Rep. Tom Reed

Rep. Tom Reed

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed plans to be in the stands outside the Capitol for the inauguration of Joseph Biden as the 46th president of the United States.

“It’s very important to send a message that we as Republicans can join together with President Biden as he takes oath of office and he completes the peaceful transition of power,” Reed told reporters during his weekly media call Tuesday.

Reed said the inauguration will be “safe and secure” under the watch of 25,000 National Guard soldiers and thousands of other police officers.

As Biden issues what is expected to be a call to unity across a deeply divided country, he needs to listen to the voices of the 74 million people who voted against him, said Reed, R-Corning.

A Quinnipiac poll from Jan. 11 found 73% of Republicans believe there was widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election despite all the evidence to the contrary.

“I don’t agree with their understanding that there was widespread fraud,” Reed said. Rather, he said, “Isolated incidents” served as self-fulfilling reports. “I think you can’t dismiss it. We need to reinforce our election integrity. I don’t know how you could be opposed to that.”

Much of the disinformation concerning the results of the election came directly from President Trump — before and after the election. Mobs of rioters stormed the Capitol Jan. 6 at the president’s urging to stop the certification of the election Biden won by more than 7 million votes. He won the Electoral College vote 306-232.

Trump has still not conceded the election and did not plan to be at the inauguration.

Reed cited three things he thought Biden could do to both find some common ground with Republicans and help heal the country: Submit a slimmed down COVID-19 relief/stimulus package, propose a $1 trillion infrastructure plan and provide a measure of election integrity.

Reed said he has been speaking with members of the Biden transition team about the need to move forward in a positive way after Biden takes the oath of office and completes the peaceful transition of power.

“A group of us stand ready to debate the issues of the day” and stay in the room “until we find common ground,” Reed said of members of the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus, of which he is a co-chairman, and members of the “Gang of Eight” in the Senate.

The bipartisan, bicameral group advocated for a $908 billion COVID-19 relief package just before Christmas. A form of the bill passed the House and Senate and was later signed by the president.

“There are areas of common ground in conversations that have started,” Reed said.

He would encourage the president to look at the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 package he’s proposing and reflect on the $908 billion bill Congress approved last month and the president signed. Some areas like vaccine distribution will need additional funding.

The vaccine is the ultimate solution, Reed said. He’d like to see the U.S. get to the “herd immunity” vaccination level by early June instead of early September as federal health officials are now projecting.

Reed said he will extend an open hand to the new president, while at the same time, as “a proud Republican, I will continue to stand for what I believe in and fight for ideas I believe in. I am willing to listen. I am willing to compromise.”

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at rmiller@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)

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