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Biden Administration

Floor Speech

Date: Jan. 21, 2021
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I want to start by congratulating President Biden and Vice President Harris, who took office yesterday. We have a team of former Senators in the White House.

Yesterday was a hopeful day. The Capitol Building, so recently besieged by violence and lawlessness, resumed its rightful place as the seat of our democracy and backdrop for the peaceful transfer of power from one President to the next that is a hallmark of our system of government. The faith of many Americans has been shaken in recent weeks. But yesterday reminded us that our democracy still stands and our Nation endures--bruised, maybe, but unbroken.

I also want to express my profound gratitude to the Capitol Police officers and other law enforcement who, though outnumbered and overrun, defended this Capitol on January 6, and to the soldiers and the law enforcement who have guarded this building in the days since. We live in peace and freedom because of the service and sacrifice of our military and our police officers.

After the election of November, President Biden gave a victory speech in which he pledged to be ``a President who seeks not to divide, but to unify. 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 commitment in yesterday's speech, stating: ``On this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation.''

That is what we need right now--a President who will unite us. 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.

And I do think President Biden is capable of doing this, but I do want to sound a cautionary note. It is common to talk about unity at Presidential inaugurations. But all too often that commitment to unity is forgotten--by the President or by the members of his party. I hope this commitment will be backed up with action and that Democrat leaders in Congress will embrace the President's words. That means respecting those Americans who didn't vote for President Biden as well as those who did.

It means working together to confront our Nation's challenges, instead of adopting an ``our way or the highway'' approach. It means preserving minority rights in the Senate when it comes to legislation, the heart--the heart--of what makes the Senate special and something Republicans, I might add, defended during our time in the majority.

For the President, it means nominating individuals who represent a majority of Americans, not the far left fringes of his party. I have seen some hopeful actions from President Biden. Several of his nominees for important posts, while perhaps not those whom I would have chosen, are public servants whom I believe will serve our country well in positions like Director of National Intelligence, whom we voted on yesterday. And the President has demonstrated both his leadership and his concern for all Americans by prioritizing the pandemic and focusing on getting Americans vaccinated.

But there have been troubling things as well. While the President has nominated some mainstream candidates, other nominations raise serious concerns on issues like overregulation of the economy and life and conscience protections.

While I applaud the President's focus on the pandemic, I am concerned that a number of the measures in his pandemic relief proposal are heavily partisan--and, certainly, not things that should be rushed through Congress without serious consideration of the long-term impact they would have on our economy and American families.

If there was any mandate given in this election, it was a mandate for moderation. A historic number of Americans voted for President Biden, but a historic number voted for President Trump as well. Democrats lost seats in the House of Representatives, and the Senate is evenly divided.

I hope--I really hope--that Democrat leaders and the President will remember that and not allow the far left, which has sought to hijack the Democratic Party in recent years, to determine their agenda. We have a chance--a chance--for a new day here in this country, and I believe that President Biden is committed to leading us there.

I pray that that commitment will endure and that we can spend the next months and years working together, legislating together, and ensuring the voices of all Americans are respected and heard.

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