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John Barrasso

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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