While Biden calls for unity, Louisiana GOP delegation blasts him for blocking Keystone pipeline

Congressman criticize president while attending his inauguration

By: - January 21, 2021 1:01 pm

President Joe Biden speaks during the the 59th inaugural ceremony on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Images)

None of the current members of Louisiana’s GOP congressional delegation immediately acknowledged Joe Biden’s election as president when the race was called Nov. 7, and with the exception of Sen. Bill Cassidy, each of them either signed onto a lawsuit that sought to throw out votes in four key states that Biden won or voted Jan. 6 against certifying the election in a state Biden won.

So how did Louisiana’s Republican lawmakers respond to Biden’s inauguration as the nation’s 46th president Wednesday and to his inaugural address that made a plea for unity? Most struck somewhat conciliatory notes early Wednesday, but by the evening they were using their social media accounts to criticize the new president’s opposition to an oil pipeline that would connect Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

House Republican Whip Steve Scalise and Louisiana’s senior senator, Bill Cassidy, were on the platform at the U.S. Capitol when Biden was sworn in, and Cassidy wrote on Twitter that he was fortunate to be present “to witness the peaceful transition of power.” Some users on Twitter took issue with Cassidy’s use of the word “peaceful,” pointing out there was an attempted insurrection on Jan. 6 that aimed to halt that transfer of power.

On Jan. 6, Sen. John Kennedy, Louisiana’s junior senator, voted against certifying Biden’s election victory in Arizona, but on Wednesday he wrote on Twitter, “It was an honor to represent Louisiana in our nation’s capital as America swore in Joseph Biden as our 46th president. I hope today reminds us all that the key to America’s freedom and success has always been the truth and values found in our Constitution. I look forward to working with President Biden and his administration to serve the people of Louisiana.”

Rep. Mike Johnson of Shreveport, who represents the state’s 4th Congressional District, led a group of 126 House Republicans who sent a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court challenging Biden’s victories in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin issued a written statement that praised Donald Trump, spelled out some of his hopes for the 117th Congress and promised to object if Biden attempts “to enact an agenda that would jeopardize our cherished freedoms.” Johnson wrote, “We hope that the appeal to unity today is sincere.”

As promised, Biden spent most of his first day as president reversing executive orders put in place by his predecessor, and by mid-afternoon, a Republican congressional delegation that consistently supported and defended Trump was criticizing Biden for following through on a campaign promise to halt construction of the $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline.

At 3:24 p.m. Cassidy threw the first jab, writing on Twitter,  “A president who promised to help the American people should not start off his administration by killing a project in which thousands are employed.” 

Only about 300 miles of the pipeline have been completed, and the project would have taken years to finish. It does not align with Biden’s well-publicized green initiative of modernizing the energy industry away from fossil fuels and into renewable energy. 

“President Biden just revoked the Keystone XL permit—this will destroy union jobs and undermine America’s energy security,” Rep. Scalise wrote in a  5:32 p.m. Tweet. “This is more of the same failed Obama energy policies that left us dependent on oil from OPEC and increased energy prices for hardworking families.”

The very next minute, Rep. Mike Johnson wrote in a tweet that on Biden’s first day he had increased energy prices, decreased energy jobs, increased dependence on foreign energy, weakened border security and increased the amount of tax money going to those who are not citizens.  “This is not, ‘building back better,’” Johnson wrote.

Rep. Clay Higgins, who represents Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District, also issued a statement regarding Biden’s order halting the pipeline. He wrote,  “President Biden wasted no time enacting job-killing and dangerous policies. His first-day executive orders make America less secure, weaponize government against private industry, and further injure our economy. I will continue working in Congress to provide oversight over the actions of this administration.”

Around that same time, Higgins, who is notorious for divisive rhetoric and sharing conspiracy theories on Twitter, expressed more general opposition to Biden. He wrote on Twitter,  “And here we go… Socialist elites control the WH, the People’s House, and the oh so wise erudite Senate. Let’s see what happens. Socialist policies should fix everything, right? I’ll take the under, on the over-under. They’ll crash the country hard by 2022.”



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Wesley Muller
Wesley Muller

Wes Muller traces his journalism roots back to 1997 when, at age 13, he built and launched a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. In the following 22 years since then, he has worked as a journalist for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, the Sun Herald in Biloxi, WAFB-9News CBS in Baton Rouge, and the Enterprise-Journal in McComb, Mississippi. Much of his work has involved reporting on First Amendment issues and watchdog coverage of municipal and state government. He has received several honors and recognitions, including McClatchy's National President's Award, the Associated Press Freedom of Information Award, and the Daniel M. Phillips Freedom of Information Award from the Mississippi Press Association, among others. Muller is a New Orleans native, a Jesuit High School alumnus, a University of New Orleans alumnus, a veteran U.S. Army paratrooper, and an adjunct English teacher at Baton Rouge Community College. He lives in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, with his teenage son and his wife, who is also a journalist.