02.03.21

Lankford Blasts Biden Administration’s Doublespeak of Unity and Bipartisanship While Demonstrating the Opposite

Lankford: “We should work for unity. But right now we're not even having dialogue.”

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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today spoke on the Senate floor about President Biden’s 22 executive actions issued in the first 10 days after being sworn in on January 20, 2021, and the impact on the nation. Lankford addressed President Biden’s unilateral executive actions that target traditional energy, babies in the womb, women’s sports, and border security.

Lankford called on his colleagues to not just talk about pursuing unity as a nation and treating one another with respect and dignity but to actually do it. Lankford has already raised his concerns over President Biden’s action to return to funding abortions abroad, ignore national security concerns and halt border wall construction, and attack traditional American energy producers with his executive actions during the first days of his presidency.

Transcript

Two weeks ago I heard these words, ‘History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity. We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting, lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.’

President Biden in his inaugural address had some pretty glowing terms. Grateful to be able to hear the statements about unity, the challenge now is to actually live that out and to be able to see that actually done. Because while those words are beautiful, the past two weeks there have been almost two dozen hyper-partisan executive orders that have come out of the White House, and there doesn't seem to be a push towards actual bipartisan unity here on this floor. In fact, in the first 10 days of the Biden Administration, he has signed more Executive Orders than the last four Presidents combined in their first 10 days. President Clinton signed two; President Bush signed two; Donald Trump signed seven, President Obama signed nine. Joe Biden in the first 10 days signed 22 executive orders, 22. And some of those Executive Orders seem to be just purely spiteful, just to say, ‘President Trump put this in and so it must be bad.’

Let me give you an example. The Trump Administration required through an Executive Order every agency to compile all their guidance documents into one place so that small business owners and people that work in small businesses could find the federal requirements from each agency in one spot. They didn't have to hunt all over the place to be able to find their federal requirements. Now, that doesn't seem like a partisan statement. It seems like good government, but in the first 10 days of President Biden's term, he got rid of the good guidance piece and said, ‘No, federal agencies can play hide-and-seek with their rules again, and small business owners will have to figure out it is. There won't be one place in each agency to find guidance.’ Why would you do that other than just if Trump did it, it must be bad?

Listen, we've got to find ways to actually live unity and to be table to do what's best for the American people. We live in a constitutional system. We have more than 300 million people. We have great disagreements on policies, but we come together to work them out. During 2020, in a time of divided government, this body, the House of Representatives, and the White House passed five different COVID relief bills, all with strong bipartisan majorities. We passed all 12 appropriation bills with strong bipartisan majorities. I didn't agree with everything on every one of those bills, but we worked together to be able to resolve it. And now suddenly it has become a, ‘We don't want to talk across the aisle anymore,’ literally two weeks after saying, ‘You know what we need in this country? Unity.’ Two weeks later it is, how do we cram through something on a straight partisan vote? How do we block out all Republican voices from the entire country and make sure their voices are not heard? Does that feel like unity two weeks into a presidency?

Ten of my republican colleagues sat down with President Biden, and we appreciate his time, and he gave two hours of time to listen. He's proposed $1.9 trillion in additional spending the very first day on COVID. $1.9 trillion. This is only a few weeks after we just passed almost a trillion-dollar package dealing with COVID that literally two-thirds of that trillion-dollar package has not even gone out the door yet, has not even been spent, has not even been allocated. There's billions and billions of dollars still unallocated for vaccine, for testing, for schools, all kinds of different things that we allocated in December, and it's already like, that's not enough, we need more. Literally the CDC and the NIH has billions of dollars unallocated right now from previous bills that have already been sent. When my team contacted White House team and said, ‘Hey, we see this big proposal, can you tell me what these dollars are allocated for?’ Their response was, ‘It's an emergency. We need a big package.’ They literally couldn't tell us what the money would be spent for.

Now I have to tell you, this is not just a partisan issue. I asked the exact same thing of the Trump Administration when they made a big proposal, I went back to them with the exact same question: what is this money to be used for? They couldn't answer it, and so I continued to press for months until we got an answer, until we got a right amount. That seems like a reasonable thing to do regardless of who is in the White House is to say this is the American people's money, and in this case none of it is actually money that is allocated. All of it is borrowed. So before we spend a dime of money that we borrow from China, we should probably know what it's actually for.

And in the $1.9 trillion package proposal, there's a section that is a 50 billion-dollar fund to be able to spend for ‘needs,’ however the Administration wanted to fill that blank in. $50 billion. No thank you. We have a basic responsibility to be able to ask questions on this.

If the reports are accurate, when 10 Republican Senators sat down at the White House to be able to talk about a different proposal to be targeted towards the actual needs right now. If reports are correct—I wasn't there at the time—but if the reports are correct, every time our proposal came up, some of the President's team sitting against the fall facing the President would shake their head every time a proposal came up to signal the answer to President Biden, ‘No, say no to that one as well.’ Listen, we've got to find a way to be able to actually work things out. Why is this so difficult when we did it five times with divided government last year, and now the focus is we can no longer talk to republicans? Where did the unity go?

Some of these Executive Orders require a lot more attention and a lot more conversation instead of just imposing things on the American people because that makes a difficult situation worse. On his first day in office, President Biden dismantled the Title IX protections for women and imposed new gender identity requirements. I agree with President Biden: every person should be treated with dignity and respect. But I also believe extending respect and dignity means being honest about scientific and biological realities of sex and the differences between men and women. All people—all people—should be afforded equal opportunity, but that also includes women and girls. Title IX was put into place to make sure that we had equal opportunity for women and girls in all areas, and under the guise of preventing discrimination, suddenly now women and girls are being discriminated against.

President Biden's Executive Order based sexual identity is forcing school districts to have biological boys to compete against biological girls in high school sports. You might think, what is the big deal about that? Well, in Connecticut two high school athletes born as male but now identity as female, they have won 15 different titles. Female athletes are losing medals, podium spots, and chances for scholarships or chances to play on a team with their peers. Every person should be respected in our nation, but there's a reason that Title IX was created. This should demand more conversation in this body, not trying to impose it in an Executive Order. Americans are not united in this issue. We are united that people should be respected and have every opportunity, but don't run over one group to be able to provide special status to another group.

I was disappointed but not surprised when there was an Executive Order that was released on the issue of abortion, in fact, multiple executive orders on the week of the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. For unity President Biden gave the Memorandum on Protecting Women's Health at Home and Abroad. Once again a good message, but it falls short about a standard about unity.

According to the most recent Marist poll, 77 percent of Americans oppose using taxpayer dollars to support abortion in other countries. Yet under the guise of unity, we're now spending money overseas on promoting and providing abortion. In a time when we have record debts and deficits, the Biden Administration made one of its first priorities to take in the very first week to take some of the dollars that we do have and spend it to promote and provide abortion overseas in other countries. That's our foreign aid now. As if funding providers at home and abroad wasn't enough, the memo also directs the United States to withdraw from the historic Geneva Consensus Declaration. It’s 35 nations that have agreed to four basic pillars .These are the four pillars that we just withdrew from: Pillar number one: better health for women. Pillar number two: the preservation of human life. Pillar number three: strengthening of family as the foundational unit of society, and Pillar number four: protecting every nation's national sovereignty in global politics.

That was so controversial that the Biden Administration withdrew from that with 35 other countries. Ironically enough, while President Biden pulled out of that treaty protecting women's health, he actually installed us deeper into a treaty with Russia. In his first week in office, President Biden agreed to a straight extension of the New START treaty with Russia. It was supposed to manage the proliferation of nuclear weapons between the United States and Russia, the two big superpowers, but it was written so long ago and is so out of date, it completely leaves out other superpowers like China. So while Russia has to mind an agreement, China continues to accelerate. Current status, China will double its nuclear stockpile in the next decade, but they are not even in this treaty, and in addition to that, multiple areas are not even addressed in this New START treaty. That's why there was such a push in the previous Administration to renegotiate it because the New START treaty doesn't even include Russian weapons like air-delivered ballistic missiles, nuclear-powered underwater drones, hypersonic glide vehicles, nonstrategic nuclear weapons. They are not even included. So under this agreement, Russia can accelerate in those areas and say they are still meeting the agreement, and President Biden just extended for five more years and said, ‘We're not going to negotiate it for five more years, let's just keep going.’

The shift has moved from stopping nuclear proliferation to dealing with climate change. Why can't we do both? Why can't we pay attention to the environmental issues of our globe but also pay attention to the issue of nuclear proliferation? It's not like this has gone away. It hasn't.

President Biden took several issues on immigration, specifically border security. Right after the inauguration, speaking on unity, he puts out an executive order with bizarre doublespeak in it that stated this: ‘The United States is a country with borders and laws that must be enforced,’ but the order itself after that literally put a 100-day moratorium on all deportations. It's like we need to enforce our laws, and then the first step of it was for 100 days we're not going to actually enforce our laws. This not some crazy piece here. The 100-day moratorium included individuals that are listed as criminal aliens. It also included people that had what's called a final order of removal from a court. That means that they've gone through every appeal in our court system here and a court has said, ‘No, you do not qualify to be here legally,’ they ordered them removed from the country, and President Biden said, ‘No, we want them to be able to stay even after a court order.’

There's this great myth that ICE is roaming through cities in America just rounding people up. The fact is 92 percent of ICE enforcement and removal operation, those individuals have a criminal conviction or a pending criminal charge—92 percent. But President Biden put a 100-day moratorium and said, ‘Those individuals do not need to be deported. We’ll think about it for 100 days.’ Now, thankfully a federal court stepped in and said—this is the quote from the federal court—‘there's no reasonable justification.’ I agree. That's not enforcing our laws. That's not engaging in bipartisan unity.

The vast majority of Americans want legal immigration. The vast majority of Americans also believe that if someone has committed a crime in our country and they are not legally in our country, they should be deported. But the message that's been sent out is: those individuals won't. And as odd as it may seem, on January 26, President Biden instituted a travel ban from Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland, most of the EU, from South Africa and said, ‘Those folks can't come because of COVID threat,’ but at the same time said he wants to evaluate Title 42, which may allow people to come into the United States from Mexico and do catch-and-release again here in the United States. So at the same time saying, ‘Business travelers from all over the world really don't need to come because of COVID threat,’ they are also looking at our southern border and saying, ‘Yeah but people coming from South America, Central America, they may be okay to be able to come into the country and then to be able to be released while we're pending still a hearing.’

May I remind this body, in the past year we have lost 21 people from the Department of Homeland Security along our southern border, 21 agents and officers have died from COVID exposure from interacting with people coming from South America and Central America. Why in the world do you close down the borders to business travelers and then start talking about opening them up to people not legally crossing the border? This is not what Americans are looking for.

I had a lot of people in my state that were shocked in the first days of the Biden Administration when he stopped the Keystone XL pipeline and then he stopped all energy exploration on federal lands. Those are jobs in my state. Those are—as President Biden likes to talk about—‘union jobs’ that are all over the country. Thousands of people lost their job day one of the Biden Administration with a unilateral declaration, we're not going to do energy exploration, and we're not going to complete this pipeline. What does that mean? That means to the federal taxpayer royalties are down because they are not gaining royalties off of the use of that land. So the taxpayer loses. That means jobs are down all over the country, especially in the west. And that means prices will go up for the consumer. We're not running all on electricity; we’re still running on oil and gas for the vast majority of our vehicles. While I’m for all different types of energy, that's not what's happening right now.

We should address this. We should work for unity. But right now we're not even having dialogue. We're not even included in the conversation. If we're going to have unity, we've got to talk about the hard issues and actually come to a decision on how we're going to resolve those.

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