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Thune: Democrats Choose Far-Left Agenda Over Bipartisan Cooperation

“There’s a lot we can do together on a lot of issues if Democrats will come to the table.”

March 24, 2021

Washington — 

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed Democrats’ continued efforts to push their far-left agenda through Congress. Thune also discussed the importance of bipartisan cooperation on legislation that bolsters American economic competitiveness and invests in infrastructure, emphasizing his hope that Democrats will work with Republicans to pursue an agenda that helps all Americans.

Excerpts of Thune’s remarks below:

“Mr. President, I’ve come down to the floor multiple times in the past week to talk about the filibuster.

“I’ve talked a lot about the dangers of eliminating the filibuster, from the loss of bipartisanship to the loss of meaningful representation for Senate minorities and the constituents they serve.

“One thing I haven’t mentioned yet, though, is the fact that Democrats are increasingly calling for eliminating the filibuster despite the fact that Republicans haven’t actually filibustered any legislation yet this Congress.

“In fact, Republicans have shown a genuine commitment to bipartisanship and unity – something that has not been on display from the president and the Democrat leadership.

“The Senate confirmed President Biden’s Cabinet nominees faster than those of both President Trump and President Obama, thanks in no small part to Republicans’ willingness to move the process along.

“And many – if not most – of those confirmations were bipartisan.

“I voted for a number of President Biden’s Cabinet nominees, not because they were the individuals I would have picked, but because I believe that absent serious red flags, a president deserves to have his team around him.

“So I have a suggestion for Democrats – why not try bipartisanship?

“And by that I don’t mean holding Republicans hostage, the way the Democrat leader has threatened: Support our legislation, or else we’ll talk about eliminating the filibuster.

“I don’t mean passing a few pieces of bipartisan legislation for show and then shoving through the rest of your agenda via reconciliation or abolishment of the filibuster.

“I mean genuine bipartisanship.

“Sitting down at the table, identifying big issues we need to address, and then looking at proposals from both parties and negotiating until we can find agreement.

“There’s a lot of room for that.

“While the focus often tends to be on the areas where we disagree, there are plenty of areas where Democrats and Republicans either already agree, or could easily reach a middle ground.

“I’m a conservative, Mr. President.

“But I’ve introduced 14 bills so far this year, and 11 of them have had Democrat co-sponsors.

“There is a lot of room for us to work together. 

“So why don’t Democrats try that?

“We could start with American economic competitiveness and global leadership legislation or infrastructure legislation – issues both Democrats and Republicans see a pressing need to address.

“The Democrat leader has mentioned his desire to bring up legislation regarding America’s competitiveness vis-à-vis China, and the Republican leader has agreed that it’s an issue ripe for a bipartisan, regular-order process.

“There are a lot of areas where we could find bipartisan agreement on these issues:

“Investing in our domestic manufacturing capacity, so we don’t have to rely as heavily on China or other countries for essential products and technologies.

“Promoting the development of 5G technology here at home to ensure that the United States wins the race to 5G.  

“Supply chain security.

“Protecting our taxpayer-funded research and intellectual property from theft.

“And more.

“I recently reintroduced the bipartisan Network Security Trade Act with Senator Fischer and Democrat Senators Stabenow and Warner. 

“Currently, one of the biggest suppliers of 5G equipment worldwide is a Chinese company – Huawei – which is supported by the Chinese Communist Party.

“American security officials have raised concerns that much of Huawei’s equipment is built with ‘backdoors’ giving the Chinese Communist Party access to global communications networks.

“Our bill would address this potential security risk by making telecommunications security a key objective when negotiating future trade deals.

“It’s important that we encourage our trading partners and allies to keep suspect technology like Huawei out of their networks.  

“The bipartisan Network Security Trade Act would be a strong candidate for inclusion in a thoughtful, bipartisan measure meant to enhance our competitiveness with China – if Democrats are willing to engage in truly bipartisan legislating.

“I believe a strong China policy is a national priority.

“And I hope we’ll consider a bill that addresses the many threats China poses in the near future – as long as Democrats don’t simply turn it into a means to promote their partisan priorities under the guise of competing with China.

“Mr. President, there’s also a lot of bipartisan agreement to be found on infrastructure.

“In fact, there is a history of bipartisan collaboration on infrastructure legislation.

“Our last major infrastructure bill, the FAST Act, was supported by both Democrats and Republicans – and was a remarkably successful bill.

“Last Congress, the Environment and Public Works Committee here in the Senate developed bipartisan infrastructure legislation.

“And there is no reason that we shouldn’t reach bipartisan agreement on a substantial infrastructure bill.

“I know a lot of us senators from rural states – both Democrats and Republicans – share a number of the same priorities for infrastructure legislation, like expanding broadband access in rural communities and ensuring that farmers and ranchers have a transportation system they can depend on to get their goods to market.

“Investments in rural infrastructure benefit the entire country.

“The vast majority of agricultural and industrial commodities originate in rural areas, and speeding the passage of those goods to market benefits everyone – those who produce these commodities and those who rely on being able to sell them or purchase them.

“I’ve introduced two pieces of legislation with Democrat colleagues that I would hope to see included in potential bipartisan infrastructure legislation.

“I recently introduced the Railroad Rehabilitation and Financing Innovation Act with my Democrat colleague Senator Hassan.

“Our bill takes important steps to improve the accessibility of the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing loan program for smaller railroads, like those farmers and ranchers rely on to get their goods to market.

“I also recently introduced the Tribal Transportation Equity and Transparency Improvement Act with my Democrat colleague Senator Sinema.

“Tribes across the nation have struggled to build and maintain roads and bridges within their reservations, which connect tribal members to critical services.

“This is especially true for large, land-based tribes, who must maintain vast road networks in sparsely populated areas.

“Our bill would help tribes address these challenges by taking steps to make the allocation of funding through the Tribal Transportation Program more equitable and transparent. 

“Mr. President, if one thing is for sure, it’s that a 50-50 Senate is not a mandate for one side to force through its agenda unchecked.

“It is absurd for Senate Democrats – or House Democrats – to pretend they have a mandate for a partisan revolution.

“I’m not sure that the Democrat leadership realizes this, but I think there are a good number of rank-and-file Democrats who do.

“And I hope those rank-and-file Democrats will encourage their leaders to move away from their liberal fantasies and try for real bipartisan cooperation.

“There’s a lot we can do together on a lot of issues if Democrats will come to the table. 

“I hope they will.”