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John Barrasso

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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