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Outgoing Democratic congressman cracks a beer on House floor in farewell speech


'In the spirit of bipartisanship and cooperation'

Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.)/(Image source: NBC News video screenshot)

South Carolina Democratic Congressman Joe Cunningham delivered a memorable display in his farewell address on the House floor on Thursday, when he cracked open a beer to offer a toast "in the spirit of bipartisanship and cooperation."

What are the details?

Cunningham called for Republicans and Democrats to work together on his way out the door, saying, "Make no mistake, our democracy has been battered and bruised, but it is not yet broken. And to save it, we must agree on one basic truth: that the other side is not the enemy."

"The enemy is the stubbornness of our own biases," he continued. "The enemy is a political system that seeks to divide us for sport."

The Democrat also took some shots at GOP members according to the Post and Courier, saying, ""In my short tenure, I've been disappointed with a lot that I've encountered. I've seen members mock the president behind his back, and praise him to his face. Loathe him in private, and worship him on television."

"I've seen them intentionally spread misinformation and lies, flirt with white supremacists, and pander to the most extreme voices in our society," Cunningham said. "And it's been for one reason and one reason alone: self-preservation. People more interested in protecting themselves and their party than protecting our country."

The outlet noted that Cunningham "said he was proud that two of his bills were signed into law by President Donald Trump and that he was ranked the fourth-most bipartisan member in Congress by the Lugar Center."

In the end, Cunningham told his colleagues, "For the betterment of our country, we have to come together. We have to sit down and listen to each other, and maybe even have a beer."

As he reached into his coat pocket to grab his beer, he said, "In the spirit of bipartisanship and cooperation, I raise this glass to my colleagues—both Democrats and Republicans."

Although Cunningham cracked the can open, he did not take a sip. Alcohol is not allowed in the chamber. According to Post and Courier reporter Thomas Novelly, the brew was Joint Resolution from DC Brau Brewing.

Cunningham won election in 2018 by a slim margin in South Carolina's first district, flipping what he referred to as the "ruby red, gerrymandered district" blue for the first time since 1981, according to The Hill. He lost narrowly in 2020 to state Rep. Nancy Mace (R).

Following Cunningham's farewell address, Mace said in a statement, "I'll drink to that," wishing Cunningham well and thanking him for his service as she tipped back a Low County Lager from Palmetto Brewing Co.

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