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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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