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Cynthia Lummis

Lummis Introduces Bill For Cryptocurrency-Friendly Regulation

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On Tuesday, U.S. Sen Cynthia Lummis introduced bipartisan cryptocurrency legislation that she believes may revolutionize the way these assets are regulated in America. 

The Responsible Financial Innovation Act creates a more complete regulatory framework for digital assets and their oversight. By providing definitions to terms and clarifying which digital assets are securities and commodities, the legislation aims to provide better protection for both crypto companies and consumers, Lummis said in a press release. The bill also addresses federal jurisdiction, business requirements, and the treatment of digital assets for tax purposes.

Since digital tokens were first created more than a decade ago, these assets have grown into a $1.2 trillion industry. Proponents of the currency say it leads to innovation and economic growth and democratizes financial markets. Detractors say it is woefully under regulated and point to numerous instances where fraud has been committed. 

“As with any new technology, there are real risks to consumers, businesses, national security, and our financial system,” wrote Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in a Monday op-ed for Medium. Gillibrand co-sponsored the legislation with Lummis. “These risks make sound regulation key. Furthermore, without a clear and defined regulatory framework to guide their businesses practices, digital asset companies could be compelled to take their operations overseas.”

Gillibrand serves on the Agriculture Committee, which oversees the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and Lummis serves on the Banking Committee, which oversees the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The bill will assign regulatory authority over digital asset spot markets to the CFTC. The CFTC already regulates the two most popular cryptocurrencies – Bitcoin and Ethereum – but the bill gives it much wider power and oversight.

The bill is in some ways may be a favorable compromise for the crypto industry.  By giving primary oversight of crypto to the much smaller CFTC, the bill shields the industry from SEC Chair Gary Gensler and his agency. Gensler has stated that most digital assets should be treated as securities. A joint press release issued by the senators refuted this point, claiming “most digital assets are much more similar to commodities than securities.” 

Many leaders in the cryptocurrency market have praised the bill. The Lummis and Gillibrand teams are still working with industry members to see how the bill can and should be improved. 

Sheila Warren, chief executive of the Crypto Council for Innovation, collaborated with Lummis and Gillibrand in crafting the legislation and called the bill a “significant step forward.”

“The crypto industry has been asking – pleading – for reg clarity to help users distinguish legit opps from scams,” she said in a June 3 Twitter post. “Instead, we’ve gotten ignored submissions, enforcement actions v. legit actors, and silence. We stand ready to collaborate to ensure safe, inclusive growth for all.”

Todd Phillips, director of financial regulation and corporate governance at the left-leaning think tank Center for American Progress, spoke out against the bill on Twitter on Tuesday.

“It is a big improvement over Lummis’s original bill but is still highly problematic,” he said. “My take: The status quo is better than this bill and it’s not a compromise I’d accept.”

Phillips said the final bill is littered with tax and security law loopholes and creates certain risks for consumers, giving an advantage to crypto over existing financial services, harming investors.

Crypto Queen

Over the past five years, Lummis has been one of the most vocal supporters of crypto at the national level.  

According to the joint press release, the bill “is the most substantial and comprehensive bipartisan effort to provide certainty and clarity to the growing digital asset and blockchain industries.”

“It is critical to integrate digital assets into existing law and to harness the efficiency and transparency of this asset class while addressing risk,” Lummis said in the press release.

The Responsible Financial Innovation Act has been many months in the making, with a draft bill surfacing last year, said Tyler Lindholm, State Policy Director for Lummis. 

Lindholm said Lummis was first introduced to cryptocurrency by her son-in-law Will Cole in 2013, who currently works in the crypto industry. She kept her eye on the industry and about five years later started pushing for Wyoming to offer friendly laws for the industry. 

It was also around that time Lindholm was a representative in the Wyoming Legislature, helping pass laws accelerating Wyoming’s place on the international stage as a cryptocurrency and blockchain leader.  One bill exempted certain developers and businesses from securities and money transmission laws. Another offered a charter for banks that deal mainly in digital assets. 

When Lummis announced her campaign staff in 2020, she brought on Lindholm, already known as a leader with the Wyoming crypto movement and dubbed the ‘Crypto Cowboy.’

Lindhold said Wyoming has some of the most crypto-friendly laws in the country. The Cowboy State recently attracted Kraken, the second-largest crypto exchange in the U.S., to the state. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has denied Kraken and Wyoming’s other upstart crypto banks accounts through the central bank. 

Lindholm said the bipartisan nature of Lummis’ bill should give hope that Republicans and Democrats can still come together to get things done in Washington, D.C.

“The senators wanted to ensure the legislation was bipartisan and did work across the aisle,” Lindholm said. “It’s the first piece at the federal level anybody had done. They wanted to ensure it did not become a partisan issue.”

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Lummis Says Stance On Gun Control Has Not Changed Despite CNN Story

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By Leo Wolfson, political reporter
Cowboy State Daily

Despite a CNN story on Tuesday that appeared to show U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis having a change of heart on some gun control measures, her spokeswoman on Wednesday said the senator’s positions have not shifted

“The headline used by CNN didn’t accurately reflect the quote Senator Lummis gave them,” Abegail Cave said. “She is a strong defender of the Second Amendment, and will always defend the right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms.”

In response to recent mass shooting events, Lummis said her office has received a wave of phone calls from Wyoming constituents expressing an openness toward making legislative solutions intended to prevent future mass shootings.

In CNN’s story, Lummis was categorized as now giving consideration to a package of bills that could include changes to red flag laws, mental health programs, school security and juvenile background checks, because of the calls. 

“That’s something that I’d be inclined to want to look at,” CNN reported Lummis saying. “So many juvenile records seem to be expunged and the clock is set back to zero the day they turn 18. So I think that is something worth considering shortly.”

However, Cave said Lummis’ stance hasn’t changed on any of these issues. In the past, Lummis has opposed red flag laws and other gun control approaches, but supported improving mental health as an alternative to these measures.

The calls come in response to the recent Uvalde, Texas shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead, just 10 days after a supermarket massacre in Buffalo, N.Y. that killed 10.

Cave said although she does not have any numbers for how many calls their office has received, she said it has been a strong “influx” compared to what they normally gets. She said these calls have come from a mix of pro Second Amendment and pro gun control constituents. Cave said every office on Capitol Hill has received an increase in calls.

Lummis has historically been a staunch supporter of gun rights and state’s rights, earning a lifetime A plus rating from the National Rifle Association. On the issue of mass shootings and other related events, Lummis has said addressing mental health is the way to solve these atrocities rather than gun restrictions. It is an issue of particular importance in Wyoming, as the state has the highest suicide rate in the country.

“Instead of attacking Americans’ Constitutional right to bear arms, we should be focusing on how to prevent this kind of dangerous behavior with mental health treatment and hardening schools,” Cave said on behalf of Lummis. “No child should feel in danger while at school, and parents shouldn’t have to worry about their child’s safety while at school.”

House Democrats are already working on eight gun control bills under the broader “Protecting Our Kids Act.”

Senate Republicans and Lummis have consistently blocked gun control legislation. They opposed efforts to tighten gun regulations both when they held the majority, and now when they can deny such bills with a filibuster. 

On Wednesday morning, a pre-recorded video from Miah Cerrillo, an 11-year-old Uvalde student who survived the mass shooting, was played before the House Oversight Committee. Also testifying were two parents of a victim from the shooting, pressing the congress members for gun control. 

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Lummis Not A Fan Of Domestic Terrorism Act

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

A measure aimed at increasing investigations and monitoring of domestic terrorism should be viewed with skepticism, according to U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis.

Lummis said Americans should be wary of the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, approved by the House last week, because it adds to the size of the government to more closely monitor the activities of American citizens.

“Americans should be concerned about any attempt to expand an agency, especially when that expansion includes ‘analyzing and monitoring’ the activities of American citizens,” she said. “We all share the goal of keeping our communities safe, but the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act fails to accomplish this goal and instead creates more bureaucracy based on the premise of distrust in the American public.”

The office of U.S. Sen. John Barrasso said he would not comment on the bill until after he votes on it.

The measure would create special offices within the government to investigate and monitor domestic terror threats.

Recent incidents of domestic terror such as shootings at a store in Buffalo, New York, and this week’s school shooting in Texas are being cited by supporters of the bill as reasons for its approval. Opponents have criticized it as opportunistic maneuvering to increase the size of government.

The act was approved by the House on a 222-203 vote last week that largely followed party lines. It now heads to the Senate.

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney voted against the measure in the House.

According to a Morning Consult/Politico survey, 76% of those questioned support monitoring of domestic terrorism and 74% support members of different governmental agencies working together to combat domestic and white supremacy-related terrorism.

A theory espoused by white supremacy groups is being considered a key motivating factor in the Buffalo supermarket attack. 

However, no reason has been determined for the Texas shooting and very little warning was given by the killer.

Many Democrats have lobbied for gun control in response to such events in the past and President Joe Biden called for tougher gun control laws following the Texas shooting.

Such efforts have almost always been stymied in the past, but the domestic terrorism bill takes a new approach to preventing mass shootings through closer monitoring and more investigations into domestic terror threats.

“Congress hasn’t been able to ban the sale of assault weapons,” Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Illinois, said while arguing for the bill last week. “The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act is what Congress can do this week to try to prevent future Buffalo shootings.”

While a simple majority of 51 votes is required to pass a bill in the Senate, a supermajority, or 60 votes, is needed to start or end debate on legislation before it can ever proceed to a vote.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, told The Hill last week he does not expect the bill to get 10 Republican votes of support in the Senate. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, has said “common sense, strong gun safety amendments” could be added to the Domestic Terrorism Prevent Act if Republicans would allow the bill to be discussed.

Schumer was referencing Republican gun violence-related amendments such as Sen. Ron Johnson’s, R-Wisconsin, legislation to create a clearinghouse of information on the best practices for school safety.  

Some congressional Republicans have compared the domestic terror bill to the recent establishment of a “disinformation board” by the Biden administration.

The board was established to determine a set of “best practices” to surveil for threats of violence from foreign states and adversaries while simultaneously safeguarding free speech, civil rights, liberties and privacy. 

The board had no authority, never met and was paused after its Executive Director Nina Jankowicz resigned in the face of public opposition. Its status is currently under review by the DHS’s Homeland Security Advisory Council.

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Lummis Co-Sponsors Resolution Calling For Feds To Recognize Only Male, Female

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

U.S.  Sen. Cynthia Lummis is co-sponsoring a resolution urging federal agencies to recognize only males and females in what is described as an effort to “reaffirm legal protections” for women.

“Male and female individuals possess unique and immutable biological differences that manifest prior to birth and increase with age and puberty,” the resolution said. “(Recent) misguided court rulings relating to the definition of ‘sex’ have led to the endangerment of spaces and resources dedicated to women.”

The Women’s Bill of Rights, also known as Senate Resolution 644, said it is important to clearly define men and women in certain situations.

“There are important reasons to distinguish between the sexes with respect to athletics, prisons, domestic violence shelters, restrooms, and with respect to other areas, particularly where biology, safety and privacy are implicated,” it said.

The resolution called for a person’s sex to be determined by his or her biological sex at birth.

The Woman’s Bill of Rights surfaced less than a week after Lummis’ remarks on the topic of sex at the University of Wyoming graduation ceremony resulted in her being booed by some in the crowd.

“Even fundamental scientific truths such as the existence of two sexes, male and female, are subject to challenge these days,” she said.

Lummis issued an apology after the event and said she acknowledged “there are biological differences and circumstances in which these differences need to be recognized.” 

However, the resolution mentions only the sexes of male and female.

A Lummis spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment about the senator’s intent with the resolution or reason for co-sponsoring it.

Senate resolutions are not binding law. They are used to express a collective sentiment from the Senate on a particular topic, although their passage can lead to the creation of Senate committees to examine the issue raised.

Lummis’ co-sponsorship of the resolution was criticized by Sara Burlingame, executive director of Wyoming Equality, a nonprofit LGBTQ advocacy group.

“It just makes me feel sad,” Burlingame said. “I have a sense for who Sen. Lummis is. She is someone who cares about making people feel welcome and this resolution does not do that.”

Transgender advocates argue that an individual’s biological sex at birth does not represent what sex or gender they might choose to identify with later in life.

Burlingame said it is important to recognize sex and gender as two different things, the former being biological and the latter a social construct.

“Just because they have been conflated in the past doesn’t make them so,” she said. 

Burlingame also said she is disappointed the resolution also does not recognize intersex people, individuals born with both male and female reproductive organs and an ambigious sexual identity.

The resolution does not go into how the designations of male and female, man and woman or boy and girl should be enforced.

The issue of transgender students competing in women’s sports has surfaced in Wyoming in recent years, with legislation drafted this year to ban people born as males from competing on women’s sports team. The bill was approved by the Senate but the House did not consider it.

The Transgender Law Center gives Wyoming a “low” ranking for its LGBTQ-related laws, while Colorado to the south was given a rating of “high.”

In Feburary, Alabama lawmakers passed legislation that would bar transgender students from using school bathrooms and locker rooms that match their current gender identity and on Thursday, Oklahoma adopted similar legislation requiring students at public schools to use restrooms and locker rooms that match the sex listed on their birth certificates. 

But in Tennessee earlier this week, a federal judge struck down a law that required businesses to alert patrons if they allow transgender use of their bathrooms.

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Mississippi, is the lead sponsor on the resolution. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is a co-sponsor with Lummis. The resolution was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

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Bill Introduced To Create Universal “No Fly” List For Violent Passengers; Lummis Opposed

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

A bill in Congress that would create a national “no-fly” list for disruptive airline passengers is being opposed by U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis.

Lummis has been outspoken in her opposition to the “Protection From Abusive Passengers Act,” introduced Wednesday, which she sees inviting overreach by the federal government

“TSA no-fly lists have been historically restricted to suspected terrorists because such individuals are a threat to every airline and every traveler,” Lummis said.

“Expanding the use of no-fly lists to include people who are frustrated about mask mandates would tacitly equate ordinary flyers to violent extremists,” she said.

The act is sponsored by Lummis colleague Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), and supporters say it is part of an effort to reduce the rise of violent confrontations in airplanes.

He said the legislation would make people who have been convicted of assaulting crew members eligible to be placed on a ‘no-fly’ list maintained by the Transportation Security Administration.

“We’re here today to stand up for the 99.99999 percent of travelers who’ve had enough of bad behavior,” Sen. Reed said. “There should be zero tolerance for violence aboard an airplane. This bill will help reduce incidents of in-flight violence and hold unruly passengers accountable if they break the law.”

There were nearly 6,000 unruly passenger incidents on airplanes reported in 2021.  Of those, 1,105 were labeled as “serious,” which is three times the previous high since the agency began collecting the data in 1995.

In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Lummis said the increase in unruly behavior stems primarily from individuals opposing the federal mask mandate.

“Creating a federal ‘no-fly’ list for unruly passengers who are skeptical of this mandate would seemingly equate them to terrorists who seek to actively take the lives of Americans and perpetrate attacks on the homeland,” she wrote.

But Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said the legislation is necessary because a violent passenger can jump from one airline to another after an incident.

“Right now, a passenger can be fined or convicted, and may be banned on an individual airline – but that does not prevent this violent offender from flying another airline,” Nelson said. “This bill would change that. It’s really just a handful of bad actors who need to be grounded and face consequences for their violent actions.”

Many airlines support the measure including American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and Southwest Airlines. Also behind the bill is the Airline Pilots Association, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, and the Transport Workers Union of America.

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Sen. Lummis Pays Tribute to Late State Sen. Leland Christensen

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

In an emotional address on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Wyoming’s junior U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis paid tribute to late Leland Christensen, a former state legislator who served as her state director.

Christensen, died on Feb. 4 in an Idaho Falls, Idaho, hospital following a battle with cancer and a subsequent COVID-19 infection.

“I am just profoundly sad,” Lummis said with her voice wavering. “And also humble and proud to honor the memory of a cherished son of Wyoming.”

“More than anything, I rise to honor my longtime friend Leland Christensen,” she said.

Lummis, who had been close friends with Christensen for decades, discussed her trips with Christensen and her daughter, Annaliese, into the Wyoming backcountry, including Yellowstone’s Thorofare area, which is the most remote place in the lower 48 states.

She said Leland often went on search and rescue missions in wilderness areas in the region because he knew them “like the back of his hand.”

“He rescued people in swollen rivers, he rescued their horses,” she said. “He was a totally unique human being.

Lummis said Christensen’s passing was unique in that there were few deaths that affected her as “deeply.”

“Truly, his death cuts me to the depth of my heart,” she said.

Describing Christensen as “all Wyoming,” she said he was “tough as nails, endlessly patient and unwaveringly kind.”

“Rarely do I come across someone whose sincere humility, generosity, and selflessness come close to those of Leland Christensen,” Lummis said. “Every day spent with Leland was a better day.”

Christensen served two terms as state senator representing Teton County. Before then, he had a distinguished 20-year career as a deputy sheriff for Teton County.

The Alta native served as a Teton County commissioner from 2005 to 2011 and served with the 19th Special Forces Airborne Army and the National Guard for 15 years.

In 2016, Christensen ran for U.S. Congress, coming in second to now-U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney.

In 2019, Christensen was appointed by Gov. Mark Gordon as Deputy Director for Wyoming’s Office of Homeland Security and in 2021 U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis appointed him as her state director.

Christensen’s son Hunter said his father contracted COVID in December and was admitted to the hospital on Dec. 19.

Leland was subsequently moved to the intensive care unit in an Idaho Falls hospital and was in a medically-induced coma since late December.

Leland is survived by wife Anita, five children, and 13 grandchildren.

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Lummis Blocks Biden’s Pick For EPA Enforcement Chief Over Power Plant

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis has stalled confirmation of President Joe Biden’s choice to enforce federal environmental rules due to the agency’s handling of coal power plants in Wyoming.

Lummis’ office confirmed that the Republican on Wednesday removed from the agenda of a Senate committee a confirmation vote for a nominee to serve as assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee had been scheduled Wednesday to take a confirmation vote on the appointment of David Uhlmann to the post, according to energy news outlet E&E News.

But committee Chair U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, announced at the start of the meeting that Uhlmann’s nomination had been pulled from the agenda. He said an unnamed senator was waiting for information from the agency before considering whether to support Uhlmann.

Lummis’ office confirmed she had asked that the vote be postponed.

According to the outlet, Lummis was waiting to hear from EPA about whether Wyoming’s regional plan for managing haze in the area of the Jim Bridger power plant near Rock Springs would be approved.

The state and federal governments in 2020 had agreed to a regional haze program that would allow the plant to continue operating, but after President Joe Biden took office, the EPA reversed its decision and ordered the plant to comply with rules previously in place.

The federal haze program seeks to reduce pollution to increase visibility, which has proved troublesome for the southeastern Wyoming power plant.

After Wednesday’s meeting ended, EPA released a decision saying it would reject Wyoming’s haze management plan for the power plant.

“The EPA’s decision today is a complete reversal from that of career EPA employees during the previous administration,” Lummis said after the rejection. “The Biden EPA’s decision here is needlessly hurting Wyoming’s energy workers and threatening America’s energy independence as well.

“It is blatantly political, and I will continue to block President Biden’s EPA nominees over this issue,” she continued. “Wyoming has worked tirelessly to comply with federal law on its regional haze plan for the Jim Bridger Power Plant. The Biden administration’s decision to reverse course to appease environmental activists, including climate czars in the White House, will not help the people, or the environment, of Wyoming.”

The committee did advance other nominees at Wednesday’s meeting, including Martha Williams, Biden’s pick for Fish and Wildlife Service director, and Chris Frey, tapped to lead the EPA’s science office.

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Wyo Sec of State Calls On Lummis, Barrasso To Stop Biden From Federalizing Elections

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Buchanan is seeking the help of U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis to oppose efforts to give the federal government more control over elections nationally.

In recent days, President Joe Biden has endorsed changing the rules of the Senate to make it easier for the Senate to pass two pieces of election-related legislation. One, the “Freedom to Vote Act,” would establish national voting rules to replace the state rules that now govern elections. The other, the “John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” is described by backers as establishing a way to review voting rules nationally with an eye toward those that discriminate against voters.

Buchanan asked Barrasso and Lummis to stand firm in their fight against both measures, saying it is disingenuous to accuse Wyoming of adopting rules such as a voter ID requirement as a way to suppressing voters.

“To suggest that state action to strengthen our election security is ‘directly linked’ to the January 6, 2021 events is slanderous and is a political lie to the American people,” Buchanan said in a letter to the senators. “In Wyoming, we worked for years, well prior to the 2020 election, to implement legislation such as ‘Voter ID,’ until it finally passed. Simply put, Republicans want every eligible voter to vote and every ineligible voter to not vote. In summary, ‘easy to vote, hard to cheat.'”

There was little evidence of voter fraud in the state prior to the voter identification law being passed during the 2021 legislative session.

Buchanan also said that Wyoming voters deserved elections run by those sensitive to the needs of the state, not people in Washington, D.C., who are seeking a “one-size fits all” approach.

He concluded his letter to the senators by noting that “decentralization is essential to the protection of our elections at a time when integrity and security are foremost on the minds of all Americans.”

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Lummis Calls Supreme Court Abortion Hearing ‘Pivotal Moment For Our Country’

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis said Wednesday she would like to see a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of a Mississippi abortion ban, calling the case a “pivotal moment for our country.”

The court heard arguments on Wednesday regarding Mississippi’s abortion ban, which does not allow abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy except in extreme circumstances, such as a medical emergency, according to NBC News.

“This is a pivotal moment for our country and I continue to pray for a pro-life decision and for both mothers and the unborn,” Lummis said“Early in my legal career, I worked with birth mothers who were giving their babies up for adoption. It was an honor to help support birth mothers in facilitating adoptions, and seeing the look on adoptive parents’ faces as they held their child for the first time.

“I think it’s important to also note what a pro-life decision in (the Mississippi case) would not do. It would not ban all abortions,” Lummis continued. “The life of the mother would still be protected. A pro-life decision … would protect both the mother and her unborn child, and would assert to the world that we, as a nation, value life.”

NBC News reported that a majority of the Supreme Court’s conservative justices suggested they were prepared to discard the court’s previous standard set forth in Roe vs. Wade, which prevented states from banning abortion before a fetus becomes viable, which is generally considered to be at about 24 weeks into a pregnancy.

However, the three more liberal justices argued that the court would appear to be a political body if it tossed out abortion rulings that the country has relied on for decades, the outlet reported.

Earlier this year, Wyoming joined Texas and 23 other states in filing an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the decision to regulate elective abortions should be left to states.

In the brief joined by Wyoming, the 24 states agreed that nothing in the text, history, or tradition of the U.S. Constitution supports a right to elective abortion.

“This year has made abundantly clear that federal overreach harms Wyoming and its citizens,” Gov. Mark Gordon said at the time. “Wyoming must stand up for states’ rights. I am happy to extend support to Mississippi in order to properly keep state control over state issues, especially in the fight to protect the unborn.”

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Lummis Introduces Bill Preventing Workers From Being Fired Due To Vaccine Mandate

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis on Monday joined fellow legislators in introducing a bill that would prevent essential workers from being fired if they refuse to comply with a proposed federal vaccine mandate.

Lummis joined U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, and other colleagues to introduce the Keeping Our COVID-19 Heroes Employed Act on Monday.

“From the earliest days of the pandemic, our frontline workers and first responders in Wyoming put themselves in harm’s way to respond to emergencies, to keep essential goods stocked and to care for the sick in our communities,” Lummis said. “We should be celebrating their heroism, not punishing them for exercising their individual health freedoms. I’m proud to defend their rights and fight the Biden administration’s mandate.”

The administration has proposed requiring coronavirus vaccines for federal employees, health care workers and employees at companies employing more than 100 people. The federal rules that would put the mandate in place have not yet been issued.

Under the bill proposed by Lummis and others, essential workers who would be protected from being fired if they were unwilling or unable to get the vaccine would be the same people deemed as providing essential services by states during the pandemic. This would include people who work in health care and at businesses such as grocery stores, airlines and trucking companies.

Lummis and the other senators expressed concern that the new vaccine mandate would mean more job openings, at a time when the U.S. has already recorded more than 10 million open jobs in August.

Wyoming has not escaped the employment crisis, with reports coming out this year that the state has seen a shortage of snowplow drivers, restaurant employees and workers in other fields.

“(Workers in) Wyoming and across the nation are under threat of losing their jobs if they choose not to take the COVID vaccine,” said a release from Lummis’ office. “While these vaccines have proven to be safe and effective, the decision to get vaccinated is a personal one. People in Wyoming – especially the essential workers who showed up to work every day during the worst days of the pandemic – should not be forced into vaccination under the threat of losing their job.” 

The state’s unemployment rate has dropped this year, but it’s more due to people leaving the job force than getting jobs.

Ty Stockton, with the Workforce Service Office in Cheyenne, previously said there isn’t really a way to find out why people are not going back to work, since his office only sees people who are actively looking for employment.

Lummis joined Blackburn and Sens. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, Bill Hagerty, R-Tennessee, Mike Braun, R-Indiana, Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama, and Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, in introducing the legislation this week.

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Lummis to Federal Employees: Get Back To Work!

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Walking down a main street in Wyoming, you couldn’t necessarily tell that the COVID pandemic is still keeping people at home.

Private business doors are open and have been for months. In fact, two Wyoming communities — Cody and Sheridan — have little real estate space available on their main streets.

But the federal government is not fully back to work and closed offices or limited hours at some agencies have U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming, exasperated.

Wyoming’s junior senator on Thursday introduced legislation to get fully vaccinated federal employees working again — which means at their desks and in their offices.

Lummis said the legislation is necessary because the lack of an in-person workforce has created problems for her constituents.

“It’s long past time for federal workers to be back in the office helping the people of Wyoming and constituents across the United States. There is a huge casework backlog, and that is negatively impacting our veterans, our seniors, our business owners and American citizens,” Lummis said.

Lummis’ legislation, the “Having Employees Return To Duty Act” would require all federal employees who have been vaccinated to return to their place of work and work the same number of hours they worked before the pandemic started in February 2020.

“Americans across the county have been returning to in-person work and the federal bureaucrats who work for them should do the same,” she said.

Lummis said she has heard from constituents who have not received services — because of closed offices or limited hours — at the Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service, National Personnel Records office, Veteran’s Affairs offices, U.S. Department of State Visa Processing Center and the Western Passport Center

Thad Leybush, an oil worker living in Wamsutter, said he was pleased to hear about the legislation but couldn’t believe there was a need for it.

“I’m busting my ass in hurricane force wind gusts while bureaucrats are staying home watching ‘The View’ and I’m paying for it,” he said while eating lunch at Chester’s Chicken at a local truck stop.

According to Government Executive magazine, some federal agencies aren’t expecting employees to return to work until as late as March, 2022.

Other federal agencies have yet to set a date.  

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Lummis Criticizes Congress For Not Talking About National Debt

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis criticized her congressional colleagues on Thursday when she pointed out that despite numerous conversations about raising the nation’s debt limit, no one is discussing the debt itself.

Lummis took to the floor to condemn the reckless spending in Congress without any acknowledgement of the continual growth of the national debt.

“I’m a rancher and I often think about policy in ranching terms,” Lummis said. “This is all hat, no cattle politics. We’re starting down a track of a $29 trillion national debt.”

According to CNBC, the ceiling prevents the U.S. Treasury from issuing new bonds to fund government activities once a certain debt level, or date, is reached.

Lummis said when she first came to Congress in 2009, the national debt was just under $10 trillion, which she said at the time seemed “insurmountable.”

Now, the debt has nearly tripled in a little more than a decade.

Lummis paraphrased a popular meme of activist Jimmy McMillan during her speech, saying “The debt is too dang high.”

She said that Congress could not go on spending the way it was without addressing the nation’s debt to its gross domestic product ratio.

She pointed to the proposed $3 trillion spending plan, the 10-year Build Back Better Act that would fund everything from free community college to expanded Medicare, as one of the most irresponsible decisions that Congress and President Joe Biden could make.

“The fact of the matter is unless we actually address the spending problems that are driving our national debt, we are already saddling future generations of people in my state of Wyoming and all the American people with a debt that they will never be ably to repay,” Lummis said. “Soon, interest payments on that debt will crowd out other spending.”

The senator noted that the only reason the interest payments have not overtaken the main debt bill is because interest rates have been relatively low. But, the nation will have to pay back interest before paying for other things, including the items in the spending bill.

“We cannot go on like this,” Lummis said. “It is irresponsible at the deepest levels. I believe this is unforgivable.”

Congress raised the debt ceiling in 2017 under former President Donald Trump, but Lummis said that congressional Democrats left congressional Republicans to be the ones to make the decision on raising the debt ceiling alone. Now, congressional Democrats were used to seeing the debt ceiling raised.

“The problem is that both when Republicans have been in the majority and have raised the debt ceiling, and now Democrats are in the majority and are going to raise the debt ceiling, neither party seems to talk about the debt,” Lummis said. “They only talk about raising the debt ceiling.”

This week, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney voiced similar sentiments on two Wyoming TV news outlets about the debt ceiling and wasteful spending.

“The spending that we’re seeing is so significant and so huge and comes at a moment where it will fundamentally restructure our economy, fundamentally restructure the relationship between the government and individuals in a way that’s very negative,” she said. “I would hope that it would cause some reflection for people to say, ‘We can’t afford this level of spending.’ And it’s not good for the country, and it’s not good for our freedoms. It’s not good for our constitutional rights to have the federal government play such an expansive role in terms of this massive overreach that these bills will entail.”

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Lummis Slams Yellen For IRS Proposal Mandating Every Transaction Over $600 Be Reported

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis’ grilling of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen over a controversial Internal Revenue Service measure on Tuesday is getting some big time exposure.

Great Britain’s Daily Mail is leading its newspaper with the exchange along with the headline “Biden’s Bank Stasi”.

Secret police references aside, at issue is a controversial measure which would vastly expand the powers of the IRS mandating that every financial transaction — personal and business — be reported to the tax agency.

A fierce critic of the proposal, Lummis laid into Yellen, telling her she was “horrified” that the secretary supported it.

“I am astounded by what you’re supporting and proposing. I think it’s invasive. I think privacy for individuals is being ignored. And I think that treating the American people like they are subjects of the government is unconscionable,” Lummis said.

Privacy concerns, costs to the private sector and new regulatory burdens that financial institutions would have to bear were Lummis’ main points of contention, with privacy issues being paramount.

The Wyoming Bankers Association agrees. It is just one of many organizations in the state and across the country which are objecting to the proposal. 

“This proposal would turn every American’s local bank, credit union and payment provider into an IRS agent, monitoring and reporting on deposits and withdrawals made in private accounts — at a threshold of as little as $600,” the organization told Cowboy State Daily last week.

Lummis took it a step further stating that financial institutions would have to “hire contractors to rat on their customers”.

Lummis referred to her agricultural roots during the questioning asking Yellen if she “distrusted the American people so much that you need to know when you bought a cow?”

Yellen ignored Lummis’ question about the cow — and most of the rest of her testimony — suggesting that she disagreed with how the senator interpreted the proposal.

Yellen said the purpose was to catch individuals who aren’t paying their taxes, prointing to a projected $7 trillion loss in tax revenues “which are not being paid to the government.”

Interrupting the secretary, Lummis said, “Well, $600 threshold is not usually where you’re going to find the massive amount of tax revenue you think Americans are cheating you out of.”

Yellen agreed but said the provision was needed anyway just to make sure.

If it’s enacted, don’t expect Wyoming people to participate, Lummis said. They’ll pull their money out of traditional financial institutions.

“Wyoming’s people, literally we’ll find alternatives to traditional banks, just to thwart IRS access to their personal information, not because they’re trying to hide anything, but because they’re not willing to share everything,” she said.

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Lummis Grills Dept of Transportation Nominees; Gets Them To Commit To Getting Cheyenne Airport Open

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U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis convinced two U.S. Department of Transportation nominees to commit to relaunching air service in Cheyenne, where no commercial airport has been in service for more than a year.

During a Senate Commerce Committee hearing this week, Lummis questioned Victoria Wassmer and Mohsin Syed about their willingness to help get the Cheyenne Regional Airport back in service if they were confirmed to the positions they’ve been nominated for in the department.

“The Cheyenne airport is facing serious challenges and they’re threatening the long-term viability of commercial air service right now,” Lummis said. “Cheyenne has absolutely no commercial air service. That’s been the case since last spring.”

The airport has been closed due to repairs that were originally scheduled to be completed this summer, in time for Cheyenne Frontier Days. However, the airport announced mid-summer it would not open for the 10-day rodeo.

The runway repair was slowed by nationwide shortage of a specific type of concrete that must be used according to Federal Aviation Administration rules. A lack of workers is also making the process take months longer to complete, Wyoming News Now reported.

Lummis pointed to FAA approval as one of the major factors slowing the repair project and said she was worried the capital city might not have air service for even longer than expected, possibly another year or two.

“Without FAA funds being expedited, the airport will not be able to offer commercial air service for the foreseeable future. Maybe a year or two years or more. That would make it the only state in the nation whose capital city has no commercial air service,” she said.

This week, Wyoming News Now reported that airport officials are eyeing a new opening date for later this year, hopefully in time for the holidays.

“It is not a long-term solution for the city of Cheyenne to be without air service,” Lummis said. “In addition to that, it’s a huge problem for Cheyenne’s economy, it will jeopardize our state’s efforts to combat wildfires and it jeopardizes procurement for F.E. Warren Air Force Base.”

Syed, who has been nominated to serve as the DOT’s assistant secretary for government affairs, confirmed to Lummis that he has spoken with her staff about the issue in Cheyenne, and affirmed he would commit to helping the senator with relaunching air service in the city. Wassmer also committed to working with Lummis if she won confirmation.

“We’ll work closely to identify other opportunities associated with the funding for the runway improvements that are happening there at Cheyenne,” Wassmer said.

Lummis is not the only person frustrated with the lack of commercial air options in Cheyenne, with many people visiting the Cheyenne Regional Airport’s Facebook page questioning when flights might again be offered, as some do not want to drive to Denver to catch a plane.

“Wow Cheyenne! One epic fail after another. Maybe try a change in your good ole boy thinking for christs sake..you and your pro trumpian and anti vax attitude are the laughing stock of the world.. but every circus needs a clown!” user Kyle C. Baber said.

“I travel frequently for business & leisure. Its very frustrating to go to Denver for flights. So to get the great rates and flights out of Cheyenne Wy is huge for myself, business partners & family” user Tara LH said.

“Put real airlines to fly in and out of the airport!!!! Such an inconvenience to have to go to denver to fly!!!” user Latini Jmarie said.

“We had tickets to fly in for Frontier Days in 2020. American gave us a credit, so we couldn’t fly into Cheyenne in 2021, did the Denver ratrace. Never again,” user Janet Gabbert said.

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Lummis Honors Slain Wyoming Marine Rylee McCollum on Senate Floor

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Stating that Wyoming’s “heart is heavy with grief today,” U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis took to the Senate floor on Tuesday to pay tribute to Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, a U.S. Marine from Jackson who was one of 13 service members killed in Afghanistan last month.

McCollum’s wife Gigi gave birth to their daughter early Tuesday morning and Lummis said although Rylee will never know Levi Rylee Rose McCollum, she will be in good hands.

“She will be surrounded by love from mother Gigi, proud grandfather, Jim McCollum, Rylee’s sisters, and many other relatives who will share with Levi what a wonderful and heroic father she had,” Lummis said.

The senator said she spent some time with McCollum’s family over the weekend and had the honor of expressing Wyoming’s “deep appreciation of Rylee’s sacrifice to them” pointing to the thousands of people who lined Jackson’s streets to welcome him home.

“Wyoming’s very special way of honoring its beloved Rylee was on full display last Friday, people waving American flags lined the streets of Jackson to give Rylee a hero’s welcome as his remains were returned home,” she said.

“The people of Wyoming are heartbroken but infinitely proud of his bravery and sacrifice,” she said.

Earlier in the day, Rylee’s father Jim wrote a poem welcoming his granddaughter into the world and posted it on his Facebook account.

Levi Rylee rose
I love you little girl
You blessed us with light and love
When you came into the world
Hold on to your mama
She’s needing you right now
You’re precious
You are beautiful
You brought the world together somehow
Your daddy
He’s watching over you
He loves you both so much
You’ll feel him with you always
A random feather
A subtle touch
I can’t wait to hold you
I’m excited to watch you grow
I love you little Levi Rylee Rose
I wanted you to know

Me
Grandpa
Wykid

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Lummis Says Raising Debt Ceiling Would Just Be Kicking Can Down The Road

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis took to social media on Wednesday to discuss the national debt ceiling, which she doesn’t feel should be raised, as it would just be akin to kicking the can down the road.

This week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Democratic leadership should either raise or suspend the debt ceiling as soon as possible, as the nation is in trouble on defaulting on its debt, according to CNBC.

“I wasn’t in office last time we had this fight, but I would have voted no then too,” Lummis wrote on social media Wednesday morning, linking to a Politico article about the situation. “Raising the debt ceiling is just another attempt to kick the can down the road instead of fixing our spending problem.”

Congress raised the debt ceiling in 2017 under former President Donald Trump.

On Friday, Lummis also posted a link to an opinion piece by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin in the Wall Street Journal, noting why he wouldn’t support spending another $3.5 trillion due to the nation’s rising debt.

“Joe Manchin is right, ‘An overheating economy has imposed a costly ‘inflation tax’ on every middle- and working-class American” and our national debt is the “biggest threat to national security,’” Lummis wrote.

Lawmakers have until some time in October to decide on raising or suspending the debt ceiling.

According to CNBC, the ceiling prevents the U.S. Treasury from issuing new bonds to fund government activities once a certain debt level, or date, is reached.

That level reached $22 trillion in August 2019 and was suspended until the end of July 2021. The Congressional Budget Office estimated in July that the new cap will likely come in just north of $28.5 trillion.

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Wyoming Lowest In Nation For COVID Vaccinations; Barrasso Says Get Vax, Lummis Says Personal Decision

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

With news from the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) that Wyoming ranks the lowest in the nation for coronavirus vaccinations, the state’s two U.S. senators have differing thoughts on what residents should do about it.

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, a physician by trade, is encouraging individuals to get vaccinated while U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis said the decision is a personal one.

“Vaccines work,” Barrasso said. “If you want to protect yourself and your family, the best thing you can do is get vaccinated. I’m a doctor and I have been vaccinated, as has my wife and my adult kids. I’ll continue to encourage folks across Wyoming to talk to their doctor and get the vaccine if they are eligible.”

Barrasso spokeswoman Laura Mengelkamp told Cowboy State Daily that Barrasso has visited vaccine clinics across the state, written a column on the importance of being vaccinated, advocated for vaccines on TV, participated in public service announcements and repeatedly encouraged people on social media to get the vaccine.

A spokeswoman for Lummis said although the senator has been vaccinated against the coronavirus, she feels it is a decision that should made with input from a doctor, not the government.

“She is hopeful that with the recent full authorization of the Pfizer vaccine, people in Wyoming will discuss the risks and benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine and make the decision that is best for them and their families,” spokeswoman Abegail Cave told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday.

She noted Lummis recently signed on as a co-sponsor to a bill proposed by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, which would prohibit the federal government from requiring citizens to carry proof that they have been vaccinated — so-called vaccine passports.

According to the CDC, Wyoming had 201,863 unvaccinated adults in the state, 45.36% of its population, the highest rate of unvaccinated people in the country.

West Virginia and Mississippi each owned the distinction of having the highest share of unvaccinated residents in the nation for months until Wyoming recently surpassed each state.

West Virginia is in 49th place with 44.36% of its citizens being unvaccinated while Mississippi is next at 44.20%.

Texas actually had the highest number of unvaccinated adults, with 6.6 million, but that amounted to only 30.8% of its population.

Spokespeople for Gov. Mark Gordon and U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney did not respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment.

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Lummis Supports Bill Preventing Vaccine Mandate

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis announced her support on Friday for a new bill that would prevent federal vaccine mandates.

Earlier this year, Lummis and U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Braun (R-Indiana) introduced legislation to prohibit such federal requirements.

“Much like Obamacare, a federal vaccine mandate would insert government into what should be a personal decision between a patient and their doctor,” Lummis said Friday. “Any vaccine mandate will further divide our country, instead of uniting us. That’s why I’m supporting the No Vaccine Passports Act, which would keep the federal government from forcing anyone to get a vaccine approved under Emergency Use Authorization, like the COVID vaccines.”

President Joe Biden has not implemented a nationwide vaccine mandate, although earlier this week, he announced that federal employees would be required to either obtain the vaccine or be tested regularly for coronavirus and would be required to use masks and practice social distancing.

In May, Gov. Mark Gordon officially banned state agencies, boards and commissions from requiring “vaccine passports” to access state spaces and services. Other states have implemented similar bans against vaccine passports.

“Vaccine passport programs have the potential to politicize a decision that should not be politicized,” Gordon said. “They would divide our citizens at a time when unity in fighting the virus is essential, and harm those who are medically unable to receive the vaccine. While I strongly encourage Wyomingites over the age of 16 to get vaccinated against COVID-19, it is a personal choice based upon personal circumstances.”

The new directive also encouraged Wyoming’s counties, cities and towns, as well as private business, to follow the state’s example in providing access to public spaces and services to all.

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Barrasso, Lummis Ask Biden To Not Revoke Ability To Expel Immigrants From Infectious Countries

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis joined a group of senators this week in asking President Joe Biden to leave in place a rule allowing the U.S. to expel undocumented immigrants who came to America from countries with high coronavirus infection rates.

“Ending this order will have a dire impact on the crisis already engulfing our southwestern border,” the senators wrote in a letter to Biden.

Title 42 allows the government to expel immigrants who have been in a country where a communicable disease is present. According to political website The Hill, the rule was implemented under former President Donald Trump and has been used to expel around 100,000 immigrants every month.

Reports have indicated Biden is thinking about revoking the rule, perhaps as early as the end of July.

In their letter to Biden, the senators highlighted how immigration facilities are already overcrowded and overwhelmed, and ending Title 42 will further exacerbate the crisis at the southern border.

“We urge you in the strongest possible terms not to take this action…Immigration facilities are overwhelmed,” the letter said. “Revoking the authority of officials to rapidly expel illegal migrants under Title 42 without a clear plan in place to handle the stress this population will place on the system and on border communities will further exacerbate the crisis at the southwestern border.”

The senators added that limiting the number of individuals held in close quarters through expulsion is a justified measure while dealing with the persistent threat of the coronavirus, which is highly transmissible.

“The administration’s first priority must be to protect the American homeland,” the group wrote. “Allowing political considerations to overrule the clear public health threat created by the spread of COVID-19 at the border is reckless and irresponsible.”

Other than Barrasso and Lummis, the group of 30 senators who signed the letter included Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo and South Dakota Sen. John Thune, to name a few.

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Lummis Praises Court’s Decision To Allow People Under 21 To Buy Guns

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis is praising a federal court’s decision this week to allow adults under the age of 21 to own a handgun.

A panel of judges for the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals handed down the decision on Tuesday in favor of arguments that that federal laws preventing law-abiding 18-,19-, or 20-year-olds from owning a firearm violated the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.

“The Second Amendment is a constitutional right,” Lummis said. “There is no reason a law-abiding 18-year-old adult should be denied that right solely based on their age. If we trust them to defend our country, we should trust them enough to purchase a handgun. I applaud the decision of the Fourth Circuit.” 

Judge Julius Richardson of the Fourth Circuit wrote in the decision, “When do constitutional rights vest? At 18 or 21? 16 or 25? Why not 13 or 33? In the law, a line must sometimes be drawn. But there must be a reason why constitutional rights cannot be enjoyed until a certain age. Our nation’s most cherished constitutional rights vest no later than 19. And the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms is no different.” 

In April, Lummis introduced a bill that would allow adults under 21 to purchase firearms.

The Second Amendment Mandates Equality Act of 2021 would repeal the law that currently prohibits people under the age of 21 from buying a handgun and reinstate the right of adults between the ages of 18 and 20 to purchase a handgun from a federally licensed dealer. The bill was co-sponsored by a number of Republican senators, including Montana’s Steve Daines, Idaho’s Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and North Dakota’s Kevin Cramer.

“The Second Amendment is a constitutional right, and does not treat 18-year-olds as second-class adults,” Lummis said at the time. “In keeping with the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, the SAME Act would overturn our current restrictive anti-handgun statute and ensure equal treatment under law for adults under 21.”

“Ultimately, if we trust 18-year-olds enough to defend our country and to choose our elected officials, we should trust them enough to purchase a handgun,” she added.

The senators argued that people age 18 to 20 are considered adults and can get married, serve in the military and form business contracts, therefore, they should have the right to buy a handgun.

“Sen. Cynthia Lummis’ Second Amendment Mandates Equality Act (SAME Act) is true ‘common-sense’ gun legislation,” Gun Owners of America spokesman Aidan Johnston said. “The current 18–20-year-old handgun ban is antiquated and keeps honest, young adults disarmed – sending the message that the Second Amendment is a second-class right.”

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Lummis Calls For End of Mask Mandate For Vaccinated Americans on Airplanes

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Sen. Cynthia Lummis on Wednesday said it is time to end mandates for the use of face masks on airplanes and public transportation for Americans who have been vaccinated against coronavirus.

In announcing her support for the bill which would eliminate the mask mandate for vaccinated people in airports, commercial airplanes, buses, and rail systems, Lummis said the mandate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is no longer necessary and needs to rescinded immediately.

“Outside of the beltway, the country is going back to normal. Wyoming and most other states lifted their mask mandate months ago,” Lummis said.

“The only place most Americans are wearing masks now is in airports and on airplanes,” she said. “[Transportation] Secretary Buttigieg even said that the mandate is not actually about the science, but instead about ‘respect.’ If there’s no science backing it up, it’s time for the mandate to go.”

Other Republican senators from the more conservatives and moderate wings of the party also spoke in support of the bill stating that the mandate has outgrown its usefulness as more than 150 million Americans have been fully vaccinated.

“Americans should be able to travel to celebrate Independence Day with their friends and loved ones without having to follow an outdated and unnecessary mandate,” Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said.

“I recently spoke with two flight attendants about the mask mandate for air travel,” said Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). “Given the horrendous and unthinkable violence that has occurred on flights, one of them was frightened by what would happen if she tried to enforce the mandate.”

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Lummis, GOP Senators Introduce Resolution Highlighting Importance of Free Speech

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis joined other Republican senators this week in introducing a resolution confirming the importance of the First Amendment’s freedom of speech protections.

Lummis joined North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer, Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn, among others, to introduce this legislation.

“I am an ardent defender of the U.S. Constitution, and the liberties it protects,” Lummis said. “People in Wyoming don’t always agree on everything, but we are always proud to defend the right of others to voice their opinions. Everything exceptional about America can be traced back to the protections granted under the First Amendment. We must all work every day to reaffirm those principles, especially that those we disagree with still have a right to be heard.”

In the resolution, the senators pointed out a number of examples where people’s freedom of speech rights were suppressed for some reason or another.

These included an Oregon high school student who was suspended for wearing a shirt supporting former President Donald Trump, a person being suspended from e-sports competitions for wearing a mask supporting protests in Hong Kong and a New York Times opinion editor who resigned six months after editing and publishing a controversial editorial piece by Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton.

The senators noted that “freedom of speech is one of the most basic values of the United States,” and “the ability of all people of the United States to speak, protest, and express their opinions publicly is central to the democratic process and to a free society.”

If passed, the resolution would certify that the Senate “recognizes that freedom of expression and freedom of speech are sacred ideals of the United States and should protect the freedom to peacefully express thoughts and opinions without fear.”

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Lummis Promotes Grizzly Delisting While Questioning Biden Nominee

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

After questioning President Joe Biden’s nominee for assistant secretary of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis remains unsure about whether she will vote to confirm the woman to the post, according to her office.

An aide to Lummis to the senator said while Lummis appreciated Shannon Estenoz’ statements during a Senate committee hearing that the state management of grizzly bears is central to continuing the species’ recovery.

“Wyoming, Idaho and Montana first achieved all of the grizzly bear’s recovery objectives set by the federal government in 1997, more than 24 years ago,” the aide said. “The committee will vote on Estenoz’s nomination in coming weeks (the date has yet to be determined). Sen. Lummis is still considering how she will vote on her nomination.”

Lummis asked Estenoz during the hearing whether grizzlies should be removed from the Endangered Species List, given the fact the recovery of the bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is one of the greatest success stories of the Endangered Species Act.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Bush administration, the Obama administration and the Trump administration’s all agreed that the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear population has recovered and should be delisted,” Lummis said. “Do you believe we should keep species on the list?”

Estenoz agreed that the Yellowstone area grizzly “is doing very, very well.”

“I believe when species meet the definition of delisting or down-listing, then we should delist or down-list,” Estenoz said.

“It’s really important for folks to feel supported and listened to and that we have the right tools in the toolbox to help folks live and exist with a recovering predator species, and state management and state expertise as I said before is absolutely central to this approach,” she said.

Estenoz said if she is confirmed, she will prioritize working with communities to “recover,” or delist, predators in particular.

In 1975, there were 136 grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In 2019, there were 728 bears, evidence of an effective conservation effort. At this point, grizzly numbers have been in the 700s for a number of years. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team’s analysis suggests that the park is at or near its ecological carrying capacity for grizzly bears.

Lummis is a sponsor of the Grizzly Bear State Management Act of 2021, which would remove grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the Endangered Species List and shift management of the grizzlies to wildlife scientists in the states. U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.

Bears have become so populous in the park and Yellowstone area that it is common for tourists to encounter them every summer. This week, a woman was charged by a grizzly while filming three bears running around.

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Lummis Blasts Biden For Being Partisan On Infrastructure

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis this week questioned the motives behind President Joe Biden’s latest infrastructure bill, noting that the legislation only has support from congressional Democrats.

During a speech on the Senate floor Monday, Lummis called on Biden to unite the two parties in Congress so they can work together on the proposed $2 trillion package.

“Honestly, I am hard pressed to remember a time when infrastructure was not bipartisan,” she said. “In 2021, this should be no different. If President Biden wants to truly unite the nation, he can start by working with Republicans on the most basic bipartisan issues.”

She said it was “perplexing” that Biden, who campaigned on a message of bringing the nation together, was pushing a “blatantly partisan bill.”

“While much divides Congress these days, infrastructure, as that term is understood by most Americans, is a bipartisan issue,” Lummis said. “As such one would assume President Biden would want to find some common ground in order to build relationships in Congress and address the needs of every citizen.”

The infrastructure package focuses on job creation, traditional infrastructure spending and investment in certain areas such as funding for care workers and for childcare to be offered at workplaces.

In particular, Lummis addressed the current backlog in funding that the nation’s highways and bridges face. 

“Right now, we have a highway trust fund that we can’t actually trust,” she said. “Since 2008 we have been relying on general fund transfers to pay for our roads and bridges, instead of fixing our user fee model to keep the trust fund solvent.”

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Lummis Introduces Bill That Would Allow People Under 21 to Buy Handguns

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis introduced a bill this week that would allow adults between the ages of 18 and 20 to purchase a handgun from a federally-licensed dealer.

The Second Amendment Mandates Equality Act of 2021 would repeal the law that currently prohibits people under the age of 21 from buying a handgun. The bill was co-sponsored by a number of Republican senators, including Montana’s Steve Daines, Idaho’s Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and North Dakota’s Kevin Cramer.

“The Second Amendment is a constitutional right, and does not treat 18-year-olds as second-class adults,” Lummis said. “In keeping with the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, the SAME Act would overturn our current restrictive anti-handgun statute and ensure equal treatment under law for adults under 21.”

“Ultimately, if we trust 18-year-olds enough to defend our country and to choose our elected officials, we should trust them enough to purchase a handgun,” she added.

The senators argued that people age 18 to 20 are considered adults and can get married, serve in the military and form business contracts, therefore, they should have the right to buy a handgun.

“Arbitrary age restrictions barring law-abiding adults from legally and lawfully purchasing a handgun are unconstitutional and out of line with our country’s foundational beliefs,” Risch said. “The SAME Act will reinstall the constitutionally guaranteed Second Amendment rights of 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds and expand access for Americans seeking to purchase firearms legally.”

The SAME Act is supported by Gun Owners of America and the National Association for Gun Rights.

“Sen. Cynthia Lummis’ Second Amendment Mandates Equality Act (SAME Act) is true ‘common-sense’ gun legislation,” Gun Owners of America spokesman Aidan Johnston said. “The current 18–20-year-old handgun ban is antiquated and keeps honest, young adults disarmed – sending the message that the Second Amendment is a second-class right. GOA commends Senator Lummis for standing for the Second Amendment rights of young adults.”

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Lummis Scoffs At Biden’s Order to Quit Using Phrase “Illegal Alien”

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis scoffed at President Biden’s order that federal agencies can no longer use the phrase “illegal alien” when describing immigrants who are not in the United States legally.

The phrase, which is used throughout U.S. immigration law, is not the issue, Lummis said. Rather, it’s the calamity at the U.S. – Mexico border, where tens of thousands of migrants have illegally entered the United States with the change of presidential administrations.

“While President Biden should be focused on the crisis happening at our southern border, it’s disappointing to see him instead focusing on semantics,” Abegail Cave, a spokesperson for Lummis, told Cowboy State Daily. “Immigrants who come across our border illegally are, in fact, illegal immigrants.”

The president earlier this week directed all U.S. immigration divisions to stop using the term “illegal alien” and to instead use the phrase “undocumented noncitizen”.

“We enforce our nation’s laws while also maintaining the dignity of every individual with whom we interact. The words we use matter and will serve to further confer that dignity to those in our custody,” the memo reads.

Like Lummis, Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney said the issue is the crisis at the border, not terminology.

“People who attempt to enter the country illegally are not simply non-citizens,” Cheney said. “[Biden and Harris’] decision to embrace open borders has resulted in a humanitarian, public health and national security crisis. Migrants who unlawfully enter our country are, by definition, illegal aliens.

“President Biden needs to reverse course and put in place the policies that will secure our border and put an end to the surge of illegal immigration,” she added.

While Sen. John Barrasso did not respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for a comment, he has previously criticized the president’s approach to immigration.

“It’s not just one crisis: it’s a double crisis. It’s a national security crisis as well as a humanitarian crisis,” the senator said on the Senate floor earlier this month. “We spoke to the Border Patrol agents. They told us their jobs got an awful lot harder on Jan. 20, when Joe Biden became president of the United States.”

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Jimmy Orr: Cynthia Lummis Bodyslams Montana Rep Who Doesn’t Understand Where Yellowstone Is

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Anyone who’s from Wyoming might occasionally get annoyed when people sometimes associate Yellowstone National Park with Montana.

After all, it’s barely in Montana. Only 3 percent of the park is located in Montana whereas 96% is located in Wyoming and the extra 1 percent (if anyone cares) is located in Idaho.

So when Montana Congressman Matt Rosendale had the audacity to say that Montana was the home of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming Sen. Cynthia Lummis rightfully body slammed him.

This all took place on social media where Rosendale apparently was celebrating National Park Week and cut a :45 second video where he committed the foul.

“When you think of national parks, there is a reason you think of Montana. We’re home to the two crown jewels of the National Park system: Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks,” he wrongly said.

The Western Caucus, a group representing western representatives, tweeted the video along with the error-filled language “Rep. Rosendale of Montana represents Yellowstone National Park, the first national park in the world, and Glacier National Park, which includes over 1 million acres.”

Lummis, rightfully, reworked that tweet correcting the language.

With a red pen, Lummis corrected the first sentence to read:

“When you think of national parks, there’s a reason you think of Wyoming.”

Then she took to the second sentence where she inserted some language that made the statement correct.

“Rep. Rosendale of Montana represents a tiny part of Yellowstone National Park…” the corrected copy reads.

Rosendale weakly tried to come back by saying:  “They put the show in Montana for a reason.”

Then, Lummis, from the top ropes emasculated Rosendale with one deadly sentence.

“Not our fault the Hollywood is bad at geography,” she said.

Silence. Rosendale couldn’t reply. She annihilated him. 

He should probably resign.

Montana’s Sen. Steve Daines then chimed in saying “I think we should talk.”

Lummis happily obliged tweeting a photo of a Wyoming shirt with a bison and the wording “Yellowstone National Park.”

Game. Set. Match. Wyoming.

Well done, Sen. Lummis. Well done.

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Lummis On National Debt: “We Are On An Unsustainable Trajectory”

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis and some fellow Republican senators introduced legislation Thursday that pushes to balance the federal budget within the next decade.

The Sustainable Budget Act would create a bipartisan national commission to review the nation’s budget and recommend ways to reduce the deficit and balance the budget within 10 years.

“Congress has spent nearly $6 trillion in the last year,” Lummis said in a social media post about the bill. “Much of it was necessary to weather the pandemic, but I know that people in Wyoming are concerned that we have no plan to pay it back. We are on an unsustainable trajectory. It’s time to make some changes.”

The bill is co-sponsored by Republican U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, according to an article by conservative news outlet Washington Examiner, which had an exclusive interview with Lummis about the bill.

In the interview, Lummis expressed concern that the U.S. would spend more on debt interest than it does on defense.

Her proposed commission would work to find policies to improve the fiscal situation of the federal government in the medium- and-long term by balancing the national budget.

The commission would be chosen by a number of White House officials, including the president.

Specifically, Lummis wanted to look at “entitlement spending” in federal programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The current national debt is $28.1 trillion.

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Lummis, Cheney Differ on Biden’s Afghanistan Troop Removal Announcement

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Congresswoman Liz Cheney and U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis have differing opinions on President Joe Biden’s announcement that American troops will be removed from Afghanistan.

The president made the announcement on Wednesday that all troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, ending America’s longest war.

Cheney said the announcement was a “huge propaganda victory” for the Taliban and al Qaeda.

“Any withdrawal of forces based on a political timeline … any withdrawal of forces that is not based on conditions on the ground puts American security at risk,” Cheney said.

“I’m not sure why the White House has selected [Sept. 11], but I can tell you that this is a huge victory, a huge propaganda victory for the Taliban, for al Qaeda,” she said. “The notion that on the day that they attacked us, we are going to mark that anniversary by withdrawing our forces.”

Lummis, however, saw things differently. She welcomed Biden’s announcement with the caveat the troops should be coming home sooner.

“After 20 long years our troops will finally be leaving Afghanistan,” she tweeted. “I wish the Biden Administration had kept to President Trump’s May 1 deadline, but I am pleased our troops are coming home.”

“I look forward to working with the current Administration to continue our intelligence gathering efforts and preventing terrorists from using Afghanistan as a home base,” she said.

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso had not released a statement on the announcement by Wednesday afternoon.

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Lummis, Barrasso Introduce Bill to Delist Grizzlies From Endangered Species List

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sens. Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso have joined U.S. senators from Idaho and Montana in introducing legislation to remove grizzly bears from the endangered species list.

The Grizzly Bear State Management Act of 2021 would remove grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the endangered species list and shift management of the grizzlies from the federal government to wildlife scientists in the states.

“By all scientific measures, the grizzly bears of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are fully recovered,” Lummis said. “Reproductive numbers are stable and the population is at or near its max capacity for the habitat. It’s time to remove the grizzlies in this area from the Endangered Species List and allow wildlife scientists in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho to manage the populations according to science.”

U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and James Risch of Idaho and U.S. Sen. Steve Daines of Montana are co-sponsoring the bill with Lummis and Barrasso.

“Grizzly bears are an essential part of the ecosystem of Wyoming, but keeping them listed hurts their populations more than it helps them,” Lummis said. “Wildlife managers that live near the bears and study them closely have a better idea of population parameters than bureaucrats in Washington. It’s time to delist the grizzly in our area and let science dictate our wildlife policy.”

Barrasso added the grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem are thriving and no longer need protection under the Endangered Species Act, and that has been the case for years.

“Even President Obama’s Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed with me that the grizzly bear should be delisted in 2015,” Barrasso said. “The state of Wyoming should be in charge of managing the bear population. Wyoming’s good work and sound management practices should be given an opportunity to demonstrate success. Seeing states successfully implement recovery efforts is just one of the many reasons I am working to improve the Endangered Species Act.”

In 1975, when grizzlies were first listed on the endangered species list, there were 136 grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In 2019, there were 728 bears.

Grizzly numbers have been in the 700s for a number of years. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team’s analysis suggested that the park is at or near its ecological carrying capacity for grizzly bears, according to information provided by Lummis.

In 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed grizzlies from the endangered species list, citing a significant increase in bear populations and a doubling of their range land. A federal court in 2018, ruling on a lawsuit filed by environmental groups and Indian tribes, reversed the agency’s decision.

Some organizations across Wyoming praised the legislation proposed by the senators.

““It is time for all to recognize the grizzly bear has already achieved healthy, robust population, has reached overpopulation for its available range and to manage it as such,” the Park County Board of Commissioners said. “It is time for the federal government to uphold its end of the agreement made with the people who live and recreate in Park County and delist the grizzly bear, and we feel the passage of this bill will do just that.”

The Wyoming Outfitters and Guides’ Association echoed these sentiments, saying it is long past time to delist the bears.

“Long overdue is the need to delist the grizzly bear, a species whose recovery has been realized for nearly a decade now, yet whose removal from endangered species classification has been inappropriately forestalled by activist environmental organizations,” the group said.

However, some conservation groups do not agree.

“It’s disturbing to see Western lawmakers try to blatantly sidestep the science showing that grizzly bears should remain federal protected under the Endangered Species Act,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.  “We’re hopeful this bill dies a quick death in Congress.”

The Greater Yellowstone Coalition opposed a resolution approved in Wyoming’s Legislature in 2019 asking that Congress act to remove the grizzlies from the endangered species list and that the federal government give the state more money to manage the bears until they could be delisted.

“This injects politics and divisiveness into what should be a thoughtful, science-based process,” the group said when the resolution was considered. “The other, we could support, asking Congress for more funding for Wyoming’s grizzly bear management program. Because both asks were placed in the single resolution, we opposed this resolution. However, GYC has on its own supported and continues to ask our congressional delegation to fully fund the ESA to make it even more effective.

This bill by Lummis and Barrasso is similar to one introduced earlier in the legislative session in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In late February, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney reintroduced a bill to Congress that would remove grizzly bears from the endangered species list and prevent them from being considered threatened or endangered wildlife in the future.

Cheney’s bill would direct the Department of the Interior to re-issue its 2017 decision to remove grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the endangered species list and prohibit further judicial review of this decision. It would also turn management of the grizzlies over to the states.

No action has been taken on the bill.

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Lummis Praises Kanye’s Vision For Wyoming

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis has touted Wyoming’s arguably most famous resident, Kanye West, and his vision for the state following reports he is worth nearly $7 billion.

On Thursday, Lummis retweeted conservative pundit Candace Owens, who wrote a post praising West and claiming he was the richest Black man in U.S. history.

“Grateful that Kanye’s vision includes creating jobs in Cody, Wyoming,” Lummis wrote in her retweet.

According to CNN, West just became a billionaire last year, but is now one six times over, with his worth now being around $6.6 billion. Much of this wealth is from apparel lines, mainly his Yeezy shoe line with Adidas and a clothing line deal with the Gap.

The rapper has been planning to establish a production facility for Yeezy shoes in Cody, but there have been stops and starts to that plan.

Lummis, through a spokeswoman, told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that it would only make sense the rapper would want to do business in Wyoming.

“Wyoming is consistently rated the best state to do business, and it makes sense that a successful artist like Mr. West would recognize the Cowboy State as the perfect place for chilling, trying to stack his millions,” Lummis spokeswoman Abegail Cave said. “Our state has natural beauty, great communities, and low tax rates for individuals and business owners alike. Welcome to the good life, Kanye.”

West has been relatively quiet over recent months, especially after losing the presidential election in November. He did tease another possible run in 2024, though.

West’s wife, Kim Kardashian West, filed for divorce last month. The two share four children.

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Lummis Urges Colleagues to Vote Against Interior Sec. Nomination; “She’s More Radical Than Biden”

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis on Thursday urged her colleagues to vote against the nomination of Secretary of Interior Nominee Deb Haaland.

In a passionate speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Lummis said she agreed that it was “high time” for a Native American woman to lead the Department of Interior, but this wasn’t the right person for the job.

Lummis said Congresswoman Haaland wouldn’t stand up to President Biden and instead would “blindly enact the Biden agenda without consideration for the extraordinary impacts it will continue to have on energy states like Wyoming.”

These impacts have alarmed lawmakers all across the West — specifically the far-reaching implications of an executive order President Biden signed which bans all new oil and gas development on federal lands

Lummis cited a University of Wyoming study which found that Wyoming could lose $13 billion in tax revenue as a result of this executive order.

“Banning permitting on federal lands in Wyoming means banning access to 68% of Wyoming’s minerals,” she said. 

“For our state and our country to remain energy independent, we need someone at the Department of Interior who recognizes that if we shut down producers at home, we are only increasing the power of polluters like Russia and China,” she said.

In contrast, Lummis said, the U.S. has had the largest absolute decline emissions of any country while becoming the world’s top energy producer.

She said this is proof that you can be environmentally and energy-friendly.

What’s not friendly, she said, is the Green New Deal — something Haaland co-sponsored.

Further, in 2019, Haaland told The Guardian that she was “wholeheartedly against fracking and drilling on public lands.”

Biden, on the other hand, has flip-flopped — repeatedly — on the issue of fracking.

“Congresswoman Haaland is more radical in her positions than President Biden,” Lummis said. “What we need is a secretary who understands the issues that Westerners face.”

“We need someone who knows the ways that states like Wyoming are contributing to America’s energy independence and doing so in increasingly environmentally friendly ways,” she said.

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Lummis Puts Hold On Interior Secretary Nominee Confirmation

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis is part of an effort to delay the confirmation of U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland as the new secretary of the Interior Department until her nomination can be debated in the Senate.

Lummis and U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Montana, put a “hold” on Haaland’s nomination, essentially blocking her confirmation until senators can debate the nomination.

Lummis said the “hold” is part of her effort to battle the policies of President Joe Biden that have halted oil and gas leasing on federal land.

“According to a University of Wyoming analysis, the Biden ban could cost my state nearly $13 billion in tax revenue, which would devastate Wyoming’s investments in education, healthcare and infrastructure,” Lummis said in a statement. “Congresswoman Deb Haaland will be a champion of this and even more radical policies, and I am committed to doing anything I can to fight the Biden and Haaland job-killing agenda.

“For Wyoming’s energy workers and producers who will bear the loss of jobs, and for our medical professionals and children who will bear the loss of revenue, I’m putting a hold on Deb Haaland’s nomination to serve as Secretary of the Interior,” she added.

Lummis and U.S. Sen. John Barrasso have both been critical of Haaland’s nomination, saying she will support Biden’s goal of ending energy production on federal land as a way to contribute to the end of global climate change.

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Lummis, Barrasso Oppose $1.9 Trillion COVID Relief Bill

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Both of Wyoming’s U.S. senators oppose the coronavirus relief bill approved by the U.S. Senate over the weekend.

As approved by the Senate, the bill now headed back to the U.S. House of Representatives for its approval includes stimulus payments of $1,400 for most taxpayers, along with extended unemployment benefits and funds for vaccine distribution, local governments, schools and small businesses.

But Lummis and Barrasso said in separate events that the bill contains funding for many programs that have nothing to do with coronavirus relief.

“Even after the most egregious, progressive handouts were stripped from this behemoth bill, we were left with a spending bill full of programs that have nothing to do with the targeted, temporary relief the people of Wyoming need to weather the rest of this pandemic,” Lummis said on Saturday, after the bill narrowly passed through the Senate.

The relief package totals $1.9 trillion.

Among measures removed from the bill in the Senate was a provision that would have raised the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Senate also eliminated funding for an extension of the Bay Area Rapid Transit subway in Silicon Valley and a bridge in upstate New York.

“What’s worse, after the two parties worked together on five different occasions last year to bring relief to the American people, Democrats decided this time to ignore Republican input or support at any point along the way – and this massive price tag is what they have to show for it,” Lummis said.

Lummis submitted seven amendments to the bill, including one to make the Shuttered Venue Grant program more accessible to Wyoming businesses such as concert venues and rodeo grounds, an amendment to redirect money from Amtrak to help the rural aviation industry and multiple amendments to ensure relief money is properly allocated to programs including veterans’ services and tribal health care.

Barrasso echoed Lummis’ statements that the bill directed too much money to items not connected with COVID relief.

“When people find out what’s in this bill, they’re going to lose any enthusiasm they may have for it right now,” Barrasso said during a “Meet the Press” appearance on Sunday. “This was not really about the coronavirus in terms of the spending. This was a liberal wish list of liberal spending, just basically filled with pork. It didn’t need to be this way.”

He made similar comments during an appearance on Fox News last week.

“The White House chief of staff said this is the most progressive, the most progressive piece of domestic legislation in a generation,” Barrasso said Sunday. “This was never about getting people back to work or kids back to school or the disease behind us. That’s where it should have been focused.”

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Lummis Proposes Amendments For Vets, Indian Health To COVID Relief

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis is proposing a series of amendments to the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill making its way through the Senate that she said will redirect funds within the bill to better serve Wyoming’s needs.

Lummis is proposing four amendments dealing with Indian Health Services, the Small Business Administration, Veterans Affairs and the last coronavirus aid package.

“My goal is to try and redeem some of the spending in this bill, by redirecting it to programs that will actually support groups and individuals that have been really impacted by the pandemic, like our tribes, veterans and small business owners,” Lummis told Cowboy State Daily.

As it stands, the 628-page bill would provide most taxpayers with a third economic stimulus payment of $1,400, designed to offset the impacts of coronavirus shutdowns. The bill also provides an additional $400 per week in unemployment benefits through the end of August, expands child tax credits and provides extra funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, state, local and tribal government relief, rental assistance and schools.

One of Lummis’ amendments would transfer about $700 million to the Indian Health Service, while another would move more than $1.4 billion to Veterans Affairs programs, including state veterans homes and veterans community care.

Lummis’ third amendment would extend the expiration of the federal “Payroll Protection Program” by 30 days and allow businesses to choose whether they want to participate in the PPP or “Shuttered Venue Grant” program.

“This is a concern that a Wyoming resident brought to the senator’s attention this week,” a statement from Lummis’ office said. “This is a critical amendment for Wyoming concert and theater venues as well as rodeo and fair grounds to help ensure they can keep their doors open for the long run.”

The final amendment would simply insert language into the bill that would specify that groups or individuals who received money through the last round of coronavirus assistance should use that money before spending money made available under the latest bill.

Republicans have criticized the bill, drafted by congressional Democrats, alleging it contains spending not directly related to the coronavirus.

Lummis said she was disappointed with the way the Democrats have handled the latest relief bill.

““Last year, Republicans and Democrats worked in a bipartisan manner to pass five coronavirus-related bills, so it’s sad to see that this time Democrats opted to work behind closed doors to craft a highly partisan bill instead of working with us to again provide a lifeline to families, businesses and communities hit by the pandemic,” she said.

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Lummis, Barrasso Criticize Proposed $15 Minimum Wage

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis criticized the proposed $15 minimum wage included in the latest coronavirus relief bill, calling it an inappropriate and irresponsible addition.

“The Biden Administration’s $15 minimum wage increase may work in New York and California but it does not work for states like Wyoming,” Lummis said in a statement. “Placing that one-size-fits-all standard on every state is irresponsible.”

On the Senate floor, Barrasso gave a more impassioned speech about the wage increase.

“The bill includes a mandate from Washington D.C. to double the minimum wage, nothing to do with coronavirus. In fact, it would actually make things worse,” Barrasso said.

Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25, which has been in place since 2009. The proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill includes not only a stimulus payment for residents, but a proposal to boost the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025.

Barrasso maintained federal studies showed the increase would do more harm than good.

“The Congressional Budget Office took a look at this and said what would the impact be on the economy? They say that 1.4 million people who have jobs right now would lose their jobs if the federal government came in with a mandate to double the minimum wage,” Barrasso said. “That’s not a stimulus.”

According to Business Insider, Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, two of the party’s most moderate politicians, have both said they are opposed to using budget reconciliation — a maneuver that allows the majority party to speed through high-priority fiscal legislation without support from the minority party — to pass the minimum wage hike.

Manchin, along with other moderates and most conservatives, said he is worried that the incremental wage increase could end up doing more harm than help. 

Manchin has said he would support something “responsible and reasonable” when it comes to raising the federal minimum wage and has proposed a smaller increase to $11 an hour. 

Congressional Budget Office report estimated the legislation, if passed, would increase the cumulative budget deficit by $54 billion in the next decade. Prices for goods and services would also increase as a result of paying workers more, the report said.

But the report also estimated the hike would pull 900,000 workers out of poverty and pump $333 billion back into the economy.

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Lummis Tapped for Leadership Roles on Two Senate Subcommittees

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Senator will Serve as Top Republican on Subcommittees for Fisheries, Water and Wildlife & Space and Science

U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming will serve as the top Republican, or “ranking member,” on two subcommittees this year, a significant leadership role for a freshman member of the Senate.

Sen. Lummis will serve as ranking member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife. She will also serve as ranking member  on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee’s Subcommittee on Space and Science.

Of the two positions, Sen. Lummis said:

“’I’m honored to serve as the top Republican for two subcommittees right off the bat, particularly on issues with such importance to Wyoming. Wyoming has been working to conserve and protect its fish and wildlife since the 1860s, and I’m proud of how our state has managed the rebirth of its wildlife populations like the moose and grizzly. I look forward to bringing our knowledge of responsible and science-based conservation to the Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife Subcommittee.

“Cheyenne is home to the National Science Foundation’s Computational and Information Systems Lab, a supercomputer helping to drive research into how our planet works. With a new computer coming this year, I’m excited to use my spot on the Space and Science Subcommittee to support the people of Cheyenne as they continue their mission.”

Sen. Lummis was previously named to the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee; as well as the Environment and Public Works Committee; and the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee – three powerful Committees that position her to advocate for Wyoming’s natural resources, financial innovation and rural telecommunications and transportation issues.

A ranking member is the highest ranking, and usually longest serving, minority member of a committee and works with the chairman (majority member) to set committee priorities and agendas.

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Lummis Introduces Bill That Would Block Name Change of Devils Tower

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis introduced legislation, co-sponsored by colleague U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, that would block a potential name change of Devils Tower National Park.

Lummis submitted the bill on Jan. 22. It has been read twice and sent to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for further discussion.

“Devils Tower is one of the most iconic sights In Wyoming,” Lummis said in a statement. “It’s the first national monument in the United States, and a place of significance for everyone who sees it, from the tourists who visit to the native peoples and Wyoming residents who live nearby.”

The legislation comes almost seven years after an attempt to change the name of the monument. In 2014, a proposal was submitted to the United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN) on behalf of a spiritual leader of the Lakota Nation to change the names of the geologic feature “Devils Tower” and the community of “Devils Tower, Wyoming.”

A few weeks later, the President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe wrote to the Secretary of the Interior and others requesting the name “Devils Tower National Monument” be changed. In each instance the request is to change “Devils Tower” to “Bear Lodge.”

More than 20 tribes with close association to the tower hold it sacred, and find the application of the name “Devils” to be offensive.

However, Lummis said the monument’s name has been in place too long to be changed now.

“Devils Tower is well known across the country and around the world as a historical and cultural landmark, and it is critical that we maintain its legacy and its name,” Lummis said.

The names “Bear Lodge,” “Bears Lodge” and “Mato Teepee” were ascribed to the Tower on most maps between 1874 and 1901.

In 1875, Lt. Col. Richard Dodge escorted the scientific expedition of geologist Walter P. Jenney though the Black Hills to determine the truth of rumors of gold. Dodge wrote in his 1875 journal, “The Indians call this shaft ‘The Bad God’s Tower,’ a name adopted, with proper modifications, by our surveyors.”

It’s speculated that a guide for Dodge was the source of this translation, and “Bear Lodge” may have been mistakenly interpreted as “Bad God’s.” As a result, “Bad God’s Tower” then became “Devils Tower.”

The name “Devils Tower” was applied to maps of that era, and subsequently used as the name of the national monument when it was proclaimed in 1906.

The National Park Service has no authority to change the names of the geologic feature, the populated place or the national monument.

The name of the national monument may be changed by an act of Congress or by a presidential proclamation.

In 2019, former U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi and U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney introduced similar legislation at Lummis and Barrasso’s, which would retain the name “Devils Tower” for both the feature and populated place.

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Barrasso, Lummis Vote No On Trump Impeachment

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U.S. Senators John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis on Saturday voted against impeachment of former President Donald Trump.

Seven Republicans voted with Democrats which made it the most bipartisan impeachment in history but not enough needed to convict as 17 Republicans would have needed to vote in the affirmative.

Immediately after the vote, Lummis issued a press release stating that the proceedings were “political theater”.

“From the start, I made it clear that I believed this exercise was an unconstitutional distraction that prevented Congress from addressing the very real issues that Wyoming citizens are dealing with,” Lummis said.

“While we spent a week on a political sideshow to which we already knew the ending (acquittal), Congress could have been working on a bipartisan COVID relief package to help struggling businesses in Wyoming,” she said.

Later on Saturday, Barrasso said he opposed Trump’s impeachment from the start and it was time to move forward.

“We have an opportunity to bring about some much-needed healing by focusing on our greatest needs,” Barrasso said. “There is important work to be done for the people of Wyoming and our country. We can start by working together to bring back jobs, get kids safely back to school, and by putting the virus behind us.”

“The violence and mayhem of Jan. 6 will never be forgotten. I continue to reflect on the bravery of the men and women who protected our Capitol that day, and honor those who lost their lives in service,” he said.

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Lummis Invites Elon Musk to Relocate to Wyoming

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis this week invited billionaire Elon Musk to move to “business-friendly” Wyoming.

“Hey @elonmusk, I hear Wyoming is one of the most business friendly states in the nation and has the best laws for digital assets in the US. Ever think about relocating?” Lummis wrote in a tweet to the SpaceX and Tesla CEO on Monday.

Lummis also retweeted an article from CNBC that detailed Tesla buying $1.5 billion in Bitcoin and its plans to start accepting the cryptocurrency as payment.

This would make Tesla the first U.S. automobile producer to accept Bitcoin as payment.

Unfortunately, Musk didn’t respond to her comment. Could that mean he’s considering it?

Lummis has noted her passion for Bitcoin and blockchain technology, saying cryptocurrency was one of her main focuses for her term in the Senate.

Tesla produces electric cars and Musk is a major clean energy proponent.

Since Musk’s preferred presidential candidate, Kanye West, also lives and runs a business in Wyoming, maybe there’s some hope the billionaire will think about relocating.

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Lummis Slams Biden, Senate Dems for Passing New COVID Bill

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis criticized President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats on Friday for their decision to use a procedural maneuver to bypass a potential GOP filibuster and pass the new $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill.

The bill passed on a 51-50 party line vote, but only after Vice President Kamala Harris showed up at the U.S. Capitol early Friday morning to break the tie.

“Only weeks after Democrats and Republicans came together for the fifth time in less than a year to pass bipartisan coronavirus relief legislation, ‘Unity’ President Joe Biden chose the partisan path,” Lummis said. “Even after an Oval Office meeting with Republican senators, President Biden pushed forward with a legislative plan to ignore Republicans and ram a progressive wish list through the Senate.”

The $1.9 trillion relief bill will include a new round of stimulus checks and provide money for vaccination efforts. The bill will now be sent to the House of Representatives for its approval.

“With $4 trillion previously allocated and billions in relief left unspent, Joe Biden could pause to assess the situation, and work with Republicans to send targeted relief where it’s needed,” Lummis said. “Instead, the ‘unity’ president and Democrats in the Senate are choosing division and partisanship. Families, businesses and communities in Wyoming deserve better.”

Lummis recently proposed a bill that would reverse the moratorium on oil and gas leases on federal lands. The ban has been heavily criticized by Wyoming officials.

“Instead of using the normal bipartisan Senate process to pass a bill, President Biden and Senate Democrats used their razor-thin majority to pass a budget resolution under the Congressional Budget Act to set spending levels for the federal government over the coming decade,” Lummis said. “Passage of a budget resolution is the only procedural way for Senate Democrats to pass a coronavirus bill in the coming weeks without negotiating with Republicans.”

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Wyoming Delegation Proposes Bills To Halt Biden Lease Moratorium

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Members of Wyoming’s congressional delegation have introduced legislation aimed at stopping the Biden administration’s efforts to halt mineral leasing on federal land.

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis and U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, have both introduced legislation that would require congressional approval for any executive branch effort to stop energy or mineral leasing and permitting on federal land.

Lummis’ bill, co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. John Barrasso and 24 other members of the Senate, is called the “Protecting Our Wealth of Energy Resources Act” and would require congressional approval for mineral and energy leases on federal land.

Cheney actually introduced two bills, one dealing with oil and gas leases and the second with coal leases. Both would require a joint resolution from Congress to approve any moratorium on leasing on federal land.

Cheney’s bill on oil and gas leases is co-sponsored by 21 other representatives, while her bill on coal leases is co-sponsored by 14 others.

The bills were introduced in response to President Joe Biden’s executive order on Wednesday halting all mineral leases on federal land until the Department of Interior can conduct a thorough review of federal leasing programs.

“The Biden Ban would be nothing short of catastrophic for western states that are already reeling from the decline in energy usage brought on by the pandemic and continued volatility in energy markets,” Lummis said in a statement. “Through the POWER Act, Congress would reiterate that federal lands should serve not the whims of a radical progressive minority, but the needs of all Americans.” 

“The executive actions from the Biden Administration banning new leasing and permitting on federal land endanger our economy and threaten our national security,” Cheney said. “The legislation I am introducing today would safeguard against these damaging orders, and prevent the job loss, higher energy costs, and loss of revenue that promises to come with them.”

Gov. Mark Gordon expressed support for all three measures, citing the economic impacts of a long-term moratorium on mineral leases on federal lands.

“Oil and gas industries across the West are hit hard by the Biden administration’s executive action — eight western states … could lose $8 billion in (gross domestic product) and over $2 billion in tax revenue per year,” he said. “This is a bipartisan issue.“

Since federal laws provide for the leasing of fossil fuels and minerals, it is appropriate that Congress would have to agree to such a departure from the intent of federal law,” he continued. “It is disappointing that such a law is necessary, but it is.”

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Sen. Lummis Thanks Wyoming National Guard For Their Service Following Inauguration

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Sen. Cynthia Lummis on Wednesday thanked 15 National Guardsmen from Wyoming following the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States.

“I’m so proud of the men and women who serve in Wyoming’s National Guard,” Lummis said, “These dedicated Airmen and Soldiers represent the best of Wyoming. Their personal sacrifices and bravery are inspiring, and I’m humbled by their willingness to serve our country not only on Inauguration Day, but every day, no matter the challenges that arise.”

” They are truly an inspiration, and I wanted to let them know how grateful I am that they rose to the call and volunteered to serve this week,” she said.

Previously, Sen. Lummis tweeted a thank-you to the Wyoming National Guard Airmen and Soldiers who volunteered to help with security in Washington, D.C. this week, writing: “Thank you to the brave men and women of the @wyoguard who have answered the call to come to our nation’s capital in this tumultuous time. We acknowledge and deeply appreciate your dedication and service.”

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Lummis Urges Wyoming to Pray for Nation, President

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis celebrated the peaceful transition of power that came Wednesday with President Joe Biden’s inauguration by calling for Wyoming citizens to pray for the country and the new president.

In a post on Twitter as Biden prepared to take the oath of office, Lummis pointed to the difficulties faced by the new president.

“Our nation & state face significant challenges right now and I’m ready to get to work,” Lummis wrote in a tweet on Wednesday morning. “I urge all WY citizens to join me in praying for our nation & our President. #InaugurationDay

Lummis is the first of Wyoming’s Congressional delegation to speak about Biden’s inauguration or the new administration.

One month ago, Fox News host Chris Wallace pressed U.S. Sen. John Barrasso on whether or not Biden had actually been elected to the highest position of power, which the senator confirmed he had.

Lummis hasn’t been a fan of the new president or Vice President Kamala Harris and even voted to contest the results of votes from certain states just hours after a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol earlier this month.

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Barrasso, Lummis Call For Stopping Loans to Planned Parenthood

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sens. Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso have joined a number of thier colleagues in calling on federal Small Business Administration to stop giving loans to Planned Parenthood.

The senators sent a letter to SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza asking her to specify that Planned Parenthood affiliates employ too many people to be eligible for loans under the Paycheck Protection Program.

“Planned Parenthood employs about 16,000 people nationwide,” the letter said. “The group’s national organization, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, jealously exercises control over local affiliates, subjecting them to uniform bylaws, accreditation, frequent reviews, and mandates about what services they must provide to remain part of the Federation, such as on-site abortion.

Planned Parenthood affiliates thus are ineligible to receive PPP loans, as part of an affiliated group that employs far more people than the number allowed for an initial or second-draw PPP loan.”

Co-signers of the letter, in addition to Barrasso and Lummis, include U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida and Jerry Moran of Kansas.

Senators sent a similar letter last year to the SBA, after Planned Parenthood organizations were awarded around $80 million. Each of Planned Parenthood’s state and local affiliates is a separate nonprofit, with its own leadership and funding organization, according to the Washington Post.

The SBA said in May that the local chapters are too closely affiliated with Planned Parenthood’s national organization to be considered independent entities. 

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Sen. Lummis Calls For Healing, Smooth Transition of Power

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Despite political divisions seen in the wake of last week’s storming of the U.S. Capitol, members of Congress need to work together to ensure a peaceful transition of power, U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis said Thursday.

During an interview with Glenn Woods on “Wake Up Wyoming” Thursday morning, Lummis spoke about her colleague, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, and the fact they differ on whether President Donald Trump should be indicted. She said the more important issue is getting members of Congress working together.

“I take a different viewpoint from [Cheney] a bit,” Lummis said. “I think the better thing is to have a smooth transition of power on Jan. 20. We can try to begin to heal-up, tone down the rhetoric and get people to speak to each other again. Be calm with each other again.”

She added that agitation and hyperbole have gotten people emotional, but that those negative feelings need to be toned down and people should begin talking to each other “in a very civil and kind manner.”

When discussing her post-inauguration plans, Lummis said that she planned to focus on election fraud, natural resources and Bitcoin during her Senate term.

“We used to say that the House plays rugby and the Senate plays golf,” the senator joked. “My concern over the last election is that I spoke to people whose votes literally didn’t count. They showed up to the polls in some states only to be told that they couldn’t vote because they voted by mail when they hadn’t. I’m not saying that the election was stolen.  But some people’s votes were stolen.”

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Cynthia Lummis: Here’s Why I Objected To Pennsylvania’s Electors

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By Sen. Cynthia Lummis, exclusive to Cowboy State Daily

When the U.S. Capitol Police were rushing us out of the Senate chambers at the height of the chaos, a reporter asked me who I thought was leading this mayhem. I said that if it was indeed Trump supporters, I would be heartbroken. 

I am heartbroken.

An attack on our Capitol is an attack on our Constitution and democracy itself. I strongly condemn the violence that occurred, which did more to damage the democratic process than to defend it.

What made this senseless act even more offensive is that it disrupted the constitutional process that myself and other members of the Senate were trying to peacefully use to ensure each and every American’s vote counts.

Despite the attack, in the best tradition of the United States Senate, we fulfilled our Constitutional duty.

Days before this attack on the Capitol, I stated my intention to join a group of colleagues to raise concerns about the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s new vote-by-mail statute, and that Pennsylvania’s election law may have been applied unevenly by state officials, including signature verification and voter identification requirements.

Even the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s chief justice noted that one of the lawsuits in his state raised “troublesome questions about the constitutional validity of the new mail-in voting scheme.” 

Legislators, election judges, Congressmen and others in Pennsylvania are concerned.  Wyoming citizens are concerned, too. 

The hard truth is, this election rocked the faith of many Wyoming citizens in the integrity of our election system. Polling shows that 39% of Americans believe “the election was rigged.”

We cannot turn a blind eye to American citizens not having trust in the integrity of our election systems. And Congress has a long history of using the Constitutional process of certifying electors to highlight election concerns.

In recent history, Democrats have objected to certifying electors in 2001, 2005, and 2017.

In 2005, Senator Barbara Boxer and the late Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones objected to the slate of electors from Ohio. They rightfully drew attention to the fact that many African-Americans and other communities suffered disproportionate wait times at the polls, broken voting machines and high ballot rejection rates.

Raising this objection led to some of these issues being remedied and more Americans having the precious opportunity to vote. That’s a legacy every American should value today.

Let me be clear: my objecting to the certification of the votes in Pennsylvania could not have changed the outcome of the election. That was never my intent.

Congress cannot and shall not dictate the results of a presidential election to our states.

That would be the death of our Republic. Rather, my objection was intended to shine a light on serious concerns over voter irregularities raised by Pennsylvania legislators themselves.

Many ask why Congress should be involved in election matters that have been considered by the courts. 

Congress has the right and duty to interpret the Constitution, especially on matters which by the Constitution have been delegated to Congress, like the Electoral Count.

Congress itself interpreted the Twelfth Amendment in passing the Electoral Count Act in 1887.

The very title of the 1887 law says it all: “An act to fix the day for the meeting of the electors of President and Vice-President, and to provide for and regulate the counting of the votes for President and Vice-President, and the decision of questions arising thereon.”

Thomas Jefferson commented in an 1819 letter that “each of the three departments [of government] has equally the right to decide for itself what is its duty under the Constitution.” I consider my actions and the actions of my colleagues as a humble part of that long, storied tradition.

Congress cannot fix this; only state legislatures can fix this.  But Congress can shine a light on election fraud. 

That was the point of my vote on January 6.  My fervent hope is that in state legislatures across the country where irregularities occurred, their lawmakers will consider meaningful election reform to ensure that our election laws are applied uniformly, to ensure the technology we use is accurate and secure, and most importantly, to ensure that all Americans treasure our precious right to vote and feel their voices are heard.

States are at the very center of elections in our country and will remain so. That is a fact I will always fight for.

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Cynthia Lummis is the junior senator from Wyoming.

Cheney, Lummis Send Condolences to Family of Fallen Capitol Officer

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney and U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis have both sent their condolences to the family of a U.S. Capitol police officer who died after sustaining injuries in the mob attack on Wednesday.

“There are no words to express my sadness for the friends and family of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick,” Lummis wrote in a tweet. “His devotion to his nation will not be forgotten. My prayers are with his friends and family at this difficult time.”

“My deepest sympathies for the family of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick,” Cheney wrote in a tweet. “Officer Sicknick was killed defending our Capitol from the violent mob on January 6. Please keep Brian and his family in your prayers.”

Sicknick died Thursday night from injuries he suffered while trying to repulse protesters who stormed the Capitol.

According to officials, thousands of people identified as Trump supporters invaded the Capitol after the rally, forcing its evacuation as members of Congress discussed the certification of the Electoral College’s vote.

Congress reconvened Wednesday night and certified the Electoral College’s vote.

When Sicknick returned to his division office after the riot, he collapsed. He was taken to a local hospital in Washington, D.C., where he succumbed to his injuries.

Sicknick’s death is being investigated by various law enforcement agencies. He is the fifth person and the first law enforcement officer to die as a result of the riots.

Sicknick joined the Capitol police in July 2008 and most recently served in the department’s first responder unit.

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Sen. Lummis Votes to Oppose Pennsylvania Election Results; Certifies Arizona

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U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) released the following statement on today’s certification of the Electoral College votes:

 “I have serious concerns about election integrity, especially in Pennsylvania, and expressed some of them in a written statement to the Senate. But today’s sickening, un-American attack on the U.S. Capitol overshadowed that debate.

 “Congress cannot fix problems with election integrity, only states can fix these problems.  But Congress can investigate those problems and raise awareness. The allegations of fraud during this election were unprecedented, and left millions of Americans concerned that their votes don’t count.  Discussions of election integrity must occur and I will seek another forum to continue that discussion.”

 Lummis submitted the following statement for the record during the Senate debate over Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes.

“It is the privilege of a lifetime to represent the people of Wyoming in this great deliberative body. I genuinely look forward to joining each of you to make a difference for the American people and to uphold my solemn oath to support and defend the Constitution.

“Let me be clear: an attack on our Capitol is an attack on our Constitution and democracy itself. I strongly condemn the violence that occurred today, which did more to thwart the democratic process than to protect it. 

“Today, many members of the Senate were trying to peacefully use our democratic process to ensure each and every American’s vote counts. In the best tradition of the United States Senate, we will fulfill our Constitutional duty and complete the Electoral Count tonight.

“In 1833, Senator Daniel Webster said that “duty binds … the conscience of the individual member” in counting the votes for President and Vice President.

“Each of us has a solemn duty to ensure that the slate of presidential electors we certify is beyond reproach, respecting the people’s voice and upholding the Constitution.

“Congress will not overturn the people’s voice. A president will be inaugurated on January 20th. Congress cannot and shall not dictate the results of a presidential election to our states. That would be the death of our Republic.

“In the coming months, Congress must take a fresh look at troubling concerns from the election that simply don’t add up.

“After the 2000 presidential election, millions of voters in Florida felt disenfranchised, and now 74 million Americans deserve the assurance and the dignity that their votes count the same as every other American.

“We owe our first duty to the American people, following procedures–like the Electoral Count Act–used for nearly 150 years.

“It’s my fervent hope that our state legislatures will consider meaningful election reform to ensure that our election laws are applied uniformly, to ensure the technology we use is accurate and secure, and most importantly, to ensure that all Americans treasure our precious right to vote and feel their voices are heard. 

“States are at the very center of elections in our country and will remain so. Many ask why Congress should be involved in election matters that have been considered by the courts.

“Some argue that Congress’ role in certifying our presidential elections is merely ministerial. 

“Under our constitutional separation of powers, it is too often forgotten that Congress has the right and duty to interpret the Constitution, especially on matters which by the Constitution have been delegated to Congress, like the Electoral Count.

“Congress interpreted the Twelfth Amendment  in passing the Electoral Count Act in 1887, and continues to breathe new life into these provisions by its actions today. 

“Our Founders understood Congress would play a key role in debating constitutional issues as a co-equal branch of government.

“Thomas Jefferson commented in an 1819 letter that “each of the three departments [of government] has equally the right to decide for itself what is its duty under the Constitution.”

“I remain deeply concerned that the electoral votes of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania were not “regularly given” under Pennsylvania law, as required by the Electoral Count Act. 

“Serious concerns have been raised about the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s vote-by-mail statute. Also, Pennsylvania election law may have been applied unevenly by state officials, including signature verification and voter identification requirements.

“In 2005, Sen. Barbara Boxer and the late Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones objected to the slate of electors from Ohio.

“They rightfully drew attention to the fact that many African-Americans and other communities suffered disproportionate wait times at the polls, broken voting machines and high ballot rejection rates.

“Raising this objection led to some of these issues being remedied and more Americans  having the precious opportunity to vote. 

“That’s a legacy our Senate and every American should value today.

“Thank you.”

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Wyoming Democratic Party Condemns Attack on U.S. Capitol, Criticizes Lummis

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Democratic Party on Wednesday condemned the attack on the U.S. Capitol building while also criticizing the state’s newest U.S. senator.

Wyoming Democratic Party Chair Joe Barbuto said in a statement that the attack, led by people described as supporters of President Donald Trump who don’t believe he lost November’s presidential election to former Vice President Joe Biden, was the culmination of the last four years of Trump’s presidency.

“These people are not protesters or patriots, they are domestic terrorists who were beckoned by the dog whistle of Trump,” Barbuto said. “The President of the United States is complicit in this violence, as are those who have enabled and defended his actions, conspiracy theories and words over the last four years.”

Barbuto included Wyoming’s congressional delegation as having enabled Trump, primarily newly sworn-in Sen. Cynthia Lummis, who has regularly praised Trump during his presidency, including supporting Trump‘s refusal to concede in the presidential election.

Lummis confirmed recently that she would contest the Electoral College vote confirming Biden as president-elect.

Barbuto criticized Lummis’ choice to contest the Electoral College vote, calling it “disturbing.”

“Her embrace of that rhetoric has only escalated the situation,” he said. “It is a disgrace to democracy, it is a disgrace to our nation and it is a disgrace to Wyoming. Sen. Lummis has no choice but to publicly withdraw her involvement in encouraging the rejection of election results and fulfill her sworn oath and constitutional duties in the peaceful transition of power.”

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Lummis Calls Storm on Capitol “Attack on Democracy”

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis condemned the actions of protesters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday as an “attack on democracy.”

“Call it what it is: An attack on the Capitol is an attack on democracy,” Lummis wrote in a Twitter post. “Today we are trying to use the democratic process to address grievances.”

Protesters stormed the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon in support of President Donald Trump, who believes he didn’t lose the presidential election in November against former Vice President Joe Biden.

The event occurred as members of Congress met in a joint session to certify the results of the Electoral College vote, which appeared to verify the victory of the Democrat Biden.

Lummis was one of 11 Republican senators to announce they would object to the certification of the Electoral College vote until an audit can be conducted in states where Trump has alleged voter fraud occurred.

The invasion of the Capitol followed a “Save America” rally where Trump thanked Lummis for her support and criticized U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, who has urged fellow Republicans not to object to the outcome of the Electoral College.

Lummis said the invasion hurt the ability of Congress to address complaints about the election.

“This violence inhibits our ability to do that,” Lummis wrote. “Violent protests were unacceptable this summer and are unacceptable now.”

She also retweeted a message from U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, adding her own note.

“The First Amendment only protects peaceful assembly. Stop the Violence,” she said.

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Lummis Joins Group Planning To Object To Electoral College Certification

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen.-elect Cynthia Lummis will join a group of 10 other U.S. senators in voting to reject electors from states where the results of the presidential election have been questioned until an emergency audit of the election can be completed in those state, she has announced.

Lummis, who took her oath of office Sunday, said on Twitter that the action is needed to restore faith in the election system.

“Confidence in, and protection of, the integrity of our electoral system is at the root of our democratic process,” she wrote. “I’ve received an outpouring of calls, texts, emails in recent weeks from Wyoming folks concerned about irregularities in the election process in several states.

“I’m joining a number of colleagues to follow the steps laid out in the 12th Amendment (plus) the process established in the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to protect the vote for all Americans and begin work to restore the shaken confidence of many US voters,” she continued.

Results of the Electoral College’s vote are to be submitted for Senate certification on Wednesday.

Lummis and other senators, led by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said they will object to the certification until an electoral commission can be appointed to conduct an emergency audit of the election returns in states where questions have been raised about irregularities.

The group, in a statement, said the audit could be completed well before the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20.

The group said the audit would enhance the legitimacy of the next president, regardless of who that is.

“We are acting not to thwart the democratic process, but rather to protect it,” the statement said. “And every one of us should act together to ensure that the election was lawfully conducted under the Constitution and do everything we can to restore faith in our Democracy.”

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Trump Named Most Admired Man Of 2020, Lummis Not Surprised

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

President Donald Trump is 2020’s most admired man according to a recent Gallup poll, and U.S. Sen.-elect Cynthia Lummis is not at all surprised about this.

“No surprise to anyone in Wyoming,” Lummis wrote in a tweet on Tuesday responding to an article about the poll from the New York Post.

Trump narrowly beat out former President Barack Obama as the most admired man for this year, breaking the previous president’s 12-year streak as the country’s most admired man.

Overall, 18% of Americans named Trump, 15% named Obama, 6% named President-elect Joe Biden and 3% named Dr. Anthony Fauci as the most admired men.

The remaining top 10 men include Pope Francis, businessman Elon Musk, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, basketball player LeBron James, and the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists.

Lummis has always been fairly vocal about her support for Trump, noting that he should wait to concede to President-elect Joe Biden following until the Electoral College confirmed the results of November’s election.

She thanked him in a tweet on Dec. 26 “for putting judges and justices who respect the US Constitution and the rule of law on the bench.”

Lummis retweeted First Lady Melania Trump’s post on Christmas Eve about tracking Santa Claus’ trip to deliver presents.

According to Gallup, in the 74 times since 1946 the polling company has asked the open-ended question about who those surveyed admire the most, the incumbent president has topped the list 60 times.

Harry Truman (1946-1947 and 1950-1952), Lyndon Johnson (1967-1968), Richard Nixon (1973), Gerald Ford (1974-1975), Jimmy Carter (1980), George W. Bush (2008) and Trump (2017-2018) are the incumbent presidents who did not finish first in past years.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama was considered the country’s most admired woman for the third year in a row. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris came in second place.

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Gordon And Lummis Say Ban on Oil and Gas Leasing Would Threaten Wyoming Economy

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Governor Mark Gordon and U.S. Sen.-elect Cynthia Lummis on Tuesday both shared their concerns over a possible federal ban on oil and gas leasing.

Gordon, in a press conference, released a study that said the state could lose more than $300 million a year in tax revenue if a ban were enacted.

“A federal leasing ban would be a serious threat to our state’s economy,” Gordon said. “The revenue challenges that we currently face would be further exacerbated by any misguided federal policies that unfairly target states with large swaths of federal land.”

Lummis sounded a higher-level alarm, calling a ban “catastrophic” for Wyoming both in terms of revenue and jobs and pledged to fight against it.

“This highlights why I started this week in Georgia,” Lummis said.
“If we lose control of the Senate, stopping horrible actions like a federal drilling ban become extremely difficult.”

In order for the Republican Party to keep control of the United States Senate, both Republican candidates need to win their respective races in Georgia’s January runoff.

During his campaign for the White House, Joe Biden pledged to halt oil and gas leasing on federal land, along with hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”

According to the study referenced by Gordon and commissioned by Wyoming’s Legislature, the value of lost production in Wyoming under a federal leasing moratorium during the first five years would average $872 million.

That translates to more than $300 million per year in lost tax revenue annually, which includes severance tax, ad-valorem tax , federal royalties and lease bonus payments.

Over 15 years that revenue loss would increase to $1.7 billion. In the event of a drilling ban, the loss to Wyoming’s revenues would increase to $345 million per year, increasing to $1.8 billion over 15 years.

The study estimates the investment and production losses from policies that restrict oil and gas development on federal lands in Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Montana, North Dakota, California and Alaska. Those policies include either a moratorium on all new federal leases or an outright drilling ban on all onshore federal lands.

The study estimates investment losses over the 8 states and 20 years to be in excess of $300 billion for either the leasing or drilling ban. The tax losses to the states exceed $110 billion. The overall loss of economic growth is over $600 billion.

Funding for the study came from a one-time appropriation by the Wyoming Legislature during the 2020 budget session.

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