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‘Orders indicative of an imperial presidency’: U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer weighs in on Biden, impeachment, COVID-19

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Central Minnesota Republican Congressman Tom Emmer took some shots at Democrats and weighed in on impeachment proceedings and the COVID-19 relief bill on Friday. 

“We’ve had a transition of power,” Emmer said. “Remember 74 million people voted for Donald Trump. If you want to unify the country, the quicker we move on the better.”

Republican Trump secured 47% of the popular vote in the 2020 election, and President Joe Biden won 51% with 81 million votes. 

Trump was impeached by the House for a second time in January for inciting the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Trump’s impeachment trial has taken place in the Senate throughout the week and Senators will vote to convict or acquit the former president. 

Emmer addressed it during a virtual event held Friday morning by the Center of the American Experiment, a Minnesota-based think tank with an emphasis on free enterprise and limited government. 

Emmer said he doesn’t think the impeachment proceedings will help the Democrats. 

“What you’re literally doing is you’re keeping Donald Trump on the front page of the paper and on the front story of every news show,” Emmer said. “I don’t think this is going to help them. I think this is a classic example of overreach.”

RELATED: Impeachment trial puts Trump back in the spotlight. That might not be a good thing for him.

Emmer said he hopes things will settle down in the coming weeks so Democrats and Republicans can work together on an infrastructure bill. 

As chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Emmer is charged with increasing the number of Republicans in the House. And the GOP did shrink the Democrats’ majority in the 2020 election. But Democrats gained a very slim advantage in the Senate — a 50-50 split between the parties with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris as a tie breaker. 

Democrats will pursue their policy goals “with us or without us,” Emmer said. “You see that they’ve already made this clear on the coronavirus aid package.”

RELATED: ‘We’ve got to start bridging the divide’: Emmer reflects on riot, vote against impeachment

COVID-19 and re-opening the economy

That’s a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, which Emmer said had Trump’s support last year before it was whittled down. Emmer described the latest package as “an agenda, not actual aid.”

RELATED: $15 minimum wage unlikely to be in COVID relief bill, Biden says

“Republicans would agree on targeted aid for specific industries that are currently in need or people … that are on the knife’s edge and they’re not able to work. Nobody’s going to turn their back on them,” Emmer said. 

Center of the American Experiment President John Hinderaker asked Emmer about reopening the economy as an alternative to government aid. 

“I would preface this with: All of us have to respect our health care workers, our doctors, our health care professionals. Their hearts are in the right place. They know what they’re advising us. Even if they don’t agree 100% of the time,” Emmer said. 

A medical assistant was killed when a gunman attacked a clinic this week in Buffalo, which is in Emmer’s district. Four others were injured.

RELATED: Here’s a look at the Buffalo shooting suspect’s court documents, and what the investigation found so far

Emmer said he tried to tell Gov. Tim Walz last spring not to look at the pandemic solely through a health care lens. 

“You’re going to be dealing with mental health issues in our adult population, because their livelihoods have been destroyed,” Emmer said. “You can argue it’s because of the virus, but the virus isn’t the one who said, ‘You can’t go back to work.'”

It’s about more than protecting people from the serious and sometimes fatal impact of the coronavirus, he said, but also protecting people from addiction and domestic abuse. 

RELATED: What percent of St. Cloud-area deaths are COVID-19 related?

Emmer’s afraid as a parent and policy maker about the lasting consequences of school closings on children. 

“This is a great opportunity for people to start talking with their legs,” Emmer said. “Parochial schools, private schools they all have increasing enrollment, because they’re in school. And the kids are doing just fine and the teachers are doing just fine too.”

RELATED: Where are in school districts’ reopening plans after COVID-19 shutdowns?

Criticism of Biden and Democrats

President Joe Biden began to issue executive orders on his first day in office at a quicker pace than any of his recent predecessors

Biden has issued 30 so far, according to the federal register. Trump issued 220 during his four years in office, including 12 in the first month of his term. 

Emmer and Hinderaker were critical of Biden’s actions, one of which directed the restoration of the U.S. asylum system and another halted the Keystone XL pipeline.

RELATED: From pipelines to emissions: These climate change issues are claiming the spotlight in MN

“Not only are his executive orders indicative of an imperial presidency, not a democracy, not a constitutional republic that our founders envisioned,” Emmer said. “But his actions show us that he doesn’t have much confidence in the current makeup of the House and the Senate. That’s what it tells me.”

Emmer described a battle within the Democratic party between liberals and socialists that is pushing the party to the left. 

“The blue dog Democrat is a thing of the past. You might be able to find one or two,” Emmer said. 

He touted diversity within the Republican Party. 

“The Republican Party is incredibly diverse on the street level,” he said. “We just need to make sure that our elected representatives actually start to reflect that diversity.”

Nora Hertel is the government watchdog reporter for the St. Cloud Times. Reach her at 320-255-8746 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @nghertel.

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