Biden inauguration: Pa. officials offer praise and pledge to work together, when possible
As Joe Biden takes office as America’s 46th president, Pennsylvania elected officials offered congratulations, made pledges to collaborate and vowed to stick to their core principles.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn in Wednesday, just two weeks after a deadly invasion at the Capitol as Congress counted the electoral votes to affirm Biden’s victory. The inauguration occurred a week after the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time, just before he left office.
Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Pa., attended the inaugural. Members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation, including U.S. Reps. Scott Perry, Susan Wild and John Joyce, also attended.
President Biden, VP Harris sworn in on ‘a day in history and hope, of renewal and resolve’
Some of those lawmakers at the inaugural included Republican House members who objected to including Pennsylvania’s electoral votes on the Capitol floor two weeks ago. Republican House members said they would work with the president when possible but won’t compromise in pursuing GOP priorities.
Republican U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, who represents part of western Pennsylvania, may have provided the most critical remarks among the lawmakers. He derided Biden’s call for unity in his inaugural speech, saying, “It’s about coercing ‘unity’ of thought.”
Democratic lawmakers relished the chance to once again have a member of their own party in the Oval Office and professed optimism in addressing the challenges of the coronavirus, the economic fallout of the pandemic, racial inequality and healing a nation as divided as it has been in decades.
Lawmakers and dignitaries wore masks due to the coronavirus pandemic, another sign indicating this inauguration represented a stark departure from previous ceremonies.
Here are statements issued from elected officials, including remarks on social media.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.
“Exactly two weeks ago, terrorists stormed the Capitol and attempted to undermine the will of the American people as expressed through their votes in a free, fair and lawful election. Today, American democracy prevailed when Joe Biden was sworn in as our Nation’s 46th President and Kamala Harris made history as the first woman and Black woman of South Asian descent to become Vice President. During his address, President Biden laid out a vision to heal our Nation, contain the COVID-19 pandemic and build our economy back better. It’s now time for us to get things done on behalf of working families.”
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.
“President Joe Biden took the oath of office today 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. 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. I am praying for President Biden and his success in leading our country forward.”
Toomey did not attend the inaugural due to personal and logistical reasons, his office said. Toomey has spoken with Biden on the phone to congratulate him and discuss ways where they can work together, according to a spokesman. (Toomey did not attend Trump’s farewell event.)
Gov. Tom Wolf
“It was an honor to attend the inauguration of Joe Biden as 46th President of the United States today. The inauguration of a new president is a time of hope and promise in our nation. It is a moment of great change, but also one of great possibility, and hope for a better future. It is a time for bold vision and strong leadership.
“This inauguration day was more solemn than we are accustomed to, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the despicable attack that took place at the Capitol on January 6. Our nation is certainly facing unprecedented challenges in this moment, but I know that President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris will rise to meet the challenge of these turbulent times. I look forward to working with them as they guide our nation forward into a brighter future.”
U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-York County
“As President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris are sworn into office today, we honor, as Americans, the peaceful transfer of power that is fundamental to our Republic. I extend my prayers and look forward to ways where we can work together for the good of the American People. As we do, I will continue to fight relentlessly for individual liberties, defend our Constitutional Rights, promote economic freedom and opportunity for all, and work to strengthen the defense of our Nation and those who defend us - past, present, and future. God Bless America.”
U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Washington
“President Biden’s call for ‘unity’ isn’t about bringing a divided country together. It’s about coercing ‘unity’ of thought. As long as you agree with radical progressives, you will be tolerated. If you disagree, you will be canceled.”
U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Allegheny
“As President @JoeBiden is sworn in, I just want to say thank you. For all you’ve taught me. For keeping the faith & taking on this great challenge. For having the courage to lead us at this perilous time. We’re counting on you to succeed. And I’ll do everything I can to help.”
U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery
“Congratulations @POTUS @JoeBiden and @VP @KamalaHarris. They represent dignity, grace, and unity — qualities we need to move our nation forward. Brighter days are ahead and I am excited to overcome our challenges as we lead with truth and our common humanity.”
U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Philadelphia
“Of all the Inaugurals in my lifetime this was the most emotional, given all that has happened.”
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster County
“I extend my congratulations and best wishes of success to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Today’s peaceful transition of power to a new president and administration is a hallmark of what makes America an exceptional nation.
“I commit to my constituents that I will work with the Biden Administration and my Democrat colleagues in Congress when we can agree on policies that will help my constituents and the American people. I will also continue to advocate for and defend Republican principles like limited government, personal freedom, fiscal stewardship and renewing the American Dream for all.”
U.S. Rep. John Joyce, R-Blair County
“As each new president takes office, the inauguration is a testament to our nation’s enduring commitment to the peaceful transition of power – a hallmark of American democracy. Despite the challenges that we are facing, there is more that unites the American people than divides us. This is the time to build national unity as we work together to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic, rebuild our economy, and restore our communities.
“As President Biden and Vice President Harris begin their administration, I will continue working hard to advance commonsense, conservative solutions to the issues before us. As a nation, we must continue to pursue the pro-growth agenda that has delivered results for American families, workers, and small businesses.”
U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-Lehigh
“Today, President Biden made clear that this administration is laser focused on making health care affordable, creating good-paying jobs, and crushing this virus. Ditto. Let’s get to work, Mr. President.
“I’m committed to working to unite our nation with President Biden and Vice President Harris. This isn’t just my country and it’s not just your country - it’s our country.”
U.S. Rep. Fred Keller, R-Snyder
“I wish our nation success under the Biden Administration, now tasked with fulfilling the promise of America. I remain steadfast in my commitment to the people of Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District and will fight every day for their values in Washington.”
U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Luzerne
“President Biden campaigned on uniting the country to ‘build back better.’ As the duly elected commander in chief he will chart his own course. I intend to work with him on policies that will benefit the long-term interests of our people, but building back better should not begin with starting from scratch. As he takes office, I hope his administration recognizes some of the policy achievements of the last four years that have been to the benefit of all Americans.” (Rep. Meuser issued his statement Tuesday, ahead of the inauguration).