Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell condemned President Joe Biden’s executive actions and said Republicans intend to challenge any departures “from common sense.”
Several days after the Kentucky Republican was blasted for blaming former President Trump for inciting the violence at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month, McConnell took to the Senate floor to condemn the first actions by the Democrat president who is already headed in “the wrong direction.”
McConnell, along with other congressional Republicans, has criticized the decision to kill the Keystone Pipeline XL and rejoin the Paris climate agreement as Biden issued in his first executive orders soon after being sworn in as president on Wednesday.
The former Majority Leader also did not approve of Biden’s firing of a Trump-appointed general counsel to the National Labor Relations Board, calling on the new president to be mindful of the American people and not give in to “liberal symbolism.”
“For this 117th Congress, the American people chose an evenly split Senate – 60 Republicans and 50 Democrats. With the election of vice president Harris, that means the Democratic leader will act as majority leader,” McConnell began on Thursday.
The GOP leader brought up “talk of unity and common ground” in remarks about a power-sharing agreement in the Senate, before going on to tout how the Republican majority and the Trump administration helped “ignite a real all-American economic comeback, rebuild and modernize our military, and fight for the forgotten corners of our country.”
“And now, even as voters choose president Biden for the White House, they simultaneously shrunk Democrats’ House majority and elected this evenly divided Senate,” McConnell noted.
“The 2020 election was far from the sweeping mandate for ideological transformation, as any election we’ve seen in modern history. The American people stunned the so-called experts with the number of Republicans they sent to the House and to the Senate, to make sure common-sense conservative values have a powerful say in the government,” he continued.
“So our side is ready to share ideas and work with the Biden administration to find common ground. If and when our friends depart from common sense, when they retreat from common ground, when their proposals will harm the common good, we will use the power the American people have given us to push for what we think is right,” McConnell promised, before going on to call out Biden’s first actions as president.
“On the Biden administration’s very first day, it took several big steps in the wrong direction,” he said.
“The president reiterated the failed climate agreement that would set us up for economic pain on working American families with no assurance that China or Russia would honor their commitments. In fact, the U.S. has already been reducing carbon emissions while China and other nations in the agreement have kept increasing theirs,” he explained, referring to the international accord that was joined by nearly 200 nations.
Trump pulled the U.S. out after he took office in 2017 and those who back his move point out that recommitting the country to the agreement will be unfair to Americans.
“Rejoining will just set us up to kill American jobs while our competitors continue to roar on by,” McConnell said.
He also called out the decision to cancel a permit for the Keystone Pipeline XL, saying the “day one priority was to kill thousands of American jobs, including union jobs, disappoint our strong ally Canada, and reverse some of our progress toward energy security.”
“This is a project that the liberal Canadian government and Prime Minister Trudeau support, and investment in North American energy, even the Obama State Department concluded it would not harm the climate,” the senator added. “But because canceling it feels like the green thing to do, the new administration killed all these jobs. This was not the day one the American workers deserved.”
“The new administration has also sketched out a proposal for blanket amnesty that would gut enforcement for American laws while creating huge new incentives for people to rush here illegally at the same time,” McConnell continued. “This kind of failed approach will invite another humanitarian crisis on our border and privileged, powerful interests ahead of American workers.”
The lawmaker, who has proposed a delay in the start of Trump’s impeachment trial, also slammed the “unprecedented” move by Biden to oust Peter Robb, general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board. Robb had 10 months left in his term at the independent agency, in a Senate-confirmed four-year appointment in which no one before him has been fired.
“And for all the talk about norms within government, last night brought a truly unprecedented move at the National Labor Relations Board,” McConnell said, noting that “even left-wing activists called the unprecedented move aggressive.”
The senator offered Biden some advice in conclusion, urging him not to pander to the left.
“It’s still early, Mr. President. There is still plenty of time for president Biden to remember that he does not owe his election to the far left,” he said.
“The president can and should refocus his administration on creating good-paying American jobs, not sacrificing our people’s livelihoods to liberal symbolism,” he concluded. “Senate Republicans will be ready, willing, and eager to help make that happen.”
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