Local lawmakers react to Biden, Harris inauguration


President Biden and Vice President Harris were sworn into office Wednesday morning

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Various lawmakers around the region reacted to the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday morning.

Biden and Harris officially took office Wednesday, as the 59th presidential inauguration in U.S. history remains underway. Several events are still slated for the afternoon and evening. Meanwhile, lawmakers around the nation have expressed their thoughts and well-wishes towards the new administration, including those in Oregon and Washington.

Oregon Governor Brown

Ahead of the new president and vice president taking their respective oaths of office, Oregon Governor Kate Brown released a statement saying this inauguration is a historic and extraordinary moment.

“We have waited a long time to have a strong, competent and trustworthy partner we can work with at the federal level — and now more than ever, we need that federal leadership to help states beat COVID-19, once and for all,” Brown said, in part. “As we still face what could be the darkest days of the pandemic, President Biden has laid out a strong vision and clear plan, based on science, for how the federal government will help the American people, and governors across the country — starting with the announcement of a much-needed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. I look forward to working with the President, Vice President and Congress on getting this ground-breaking package across the finish line.”

In the prepared statement, Brown also highlighted Oregon’s 30-year-old vote-by-mail system, saying she is looking forward to working with the new Congress on their For the People Act, which would establish vote-by-mail nationally, along with automatic voter registration.

“I hope that all of you will join me in supporting the passage of the For the People Act in the Senate. Because, the right to vote is fundamental — and it is sacred,” she said. “While there are many challenges ahead, on this historic day I remain hopeful. We are determined as ever to rise, rebuild, and reinvent a more just and equitable country.” 

Washington Governor Inslee

Washington Governor Jay Inslee released a statement on the new administration, as well.

“We have two things to sustain our nation this morning from our new president,” he said. “First, disagreement cannot lead to disunion. Second, we will get through this together. What we needed on this sunny morning in our nation’s Capitol, we have received. Congratulations, Mr. President.”

Other lawmakers in both Oregon and Washington issued their own statements as well.

Senator Wyden

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden echoed Gov. Brown’s notion that while today is a significant step, the work is just beginning. Wyden tweeted shortly after 9 a.m., saying, “Today our country starts a new chapter to build back better, for everyone. The road ahead won’t be easy, but democracy is worth the effort. Let’s get to work.”

Senator Merkley

Parallel to his tweet that this inauguration is the beginning a new chapter, Wyden’s colleague, Senator Jeff Merkley, said this is the closing of a dark chapter in the nation’s history.

“Today we close the door on a dark chapter of our history. Today @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris will be sworn in as our President and Vice President,” he said. “Today we start to reverse the damage done the last four years and begin delivering desperately-needed progress to the American people.”

Merkley also issued a press release issued later in the morning.

“Our resilience and our resistance must not end here,” the statement read, in part. “Together, we must end the pandemic, restore our democracy, reverse the climate crisis, lift up struggling families, ensure racial justice and equity, and make housing, education, and child care affordable.”

Rep. Bonamici

In her own statement, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici called Wednesday’s inauguration a “hopeful yet solemn occasion,” saying the day displays the country’s resilience two weeks after the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are the compassionate, qualified leaders we need as multiple crises – the COVID-19 crisis, the economic crisis, the climate crisis, and the racial justice crisis – continue to grip our country,” she said.

“People are hurting, and I will work with President Biden and Vice President Harris from day one to help our communities build back better. Our new leaders are true and empathetic public servants, committed to putting the needs of the people first. Together we can address the pandemic, help Oregonians and Americans achieve financial stability, make quality education more equitable and accessible, build a 100 percent clean energy economy, and more. This is a difficult time for our country, but there are brighter days ahead as we begin a new chapter. I’m ready to get to work.”

Rep. Blumenauer

In a tweet just before 7:30 a.m., Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer focused on climate change — appearing hopeful that the Biden administration will rejoin the Paris Climate Accord as expected.

Rep. Jayapal

Up in Washington, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal released a statement in which she said this inauguration reminds us that the power is in the hands of the people.

“This historic day proves that the flame of democracy still burns bright, that the power always belongs to the people and that America is forever a place where change and progress are truly possible. Millions across this country united, organized and mobilized each and every single day over the last four years, refusing to allow one dangerous president to change that fact.”

As the first South Asian American woman in the House of Representatives, Rep. Jayapal said she is deeply proud to call Kamala Harris — the first woman, first South Asian American and first Black woman to hold the office — our vice president.

She went onto say she is looking forward to working with the administration on a variety of items, including passing more COVID-19 relief.

Meanwhile, in the District of Columbia and states around the country, law enforcement officials are gearing up for protests who may seek to disrupt the day.

In Oregon, law enforcement authorities on Tuesday said there is “no known active threat of violence” in the region for Inauguration Day. But they are on alert.

This story will be updated throughout the day.

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