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Cynthia Lummis

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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