On January 20, my wife Gayle and I joined dozens of other lawmakers at the U.S. Capitol to observe the orderly transfer of power. I had attended multiple inaugurations before, but this year’s occasion was unlike any I had ever seen. The National Mall, which is normally packed with visitors from across America, was closed because of health restrictions. At the same time, more than 25,000 National Guard troops, including several hundred of our Mississippi Guardsmen, were on site to ensure peace and order.
Upon taking the oath of office, Joe Biden became our 46th President. I did not support him as a candidate, but I am praying for him as he leads our country through a difficult period. I appreciated his call for national healing and reconciliation. We should all work to lower the temperature and move forward as one unified nation.
Impeachment Is a Mistake
Unfortunately, the effort to remove a President who is no longer in office raises serious constitutional questions and threatens to delay national healing. This article of impeachment was rushed through the House of Representatives shortly after the Capitol riot without hearings or any careful consideration of evidence against President Trump. As President-elect, Mr. Biden could have used his influence to stop the impeachment process from going forward. Such a gesture could have gone a long way toward unifying the country.
A second impeachment trial is sure to inflame partisan tensions and could poison the cooperative spirit we need in a 50-50 Senate. I fear it will also bring more reproach on Congress’s solemn impeachment power, which should be used sparingly and with sober deliberation. Impeachment could also interrupt President Biden’s Cabinet confirmations for weeks while the Senate holds a trial as required by the Constitution. The Senate has important business to do and should not be held up by a pointless and divisive delay.
Biden’s First Actions Raise Alarm
On his first day in office, President Biden signed multiple executive orders that reveal his administration’s priorities. I am deeply concerned about the impact these decisions will have on our country.
One of President Biden’s first steps was to revoke the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, a vital energy project that President Trump had approved. Cancellation of this pipeline will needlessly limit our oil supply and cost as many as 11,000 jobs, representing $1.6 billion in lost wages. This reversal is also an insult to Canada, which was depending on the pipeline to move oil to America. President Biden has spoken of “repairing” our alliances, but this is a big step backward.
President Biden also reversed Trump’s policy of strict immigration enforcement and imposed a 100-day pause on deportations. This sends a terrible signal to those trying to enter our country illegally, like the caravans that are currently advancing toward our border. As a Senator in 2006, Mr. Biden supported the Secure Fence Act, which authorized funds for border control barriers. He served as Vice President in the Obama Administration, which engaged in a sensible deportation policy for illegal immigrants. His change of heart sends a troubling signal of radical policies to come.
Biden Should Lead With Bipartisanship
President Biden has pledged to represent all Americans and help unify our nation. I hope he fulfills this pledge by focusing on ideas that enjoy bipartisan support. The Senate Commerce Committee, which I chaired for the last two years, has made great progress on expanding broadband to rural America, building infrastructure, and supporting our transportation sector. I stand ready to work with President Biden on these and other unifying priorities.