Jonathan Ernst, Associated Press

What Utah members of Congress have to say about President Biden's speech

By Dennis Romboy, Deseret News | Posted - Apr. 28, 2021 at 10:39 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — Members of Utah's all-Republican congressional delegation say President Joe Biden has not only failed to deliver on his promise to unify the country but has made it more partisan than ever.

In his first address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, the president laid out an ambitious progressive agenda, proposing up to $6 trillion in new spending for infrastructure, investment in America and more social safety net programs.

"Rather than the 'unity' he promised, President Biden has instead delivered extreme partisanship. He's taken unprecedented action to fulfill a progressive, far-left agenda and to increase the size, scope and cost of the federal government," said Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.

"Unfortunately, this agenda will only serve to make Utah and our country less prosperous, less fair, and less free."

President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of
Congress on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in the House Chamber at the
U.S. Capitol in Washington, as Vice President Kamala Harris, left,
and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi look on.
President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, as Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi look on. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla, Associated Press)

Lee, who last week said Biden is so far to the left politically that he makes former President Barack Obama look like conservative Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, said the president has governed as anything but the centrist and moderate he claimed to be during the election campaign.

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said Biden offered "bipartisanship in name only" during his speech.

"Unfortunately, despite the president's soothing tones of a return to normal, his legislative actions have been the most partisan I've seen during my time in Congress," the five-term congressman said.

He said Biden continues to lead the country down a path of "radical spending."

"The bill for this money-for-everybody-and-everything policy is coming due. It's going to cost everyone, and all of America deserves representation in the matter. Republicans need a seat at the table on the other side of President Biden's 100th day in office," Stewart said.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said Biden is "spending like crazy." He called the president's proposed $6 trillion in new spending a "modern record" and said it's about four times the total federal budget.

"That is an amazing amount of money, and it has the potential of jeopardizing our kids' future and burdening them with decades of interest costs," he said.

Romney also said the president has failed to take a bipartisan approach to making policy.

"When you get down to the kinds of policies that unite the country, the president says he wants unity, but it's impossible to unify America if you're only appealing to the liberal wing of your own party," he said.

Freshman Republican Rep. Burgess Owens served on the Congressional Escort Committee for Biden's speech. He joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers who escorted the president to the House Chamber.

Owens said it was an honor to be part of the committee.

"Just like millions of Americans, I hope to see a genuine commitment to addressing challenges without burdening hardworking taxpayers or increasing the size and scope of government," he said before the speech.

Afterward, Owens said all people got was the president's "spin" on his 100 days in office but nothing of his "job-killing" executive orders, the national security crisis at the border, or the largest tax increase in a generation.

"The Democrats' progressive pet projects and disastrous policies come at the expense of hardworking taxpayers and future generations. To truly restore the soul of our nation, the president must stop governing from the far left and start representing all Americans," he said.

The criticism noted Biden has issued 40 executive orders in his first three months, including halting new oil and gas leases on public lands, canceling the Keystone Pipeline, rejoining the Paris climate agreement and restarting the catch-and-release program at the U.S. border with Mexico.

"On top of that, President Biden has signaled openness to nuking the filibuster and packing the Supreme Court. He's insultingly and falsely painted Georgia's election integrity efforts as 'Jim Crow 2.0,'" Lee said.

Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, said he appreciated listening to Biden's vision for America but has "grave" concerns that his agenda hurt his district and Americans across the country.

"Since my first day in office, I have looked forward to working with the Biden administration and finding common ground on issues that both sides of the aisle prioritize, including immigration, infrastructure and economic recovery," he said. "But unfortunately President Biden has not exemplified the values or principles on which he ran."

Moore said Biden's executive orders push left-wing priorities without any input from Congress. His executive order stopping oil and gas leases threatens the livelihoods of rural Utahns and his corporate and federal tax hikes will stunt the nation's needed economic growth, exacerbate the national debt crisis, and harm job prospects for the most vulnerable Americans.

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Dennis Romboy

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