North Dakota’s congressional delegation has been consistent in its opposition to President Joe Biden. The latest example was their votes against the creation of the Jan. 6 commission.
Thirty-five House Republicans voted for the commission, which was a bipartisan proposal developed in negotiations. The vote was 252-175 in favor of the commission, with Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., voting against it.
The bill failed in the Senate, 54-35, because it needed 60 votes to pass. Six Republicans voted for it. Republican Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota opposed it.
It’s not surprising that the state’s delegation opposed the Jan. 6 commission. The state is solidly Republican and the GOP congressional leadership has a stated goal of opposing President Biden’s agenda.
However, the Jan. 6 commission was a bipartisan proposal that originated in Congress. Republican leadership was candid in not wanting to publicly air events surrounding Jan. 6 because of its impact on former President Donald Trump and the Republican Party.
In rejecting the commission they ignored the public pleas of the mother and partner of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after the mob attacked the Capitol. Republicans argue that other hearings by congressional committees and federal prosecution of rioters provide enough investigation of Jan. 6.
The question is whether Republicans will find any issue they are willing to seek reasonable compromise on. The key test at the moment involves Biden’s massive proposal for infrastructure overhaul. He’s in talks with Republicans, and counter proposals are being considered.
If Biden and Republican negotiators reach a deal, will GOP leadership accept it? When Hoeven, Cramer and Armstrong ran for office they all talked about the need to work across the aisle. All three condemned gridlock in Washington.
The only way to resolve gridlock is for both parties to bend, be more flexible. The infrastructure bill provides an opportunity to achieve improvements long overdue. Trump talked about introducing his own infrastructure proposal during his term, but it didn’t happen.
Now Congress and Biden have a chance to move forward on improvements needed across the country. They aren’t Republican or Democratic needs, but American problems. It’s sad that seven months after the November election there’s more concern with the midterm elections and the 2024 presidential election than accomplishing something in Congress.
Both parties always will be looking for the political advantage. Still, there comes a time where they have to work together. There’s nothing wrong with both parties taking credit for successes. It’s better than pointing fingers over the lack of progress.
Too much time has been wasted on name-calling and cultural wars. It’s time to deal with essential legislation. North Dakota’s congressional delegation can be part of the solution. Congress can’t keep delaying decisions on infrastructure, health care, minimum wage and border immigration.
If members of Congress continue to tread party lines without seriously tackling major issues, everyone loses. All members need to lower the rhetoric and increase the intensity of working together. They need to be judged on their body of work, not their one-liners.
Hoeven, Cramer and Armstrong can help set the example.