On January 20th, I joined my colleagues on the front steps of the Capitol for the inauguration of our forty-sixth president, Joe Biden. At a time when divisions run deep within our country, I thought President Biden’s call for unity—where he pledged to be a president for all Americans—struck the right tone. As my colleagues in the Senate can attest, I am always willing to work with anyone—Republicans, Democrats, and Independents—on issues that will improve the lives of my fellow Iowans, and all Americans.
Sadly, the actions we’ve seen in the first few days of this administration do not seem to honor the promise President Biden made to Americans throughout his campaign, and again on Inauguration Day.
In just two weeks, the president has already signed over twenty-five executive orders. That’s significantly more than any president in recent history in this short amount of time. Even the New York Times Editorial Board called on him to “Ease Up on the Executive Actions.” Now, I fully understand that the power of executive order is often unpopular when your party does not control the White House, but when you set out to be the “unifier-in-chief,” one would hope that the actions you take would unify—or at least be a little more mainstream. The reality is, that’s just not been the case.
We’ve already seen disastrous decisions harmful to Iowa businesses and workers—decisions that resemble the likes of the radical and disastrous Green New Deal. Keeping our air and water clean and protecting our environment for generations to come are shared concerns of every Iowan and all Americans. In fact, Iowa leads the way in creating renewable energy sources—from wind and solar to biodiesel and ethanol. But we haven’t done it through the heavy-handed government mandates that President Biden is now pushing through with his phone and pen.
On day one, President Biden issued a harsh punishment for our workers and businesses by rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement. This agreement saddles hardworking folks with over-burdensome government regulations, all while letting one of the world’s biggest polluters, Communist China, off the hook. Instead of inhibiting economic growth, we should be focused on reducing our emissions and meeting our energy needs through market-driven, innovative solutions. And we shouldn’t be allowing the most destructive polluters, like China, to get a free pass.
The president has also raised concerns for folks in Iowa who work hard to grow and produce clean ethanol and biodiesel with his recent action to begin transitioning federal government vehicles to electric vehicles. Ethanol and biodiesel are actually cleaner choices of fuel for folks at the pump. A recent study found that greenhouse gas emissions from corn ethanol are 46% lower than gasoline. At the same time, renewable fuels provide for the livelihoods of folks across the heartland.
It’s critical we continue to invest in our biofuel industry, not move away from it. That’s why I urge President Biden not to give in to the misguided political demands of the Left, and instead promote higher biofuel blends and invest in expanding biofuel infrastructure.
On the same day he put the U.S. back into the Paris Climate Accord, President Biden unilaterally cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline—destroying thousands of jobs during a pandemic when millions of hardworking Americans are already struggling to make ends meet. Even Canada’s prime minister—one of our top allies and closest trade partners—expressed his disappointment in the decision.
If the November elections taught us anything, it’s that the American people want us to work together. They elected an evenly split 50-50 Senate and a slim majority in the House of Representatives. So, it’s time the Biden Administration follow its own advice.
I’m an eternal optimist, and I believe we can come together and truly deliver for all Americans. But I need my colleagues across the aisle, and our new president, to do the same so that his calls for unity don’t fall on deaf ears.
Joni Ernst has represented Iowa in the U.S. Senate since 2015. A Republican from Red Oak, Ernst served in the Iowa State Senate from 2011 to 2014, and in the Iowa Army National Guard from 1993 to 2015, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.