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State's delegation wishes Biden well

Some of the GOP lawmakers talk of prospects for common ground by Frank E. Lockwood | January 22, 2021 at 6:51 a.m.
Arkansas' congressional delegation is shown in these file photos. Top row, from left: U.S. Sens. John Boozman, and Tom Cotton and U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford. Bottom row, from left: U.S. Reps. French Hill, Bruce Westerman and Steve Womack.

WASHINGTON -- With the election over and Joe Biden in the White House, several members of the all-Republican Arkansas congressional delegation are offering their best wishes and expressing a desire to work with the 46th president for the good of the country.

The gestures have been welcomed by some constituents and condemned by others.

Sitting below the platform Wednesday moments before Biden took the oath of office, U.S. Rep. Steve Womack of Rogers tweeted: "Today, I join America in watching the peaceful transfer of power. This is a hallmark of our democracy, and I believe it is important to be present. I will always pray for the success of our country and hope to find common ground on policies that strengthen our exceptional nation."

On Facebook, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman of Hot Springs wrote: "Congratulations to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on their inauguration! Despite our political differences, I sincerely hope to work with this administration on the bipartisan issues that affect Arkansas the most."

Westerman, who missed Wednesday's ceremony after being unable to obtain covid-19 test results in time, portrayed the inauguration as deeply rooted in history.

"The peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of our constitutional republic and a message to the world regarding the strength of our democracy," he wrote, adding, "I invite you to join me in praying for wisdom and courage for our country and our new president and vice president as they undertake these considerable responsibilities."

In a statement, U.S. Rep. French Hill of Little Rock offered his congratulations and expressed a desire to get things done.

Hill, who attended the swearing-in, said he would "work with President Biden and his administration to increase opportunities for all Arkansans and Americans and to elevate those we serve."

"Our nation and her resolve have been tested over the past week[s], and I call on my colleagues in the Legislative Branch -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- to find unity in the purpose of honoring our Constitution, preserving our Republic, and calling on each of us to advance our nation for the good of all of our citizens," he said.

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford of Jonesboro, who remained in Arkansas on Inauguration Day, sent a tweet that acknowledged the country's recent discord.

"President Biden's leadership of our nation comes at a time of significant division & differing views on where we should go as a nation," Crawford wrote. "I will work to ensure that the voices of my district are heard & that areas of agreement are sought for the betterment of our country & future."

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Little Rock, who observed the inaugural ceremonies, sought divine favor Wednesday for the 46th president and his second-in-command, tweeting, "May God grant President Biden and VP Harris wisdom and fortitude as they lead our nation, the greatest in the world."

Cotton, who is mentioned as a possible 2024 presidential candidate, also said he looks "forward to working with their administration for the good of Arkansans and all Americans."

That doesn't mean he'll be withholding criticism.

On Fox News on Thursday, he accused Biden of embracing a "radical far-left" immigration policy. On Twitter on Thursday, Cotton criticized the new administration for revoking the Keystone XL Pipeline permit, saying Biden is "killing jobs in Arkansas -- in the middle of a pandemic -- to appease far-left environmental groups."

Cotton's office also issued a statement criticizing the administration's plans to extend the New START treaty with Russia for five years. The treaty is set to expire in February; the Trump administration attempted to extend it but its efforts were rejected by Russia.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman of Rogers, who also witnessed the swearing-in, tweeted, "Congratulations to Pres. Biden & VP Harris on this Inauguration Day."

"I pray for them as they embark on this journey of leadership during a very difficult time for our country," he wrote. "We will work together on the issues we agree on while always maintaining the courage of our convictions."

The Arkansas Republican lawmakers' messages of congratulations drew a mixed reaction on social media. Some on the left questioned their sincerity. Others, on the right, questioned their judgment.

Positive comments were rare.

A Baptist minister from Vilonia said the Democrats deserve condemnation, not cooperation, writing:

"God's judgment is upon our nation. You don't need to work 'with' them but fight against them and their wickedness they will force upon us! That's why you're there!"

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