Guest Column: Congressional Western Caucus Working Harder Than Ever

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis writes, "During the past three decades we have grown to more than 100 members of the House and 20 Senators; yet our mission of serving the interests of farmers, ranchers, landowners and rural communities alike to ensure their legislative priorities are heard in our nation’s capital remains unchanged."

CS
CSD Staff

December 30, 20233 min read

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Thirty years after its inception, the Congressional Western Caucus is working harder than ever for rural America.

During the past three decades, we have grown from our humble beginnings to a bicameral caucus of more than 100 members of the House and 20 Senators; yet our mission of serving the interests of farmers, ranchers, landowners and rural communities alike to ensure their legislative priorities are heard in our nation’s capital remains unchanged. Unfortunately, the fight to preserve our western ideals has not been easy as this administration’s out-of-touch policies have not only failed rural and western America, but have threatened to upend our way of life.

For far too long, this administration has catered to radical special interest groups by weaponizing conservation laws to halt projects western communities depend on, and the consequences are staggering. 

While this administration continues to hand down harmful policies from the comfort of the D.C. beltway, each year Western Caucus members, staff and stakeholders travel to the west and rural America to meet face-to-face with farmers, ranchers and business owners directly impacted by these policies. Our field tours not only give our members the opportunity to connect with communities across the country but gives us the ability to introduce tailored legislation to better serve rural America.

In addition to these field tours, we also held forums in the Capitol highlighting the need for permitting reform, the urgent need to modernize the Endangered Species Act (ESA)energy independence, and the dangers of the Chinese Communist Party purchasing American farmland. During these forums, we work to educate our fellow lawmakers about the issues impacting the west. 

We continue to push back on the Biden administration’s attempt to weaponize the Bureau of Land Management with its proposed “Landscape and Conservation Health” rule which elevates conservation as a multiple use, blatantly ignoring Congressional intent and breaking the law. Unlike this administration, the Western Caucus understands the devastating impact this proposal will have on communities across rural America, and we will continue working tirelessly to shield farmers, ranchers and property owners from this egregious overreach.

The Western Caucus has also worked to update antiquated legislation like the ESA to ensure it better serves its intended purposes of recovering species rather than being weaponized to accommodate political agendas.

In September, we fought back against one-size-fits-all mandates handed down by Washington bureaucrats with our bicameral legislation that prevents the Departments of the Interior and Commerce from finalizing three rule proposals that lack legal clarity and place onerous and undue burdens on landowners across the country.

As respective Chairs of the Senate and Congressional Western Caucus, we’re dedicated to ensuring the ESA is actually successful in recovering species while minimizing the regulatory burdens placed on farmers, ranchers, and landowners, not appeasing radical special interest groups. 

As we reflect on the last year’s challenges and successes, we remain steadfast in our commitment to serving rural America and representing their voices in Congress. We are blessed to call some of most beautiful landscapes home, and we will do everything within our power to protect them and our western way of life.

Senator Cynthia Lummis represents the state of Wyoming and is Chair of the Senate Western Caucus. Rep. Dan Newhouse represents Washington’s 4th Congressional District and is Chair of the Congressional Western Caucus.

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