President Biden made a direct appeal to pro-Trump supporters and Republicans across the nation who did not vote for him to become the 46th president of the United States, calling for everyone to “stop the shouting and lower the temperature.”
“Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire destroying everything in its path,” Biden said during his inaugural address Wednesday. “Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for a total war, and we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated, and even manufactured.”
Biden’s words point to the political rhetoric during the Trump years that led to deeper partisan divides in and outside of Washington, D.C. – ultimately ending in the attack on the U.S. Capitol just two weeks before Trump was set to leave the White House.
Congressional Republicans applauded Biden’s promise to unify the divided country, though while they appeared eager to support Biden’s calls to “lower the temperature,” some remain skeptical.
“I look forward to working with the Biden administration when we can find common ground for the good of Montanans,” Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., said in a statement Wednesday. “But I will also vigorously work against their agenda when I think it will harm our great state.”
Congressional Republicans could find themselves in a tricky position if they are unwilling to negotiate on policies with Democrats, as the White House and both congressional chambers are now Democrat-controlled – an obstacle House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy noted Wednesday.
“Looking ahead, I know we will be tested,” the California Republican said in a statement. “But I also know there will be many promising opportunities for us to seize.”
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said Wednesday that Republicans will look to their leadership under McCarthy to see where GOP policies can be strengthened under a Democrat-forward agenda, on issues like national security and infrastructure.
Jordan, who helped lead the way in the House to contest the Electoral College results, largely sidestepped the opportunity to criticize Biden while on the right-leaning media outlet Newsmax Wednesday, after first attending Biden’s inauguration.
Jordan’s attitude was echoed by 17 freshmen GOP members of Congress who penned a letter to Biden, pledging to work with the newly elected Democrat – though several of them contested the validity of Biden’s win in the Electoral College.
“We firmly believe that what unites us as Americans is far greater than anything that may ever divide us,” the lawmakers, led by Rep. Beth Van Duyne, R-Texas, wrote. “In that spirit, we hope that we can rise above the partisan fray to negotiate meaningful change for Americans across the nation and maintain the United States’ standing as the best country in the world.”
The letter was signed by both Republicans who contested the results of the Electoral College, like Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, and members of the GOP who voted to impeach President Trump in the House last week, like Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan.
But despite the letter noting their wish to end the partisan divide, not all the signatories are convinced by Biden’s calls to unify as a nation.
“The president must fulfill his promises. He calls for unity, we must see if he will deliver on his promise,” a spokesperson for Cawthorn told Fox News Wednesday.
Cawthorn made headlines last week after North Carolina state Democrats urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to censure the freshmen Republican, for “violent language” he used in the lead up to the attack on the U.S. Capitol, telling pro-Trump supporters that his colleagues who did not contest the election were “cowards.”
Cawthorn later criticized the insurrection and Trump for directing protesters toward the Capitol, but a spokesperson for the North Carolina Republican said, “Cawthorn believes that election integrity should be the top priority of every American.”
“Rep. Cawthorn contested the Electoral College results on the basis of clear constitutional violations in key states,” the spokesman said Wednesday. “Rep. Cawthorn believes that, above all else, it is important to hold elected officials to a high standard.”
Other GOP officials who have come under fire for their objection to the Electoral College following the attacks on the U.S. Capitol, like Congressmen Mo Brooks of Alabama and Andy Briggs of Arizona, could not be reached by Fox News.
But Republicans like Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey took to twitter to applaud Biden’s inauguration remarks.
“I commend President Biden for his call for national unity, and his assurance to those who did not support him that he will nevertheless be president for all Americans,” Toomey said.
“I urge the president to follow through on this commitment by working with members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to pursue policies that will lead to peace and prosperity for all Americans.”
Marissa Schultz contributed to this report.
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