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John Barrasso

Barrasso: Putin’s Actions Are Proof Of The Need For Energy Independence

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

A recent trip to Ukraine has reinforced U.S. Sen. John Barrasso’s opinion that the United States needs a secure source of energy, he said Wednesday.

Barrasso, speaking during a virtual roundtable with U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, said his visit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has convinced him that a stable domestic energy source goes hand-in-hand with national security.

Barrasso said Russian President Vladimir Putin, instigator in the current war with Ukraine, is using energy as a weapon to get his way.

“Putin, for years, financed the environmental movement of Europe because he didn’t want fracking going on,” Barrasso said. “It had nothing to do with geology, he knew (European countries) would become more energy dependent on him. He’s very shrewd when it comes to energy.”

Barrasso said European leaders have realized they became too dependent on Russian oil and added he found it telling that Sweden, a country long known for its neutrality, is now making plans to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. 

Barrasso and Hoeven are blaming President Joe Biden for damaging America’s energy security by cutting down on federal oil and gas leases and enacting other regulatory measures viewed as harmful to the fossil fuel industry.

Their comments came on the heels of testimony offered to the U.S. Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources by Jason Kennedy, the premier of Alberta, that if the Keystone XL Pipeline had not been canceled, Canada could have delivered 800,000 barrels of oil a day to replace losses caused by sanctions on Russian oil deliveries.

The U.S. imported about 209,000 barrels of crude oil each day from Russia in 2021, according to the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers trade association. 

Barrasso said he found it ironic that Biden supported the Nord Stream 2 project to funnel natural gas directly from Russia to Western Europe but denied Keystone XL.

During a U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee meeting on Tuesday, Jason Kenney, the premier of Alberta, told U.S. legislators that if Biden had not canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline project, Canada could have replaced Russian oil with 800,000 barrels of oil a day. The U.S. imported about 209,000 barrels of crude oil each day from Russia in 2021, according to the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers trade association. 

Barrasso pointed to rising gasoline prices as evidence of what can happen without a stable supply of oil.

The national average for gas hit $4.56 on Wednesday, according to AAA, an all-time record. California’s statewide average for a gallon of gas has surged to $6, while Wyoming’s average price was $4.25.  

The last day former President Donald Trump was in office the average national gas price was $2.39. 

Barrasso finds Biden’s decision to pull oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to be “a gimmick” and a move that will further threaten America’s energy security. 

Barrasso also noted that on the day Biden gave a speech blaming the gasoline price hike on Putin, his administration canceled three major federal oil leases in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. 

“Energy dominance — we were there,” Barrasso said. “Now we have dependence. We’re more beholden to climate extremists than we are to the people of this country.”

An April ABC poll showed many Americans believe either oil companies or  Putin were responsible for the skyrocketing gas prices. On Feb. 22, two days before Russia invaded Ukraine, the U.S. average gas price was $3.52.

In March, U.S. officials traveled to Venezuela to discuss lifting sanctions so that country can deliver more crude oil to the market, a move Chevron has lobbied for.

Barrasso and Hoeven said by seeking out energy alternatives with Venezuela, the U.S. is hurting its own environmental interests, as oil from this country burns much cleaner than oil from South America.

Barrasso also criticized the people Biden has chosen to head government agencies, pointing as an example to the Democrat-majority leadership of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. 

This agency is charged with approving large energy projects, such as interstate natural gas pipelines and hydroelectric dams and overseeing the bulk power system. Barrasso and Hoeven did mention Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), an energy-friendly lawmaker, as an ally.

On other issues stemming from his trip to Ukraine, Barrasso said he has been impressed with the courage shown by the Ukrainian people.

“Putin overestimated everything,” Barrasso said. “He overestimated his own power; he underestimated the willpower of the people of Ukraine. There has been devastation across Ukraine, but they still have the willpower and desire to unite.”

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Barrasso Says American, Not Russian, Uranium Needed To Power Kemmerer Plant

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

American uranium should be the fuel source for a nuclear power plant proposed near Kemmerer, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso said Thursday

Barrasso told his Senate collegues the United States needs to end its reliance on Russia for certain energy sources, such as uranium.

“Russia is our third-largest supplier of uranium, meeting 16% of U.S. demand. We need to eliminate our dependence on Russian uranium,” Barrasso said Thursday during hearings into the nomination of Kathryn Huff to serve as assistant secretary for Nuclear Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy. “We also need immediate action to develop an American supply of high-assay, low-enriched uranium. This is the fuel needed for advanced nuclear reactors, like TerraPower’s Natrium reactor, which will be built in my home state of Wyoming.”

TerraPower has said it has no choice but to use nuclear fuel rods created in Russia because there are no domestic suppliers of the rods. The company is working to develop a domestic source for the rods.

The Natrium power plant will use fuel rods manufactured with HALEU metallic fluid. This uranium will allow the reactor to operate more efficiently and reduces the volume of waste produced.

Barrasso joined U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis and two other senators on Thursday in introducing legislation that would ban the import of Russian uranium, a move that would cut Natrium’s supply of fuel.

Barrasso spokeswoman Gaby Hunt told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday that while American uranium fuel production probably won’t be sufficient to provide the initial fuel load for Natrium, expected to begin operations in 2027 or 2028, Barrasso is working to make sure domestic uranium sources will be available in the future. Hunt said Barrasso is looking at supplementing the domestic supply with fuel produced by the DOE until commercial production is sufficient to meet the demand.

Barrasso and Lummis agreed it makes little sense to help finance Russian aggression in Ukraine with purchases of fuel, including uranium.

“The time is now to permanently remove all Russian energy from the American marketplace,” Barrasso said. “We know Vladimir Putin uses this money to help fund his brutal and unprovoked war in Ukraine. While banning imports of Russian oil, gas and coal is an important step, it cannot be the last. Banning Russian uranium imports will further defund Russia’s war machine, help revive American uranium production, and increase our national security.”

Lummis added that it was “imperative” that the United States cut off all Russian imports, including uranium.

“Every dollar we send to Russia is a dollar used to continue to attack innocent people in Ukraine,” she said. “Wyoming has more than enough uranium to fill this gap, and we can mine it in a more environmentally friendly and safe way.”

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney told Wyoming reporters on Wednesday that she was also working to introduce similar legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

According to the Wyoming Mining Association, Wyoming has around 450 million pounds of uranium in reserves, although the resource varies in price. About one pound of uranium can produce the same amount of power as 20,000 pounds of coal.

WMA spokesman Travis Deti did not return Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Thursday.

The Natrium power plant, a “next generation” nuclear plant, is expected to generate 345 megawatts of power.

According to project estimates, approximately 2,000 workers will be needed for plant construction at the project’s peak. Once the plant is operational, approximately 250 people will support day-to-day activities, including plant security.

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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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Barrasso Says U.S. Needs To Balance The Budget Each Year Like Wyoming

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Fox News host confronted U.S. Sen. John Barrasso last week during a television appearance about the refusal of congressional Republicans to support an increase of the nation’s debt limit.

But Barrasso maintained raising the debt limit will just allow the federal government to continue living beyond its means.

“In my state, I was a member of the state senate,” the senator said. “Our institution demands we balance our budget every year and live within our means like families need to do and the federal government ought to do the same thing.

During an interview on Fox News Sunday, host Trace Gallagher, filling in for usual anchor Chris Wallace, questioned Barrasso about congressional Republicans’ unwillingness to raise the debt ceiling, saying that some of the reasons given do not make sense.

“You talk about Republicans are against the Build Back Better thing, they’re also against raising the debt limit,” Gallagher said.

“Mitch McConnell said it would just enable Democratic spending. But the Wall Street Journal says, and I’m quoting here, ‘a vote to raise the debt limit doesn’t authorize new spending, but it essentially allows the treasury to raise money to pay for expenses the government has already authorized.’”

The Fox News host then noted that Wyoming would suffer if the federal government was forced to default because Congress refused to extend the debt ceiling.

“It’s important to point out in your state alone, this is paying for things like almost 30,000 people getting SNAP benefits. Of course, that’s food benefits; 33,000 students eligible for free or reduced school lunches. So a lot of benefits from this to your state, senator,” Gallagher said. “So why are you against it?”

But Barrasso said if congressional Democrats did not overspend the nation’s resources, such an increase wouldn’t be needed.

“This is all about Democrat spending. This is 100% on them,” he continued. “If you get rid of the gimmicks of accounting, this bill the Democrats are proposing is $4 trillion in additional spending. There’s not a single Republican who will vote for the bill or to raise the debt ceiling. This is on Democrats.”

According to CNBC, the federal government could reach the maximum amount of money that the U.S. Department of the Treasury is allowed to borrow as soon as Dec. 15. Most recently, President Joe Biden signed legislation on Oct. 14 to increase the debt limit by $480 billion.

The news outlet previously reported that the ceiling prevents the U.S. Treasury from issuing new bonds to fund government activities once a certain debt level, or date, is reached.

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

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Barrasso Shares Thanksgiving Dinner with Wyoming Troops in Bahrain

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BAHRAIN – U.S. Sen. John Barrasso had Thanksgiving Dinner with Wyoming sailors and Marines serving in Bahrain, according to the senator’s office.

Barrasso visited with service members who are currently stationed at Naval Support Activity Bahrain, which is home to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. 5th Fleet. 

NSA Bahrain provides operational support to U.S. and Coalition Forces in the Middle East and ensures the security of ships, aircraft and remote sites.

“In Wyoming, we are always so grateful for the brave service of our men and women in uniform. This includes our sailors and Marines who are serving ten time zones away from home right now in Bahrain,” Barrasso said.

“They’re eyeball to eyeball with Iran in the Persian Gulf and are doing an incredible job protecting America and our allies,” he said. “Bringing a little bit of Wyoming to our troops serving overseas on Thanksgiving is a tradition I look forward to every year. I made sure to let them know that everyone at home is thinking of them and looking forward to their safe return.”

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Barrasso Blasts Energy Secretary For Laughing When Asked About Higher Gas Prices

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso on Tuesday blasted U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm for laughing when asked what she was going to do to increase domestic oil production to help stabilize the cost of gas in the U.S.

Speaking to reporters in the U.S. Capitol, Barrasso said Americans were “suffering with the high amount of inflation” and cited soaring gas prices as one such example, noting that the price at the pump was a dollar higher now than it was when President iden took office.

“What did the Secretary of Energy do when they asked her on national television what are you going to do about the cost of energy?” Barrasso said. “She laughed. She said that was hysterical, hilarious she said.”

“Well, maybe hilarious to her. But not to the people all over this country who are suffering with this high level of inflation,” he said.

Barrasso was referring to Sec. Granholm’s appearance on Bloomberg TV last week when asked what her plan was to increase energy production in the U.S. to help bring gas prices down.

Granholm, in fact, did laugh and then opted out. She said the U.S. couldn’t do anything about it and it was all up to OPEC.

“That is hilarious,” she said. “Would that I had the magic wand on this. As you know, oil is a global market. It is controlled by a cartel. That cartel is called OPEC. And they made the decision yesterday that they were not going to increase beyond what they were already planning.”

Many don’t agree with her explanation. Energy independence is possible, they say. And a reliance on OPEC should be stopped.

Barrasso has been hyper-critical of Biden’s energy policies and has noted that during the Trump administration oil production jumped 28% and natural gas 26%. By 2020, domestic production of both was at record highs.

“Americans saw the results. We led the world in oil and gas production,” Barrasso said earlier this year.

“This is Joe Biden’s America,” Barrasso said on Tuesday. “This is the reason that only one in five Americans believe that under Joe Biden, this country is headed in the right direction.”

Wyoming State Rep. Landon Brown praised Barrasso’s comments on social media Tuesday.

“Boom! @SenJohnBarrasso explaining it perfectly!” he wrote.

Democrats Concerned Too

Republicans aren’t the only ones worried about soaring energy costs. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-New York, urged Biden to make use of emergency petroleum reserves in an effort to bring gas prices down prior to the holiday season. 

While Biden has not committed to making use of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Granholm has said the president is considering it as an option. 

“That’s one of the tools that he has, and he’s certainly looking at that,” Granholm said on CNN. 

Granholm also said that she was hopeful gas prices would not reach a national average of $4 per gallon, The Hill reported.

Inflation Soaring

Gas prices in California reached an all-time high on Monday as the average cost of a regular gallon hit $4.68, according to The Hill.

Prices for food and other consumer items probably will remain higher than average for at least a year, according to an economist with the University of Wyoming.

“Right now, we’re in this perfect storm of inflationary pressures,” Anne Alexander told Cowboy State Daily on Friday. “On the supply side, the supply chains are screwed up, partially because of labor shortages, but also because we’ve stopped producing as much of everything. On the demand side, we’re seeing almost panic buying.”

While Alexander does not believe the United States or Wyoming will see the level of inflation that affected the country from 1973 to 1982, she does not believe there will be any relief from current high prices until some time next year.

Wyoming’s cost of living has increased at a rate not seen in more than a decade, according to a recently released report from the state’s Economic Analysis Division.

The annual inflation rate of 7.7% recorded during the second quarter of the year — which ended June 30 — is the highest annual inflation rate seen since the second quarter of 2008, when the state’s inflation rate was 7.9%, according to the division’s inflation report.

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Barrasso Disagrees With Trump Over ‘Hang Mike Pence’ Chant

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso did not agree with former President Donald Trump’s comment that rioters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 chanting “Hang Mike Pence” was “common sense.”

During an interview with ABC News on Sunday, Barrasso initially avoided the question from host George Stephanopoulos, but did ultimately say that he did not agree with Trump on everything.

“I agree with him on the policies that have brought us the best economy in my lifetime,” he said during the interview. “And I’m going to continue to support those policies and continuing to work to stop what Joe Biden is doing to this country, which I believe is almost irreversibly bad.”

According to Newsweek, the issue arose recently when the former president was asked during an interview about whether or not he felt that Pence was safe during the assault on the Capitol.

“I thought he was well-protected and I had heard that he was in good shape,” Trump said.

When asked specifically about rioters chanting “hang Mike Pence,” the former president supported the notion and tied it back to his widely disproven claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

“Because it’s common sense,” Trump said. “If you know a vote is fraudulent, right, how can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress?”

People focused on Pence in particular, since, as president of the U.S. Senate, he could have voted against certification of the vote in the presidential race between Trump and current President Joe Biden.

When asked if Barrasso condemned the rioters, office spokeswoman Laura Mengelkamp pointed Cowboy State Daily to the statement he made the day of the attack.

“This violence and destruction have no place in our republic,” Barrasso wrote in a Twitter post on Jan. 6. “It must end now.”

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Barrasso: Biden Embarrassed America During Climate Conference

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

President Joe Biden embarrassed the nation last week while attending a climate conference in Scotland, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso said.

“Joe Biden and a large entourage of Democrats from the House and the Senate and his cabinet all jetting off to Europe to a climate conference and for what purpose?” Barrasso said during an appearance on Fox News Sunday. “What did he do there? He pledged allegiance to the flag of the United Nations instead of to the flag of the United States. He basically apologized for America.”

Last week, numerous world leaders gathered for the United Nations’ COP26 climate summit to discuss ways to address climate change.

According to NBC News, the Biden administration used the summit to encourage oil-rich countries such as China and Russia to produce more as energy prices in the United States continue to rise.

The outlet also reported that Biden was criticized by some climate experts for encouraging oil production, rather than using the moment to break away from oil dependency and transition to clean energy.

Barrasso said Biden was “begging” Russia and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to produce more energy even as energy prices in the United States climb because of Biden “killing” the Keystone XL pipeline project.

“These guys are climate hypocrites,” he said. “Their carbon footprint for going to this conference was so much larger than Vladimir Putin’s or President Xi of China because they stayed home.

Last week, Barrasso sent a letter to Biden, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttitieg, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen asking them how much travel would cost and for details on the carbon “footprint” of the trip to Glasgow.

He still has not gotten an answer to his questions, he noted in his Sunday appearance, but added that the conference was the most expensive climate summit in history.

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Barrasso Demands Carbon Footprint Records on Biden’s Climate Conference

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso wants to know the environmental impact of President Joe Biden’s trip to a global climate change conference in Scotland expected to be attended by tens of thousands of people.

Barrasso sent a letter to President Biden, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttitieg, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen asking them how much travel will cost and for details on the carbon “footprint” of the trip to Glasgow, site of this year’s United Nations “conference of the parties” or “COP” to address climate change.

“In addition to the staggering cost of the conference, I am concerned that what appears to be a bloated US delegation will prove counterproductive to the COP’s mission,” Barrasso wrote.”These commitments strike a tone of insincerity as a majority of COP26 delegates will have contributed a significant amount of carbon emissions to attend COP26.”

The senator cited a TIME magazine article calling the two-week conference the most expensive climate change gathering in history and said he was “perplexed” at the decision for so many Biden officials to attend the conference when they could have participated electronically.

“People all over the world made the transition to teleconferencing as a means of maintaining communication with friends and co-workers, and attending conferences,” he wrote.

“It is rather perplexing that in this new age of digital communications and during an ongoing pandemic, executive branch departments and agencies are unnecessarily choosing to contribute directly to carbon emissions and risk exposure to COVID-19,” Barrasso said.

CNN reported that Biden plans to send 13 cabinet members and senior administration officials to the conference.

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Barrasso Calls Biden A “98 Pound Weakling”

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso said President Joe Biden looked like a “98 pound weakling” during his appearance on Capitol Hill this week.

Barrasso was on Fox to discuss Biden’s newly-announced spending framework related to the $1.75 trillion social spending bill and the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, neither of which the senator from Wyoming was pleased about.

Barrasso used his time on Fox to criticize Biden’s policies for the framework and oil and gas, noting that the United State is using more foreign oil than domestic oil.

“We are using more oil from Vladimir Putin in Russia than we are from Alaska, and that’s a result of the Biden policies” he said. “The president was just up on Capitol Hill and to me, he looked weak, the 98-pound weakling.”

According to NPR, Biden traveled to Capitol Hill on Thursday to meet with House Democrats in hopes of persuading members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to drop a blockade of the infrastructure bill.

The social spending framework includes universal pre-K for all 3- and 4-year-old children, an additional year of the expanded monthly child tax credit payment, investments in affordable housing, premium reductions under the Affordable Care Act and significant investments to address climate change. The bill would also create a nationwide green jobs program, according to NPR.

The legislation would be paid for with a series of taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

“The big things that strike me about this bill is they still supersize the IRS to squeeze taxpayers and the most expensive part is…the cost of driving and heating your home,” Barrasso said. “The cost of energy is making energy much more expensive and much less reliable.”

The senator noted that natural gas prices are at a seven-year high and gas prices were higher this year due to Biden’s policies.

Biden is headed to Europe on Thursday for a series of global meetings with various leaders regarding climate change and the world economy, which Barrasso also criticized.

“He’s talking about raising taxes and then getting off to Europe,” Barrasso said. “We have soaring energy and food prices here in America and people are absolutely done with where this president is trying to take the country.”

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Barrasso: ‘I’m Pro-Vaccine And Anti-Mandate’

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By CJ Baker, Powell Tribune

While some Wyomingites and Republican officials have been hesitant to endorse the COVID-19 vaccines, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso has no such qualms.

“As a doctor, I believe in vaccines. Vaccines work,” Barrasso said in a Thursday interview in Powell. The senator, who is a medical doctor, praised the work that was done to develop the COVID vaccines quickly and said they have his support.

“If you have questions, check with your own doctor,” Barrasso said, encouraging people to talk with healthcare providers they trust. “But I’ve been vaccinated, I’ve had the booster, my wife’s been vaccinated, my kids have all been vaccinated.”

However, Barrasso also described himself as anti-mandate.

“I just think it’s important for people to make their own decisions and not be told that they have to do something,” he said. “That doesn’t work with people in Wyoming. I think it just hardens folks when Washington tries to tell us to do anything.”

Wyoming lawmakers are set to hold a special session later this month to address the Biden administration’s plans to require many Americans to receive vaccinations.

In general, Barrasso complained that Democrats are not involving Republicans in decisions at a time when the 100-member Senate is evenly split between the two parties.

“…. They’re trying to cram things down the throats of the American people — whether it has to do with taxes, spending, borrowing, American energy, all of those things that are to the far left,” he said, “things that I believe of as being radical and extreme and dangerous and scary.”

He described the Republicans as trying to derail “a freight train to socialism that the Democrats are trying to drive down the tracks.”

Earlier, Barrasso fielded a series of questions from Powell Middle School students, including on the hardest parts of being a senator. He said one difficulty is that just about every bill features some sections that are good for Wyoming and others that are not.

“That’s really the challenge,” Barrasso said. “Because you can’t make everybody happy when you can’t get the bill perfect for what you’d like. … Ultimately, they call your name, and you have to vote.”

The senator also said it’s difficult when a good idea fails to work out as legislation, noting that it took a couple tries to pass the popular Hathaway Scholarship program when he served in the Wyoming Legislature. He also encouraged the students to be positive, confident and optimistic during hard times.

Barrasso opened his talk with a couple questions of his own, including asking if any of the Powell students wanted to be president of the United States. A few put up their hands and explained their goals; one student said she would seek to make the news media tell the truth and another potential presidential candidate drew a big ovation after saying he would “make America great again.”

Barrasso told the students that “we are a great nation,” recalling that his late father, a World War II veteran, frequently told him “you don’t know how fortunate you are.”

“… Every day as a senator,” he said, “I thank God for the incredible blessings we have and try to work to make it better.”

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Barrasso Slams Biden On Economy, Immigration, Afghanistan

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By Caleb Smith

ROCK SPRINGS – U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., had a late start to the August Congressional recess, but is making up for lost time by crisscrossing Wyoming and listening to the public’s concerns about the economy, immigration and Afghanistan.

The usual fall break was delayed by about a week and a half by maneuvers on the Democrats’ “reckless” $3.5 trillion tax and spending bill, according to the senator. Since his return to Wyoming, he has attended a funeral, a wedding, multiple fundraisers and the River Festival in Green River, which gives him opportunities to hear from constituents and learn what’s on their minds.

— He said the No. 1 issue is inflation with people paying more for gas and groceries. He pointed to the difference between prices today and the when President Joe Biden took office.

Barrasso challenged decisions like Biden’s decision to stop the Keystone Pipeline and place a moratorium on energy development. He called that drawing a target on the back of American energy workers and pulling the trigger. Instead of doing that, the senator said more decision makers should look to Wyoming.

“We know how to protect the environment and the economy at the same time,” he said.

— Concerns about the American border with Mexico are also a commonly raised topic. Barrasso said people from South and Central America are crossing into the United States at a great rate – about a million so far this year.

He questioned the federal policy where some people are being asked to quarantine once they get here instead of being required to quarantine by the government. When asked what kind of system that would involve, the senator said it was a complicated issue.

Barrasso said he wished the current administration continued the policy where would-be immigrants waited in Mexico before entering the U.S.

— Having traveled to Afghanistan about 10 times, including spending three Thanksgivings with deployed members of the Wyoming Army National Guard, Barrasso has a unique perspective on Afghanistan and the U.S. withdrawal from the country.

“It was done in the worst way possible,” Barrasso said.

He said whether one is for or against staying in Afghanistan, everyone believes it has been disastrous except for Biden. Barrasso said he doesn’t blame the military or others on the ground because it is obvious that the president overrode his advisors. The senator said there should have been a better managed pullout to make sure Americans, U.S. allies and powerful equipment were not left behind enemy lines.

Barrasso’s last trip to Afghanistan was November 2019, when President Donald Trump accepted his invitation to join him for Thanksgiving with the troops. The senator said he asked why they can’t negotiate with the Taliban and was told that instead of a traditional, organized government, the Taliban is made up of a loose confederation of war chiefs with conflicting allegiances and agendas. There is no chain of command, which is why an agreement with a few won’t mean compliance for them all.

He said that he was opposite Trump on his decision to withdraw troops by May 1, 2021, which was then postponed to Sept. 1, 2021. Looking at past examples in Germany, Japan, and South Korea where the U.S. left behind a contingent of troops, he said the same could have been done in Afghanistan.

“Reasonable people can disagree,” Barrasso said more than once.

However, deciding to pull out abruptly is what led to the current mess. As of Wednesday night, about 1,500 Americans were still awaiting evacuation with tens of thousand more Afghanis who worked as support staff or collaborators and are now worried about losing their lives.

The senator explained how geography is complicating evacuations. The physical footprint of Afghanistan is the size of Wyoming and Montana combined, he explained. The land is very mountainous with few good roads. He said one should imagine the difficulties of being in southwest Wyoming and having to travel to northern Montana where escape potentially awaits. Additionally, there’s the Catch-22 of the papers required to be evacuated by foreign troops. Official documentation must be produced at the airport, but if they’re discovered before then, they could be an automatic death sentence. It would depend on the whims of the Taliban warlord, Barrasso said.

He said one could easily conceive of tribal leaders holding hostages that will need to be ransomed and rescued. Should that happen, he said it is important to make sure those stories are told.

— People are still talking about the consequences and lessons of the 2020 election.

Barrasso said states should be in charge of their own election rules and he doesn’t want Washington telling Wyoming how to run its elections. He said he is in favor of Wyoming’s system of absentee voting and voter identification.

“I wish every state would do that,” he said.

Looking to future elections, he predicted inflation is going to continue and the economy will be hindered.

“The policies of this administration are hurting the working man and woman,” the senator said.

His goal is to disrupt the Democrat freight train of Biden, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. He wants to make Biden a “half-term president,” by which he means a president whose party doesn’t control Congress. Barrasso said if you don’t have Pelosi and Schumer in power together, no Democrat-led legislation will get to the president’s desk and Biden will never veto a piece of legislation.

When asked about attempts to cast doubts on the results of the 2020 election and challenge the certification of the Electoral College, Barrasso said, “Joe Biden is the president, and I’m doing everything I can to take back the House and Senate in 2022.”

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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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Barrasso: White House, CDC Are Guilty Of Medical Malpractice

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso accused the White House and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of “medical malpractice” this week due to the chaos and confusion coming from their offices regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

This confusion stems from the CDC reversing its position last week on mask use in public places. The CDC is recommending people wear masks in public places, even if they have been vaccinated against coronavirus.

“How are you going to encourage people who have not been vaccinated to get vaccinated, if the message to them is ‘Even if you’re vaccinated, you still need to wear a mask indoors,’?” Barrasso said during a news conference on Tuesday. “That’s why there’s anxiety. If the White House is flip-flopped on this, are they going to do so on shutdowns, on lockdowns, on closing schools?”

He added that there should be one message to the American public: get vaccinated.

As a medical doctor, Barrasso assured people that the vaccines are safe and effective and that he and his family had been fully inoculated against the virus.

“If you want to protect yourself and your family against the coronavirus, the best thing you can do is get vaccinated,” he said.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Barrasso’s Senate colleague U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis supported legislation last week that would ban vaccine mandates.

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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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Barrasso Hears Concerns Over Police, Border During Cody Visit

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Ask U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, and he’ll tell you that one of the best parts of his job is coming home to Wyoming every weekend from Washington, D.C. and meeting with constituents all over the state. 

So he was ready for the many comments he received from his constituents during a Memorial Day visit to Cody.

“Folks talk about defunding the police, and opening the border for more and more illegal immigrants to come in,” he said. “People want to make sure that I’m protecting the nation against assaults that are coming from all around.”

The Senator was in Cody on Monday to be the keynote speaker at the Wyoming State Veteran’s Park for the community’s Memorial Day ceremony. 

Barrasso said his main focus now is to advocate for the energy industry here in Wyoming.

“You know, the concerns that I have are that right now, today, the United States is using more oil from Russia than we are from Alaska,” he said. “And that’s because of the war going on with this administration over energy…. (President Joe Biden has) attacked our energy jobs, which is the lifeblood of Wyoming, it is our bread and butter.”

The senator said he is also concerned about how foreign powers like Russia and China are flexing their muscles — which is why he said he is advocating for a strong military.

“The ongoing fights with China and their efforts to undermine us and their goal to become the military and the economic and the technological superpower of the world” are of high concern right now, according to Barrasso. “The ongoing threats from (Russian President) Vladimir Putin, who is cunning and opportunistic, and aggressive.”

But mostly, he said, the people of Wyoming are asking him to fight.

“Patriotic Americans, people that love this great nation, and want me to just keep fighting for the people of Wyoming fighting for our country fighting for our freedoms,” Barrasso said. “The values that we in Wyoming were raised with, believe in, and care about, which we hold dear.”

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Barrasso Praises Biden For Willingness to Work With Republicans

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso offered kind words regarding President Joe Biden and his administration for their willingness to work with congressional Republicans on Biden’s proposed $2 trillion infrastructure bill.

On Thursday, Barrasso and five other Republican senators (including Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo and Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker) met with the president to discuss a possible compromise regarding the bill.

The Wyoming senator called the meeting “very productive” and praised Biden’s willingness to work with Republicans on a compromise.

“I believe that Joe Biden is actually interested in cutting a deal with Republicans,” he said. “We knew going in we were going to be Plan B…but we told him we are willing to work with him…but we’re going to leave out subsidies for electric vehicles, we’re going to leave out so-called climate justice.”

The senators and Biden will meet sometime again Tuesday to continue discussions.

Last month, Barrasso and other Senate Republicans proposed a counteroffer to Biden’s bill, costing $568 billion and focusing more on “traditional” infrastructure such as roads, bridges and public transport, something the senators have claimed is only a minor notation in Biden’s original proposal.

It should be noted that Barrasso was recently fact-checked about some his claims regarding the infrastructure bill, mainly his statements about how only 6% of the bill focused on “traditional” infrastructure.

“The 6% for roads and bridges figures you and other GOP leaders have cited has been fact-checked multiple times,” ABC host Martha Radditz said to Barrasso earlier this month. “The total amount for what you have called traditional infrastructure, roads, bridges, waterways, public transit is more than 25% of the Biden plan. So, do you want more?”

Barrasso did not object to the fact check, instead saying he has been working with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, on traditional infrastructure projects in this new bill.

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Barrasso Says Humanitarian, Security Crises Exist at Border; “We Want to Finish the Wall”

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso told his Senate colleagues this week there are two crises currently going on at the U.S./Mexico border: humanitarian and national security.

Barrasso spoke on the Senate floor Monday where he discussed his recent trip, along with 18 other senators, to the southern border to see the immigration crisis firsthand.

“In fact, 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. ““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.”

Earlier this month, Barrasso said Border Patrol agents told him the Trump administration’s “Remain-In-Mexico” policy – which President Biden canceled on the first day of his presidency – was working to stem the surge of illegal immigrants into the U.S.

On the Senate floor, the senator added he and his colleagues heard traffickers from the Mexican side of the border taunting and catcalling Border Patrol agents during late night patrols.

He said Biden sent a clear message around the world that the U.S. border was now “wide open.”

“Because of that clear message, Border Patrol arrests and detentions have doubled since January,” Barrasso said.

He also suggested resuming construction on a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico that was launched under the administration of President Donald Trump.

“[Republicans] want to finish the wall, and we want to bring back the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy,” Barrasso said. “We want to stem this humanitarian crisis and national security crisis that is facing our nation today. It’s time to bring this crisis to an end.”

Barrasso has been regularly critical of Biden’s immigration policies, both during last year’s presidential campaign and after the president took office in January.

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White House Claims Wyo Public Trains Are Outdated; Barrasso Explains There Are No Public Trains in Wyo

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

If you are going to put out a fact sheet, it’s always helpful to have the fact sheet be factual.

In this case, it was not.

Sen. John Barrasso called out the White House for its claim that one-third of Wyoming’s trains and transit vehicles are outdated.

Problem is, as Barrasso noted, Wyoming doesn’t operate a public train system.

The senator produced a copy of a White House fact sheet which said that “32 percent of trains and other transit vehicles in the state are past useful life.”

“The Biden Administration claims that its plan will help support existing public transit trains in Wyoming. There are no public transportation trains in Wyoming. The president says he is a “no malarkey” guy… this is a malarkey plan,” Barrasso said.

“This multi-trillion dollar waste of taxpayer funds is the biggest bait and switch since President Obama announced his “shovel-ready” stimulus,” Barrasso said. “After all these years, President Biden has found something to shovel, the problem for the American people is he is shoveling malarkey.”

Barrasso isn’t against infrastructure. In fact, his infrastructure plan had unanimous support from the Environment and Public Works Committee, including Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The issue, he has said, is that President Biden’s infrastructure plan isn’t about infrastructure. 

Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney said the same thing on Face the Nation on Sunday.

“This bill needs to be fundamentally redone,” Cheney said. “It would need to be a different bill, it would need to actually focus on infrastructure, not on so many of the additional Green New Deal spending priorities.”

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Cheney, Barrasso Mourn Slain U.S. Capitol Officer

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney and U.S. Sen. John Barrasso mourned the loss of a U.S. Capitol police officer who was killed in the line of duty on Friday.

A person rammed a vehicle into a police barricade on Friday, killing one officer and injuring another. The names of the officers and the suspect have not yet been released.

“Our deepest condolences to the family of the @CapitolPolice officer who was killed today defending our Capitol,” Cheney wrote on Twitter Friday. “US Capitol Police put their lives on the line to protect us and our republic. They deserve our unwavering support.”

The suspect was killed by police after exiting the vehicle and brandishing a knife at officers. One officer was reportedly stabbed in the incident.

“Bobbi and I are heartbroken to hear that one of the Capitol Police officers protecting the US Capitol today has passed away. Praying that the other officer injured recovers,” Sen. John Barrasso said.

The National Guard was also deployed to the Capitol on Friday.

This is the second attack this year on U.S. Capitol police, the first being the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 in the wake of Congress counting the Electoral College votes that would solidify President Joe Biden as the victor over former President Donald Trump.

One officer was killed in the attack, and multiple others died.

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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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Barrasso Blames Biden For Border Disaster Ahead of Texas Trip

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso blamed President Joe Biden and his administration for the immigration crisis happening at the U.S./Mexico border during an appearance on the Senate floor this week.

On Tuesday, Barrasso spoke on the Senate floor about how Biden’s policies are squarely to blame for the border crisis. The senator actually intends to travel to Texas this week to see the situation firsthand.

“In the month of February, federal agents apprehended more than 100,000 illegal immigrants crossing our Southern border. That’s more than double the number from last February,” Barrasso said. “Illegal immigration usually goes down in the winter. It rises in the spring and then peaks in the summer.”

Since immigration usually declines in the winter, Barrasso and many of his colleagues are concerned there will be an uptick of people attempting to illegally cross the border in the spring and summer months.

Barrasso blamed Biden policies and campaign promises, such as a claim where Biden guaranteed “lavish” taxpayer benefits for undocumented immigrants (which couldn’t be substantiated), for the surge in immigration over the last two months.

He also criticized Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ stance that people in the U.S. should receive healthcare, no matter their documentation status.

He also pointed to Biden’s immigration-related executive orders (including restoring the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) as making the U.S. more friendly to undocumented peoples.

“Even the Biden administration admits, we’re on pace this year for the most illegal immigrants in two decades,” Barrasso said. ““You can come here illegally and get a free vaccine against the coronavirus. Free health care, No wonder illegal immigrants are rushing our borders.”

The senator noted that under former President Donald Trump’s administration, immigration declined.

“It was because he sent a clear message to the world. He said, don’t come here illegally or we will send you right back home. That message was heard around the world,” Barrasso said.

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Barrasso Credits Trump For Economic Rebound: “This Is Not Biden’s Recovery”

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso is crediting policies established under the administration of President Donald Trump and the work of congressional Republicans for the economic recovery the nation is seeing.

Barrasso spoke on the U.S. Senate floor Wednesday about the work Republicans have done since the beginning of the pandemic and criticized what he called wasteful spending by congressional Democrats.

“The truth is clear: this is not President Biden’s recovery,” he said. “President Biden inherited three vaccines. President Biden inherited 2 million tests a day for coronavirus. President Biden inherited falling coronavirus numbers. He also inherited a recovering economy.”

Barrasso added that in February, the Congressional Budget Office published a report predicting the U.S. economy would rebound to the same level seen before the pandemic and will do so by the summer.

Barrasso noted the report was released weeks prior to the recently passed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which provided a third round of stimulus checks and millions in aid for state and local governments.

“This was in large part because of the foundation laid by Republicans before the pandemic with President Trump’s economic programs in the White House,” he said. “Republicans cut taxes on the middle class, on job creators. We cut regulations and we cut government red tape. We made a better trade deal with our neighbors. Our agenda worked.”

Barrasso also claimed the Biden administration hasn’t been forthcoming with the American people about its strategies to combat the coronavirus.

“Our recovery was booming under the Republican agenda. It was an agenda of low taxes and fewer regulations. That’s the agenda that the American people need to get our economy booming again,” Barrasso concluded.

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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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John Barrasso Supports Liz Cheney’s Re-Election

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Despite voting differently on former President Trump’s impeachment, Wyoming’s senior senator is supportive of Wyoming’s Congresswoman Liz Cheney.

Appearing on “Meet The Press” Sunday, Barrasso said he was supportive of Cheney despite differences pertaining to Trump.

“I support her,” Barrasso said. “I disagree with her completely on the issue of impeachment. She voted one way, I voted the other.”

Barrasso said it was important that he and Cheney work together as the Biden administration, he said, is passing legislation hurtful to Wyoming’s economy.

“We work closely together fighting the Biden administration,” he said.  “This is an administration which policies on energy are devastating Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain West.”

“Gas prices are up 60 cents a gallon already since the beginning of the year. We need to work together every day,” he said.

Barrasso offered his support to Sen. Lisa Murkowski as well — another Republican who voted against Trump.

“She’s an incredible fighter for American energy. She hasn’t made an announcement if she’s going to run again, but if she does, I’m going to support her.”

In terms of policy, Barrasso said he hoped the administration focused its efforts on getting bipartisan infrastructure legislation he championed through Congress.

“I was chair of that committee and worked closely with Tom Carper, the Democrat,
 he said. “It passed unanimously. Bernie Sanders voted for it.”

“If they want to work with us, take up what Bernie Sanders and John Barrasso agreed to last year in the Environment and Public Works Committee. That is the blueprint for infrastructure,” he said.

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John Barrasso: “I Am Going to Continue To Wear A Mask”

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While appearing on “Meet The Press” Sunday morning, Wyoming’s senior senator John Barrasso continued to emphasize the importance of wearing a mask.

Barrasso, who is also a physician, was asked about Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s decision to lift the mask mandate in his state and why some members of the Republican Party are so opposed to  mask restrictions.

“People need to take precautions,” Barrasso said to program host Chuck Todd. “I have my mask with me right here. I’m going to continue to wear a mask and I think people will use good judgment to do so.”

Barrasso said he was also “very optimistic” about vaccination efforts in the U.S mentioning that the country is vaccinating two million people a day.

“We know what we need to do: get vaccinated,” he said.

When asked about the COVID relief package which was uniformly opposed by the Republican Party, he said the opposition stemmed from the spending not related to the coronavirus.

“This was never about getting people back to work or kids back to school or the disease behind us,” Barrasso said.

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

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Barrasso: Trump Would Be Front-Runner If He Runs For President in 2024

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Unlike his House counterpart Liz Cheney who has said numerous times she doesn’t believe President Trump should have any future in the Republican Party or the country, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso seems to be enthusiastically welcoming the president back to politics.

Barrasso, appearing on the Sinclair Broadcast Group’s “The National Desk” on Thursday, said the former president would be the odds-on favorite to carry the mantle of the GOP if he chooses to run again.

“If President Trump runs for re-election which he is certainly able to do, I think that he would clearly be the frontrunner,” Barrasso said.

“You know there are a number of senators, former members of the cabinet, who are all interested in running in 2024, and you wonder if President Trump’s ultimate decision will determine what they do or don’t do in 2024,” he said.

Wyoming’s senior senator said Trump will be “clearly very well received” at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Sunday where he is slated to deliver a speech.

That type of reception, Barrasso said, is similar to how Wyoming residents regard the president.

“[Trump] is very popular in Wyoming, he got 72% of the votes in my state and I would say back home in Wyoming, people look to President Trump and are looking forward to his speech on Sunday,” he said.

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Interior Nominee Wilts When Barrasso, A Physician, Asks Her Why She Thinks GOP Doesn’t Believe in Science

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Tuesday was not a good day for the woman who wants to be the next Secretary of the Department of Interior.

To say that Interior Secretary-nominee U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland didn’t perform well when U.S. Sen. John Barrasso questioned her during the opening day of her confirmation hearing would be an understatement.

If Haaland wants Barrasso, ranking member of Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, to support her, she’s got a tough road ahead.

Unfortunately for Haaland, past inflammatory statements can come back to haunt. 

Case in point: Barrasso brought up one of her tweets from October, 2020 when she said: “Republicans don’t believe in science.”

That’s a difficult statement to defend, especially when there are three Republican doctors, including Barrasso, who serve on the committee. 

Wyoming’s senior senator reminded Haaland of her tweet and exactly who the members of the Energy Committee were.

She was ill-prepared for the entire duration of Barrasso’s questioning but especially during this exchange.

“Just a couple of months ago, you tweeted, ‘Republicans don’t believe in science.’ Pretty broad statement that you made there,” Sen. Barrasso said. “This was in October of 2020, so not too long ago. We’re also Republicans. Do you think that as medical doctors we don’t believe in science? How do you stand by this statement?”

Her response was cringeworthy.

“Senator, I, ummmm, I, I, yes, uhhh, if you’re a doctor, I would assume that you believe in science,” she stammered.

Barrasso replied: “But we’re Republicans as well. It’s concerning to those of us who have gone through training, believe in science, and yet in a broad brush that we’re all disbelievers. It’s a concern.”

To that, Haaland had no response.

How could she have dealt with it? She could have gone the President Trump route: never back down. Or she could have acknowledged it was a mistake.

She did neither. And as such, kept the statement in play.

Although the statement may have appealed to her base, it is hard to defend against medical doctors who happen to be Republicans.

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Barrasso Urges Unity Among Dems, GOP In Passing COVID Relief Bill

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso urged his Democratic colleagues in the Senate to join Republican senators in passing in a new coronavirus relief bill.

Congress is debating another coronavirus relief bill, this time amounting to $900 billion, which would also include a new round of stimulus checks.

“I come to the floor today to ask our Democrat colleagues to join us, the Republicans, in providing immediate relief,” Barrasso said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “Relief in the fight against coronavirus, and relief, economic relief, for the people of this country.”

He said that Americans don’t ask much of their government, but they are asking for help with controlling the spread of the coronavirus and assistance with economic recovery.

Barrasso, when speaking on cable news channels such as Fox, has been a steadfast proponent of providing relief for Americans so they can get “back to work, back to school and help the economy recover.”

While the CARES Act provided $2.2 trillion in relief to the United States, the $1,200 stimulus check was issued nearly eight months ago, leaving many Americans in the lurch in the meantime, Barrasso said.

“Our bill is practical. It supports our neighborhoods, the men and women working on Main Street and our small towns and communities all across the country,” Barrasso said during his speech. “We also need to provide unemployment help for those who for no reason of their own happen to find themselves out of work as a result of the pandemic.”

He added that the coronavirus vaccine needed to be available to as many Americans as possible, in the quickest and safest manner. He again compared the vaccine to insulin and penicillin, as well as the polio vaccine.

“It’s a remarkable time for our nation. As Christmas packages are being delivered, so is this great hope for people receiving the vaccine,” he said.

Barrasso accused Congressional Democrats of politicizing the pandemic, adding that House and Senate Republicans have tried “40 times” to get a bill accepted to “provide relief for the American public.”

“And I turn to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle and say please join us this holiday season to make sure the American people who don’t ask for much, are able to continue to keep their lives on track and move forward into the year 2021 with a vaccine available to everyone and for a much better New Year,” he concluded.

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Barrasso Compares Coronavirus Vaccine To Penicillin, Insulin Discoveries

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso hailed the new coronavirus vaccine awaiting approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week as a game-changer in medicine, comparing it to the discovery of penicillin and insulin as medications.

“We’ve gone from something that was felt to be impossible to something that truly is incredible, a 95% effective vaccine, 100% effective against death or hospitalizations,” he said during an appearance on Fox News this week. “As a doctor, in terms of being able to save lives, this is right up there with the discovery of insulin or penicillin.”

Barrasso added that he has been speaking with the head of the intensive care unit at the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper, who told him the hospital is very excited to receive the vaccine.

The senator praised President Donald Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed,” which helped push through the vaccine at a quicker rate with the hope at least some doses are available to the public by the end of the year.

He added that the “worst was behind us,” when it came to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Barrasso did still encourage people to wear masks and socially distance until the vaccine is readily available. He, along with colleagues Sen. Mike Enzi and Rep. Liz Cheney, backed Gov. Mark Gordon’s statewide mask mandate, which went into effect on Wednesday.

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Barrasso: First Covid Vaccine Delivery Dec 11; Encourages Everyone to Get Vaccinated When They Can

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Sen. John Barrasso on Tuesday said the first delivery of a new vaccine for Covid-19 will occur by Dec. 11 and 20 million U.S. citizens will be vaccinated by the end of the year.

Appearing on FOX News with Stuart Varney, Barrasso said that beginning in January, 25 million people a month — every month — will have access to the vaccine.

He called the development and forthcoming distribution of the vaccine is an “amazing Christmas gift” and encouraged all people to get the vaccine.

“This is really a good news story,” Barrasso said.  “President Trump deserves incredible credit for this.  President Trump has led the way.”

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Barrasso, a physician by trade, said he will take the vaccine when it becomes available to him and said he hoped everyone would do the same.

“I would encourage all people — if you can get the vaccine — to get it,” he said.  “This [vaccine] is going to be the thing that writes the final chapter against the coronavirus.”

Despite Barrasso’s enthusiasm for the vaccine, only 59% of Americans, in a recent Gallup poll, said they would receive it when it becomes available. 

Twenty-six percent say they want to wait to confirm the vaccine is safe while only 12% say they don’t trust vaccines in general.

As for the distribution of the vaccine, Barrasso said he agreed with the Centers for Disease Control in that the frontline workers should receive it first.

“We need to get it to the doctors, nurses, those who are taking care of patients and also the essential workers, those who are the most vulnerable an, and the elderly people who have medical conditions.”

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Barrasso Spends Thanksgiving In Qatar With Wyoming Soldiers

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso spent his Thanksgiving overseas, celebrating with Wyoming soldiers who are helping defend the country.

Barrasso had dinner with Wyoming National Guard troops serving in Qatar on Thanksgiving day. He sat down with members of the 153rd Airlift Wing and 187th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, both of which are supporting airlift operations and medical evacuations in the Middle East.

The Wyoming senator makes it a tradition to spend time with Wyoming troops overseas every Thanksgiving, even in the pandemic.

“Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the people and things we’re most thankful for,” Barrasso said. “So much of our gratitude goes to the brave Wyoming men and women serving our country overseas. This year the holidays will look quite a bit different for most Americans. This is especially true for the members of the Wyoming Air National Guard deployed in Qatar.

“Despite the unique challenges this year brings, they continue to do a remarkable job keeping America and our allies safe,” he continued. “It was wonderful to share a meal with them and bring a little bit of home to them this holiday season.”

Barrasso was also briefed on military operations in the Middle East during his time in Qatar last week.

Qatar lies to the east of Saudi Arabia and to the west of Iran.

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Barrasso Paints Apocalyptic Picture For U.S. Under Democrat-Ruled Senate

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U.S Sen. John Barrasso all but declared the U.S. doomed on Friday night when discussing the Georgia U.S. Senate runoffs and the possibility of the Republican Party losing control of the U.S. Senate.

Barrasso, appearing on Fox News, said if the Republicans became the minority as a result of the Georgia senate races, the makeup of Biden’s cabinet would be frightening — to say the least — for any Republican.

“Just think about Bernie Sanders being the Secretary of Labor and Elizabeth Warren as the Secretary of the Treasury and AOC as the Secretary of the EPA because that is what they want to do,” Barrasso said.

“We all heard Chuck Schumer make his claim ‘first we take Georgia, then we change America’ and that is scaring people all across the country because we know what that means.  We know that the far-left, liberal agenda would bring to America,” he said.

As proof, he mentioned Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ press conference on Friday where she said she was going to push a “Biden administration” further to the left.

“We have worked with the ‘Biden administration’ to secure commitment on a $2 trillion climate plan. Two trillion dollars. But we’re not gonna stop there. We’re not gonna stop with a piece of paper,” she said.

“So our demand here is to make sure that we keep this promise, that we follow through on a visionary, absolutely unprecedented $2 trillion plan,” she said.

Barrasso said if the Republicans lose the majority, a Biden administration would be able to push through increased taxes, the Green New Deal “where gasoline is $10 a gallon, a one-size-fits-all government run health care plan, and “people would come after our guns.”

“We cannot have this for America and that’s why it is so important to make sure that we hold the Senate in the majority in Georgia by winning those two seats in the special election on January 5,” he said.

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