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'What We Needed': Several Republican Senators Praise Biden's Call For Unity

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, arrives Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol for the inauguration of President Biden.
Drew Angerer
Getty Images
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, arrives Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol for the inauguration of President Biden.

Several Republican lawmakers reacted Wednesday to President Biden's inaugural address with optimism that both parties will be able to work together and find common ground as the new administration begins.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said the speech was "very well-done."

"I thought it's what we needed," she told Capitol Hill reporters following the address.

Murkowski said that "everything is possible" when it comes to the Republican Party working with the Biden administration.

"We're going to have some issues that we just fundamentally disagree with. But I think, to the president's words, you can still disagree from a policy perspective and you can do so in ways that are still respectful and allow you to continue to work toward other goals."

Murkowski was the first Republican senator to call on former President Donald Trump to resign in the wake of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol.

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, another Republican critic of Trump, called Biden's words "strong" and "very much needed."

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

Romney's statement about telling the truth echoes comments he made the night of Jan. 6 after a violent mob of pro-Trump extremists breached the Capitol and forced lawmakers to delay by several hours their task of tallying the Electoral College votes.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine., told reporters Biden's speech "struck the right themes of unity, a call for us to come together, to stop viewing one another as adversaries but rather as fellow Americans."

Regarding working with the Biden administration going forward, Collins expressed optimism.

"Many of us have long-standing relationships with him," she said. "I served with him for many years as fellow senators, and I worked with him when he was vice president. So I stand ready to work with him to advance common goals. We'll see what his agenda is."

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., also tweeted his support for Biden, writing, "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."

With a razor-thin Democratic majority in the Senate, Biden will likely need some Republican support for his legislative agenda.

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., told reporters he thinks it's "important to unite the country," but that he has reservations over some of Biden's impending executive orders.

"My concern is, of course, some of the executive orders that are coming, specifically in regard to the Keystone XL pipeline," he told reporters Wednesday afternoon.

Bidenis revokinga cross-border presidential permit needed to finish the Keystone XL pipeline, which likely means the end of the $8 billion project.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.