I am grateful that I had the opportunity to attend President Biden’s Joint Address to Congress this week, not only because I have a deep respect for the institutions of Congress and the Presidency, but also because every President deserves to make his case to Congress and the nation.
Surprisingly enough, the President and I agreed on a few parts of his speech. First, President Biden is correct that the United States accounts for less than 15% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. However, trying to regulate carbon out of our economy without holding other countries, such as China, Russia, Brazil, and India accountable is short-sighted and ineffective. Harming our economy and killing thousands of jobs is not the way forward to a cleaner environment. We can commit to environmental conservation, while also supporting economic growth and good-paying jobs for hard-working Americans, without trying to put the financial burden of the global environment on the shoulders of American workers.
President Biden was also spot on when he said that our children’s education must be a top priority. With that in mind, it is time to fully re-open our schools. Arkansas has been a model for the country on how to safely re-open, with science proving that schools do not cause the spread of COVID-19. In addition, all teachers have been given the opportunity to get vaccinated. There is no reason why children and teachers cannot be in the classroom full time. I believe that early childhood education and post-secondary education are important to our kids, but right now, our primary focus has to be on getting students back in classrooms so they can make-up for a year of lost learning.
Finally, I agree that we need to work together, ending the partisan bickering and improve the lives of every American. There have been plenty of opportunities for bipartisan reform over the past several months from infrastructure to COVID-19 relief. Compromise doesn’t mean “it’s my way or the highway,” for either party. It only leads to further divide us. Candidate Biden promised unity, and it is time he delivered. My Republican colleagues and I stand ready with practical solutions to infrastructure, school re-opening, and environmental issues to name a few, whenever President Biden is ready to listen.
Bruce Westerman is a U.S. Congressman representing the 4th District of Arkansas. He is a Republican.