GOP rep who offered to work with Biden says call for unity ‘not off to a great start’
Rep. Beth Van Duyne, who offered to work with President Biden on bipartisan solutions, says the Democratic president has turned off some Republicans with a flurry of executive orders reversing the former administration’s policies.
“Looking at what he did in his first day, it’s not off to a great start,” Van Duyne, R-Texas, told Fox News.
She led a group of 17 GOP freshmen to send Biden a letter on Inauguration Day offering to help with passing legislation on targeted coronavirus relief, protecting Americans with pre-existing health conditions, improving infrastructure and restoring the economy.
During Biden’s inauguration speech, he spoke repeatedly of unity and the importance of listening to and respecting differences of opinions. He pledged to be a president for all Americans.
Biden, however, kicked off his presidency with a series of executive orders that took direct aim at President Trump’s signature policies related to border security, energy production and climate change that were popular among the GOP base.
Van Duyne is not alone in her disappointment.
Other Republicans pleased with Biden’s calls for unity in his Wednesday speech were frustrated that his first executive actions reflected the priorities of the left. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., accused Biden of taking “several big steps in the wrong direction.”
Van Duyne called Biden’s immigration actions “very dangerous” and said the Democrat’s reversal of the Keystone XL oil and gas pipeline project on environmental grounds would kill jobs and lead to higher energy costs for struggling Americans.
“It’s $1.6 billion of wages he just knocked out with a signature,” Van Duyne said of the reversal. “It’s thousands and thousands of jobs that were just decimated overnight. You think about the folks that Democrats claim that they represent — working poor, people on fixed incomes — and literally with one movement of the pen he has now raised their electricity rates, raised their gas rates. … They’re now going to have their utility costs go skyrocket.”
TC Energy, the Canadian company behind the pipeline, said it laid off 1,000 workers as a result of Biden’s executive action. Trump had approved construction of the $9 billion, 1,200-mile pipeline that would transport up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska.
According to the Keystone XL website, the project, initially proposed more than a decade ago, would sustain about 11,000 U.S. jobs in 2021 – including 8,000 union jobs – and generate $1.6 billion in gross wages.
In other action, Biden ordered a stop to building the wall along the southern border, ended Trump’s so-called “Muslim travel ban” and reversed one of Trump’s early executive orders that made anyone in the country illegally a priority for deportations.
Responding to the latter action, the Department of Homeland Security announced a 100-day moratorium on certain deportations. The pause does not apply to people who entered the country illegally on or af
Van Duyne said that under Trump’s policies her home state had finally made headway on improving border security.
“He’s basically now given an invitation for gang members, for the drug cartel and for human traffickers to come on into our country … That to me is very dangerous. And it’s going to affect border states, specifically states like Texas,” Van Duyne said.
Van Duyne led the letter of GOP freshmen to Biden because she saw how the country suffered when Democrats worked for four years to resist Trump and were too concerned with impeachment and Russian collusion to find solutions, she said.
“I quite honestly think I’m pretty much like most Americans who are sick of that fight,” Van Duyne said. “They want to move forward. They want to know that there are adults who actually are elected who are willing to work on policy issues that will affect them. And I raised my hand and I got 16 of my fellow freshmen to do the same thing.”
She said Biden needs to work more closely with Republican lawmakers in order to avoid issuing more damaging executive orders.
“You need to have Republicans at the table that are talking about how to best defend and fight for working families, and that right now is being completely missed,” she said.
Fox Business’ Audrey Conklin contributed to this report.