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U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed President Biden’s crisis-ridden first year in the White House. Thune noted that the president has completely abandoned the promise of unity he made in his inaugural address and has failed to address multiple ongoing crises that are negatively affecting families across South Dakota.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, we recently passed the one-year anniversary of President Biden’s inauguration.
“It’s a natural time for taking stock of the first year of his presidency.
“Mr. President, in President Biden we were supposed to get a leader.
“A leader at home and on the world stage.
“The grown-ups, we were told, were back in the room.
“But the truth of the matter is, Mr. President, President Biden’s first year in office has been marked by a lack of leadership more than anything else.
“Again and again, President Biden has simply abdicated his responsibilities.
“Take perhaps the two defining domestic crises of the Biden presidency: our inflation crisis and our border crisis.
“In both cases, the response of the president and his administration has, by and large, been to stick their fingers in their ears and pretend the crises don’t exist.
“Sure, the president or his people make a gesture toward the problem every now and then.
“But mostly you’d be forgiven for thinking that neither the border crisis nor the inflation crisis were even on the president’s radar.
“Migrants continue to pour across our southern border in massive numbers, creating a humanitarian, enforcement, and security nightmare.
“And the president?
“Well, he appears to believe that if he ignores the problem long enough it will go away.
“And when he does talk about immigration, it amounts to a green light to the cartels and traffickers to keep leading migrants to our borders.
“That’s why I recently joined more than 100 lawmakers in requesting that the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general investigate the Biden administration’s border failures.
“Between the president’s rhetoric and his failure to take any meaningful action to address the influx of illegal immigration, it’s no surprise that we saw more than half a million attempts to cross our southern border illegally in the current fiscal year’s first three months alone.
“Meanwhile, Mr. President, American families are struggling with the worst inflation in 40 years.
“The last time inflation was this bad, E.T. was just premiering, and Return of the Jedi hadn’t even come out yet.
“American families are struggling with huge increases in the price of the most basic necessities – from food to fuel.
“And the administration’s response?
“Well, mostly crickets.
“And of course President Biden hasn’t just been largely ignoring this crisis – he actually helped create it.
“The so-called American Rescue Plan Act that Democrats passed and the president signed into law in March helped produce the sky-high inflation we’re experiencing.
“But instead of addressing the resulting crisis, the president has been focused on passing another massive government spending bill that would almost undoubtedly worsen our inflation problem.
“His solution to our inflation crisis is to double down on the strategy that helped produce so much inflation in the first place.
“Meanwhile, Americans are wondering if their paychecks will stretch to afford the sharp increases at the grocery store – and in gas prices, utility bills, household commodities … the list goes on.
“On the world stage, of course, the defining moment of President Biden’s first year was his disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“The president’s arbitrary, chaotic withdrawal was a real low point for our country.
“Thirteen of our military men and women died in a terrorist attack during the evacuation from Kabul.
“We abandoned thousands of individuals who had worked with us in Afghanistan and whom we had promised to protect, and left behind hundreds of American citizens.
“And the president who was supposed to restore our standing on the world stage left our allies wondering if our word could be relied on.
“Not to mention the fact that the disastrous withdrawal left our country in a more precarious national security position.
“Meanwhile, the president’s recent press conference left serious questions as to how well he is likely to handle another pressing national security issue – the situation with Ukraine.
“Casually dismissing a possible ‘minor incursion’ into Ukraine’s sovereign territory did not inspire confidence in the president’s ability to stand up to Russia.
“We can’t afford missteps and walk-backs – Putin is looking to test America and NATO’s resolve, looking for any hesitation or division.
“I hope the president and the majority party will take seriously the threat to Ukraine, utilize any remaining levers of American influence to deter a renewed attack, and, if Putin proceeds, make him immediately realize it was a miscalculation.
“Mr. President, perhaps the biggest thing the president was going to do – the most important way he was going to be a leader – was to pull our country together.
“That was the defining theme of President Biden’s inaugural address.
“‘Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this,’ he said. ‘Bringing America together. Uniting our people. And uniting our nation.’
“Mr. President, contrast that speech with the speech that bookended the other end of his first year – his speech in Georgia on election legislation.
“We went from a president who wanted to unite our nation to a president who refers to his political opponents as enemies.
“‘We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors,’ the president said in his inaugural address. ‘We can treat each other with dignity and respect.’
“In his Georgia speech, by contrast, the president’s political opponents become not only adversaries but enemies (and racists), all for the crime of disagreeing with the president’s vision of election reform.
“The president’s complete condemnation of half the country was striking.
“I lost track of the number of people he implied were racist.
“The president assumed bad faith on the part of those who disagree with him.
“Missing from his speech was any shred of recognition that perhaps Americans of good will can disagree on election legislation.
“No, if you disagree with the president, you’re a racist.
“Like Hillary Clinton before him, it’s clear that President Biden conceives of a large portion of the American people as deplorables.
“The president repeatedly referred to justice in his Georgia speech.
“Perhaps he should consider the profound injustice of baselessly suggesting half the country is racist.
“In his inaugural address, the president said that ‘we must reject a culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.’
“I have been profoundly disappointed to see the president and many of my Democrat colleagues manipulate the facts about state election bills to support their desire for a federal takeover of elections.
“Manipulated facts were a hallmark of the president’s speech in Georgia, as he tried to twist a mainstream election law into Jim Crow 2.0.
“His attempts were particularly ironic given that the state he was complaining about offers greater opportunities to vote than are offered by the president’s own home state.
“And days later, at a press conference marking his first year in office, the president laid the groundwork for future division and disunity by suggesting that the 2022 elections could be illegitimate if Democrats’ election legislation doesn’t get passed.
“That is, I assume, if Democrats don’t win.
“It was yet another profoundly disappointing remark from a president who was supposed to take the lead in bringing this country together.
“Mr. President, one year into the Biden presidency, it’s become clear that the president of the inaugural address – the president whose whole soul was committed to uniting our nation – has long ago disappeared.
“The president has not only failed to unite the country, but, as his ugly and divisive speech in Georgia made clear, he has come to regard anyone who opposes his policies with active hostility – and contempt.
“Just one year after dedicating himself to uniting our country, the president is dividing Americans into supporters and enemies.
“‘We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal,’ the president said in his inaugural address.
“It’s too bad that the president’s actions have not matched his words.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”