11 things congressional Republicans say Biden can't do if he wants 'unity'

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Joe Biden said he wanted to unify that nation. Some GOP lawmakers think that means he can't do anything they oppose.

In his inaugural address on Wednesday, President Joe Biden said that to solve the issues facing the United States — the coronavirus pandemic, the country's economic struggles, domestic terrorism, the changing climate, access to health care and education, systemic racism — the nation must unite.

Some Republicans seem to have taken that to mean Democrats should abandon their policy promises and do nothing that the GOP doesn't agree to.

"To overcome these challenges — to restore the soul and to secure the future of America — requires more than words. It requires that most elusive of things in a democracy: Unity," Biden told the nation. "Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together. Uniting our people. And uniting our nation. Unity. I ask every American to join me in this cause."

In the days since Biden spoke, an array of GOP lawmakers have focused solely on the word "unity," calling everything Biden and other lawmakers in the Democratic-majority House and Senate do a failure to keep a promise to "unite" the country.

Here are 11 things Republicans have said Biden and the Democrats must not do because they don't promote "unity."

Protecting public lands

On his first day in office, Biden issued a series of executive orders and actions aimed at undoing damage caused by the Trump administration. An order titled "On Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis" includes a provision to restore national monuments in Utah that Donald Trump had tried to shrink.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee attacked the order on Thursday as "simply incompatible with his promise of unity." Utah Sen. Mitt Romney agreed, saying it would "only deepen divisions in this country."

Halting drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The climate order also includes a provision placing a temporary moratorium on leases sold to fossil fuel companies to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan was not pleased: "Today, in his inaugural address, President Biden called for national unity and healing," he said in a statement. "However, just hours earlier, his administration took their cues from radical environmentalists in issuing punitive and divisive actions against Alaska, many other resource development states, and whole sectors of our economy."

Stopping the Keystone XL oil pipeline

Another climate order provision revokes a permit issued by Trump in March 2019 for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to transport oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, explaining the revocation: "The Keystone XL pipeline disserves the U.S. national interest.  The United States and the world face a climate crisis. ... At home, we will combat the crisis with an ambitious plan to build back better, designed to both reduce harmful emissions and create good clean-energy jobs. ... Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration’s economic and climate imperatives."

Republicans, including Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, Texas Rep. August Pfluger, Minnesota Rep. Michelle Fischbach, and New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, accused Biden of betraying his call for unity.

"Revoking permits for the Keystone XL Pipeline undercuts a serious infrastructure project, renewable energy growth, and rail relief for grain," tweeted South Dakota Sen. John Thune on Thursday. "This admin can't ask for unity & bipartisanship one minute but continue to push bad left-wing policy the next."

Rejoining climate accords

Biden took a separate action on Wednesday to start the United States on the path to rejoining the Paris climate agreement after Trump took the country out of it, calling climate change a hoax.

Colorado Rep. Ken Buck tweeted, "President Biden called for unity this afternoon, but his first actions in office say otherwise," saying that rejoining the agreement was part of a "liberal agenda" that "will further weaken our nation."

Appointing someone to run the Department of Health and Human Services

Biden's nominee to serve as secretary of health and human services, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, has not yet been given a confirmation hearing. But Fox News published an opinion piece written by Sen. Tom Cotton on Thursday that demanded the Senate reject the nomination, calling Becerra a "lawyer and career politician" with "no experience in public health, large-scale logistics or other challenges of the pandemic. What Becerra lacks in public-health experience, however," Cotton sneered, "he makes up for in enthusiasm for his party’s most radical views."

Cotton, a lawyer with no experience in public health, wrote, "Joe Biden campaigned on pledges to unite the country and defeat the pandemic; he continues to stress these twin priorities. But his nominee to be secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, is a partisan culture warrior who undermines both pledges."

Appointing a special envoy to Iran

Biden and nominee to serve as secretary of state, Antony Blinken, are reportedly considering appointing Robert Malley to be their special envoy to Iran. Cotton apparently does not like this pick either.

On Thursday night, he tweeted, "Appointing radicals like Malley gives the lie to all of President Biden and Tony Blinken’s rhetoric of unity."

In 2015, Cotton was the initiator of a letter, signed by 47 senators and addressed directly to the leadership of Iran, that warned the Islamic Republic not to rely on any nuclear nonproliferation agreements negotiated by the Obama administration, an action that an observer called "mutinous."

Reforming immigration

Biden took actions to protect undocumented young people brought to the United States as children and revise some of Trump's anti-immigration policies.

"On Wed., President @JoeBiden called for unity to ensure success for our nation. I agree," tweeted Tennessee Rep. David Kustoff. "However, unity doesn't come by prioritizing policies like open borders (esp during COVID), decimating oil & gas ind., & granting citizenship to undocumented immigrants."

Stopping construction of Trump's wall

Biden also moved quickly to freeze construction of Trump's incomplete $15 billion wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, terminating the "national emergency" that the previous administration had used to justify siphoning funds from military allocations for the project.

"President Biden's inaugural address focused heavily on unity, bringing the nation together after the division we've experienced. The new EOs he just signed, however, cater to the Left, ignoring the steps necessary to move America forward," tweeted Florida Rep. Kat Cammack on Wednesday. "Halting the progress we've made at the border stymies the work we've accomplished to combat illegal entry and stops the reasonable, lawful options in place for those trying to immigrate lawfully."

Restoring funds to international aid groups that provide abortion

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top epidemiologist, told the World Health Organization on Thursday that Biden would soon "be revoking the Mexico City policy," which blocks federal funding to international groups that provide or discuss abortion. Established by Ronald Reagan in 1984, the policy has been rescinded by Democratic presidents and reinstated when Republicans were in the White House.

Buck decried this too on Thursday, tweeting, "President Biden is reinstating a widely unpopular policy to fund and promote abortions across the globe. So much for unity?"

Conducting an impeachment trial of Donald Trump

Even though every House Democrat and 10 Republicans voted to impeach Trump on Jan. 13 for his role in inciting his followers to storm the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York believes that if Biden wants unity, he must ensure his predecessor does not face any consequences for his actions.

Tweeting a list of "3 ways @POTUS can reach across the aisle for healing & unity," Zeldin insisted, "The Senate impeachment trial should be shut down."

Scrutinizing Trump's botched vaccination plans

The Trump administration badly missed its target for vaccinations against the coronavirus in December 2020 and reportedly left the Biden administration no plans to build on in responding to the pandemic.

Some GOP lawmakers believe that even pointing this out undermines national unity.

"Yesterday, Pres. Biden said unity was his focus," Michigan Rep. Lisa McClain tweeted on Thursday. "Today, he spreads lies about #OperationWarpSpeed."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.