bipartisan cooperation is the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization that is coming due this year – and none too soon, as recent air travel fiascos have made clear.
“Our last FAA reauthorization bill was a strongly bipartisan piece of legislation, and this year’s bill should be the same.
“Another area where I think there’s a lot of room for bipartisan cooperation is promoting transparency and accountability in Big Tech.
“President Biden recently published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal calling for, among other things, Section 230 reform.
“I already have bipartisan legislation with Senator Schatz to reform Section 230 and increase transparency and due process for users around content moderation actions taken by Big Tech platforms.
“And I will work to advance that legislation this Congress.
“I also think there’s a lot we can do on a bipartisan basis to advance trade agreements to expand markets for American products and services around the world.
“The Biden administration has been slow to take action on trade, and I think there is real interest from members of Congress of both parties to accelerate our trade efforts and create new market access opportunities for American workers and producers.
“I’d also like to think we can agree on the need to conduct serious oversight of government spending to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being used efficiently and effectively.
“Democrats forced through trillions of dollars in new spending during the last Congress.
“And conducting oversight of how that money is being spent is nothing less than our responsibility as members of Congress.
“I’m thinking in particular of the massive funding infusion – $80 billion – that Democrats handed to the IRS.
“Especially given the IRS’ shaky record when it comes to handling taxpayer data, I would hope we can agree that rigorous oversight of the IRS is required.
“I also hope that my Democrat colleagues will be open to working to extend tax relief for American businesses and American families.
“Americans – and small businesses – are going to face serious tax hikes if the tax relief from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act isn’t extended or made permanent.
“And I would like to think that members of both parties could work together to extend this tax relief – and the benefits it provides for Americans.
“Another thing that I am hoping will happen in this Congress, Mr. President, is a return to regular order when it comes to appropriations bills and other legislation.
“Omnibus appropriations bills are not an ideal way to fund the government – to put it mildly.
“They are an invitation for waste and all the other problems that come with hastily thrown together legislation.
“And we need to do everything we can to make sure individual appropriations bills go through the committee process and are individually debated on the floor.
“I’m very encouraged that the incoming Democrat chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee has joined Senator Collins – who will be the top-ranking Republican on the committee – to announce her desire to pass appropriations bills through regular order.
“And I really hope that that will be a bipartisan priority this year.
“For similar reasons we need to put a greater emphasis on making sure non-appropriations bills – especially the biggest bills we consider – go through regular order in committee where they can be publicly debated and amended and receive input from all committee members.
“I hope that we can move toward a more collaborative and transparent process – which is the kind of process that best serves the American people.
“Mr. President, getting anything done in divided government requires a genuine attitude of compromise – with both sides conceding things – rather than the my-way-or-the-highway approach that we’ve seen from Democrats over the past two years.
“But if we can get there, then I think we can achieve a lot together in this new Congress.
“I am eager to work with my colleagues from both parties to address the challenges facing our country.
“And for the good of the American people, I hope we will build a record of bipartisan accomplishment over the next two years.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”