Jan 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Republicans pledge to set aside differences and work with Biden

President Joe Biden speaks to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) after being sworn in at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.

President Biden speaks to Sen. Mitch McConnell after being sworn in at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Several Republicans praised President Biden's calls for unity during his inaugural address on Wednesday and pledged to work together for the benefit of the American people.

Why it matters: The Democrats only have a slim majority in the Senate and Biden will likely need to work with the GOP to pass his legislative agenda.

What they're saying:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who attended Biden's swearing-in ceremony, tweeted his congratulations to the new president and Vice President Kamala Harris.

  • "I look forward to working together everywhere we can and differing respectfully when we must," he said.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) noted in a Twitter post that Biden had taken the oath of office "during a health crisis and significant political strife."

  • "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."

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said in a statement: "Biden's message to the country was filled with hope for a more unified nation and a commitment to work for all Americans."

  • She added they must redouble efforts to work through differences and seek common ground "to put the divisiveness and turmoil of the last few months behind us, and move forward with respect, optimism, and hope."

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told reporters that Biden "struck the right themes by calling for unity, for reminding us that we're all Americans, that we can work together, and that if we do so, we can solve the problems facing our nation."

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) told reporters he thought Biden's speech was "very strong and very much needed."

  • "We as a nation come together if we are told the truth," he added. "And if we have leaders who stand for enduring American principles."

Of note: 17 freshmen House Republicans, some of whom rejected to the Electoral College certification of Biden's win, congratulated the president in a letter, pledging to work with him on policy.

For the record: Other Republicans expressed skepticism over Biden's executive actions, including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who said on ABC News: "The rhetoric was very forward looking ... but every executive action he took was about reversing what had happened before."

  • Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) told reporters it's "important to unite the country, " but he's concerned by "some of the executive orders that are coming, specifically in regard to the Keystone XL pipeline."
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