‘A brighter future’: What Oregon’s leaders are saying about President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris

‘A brighter future’: What Oregon’s leaders are saying about President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris

Gov. Kate Brown hailed the inauguration of Joe Biden as the nation's 46th president and Kamala Harris as the first woman and first woman of color to serve as vice president, describing it as "an extraordinary moment."

Brown, a fellow Democrat, said she looked forward to working with the new administration to address the coronavirus pandemic as she also plugged a plan to establish a national vote-by-mail and automatic voter registration system.

"Election after election, here in Oregon, we set the example for our country," Brown said in a statement. "Our 30-year-old Vote-by-Mail system took a turn on the national stage as states across the country shifted to voting by mail, and voting early, to enable people to vote safely and securely."

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio said he welcomed "the opportunity to turn the page on the turmoil of the past four years."

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici said she hoped under Biden and Harris to turn attention to increasing coronavirus vaccinations and tests, extending a federal eviction moratorium and providing student loan relief, among other issues.

"Our new leaders are true and empathetic public servants, committed to putting the needs of the people first," Bonamici said in a statement. "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. "

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer tweeted as the inauguration celebration continued: "Thinking about how much RBG would have enjoyed this moment" -- a reference to the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A short time later he added: "Perfect." U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley tweeted simply: "President Joe Biden" with a picture of the newly minted leader.

Later in a call with reporters, Merkley reflected on the day: "I did wake up with joy in my heart that we had reached a transition, that I no longer had to worry about a president who might launch a war at the last minute or try to sign dozens of new regulations to damage the environment in the final days in office, hurt Americans in all other ways."

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury sent along her own wishes to Biden and Harris via Twitter: "I'm thankful today for the return of compassion, competency and truth to the White House. This administration won’t solve all our challenges, but neither will it run away from them. Here’s to a new chapter."

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, a target of the former president’s barbs during a summer of protest unrest in the city, also congratulated Biden and Harris.

"We now have leaders at the highest level who will work to unite our country and move toward a brighter future with intention and with urgency," Wheeler wrote via Twitter.

Secretary of State Shemia Fagan said the nation’s citizens "have an opportunity to restore faith in democratic institutions and overcome the divisiveness that has engulfed our nation in modern times."

Fagan and U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden were among many who said they were moved by the words of inauguration poet laureate Amanda Gorman.

"Powerful doesn’t even begin to cover it," Wyden tweeted. "@TheAmandaGorman's words today will be remembered for generations to come as a symbol of perseverance and hope. I think I speak for everyone when I say I can’t wait to see what your future holds."

Fagan quoted from Gorman’s poem:

"We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, It can never be permanently defeated."

Read their full statements:

GOV. KATE BROWN

"Today marks a new chapter for our country as we welcome President Joseph R. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to the White House. It is an especially extraordinary moment for our nation to celebrate the historic swearing-in of our first female, Black and Asian Vice President - and the incredibly diverse Cabinet that President Biden has nominated. Our government should be reflective of the people it represents, and now Americans across the country will see themselves in the people holding leadership positions.

"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. 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.

"I also look forward to working with the new Congress on their For the People Act, which would establish Vote-By-Mail and Automatic Voter Registration nationally.

"Election after election, here in Oregon, we set the example for our country. Our 30-year-old Vote-by-Mail system took a turn on the national stage as states across the country shifted to voting by mail, and voting early, to enable people to vote safely and securely.

"Now, the work begins to make that permanent. I am so very proud that Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley and Senator Amy Klobuchar have crafted this comprehensive legislation, which will be the first bill taken up by the new Congress. If passed, this bill will require the reforms we started in Oregon to be adopted by every state in the country. Automatic Voter Registration an Vote-By-Mail should be available to every citizen in this country.

"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.

"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."

U.S. SEN. RON WYDEN, D-ORE.

(On Biden’s environmental executive actions Wednesday)

"President Joe Biden’s action today sends a strong signal to the American people and the world that his administration is setting our nation’s priorities right, putting the health of our communities and environment over corporate interests and science over politics. This administration understands the urgency of the climate crisis, the value of our public lands to our water, air and rural economies, and the importance of ensuring environmental justice.

"With a Biden administration and Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress, now we can undo the harm over the last four years, restore the public trust, and build back better for a safer, healthier America. My top priorities as we work together for progress: overhauling our energy tax code to move us toward a carbon-free future; establishing a 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps to create good paying jobs that will improve and protect our public lands; and doing everything in our power to prevent the blistering and devastating wildfires destroying homes, businesses and livelihoods."

U.S. SEN. JEFF MERKLEY, D-ORE.

(On Biden’s termination of the Keystone XL pipeline lease granted by the Trump administration)

"The Keystone XL pipeline would have certainly led to more pollution, dirtier air, contaminated water, and a dangerous acceleration of climate chaos. The climate crisis is torching and flooding homes and businesses. It’s taking away the livelihoods and way of life who people who depend on healthy forests, farmland, oceans, and rivers. It’s undermining our national security and future prosperity and driving the spread of parasites and illnesses.

"We simply cannot afford to build infrastructure that will lock in more pollution and worsen this crisis for decades to come. My dad was a union machinist, and I appreciate how important the jobs are on a project like Keystone XL. There’s no shortage of construction work to do. America’s infrastructure is failing and suffering from years of underinvestment and neglect. So let’s create good-paying, union-friendly jobs building the infrastructure that drives prosperity, not pollution."

U.S. REP. SUZANNE BONAMICI, D-ORE.

"Today’s inauguration was a hopeful yet solemn occasion, displaying our nation’s resilience and commitment to democracy only two weeks after a violent attack on our 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.

"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."

U.S. REP. PETER DEFAZIO, D-ORE.

"As we take the historic step of inaugurating Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, our first Black and Asian-American woman Vice-President, we have the opportunity to turn the page on the turmoil of the past four years.

"With the Biden Administration at the helm, I look forward to working to solve our nation’s most urgent crises: overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic and providing real relief to the millions of families who have been impacted by the economic recession, expanding voting rights and democracy reforms so that all Americans can make their voice heard at the ballot box, increasing access to affordable healthcare and lowering the cost of prescription drugs, addressing the existential threat of climate change, fighting for racial justice, tackling economic inequality, and finally passing comprehensive legislation to rebuild and modernize our nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

"I look forward to the many accomplishments we will achieve in these next four years to better the lives of the American people."

SECRETARY OF STATE SHEMIA FAGAN

"Today we witnessed the peaceful transition of power at the very location where a violent coup was attempted only a few weeks ago. The peaceful transfer of leadership is the bedrock of our democracy and Oregonians of all political leanings can celebrate its occurrence once again. We have an opportunity to restore faith in democratic institutions and overcome the divisiveness that has engulfed our nation in modern times. And, with the historic inauguration of our nation’s first woman, South Asian American and Black vice president, and a cabinet that promises to reflect the diversity of our nation, we will have a federal government prepared to continue our journey towards a more perfect union."

"As I snuggled my children this morning and together witnessed history, I was overcome by the words of our nation’s youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman. Among her stirring words:

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, It can never be permanently defeated.

"While we have much work ahead of us to ensure that everyone, regardless of who they are, what their political affiliation is or where they live, feels heard and included in the institutions that serve them, today is a reminder of the greatness, hope, and resiliency of our democracy."

"I look forward to joining leaders in our state and nation to restore faith in our democracy and combat the scourge of disinformation that lies in wait to divide us once again."