Senator Cramer's Weekly Update January 18-24

Joe Biden Sworn in as Our New President

On Wednesday Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States with Kamala Harris as his Vice President. While I did not vote for him or support his campaign, I appreciate President Biden's desire to be a President for all Americans, and I look forward to working with him on issues where we agree and to having spirited debates on policies where we differ.

As he was sworn in, I thanked President Trump, Vice President Pence, and the members of their Administration for their four years of service to our country. Through their unprecedented partnership and attentiveness to the needs of our state, we were able to accomplish a great deal for North Dakota and get our constituents a seat at the table like never before. And we are better off because of it.

Meeting with North Dakota National Guard Members

On Thursday I had the honor of spending time with heroic members of the North Dakota National Guard who helped secure the U.S. Capitol during the inauguration. I am grateful for their commitment to serve and protect our democracy.

President Biden's Executive Orders

Shortly after taking office, President Biden signed a slew of Executive Orders.

Revoking Keystone XL: An Early Mistake

Hours after President Biden bemoaned the loss of millions of jobs during COVID-19 and promised to put Americans back to work, he took action to eliminate thousands more jobs by signing an Executive Order revoking the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. This is an early mistake by the President and a nod to far-left environmental extremists.

Earlier last week I joined my colleagues in sending President Biden a letter urging him to support the pipeline.

Easing Travel for Foreign Terrorists

President Biden rescinded an Executive Order - signed by President Trump and upheld by the Supreme Court - that was designed to protect the United States from foreign terrorists easily entering the country. The threat of foreign terrorism is far from over, especially from state sponsors of terrorism like Iran. President Biden's action will almost certainly make American soil more vulnerable to attack.

Rejoining the Paris Climate Accord

President Biden took action to rejoin the United States with the Paris Climate Accord. I have always thought rejoining the Accord could be a success and a unifying moment if the President and his team do it the right way. Abandoning our leadership on the world stage only benefits our competitors, though being on the world stage and just caving to them is even worse.

If President Biden reworks our pledge then defends American interests, protects taxpayer dollars, and focuses on bipartisan areas of agreement like nuclear energy or carbon capture utilization and storage, this could prove to be a prudent move that can garner the support of the American people.

Planning to Reverse the Mexico City Policy

President Biden is preparing to reverse the Mexico City policy, which prohibits U.S. funding for nongovernmental groups to provide or refer patients for abortions. It's hard to take President Biden's comments on the importance of life, faith, and American leadership seriously when he plans to allow our taxpayer dollars to be spent on abortions in other countries. This is a shameful disregard for the sanctity of life by the Biden Administration, and I hope the President realizes lives of unborn children - who never had a chance to defend themselves - will be lost forever because of this action.

United States Rejoining The WHO

President Biden also reversed the United States' withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO).

This is a terrible idea. Improving American leadership on the world stage does not mean reforming an alliance with communist sympathizers like the WHO. The WHO's failure to scrutinize the Chinese Communist Party is one reason why COVID-19 became a global pandemic and inflicted such damage on the United States, yet we still do not have sufficient answers for how that happened.

Blocking of Fossil Fuel Leasing and Drilling

The U.S. Department of the Interior under President Biden released an order temporarily blocking fossil fuel leasing and drilling on federal lands. This is reckless and another attack on good-paying American energy jobs just hours into President Biden's term. It will blow million-dollar-sized holes in already-tightening state budgets, not to mention the federal government’s budget, which receives significant funding from places in North Dakota like the Bakken.

The Biden Administration's action means fewer opportunities for American workers, decreased funding for important programs like education and infrastructure, and more control for Washington bureaucrats and far-left environmental extremists who want to upend America’s energy security.

Stopping Border Wall Construction

Lastly, President Biden signed an Executive Order to stop construction of physical barriers along the southern border.

Securing the border should be one of our nation's highest priorities, but even as a caravan makes its way to the southern border and parts of the border wall remain unbuilt, President Biden has apparently decided to stand down. I urge the President to reconsider this poor decision and to work with Congress to properly equip our immigration law enforcement officers so they can protect our country and deter the free flow of illegal immigrants.

NDAA Unlocks North Dakota's Defense Potential

As the first-ever North Dakotan to serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee, it was an honor to help craft the Fiscal Year 2021 NDAA, which fulfills the federal government’s most foundational obligation of providing for our national defense. I wrote an opinion piece on how this bill unlocks North Dakota's defense capabilities and potential.

Senate Confirms New Defense Secretary

The Senate confirmed General Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense on Friday. His nomination placed us in a precarious position. Because he retired from military service within the last seven years, General Austin required a waiver - approved by both chambers of Congress - to be eligible to serve as Defense Secretary. Either we granted him a waiver to serve, further normalizing our disregard for protections put in place to ensure civilian control over our military; or we rejected his waiver and ran the risk of President Biden choosing a more extreme nominee who's unaware of the threats we face and unappreciative of the important work we've done to rebuild our military over the last four years.

I supported General Austin's confirmation and wish him the best as he leads the Pentagon. I look forward to working with him to make sure we continue to build off the Trump Administration's success of rebuilding our military and hope to host him in North Dakota soon.

Questioning Secretary Austin at his Nomination Hearing

Before the Senate confirmed him, I questioned Secretary Austin, President Biden's nominee for Secretary of Defense, during his Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) nomination hearing Thursday about his support for the nation's intelligence capabilities and the Iran Nuclear Deal.

I first raised the issue of the nuclear triad - especially the two legs of it housed at Minot Air Force Base (AFB) - and the importance of advancing nuclear modernization efforts. I've been using my seat on SASC to ensure the timeline for replacing the Minutemen III’s housed at Minot AFB with the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent intercontinental ballistic missiles stays on track.

$160 Million for Water Infrastructure Projects

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced it will allocate over $160 million to North Dakota during Fiscal Year 2021 for the construction of water infrastructure projects. This includes funding for the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Project, Pipestem Lake, the City of Napoleon, and the City of Strasburg.

I am pleased to see the Army Corps is making significant investments for important projects in North Dakota. I look forward to ensuring these funds are utilized successfully and these projects continue to receive the support they need.

Effort to Boost COVID-19 Vaccine Funding for Smaller States

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and I led a bipartisan letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding the formula used to distribute federal funding to states for COVID-19 vaccine administration efforts, which leaves smaller states at a distinct disadvantage.

“If HHS and CDC do not act to provide additional resources to support smaller states that were shortchanged by this round of grant funding, our communities will not be equipped to meet the challenge of vaccine administration during this deadly pandemic. We strongly encourage CDC to utilize additional discretionary funding at its disposal to provide more funding to our small states.”

Grants for North Dakota

Over $11 Million for Vaccinations, Assistance for People Suffering from Mental Disorders and Substance Use during COVID-19

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded a total of five grants to North Dakota health organizations and tribes.

These grants will help fund immunization and vaccines for children, a family healthcare center, and substance abuse and addition recovery services.

1.2 Million in Head Start Funds to Three Affiliates Tribes

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office Administration for Children and Families Office of Head Start awarded $1,204,111 to the Three Affiliated Tribes. Head Start and Early Head Start programs promote school readiness for young children and toddlers from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive, social, and emotional development as well as early learning, health, and family well-being.

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As recommended by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), our in-state offices are taking precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our staff members are available by phone or email and are taking in-person meetings by appointment only.


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