Mahoning Valley Officials See Biden Inauguration as Chance for Cooperation

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Just two weeks to the day that rioters laid siege to the U.S. Capitol Building seeking to overturn the results of the election, Joe Biden was sworn in on the building’s steps as the 46th president of the United States.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, who mounted his own run for president before backing out and eventually endorsing Biden, was among the lawmakers and guests who attended the inauguration in person in Washington, D.C. 

Ryan, D-13 Ohio, expressed “full confidence” that Biden would meet “this moment and set a clear pathway forward to defeat the coronavirus, restore our economy and regain faith around the world in the American system of government” in a statement his office issued after the ceremony.  

The incoming president was already moving forward on several initiatives Ryan supports, including an extension of the nationwide moratorium on home evictions and foreclosures, continuing a pause on student loan payments, and rejoining the Paris climate agreement and the World Health Organization.

“With today’s inauguration, we look forward with clear eyes about the important work ahead. But we may also look forward with hope in our hearts that our best days as a country are still to come,” Ryan said. 

“The United States can achieve anything when we put aside our differences and work together for the common good,” he continued. “It is time for our nation to come together – both Democrats and Republicans – to tackle the immense and unprecedented challenges our nation faces.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, issued a statement in support of the incoming administration just before Biden took the oath of office. He attended the event virtually, as the president and vice president urged Americans to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.  

“American workers will finally have someone on their side in the White House, and millions of girls – especially Black and brown girls – all over the country are seeing that there is no limit to their dreams, and they belong in every room where decisions are made,” Brown said. “I look forward to working with President Biden, Vice President Harris and my colleagues to rise to meet the challenges before us, bring our country together and continue our fight for the Dignity of Work.”

Brown’s Republican counterpart, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, extended his congratulations to the new president and vice president and their families, expressing willingness to work with the administration. 

“I look forward to working with the new administration on areas where we agree in order to make a difference in the lives of Ohioans and all Americans. When we disagree, I will do so respectfully,” he said. “Public service is a noble calling and anyone who serves deserves the respect of the American people, regardless of political affiliation.”

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio, said he hoped the Biden administration would “make a sincere effort” to reach out and listen to “rural Americans who feel increasingly economically and culturally isolated.” He also attended the ceremony, after joining efforts to oppose certification of the Electoral College results two weeks ago.

“America will only begin healing when political, academic, corporate and media elites understand that until groups that feel left behind are given the opportunity to fully participate in America’s 21st century economy, our nation will remain deeply and bitterly divided,” Johnson said. “No matter who is in the Oval Office, or which party controls the House or Senate, I will continue standing up for the men and women I serve in eastern and southeastern Ohio.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16 Pa., also pledged to work with Biden on subjects of agreement, and to “responsibly oppose him” where they disagree. 

“One way we can work together to unite our country is to build on the Trump administration’s successful conservative policies that led to unprecedented economic growth for American workers, families and small businesses before the pandemic,” he said.

“Calls for unity and healing sound nice, but they must be backed by action,” he added. “It is my hope that the Biden administration will respect the lessons of the recent past by choosing common sense over radicalism that will only divide us further.” 

Also weighing in on the inauguration of the new president and vice president was state Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-58 Youngstown. The day’s events marked “the dawn of a new era of hope and opportunity in the nation we love.” 

That era, she said, is personified by Harris, “whose historic election to the second highest office in the land brings us one step closer to making Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s inspirational dream a reality for us all.” 

In the coming weeks, Biden will take “bold steps to stem the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic, reinvigorate our economy, assist families, businesses and state and local governments devastated by the pandemic, create hundreds of thousands of jobs by investing billions to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, protect our environment, and defend human, civil, and women’s rights,” she said.

Jane Timken, chairwoman of the Ohio Republican Party, highlighted Trump’s “presidency of promises made and promises kept to the American people.” Trump and the party “fought for the forgotten man and woman and put America first,” she said, highlighting some of the former president’s accomplishments including negotiating new trade deals, appointing conservative judges, improving the military and reducing taxes and regulations.

“As Republicans, we must unite around our core principles of liberty and opportunity for all,” she added. “Today, as Americans, we wish the best for President Biden and Vice President Harris and we celebrate the peaceful transition of power.”

Biden and Harris “will deliver much-needed relief and ensure justice for all Americans,” said Liz Walters, chairwoman of the Ohio Democratic Party. She also heralded the historic nature of Harris’ election. 

“We celebrate today’s inauguration as a historic day for the American people, as we see the first woman and the first African American and Asian American sworn in as our vice president, by the first Latina to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court,” she said. “Across this nation little girls and boys are watching and seeing themselves represented at our nation’s highest levels of leadership, and they know they can truly do anything.”

Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, welcomed Biden’s call for “unity and purpose” and said he looked forward to working with the administration to advance his Build Back Better plan. 

“The president’s economic plan will create well-paying jobs in every state and secure a solid foundation for future growth and sustainability,” he said. “We agree with the president that Americans can meet tomorrow’s challenges by working together today.” 

Image via AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.