Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell accused Joe Biden of taking “several big steps in the wrong direction” on his first day in office, suggesting the new administration should focus on “creating good-paying American jobs, not sacrificing our people’s livelihoods to liberal symbolism.”
Speaking from the Senate floor, the minority leader said the new president should “remember that he does not owe his election to the far left.”
Among the first actions of the Biden administration were executive orders aimed at tackling the COVID-19 crisis, rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and protecting gay and transgender people from discrimination in workplaces, schools and other areas.
The proposals were widely supported by Democrats and rights groups and enacted key policy pledges from the 2020 campaign that won Biden the largest ever number of votes in a presidential election.
Revealing details of the measures, Biden said there was “no time to waste when it comes to tackling the crises we face,” adding: “That’s why today, I am heading to the Oval Office to get right to work delivering bold action and immediate relief for American families.”
Biden also took action to block the building of the hugely controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline between the U.S. and Canada, addressing concerns from environmental groups and indigenous leaders.
“On the Biden administration’s very first day, it took several big steps in the wrong direction,” McConnell said, condemning his actions revoking a key pipeline permit, rejoining the environmental agreement and firing a Trump-appointed general counsel to the National Labor Relations Board.
McConnell said: “If and when our Democratic friends depart from common sense, when they retreat from common ground, when their proposals would harm the common good—then we’ll use the power the American people have given us to push for what is right.
“The president can and should refocus his administration on creating good-paying American jobs, not sacrificing our people’s livelihoods to liberal symbolism.”
McConnell also proposed delaying the start of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial to February to give the former president time to prepare his case.
Several other Republican lawmakers have expressed opposition to the first steps of the new administration.
Wisconsin Representative Bryan Steil repeated a familiar trope from the Trump campaign team that Biden was “supporting far-left priorities” with his initial actions.
“On day one, Biden has set the tone for what is to come in his administration: legislating by executive orders, championing massive spending bills, and supporting far-left priorities that reverse years of economic growth and job creation,” he said.
Florida Representative Kat Cammack offered a similar critique: “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.”