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Cynthia Lummis

Joining Gordon, Wyoming’s Delegation Blasts ‘Secretive’ BLM Land Deal

in News/public land

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Members of Wyoming’s congressional delegation joined forces on Wednesday to pen a letter blasting the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for a “secretive” land deal made to purchase thousands of acres of land in Natrona and Carbon counties.

This letter to U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Deb Halland comes less than a week after Gov. Mark Gordon announced that the state would be appealing the land purchase due to a lack of transparency and concern over its potential impacts.

In Wednesday’s letter, U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis and U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney said the BLM did not involve the public or local and state officials in the purchase process and failed to consider the impacts of lost revenue on local communities.

“We steadfastly respect private property rights, and the rights of individual landowners to sell to willing buyers. We also understand the desire to increase access to our public lands so that all Americans can enjoy them,” the delegation wrote to Haaland. “However, because the federal government already owns and controls nearly half of Wyoming’s lands, we question the BLM’s need to purchase and acquire vast amounts of additional lands in our state — especially if such acquisitions are not accompanied by equivalent federal land disposals.”

The BLM earlier this month announced the purchase of 35,000 acres of private land spanning the two counties. The purchase was intended to provide “endless” recreational opportunities for Wyoming residents and visitors alike, a BLM spokesman previously told Cowboy State Daily, by opening access to public lands that may have been blocked in the past.

But the delegates called on Haaland to “neutralize” the expansion of the “federal footprint” by identifying other lands available for exchange, trade or purchase elsewhere in the state. They also called for the reinstatement of a previous DOI policy requiring local and state support before the federal government can acquire more land.  

The three also said they were “troubled” there appeared to have been no coordination or communication between BLM and state and local officials prior to the purchase and acquisition and no notice was given prior to the June 2 announcement of the purchase.

They argued that private landowners and local officials were the best stewards for lands within Wyoming.

“While federally-owned lands can offer opportunities such as recreation, tourism, and wildlife habitat, they can also yield costly drawbacks,” Barrasso, Lummis and Cheney wrote. “For instance, when the federal government owns land in a county, the county cannot collect property tax on that acreage and such losses need to be offset by additional federal spending…

“In addition, in spite of major recent investments, federal land management agencies continue to struggle to adequately address significant maintenance needs,” the letter continued. “Federal ownership of land has not, and never will be, equivalent to conservation. [We] would urge both the (Interior) Department and the Bureau to make decisions based upon what’s best for the land, not what might be in the Administration’s political interests.”

Last week, Gordon said while he supported the BLM’s stated goal of expanding public access of the land for hunters and anglers and the rights of private landowners to sell their property, he also had concerns about the process followed to achieve the purchase.

The nonprofit Land and Water Conservation Fund funded the purchase of the 35,670-acre Marton family ranch, which stretches through Natrona and Carbon counties, bureau spokesman Tyson Finnicum previously told Cowboy State Daily.

The private land is located about 25 miles southwest of Casper, just east of the Alcova Reservoir and stretches from the North Platte River south into Carbon County.

Finnicum said the money to purchase the land came from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which gave a $21 million appropriation last year to purchase the Marton ranch in its entirety.

He added that the LWCF is largely funded by offshore oil and gas revenue.

“Money from the LWCF goes to a variety of programs to support recreation and conservation, from building city parks, to protecting historic and cultural sites, to providing public access to rivers and lakes,” Finnicum said.

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Dueling Groups Of Legislators Demand Lummis, Barrasso Reject Gun Control Bill In Congress

in Guns/News

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

Some of Wyoming’s most conservative state legislators have sent two separate letters to U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis, demanding they not support gun control legislation currently moving through Congress. 

The first of the letters was written by 12 members of the Wyoming House Freedom Caucus on June 10, while the second was spearheaded by Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, and Rep. Robert Wharff, R-Evanston, and signed by a collection of senators and representatives one week later on June 17.

The timing and authorship of the two different letters has created a small rift among firearms rights advocates.

Mark Jones, national director of Gun Owners of America’s national director of hunter’s programs, said Bouchard is posturing as a strong Second Amendment supporter writing his own letter one week after the Freedom Caucus wrote its letter.

“Senator Bouchard is playing fast and loose with the truth,” Jones said.

Jones pointed to Bouchard’s repeated votes against the Second Amendment Protection Act in this year’s legislative session. 

Bouchard said he voted against the bill because it did not go far enough to protect firearms, but Jones said this is disingenuous and said he would give Bouchard a grade of “F” when it comes to his votes on the Second Amendment.

“He promotes himself as a Second Amendment champion,” Jones said. “He picks and chooses when he supports things.”

Bouchard and Jones are frequent foes in testifying on proposed firearms legislation in the Legislature.

Bouchard founded Second Amendment advocacy group Wyoming Gun Owners and is still on friendly terms with the organization. He was given a 100% grade for his votes by the National Rifle Association in 2020 but only a 68% grade by pro-gun group LEAP Forward that same year.

Bouchard is running for U.S. Congress against Harriet Hageman, who Gun Owners of America has endorsed, and incumbent U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney.

Bouchard did not respond to a request for comment.

Wharff said Bouchard has an unquestionably strong record on Second Amendment issues and he, like Bouchard, did not vote for the SAPA because it was toothless.

“They knew damn good and well that bill would do nothing,” he said.

Wharff described Jones as a “nobody” and a “Johnny come lately” because he suspects someone recruited him to move to Wyoming.

He said Jones never spoke to him during the Legislature’s budget session and added he could not remember a time in the past when two pro-gun groups were in active opposition to each other in Wyoming.

Wharff said no one reached out to him about the first letter and he did not read it until after he signed the second one. He said he considered himself a member of the Freedom Caucus in the past, but now suspects he is being pushed out of the House group because he is running for the Senate.

Past Freedom Caucus members Reps. Dan Laursen, R-Powell and Bill Fortner, R-Gillette are also running for Senate and were also left off the original letter. Laursen and Fortner signed on to the second letter.

Rep. Mark Jennings, R-Sheridan, said he and other members of the Freedom Caucus were annoyed because Bouchard and Wharff did reach out to get signatures from their group but many of these signatures were left off the second document. Wharff said this is not true and said no signatures sent in time were left off their letter.

Only one legislator – Rep. Scott Heiner, R-Green River – is listed on both letters.

Jones said Wyoming’s Freedom Caucus led the country as the first group of state legislators to oppose the federal gun control legislation that passed through the U.S. House on June 8. He said similar-minded caucuses in Pennsylvania and Texas followed suit with their own efforts after the Freedom Caucus letter was written.

“It was used as an example of liberty and freedom,” Jones said. “It was used as an example all across America.”

The two letters are similar in their purpose and overall message. Both oppose red flag laws — under which a relative, friend or police officer can recommend that a court remove a person’s firearms — and any gun control measures.

The proposed federal legislation comes in response to a series of mass shooting events in recent months that killed dozens of people.

In its letter, the Freedom Caucus focuses on school security steps that could be taken to prevent such atrocities. The letter points to a Wyoming law that allows school districts to decide if they will allow their teachers to carry concealed weapons in the classroom as a solution that could be brought to a national level.

“It is clear from our country’s history that those who will obey the laws of this land will do so while armed,” the letter said. “Yet, those who will perpetrate evil, will do so with or without arms and when the prior are the armed, the latter are the meeker.”

Bouchard and Wharff’s letter addresses Barrasso and Lummis more directly, immediately questioning their loyalty to opposing gun control.

“It is being reported by various media outlets that you are supportive of the draconian gun control measures, including red flag gun confiscation being fast tracked through Congress right now,” the letter says.

This is a reference to a June 7 CNN story that appeared to show U.S. Lummis having a change of heart on some gun control measures. Her spokesperson, Abegail Cave, said her positions have not shifted.

“She is a strong defender of the Second Amendment, and will always defend the right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms,” Cave said.

Lummis was categorized as giving new consideration to the package of bills that could include changes to red flag laws, mental health programs, school security and juvenile background checks because of an uptick in calls made to her office. 

“That’s something that I’d be inclined to want to look at,” CNN reported Lummis saying. “So many juvenile records seem to be expunged and the clock is set back to zero the day they turn 18. So I think that is something worth considering shortly.”

Bouchard’s letter also questions Barrasso’s loyalty by mentioning he was standing next to Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, when he proclaimed support for the gun control measures headed to the Senate.

Jennings said he has not heard back from either senator on the topic. Wharff said he had some encouraging initial conversations with Barrasso but was disturbed when he later saw him standing by McConnell when he made his statement.

“That was very troubling to me, to see a senator I have nothing but respect for standing behind the leader of the senate,” Wharff said. “That’s a show of support.”

Wharff said he spoke with a member of Lummis’ staff but not the senator herself. He said he worries this conversation led to a conflation of red flag laws with mental health issues and said he kept mental health out of the second letter to avoid confusion.

Neither letter mentions addressing mental health issues, but Wharff said he is a firm supporter of mental health and believes a failure to handle these types of issues is part of what leads to mass shooting events.

Neither Barrasso or Lummis were part of a group of 20 senators — half Republicans, half Democrats — who announced they have reached an agreement on the outlines of what would be the first federal gun-control bill in more than 25 years. Among its provisions, the legislation would increase federal funding for school security and create a federal grant program to entice states into adopting “red-flag” laws — laws that would allow guns and ammunition to be kept “out of the hands of individuals whom a court has determined to be a significant danger to themselves or others.”

Bouchard’s letter focuses on these red flag laws. 

“If this measure comes to fruition, a vote for it will directly enable the spread of confiscation laws throughout the country and further normalize support for the eventual disarmament of this nation,” the letter said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Barrasso issued a firm statement about his position on red flag laws.

“While we must find a better way to identify troubled individuals early, we need to ensure the rights of law-abiding Americans are protected.,” Barrasso said. “I do not support federal red flag legislation and do not believe the federal government has a role in such laws. I will continue to oppose legislation that jeopardizes the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans.”

Jennings said Second Amendment rights have improved over the past two decades and said he is firmly against any gun control legislation, including background checks and removal of the gun show loophole in Wyoming.

 “I don’t see that as very valid to push that forward,” he said.

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Lummis Introduces Bill For Cryptocurrency-Friendly Regulation

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Photo by Marco Bello/Getty Images

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On Tuesday, U.S. Sen Cynthia Lummis introduced bipartisan cryptocurrency legislation that she believes may revolutionize the way these assets are regulated in America. 

The Responsible Financial Innovation Act creates a more complete regulatory framework for digital assets and their oversight. By providing definitions to terms and clarifying which digital assets are securities and commodities, the legislation aims to provide better protection for both crypto companies and consumers, Lummis said in a press release. The bill also addresses federal jurisdiction, business requirements, and the treatment of digital assets for tax purposes.

Since digital tokens were first created more than a decade ago, these assets have grown into a $1.2 trillion industry. Proponents of the currency say it leads to innovation and economic growth and democratizes financial markets. Detractors say it is woefully under regulated and point to numerous instances where fraud has been committed. 

“As with any new technology, there are real risks to consumers, businesses, national security, and our financial system,” wrote Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in a Monday op-ed for Medium. Gillibrand co-sponsored the legislation with Lummis. “These risks make sound regulation key. Furthermore, without a clear and defined regulatory framework to guide their businesses practices, digital asset companies could be compelled to take their operations overseas.”

Gillibrand serves on the Agriculture Committee, which oversees the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and Lummis serves on the Banking Committee, which oversees the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The bill will assign regulatory authority over digital asset spot markets to the CFTC. The CFTC already regulates the two most popular cryptocurrencies – Bitcoin and Ethereum – but the bill gives it much wider power and oversight.

The bill is in some ways may be a favorable compromise for the crypto industry.  By giving primary oversight of crypto to the much smaller CFTC, the bill shields the industry from SEC Chair Gary Gensler and his agency. Gensler has stated that most digital assets should be treated as securities. A joint press release issued by the senators refuted this point, claiming “most digital assets are much more similar to commodities than securities.” 

Many leaders in the cryptocurrency market have praised the bill. The Lummis and Gillibrand teams are still working with industry members to see how the bill can and should be improved. 

Sheila Warren, chief executive of the Crypto Council for Innovation, collaborated with Lummis and Gillibrand in crafting the legislation and called the bill a “significant step forward.”

“The crypto industry has been asking – pleading – for reg clarity to help users distinguish legit opps from scams,” she said in a June 3 Twitter post. “Instead, we’ve gotten ignored submissions, enforcement actions v. legit actors, and silence. We stand ready to collaborate to ensure safe, inclusive growth for all.”

Todd Phillips, director of financial regulation and corporate governance at the left-leaning think tank Center for American Progress, spoke out against the bill on Twitter on Tuesday.

“It is a big improvement over Lummis’s original bill but is still highly problematic,” he said. “My take: The status quo is better than this bill and it’s not a compromise I’d accept.”

Phillips said the final bill is littered with tax and security law loopholes and creates certain risks for consumers, giving an advantage to crypto over existing financial services, harming investors.

Crypto Queen

Over the past five years, Lummis has been one of the most vocal supporters of crypto at the national level.  

According to the joint press release, the bill “is the most substantial and comprehensive bipartisan effort to provide certainty and clarity to the growing digital asset and blockchain industries.”

“It is critical to integrate digital assets into existing law and to harness the efficiency and transparency of this asset class while addressing risk,” Lummis said in the press release.

The Responsible Financial Innovation Act has been many months in the making, with a draft bill surfacing last year, said Tyler Lindholm, State Policy Director for Lummis. 

Lindholm said Lummis was first introduced to cryptocurrency by her son-in-law Will Cole in 2013, who currently works in the crypto industry. She kept her eye on the industry and about five years later started pushing for Wyoming to offer friendly laws for the industry. 

It was also around that time Lindholm was a representative in the Wyoming Legislature, helping pass laws accelerating Wyoming’s place on the international stage as a cryptocurrency and blockchain leader.  One bill exempted certain developers and businesses from securities and money transmission laws. Another offered a charter for banks that deal mainly in digital assets. 

When Lummis announced her campaign staff in 2020, she brought on Lindholm, already known as a leader with the Wyoming crypto movement and dubbed the ‘Crypto Cowboy.’

Lindhold said Wyoming has some of the most crypto-friendly laws in the country. The Cowboy State recently attracted Kraken, the second-largest crypto exchange in the U.S., to the state. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has denied Kraken and Wyoming’s other upstart crypto banks accounts through the central bank. 

Lindholm said the bipartisan nature of Lummis’ bill should give hope that Republicans and Democrats can still come together to get things done in Washington, D.C.

“The senators wanted to ensure the legislation was bipartisan and did work across the aisle,” Lindholm said. “It’s the first piece at the federal level anybody had done. They wanted to ensure it did not become a partisan issue.”

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Lummis Says Stance On Gun Control Has Not Changed Despite CNN Story

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Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

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By Leo Wolfson, political reporter
Cowboy State Daily

Despite a CNN story on Tuesday that appeared to show U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis having a change of heart on some gun control measures, her spokeswoman on Wednesday said the senator’s positions have not shifted

“The headline used by CNN didn’t accurately reflect the quote Senator Lummis gave them,” Abegail Cave said. “She is a strong defender of the Second Amendment, and will always defend the right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms.”

In response to recent mass shooting events, Lummis said her office has received a wave of phone calls from Wyoming constituents expressing an openness toward making legislative solutions intended to prevent future mass shootings.

In CNN’s story, Lummis was categorized as now giving consideration to a package of bills that could include changes to red flag laws, mental health programs, school security and juvenile background checks, because of the calls. 

“That’s something that I’d be inclined to want to look at,” CNN reported Lummis saying. “So many juvenile records seem to be expunged and the clock is set back to zero the day they turn 18. So I think that is something worth considering shortly.”

However, Cave said Lummis’ stance hasn’t changed on any of these issues. In the past, Lummis has opposed red flag laws and other gun control approaches, but supported improving mental health as an alternative to these measures.

The calls come in response to the recent Uvalde, Texas shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead, just 10 days after a supermarket massacre in Buffalo, N.Y. that killed 10.

Cave said although she does not have any numbers for how many calls their office has received, she said it has been a strong “influx” compared to what they normally gets. She said these calls have come from a mix of pro Second Amendment and pro gun control constituents. Cave said every office on Capitol Hill has received an increase in calls.

Lummis has historically been a staunch supporter of gun rights and state’s rights, earning a lifetime A plus rating from the National Rifle Association. On the issue of mass shootings and other related events, Lummis has said addressing mental health is the way to solve these atrocities rather than gun restrictions. It is an issue of particular importance in Wyoming, as the state has the highest suicide rate in the country.

“Instead of attacking Americans’ Constitutional right to bear arms, we should be focusing on how to prevent this kind of dangerous behavior with mental health treatment and hardening schools,” Cave said on behalf of Lummis. “No child should feel in danger while at school, and parents shouldn’t have to worry about their child’s safety while at school.”

House Democrats are already working on eight gun control bills under the broader “Protecting Our Kids Act.”

Senate Republicans and Lummis have consistently blocked gun control legislation. They opposed efforts to tighten gun regulations both when they held the majority, and now when they can deny such bills with a filibuster. 

On Wednesday morning, a pre-recorded video from Miah Cerrillo, an 11-year-old Uvalde student who survived the mass shooting, was played before the House Oversight Committee. Also testifying were two parents of a victim from the shooting, pressing the congress members for gun control. 

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Lummis Not A Fan Of Domestic Terrorism Act

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

A measure aimed at increasing investigations and monitoring of domestic terrorism should be viewed with skepticism, according to U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis.

Lummis said Americans should be wary of the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, approved by the House last week, because it adds to the size of the government to more closely monitor the activities of American citizens.

“Americans should be concerned about any attempt to expand an agency, especially when that expansion includes ‘analyzing and monitoring’ the activities of American citizens,” she said. “We all share the goal of keeping our communities safe, but the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act fails to accomplish this goal and instead creates more bureaucracy based on the premise of distrust in the American public.”

The office of U.S. Sen. John Barrasso said he would not comment on the bill until after he votes on it.

The measure would create special offices within the government to investigate and monitor domestic terror threats.

Recent incidents of domestic terror such as shootings at a store in Buffalo, New York, and this week’s school shooting in Texas are being cited by supporters of the bill as reasons for its approval. Opponents have criticized it as opportunistic maneuvering to increase the size of government.

The act was approved by the House on a 222-203 vote last week that largely followed party lines. It now heads to the Senate.

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney voted against the measure in the House.

According to a Morning Consult/Politico survey, 76% of those questioned support monitoring of domestic terrorism and 74% support members of different governmental agencies working together to combat domestic and white supremacy-related terrorism.

A theory espoused by white supremacy groups is being considered a key motivating factor in the Buffalo supermarket attack. 

However, no reason has been determined for the Texas shooting and very little warning was given by the killer.

Many Democrats have lobbied for gun control in response to such events in the past and President Joe Biden called for tougher gun control laws following the Texas shooting.

Such efforts have almost always been stymied in the past, but the domestic terrorism bill takes a new approach to preventing mass shootings through closer monitoring and more investigations into domestic terror threats.

“Congress hasn’t been able to ban the sale of assault weapons,” Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Illinois, said while arguing for the bill last week. “The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act is what Congress can do this week to try to prevent future Buffalo shootings.”

While a simple majority of 51 votes is required to pass a bill in the Senate, a supermajority, or 60 votes, is needed to start or end debate on legislation before it can ever proceed to a vote.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, told The Hill last week he does not expect the bill to get 10 Republican votes of support in the Senate. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, has said “common sense, strong gun safety amendments” could be added to the Domestic Terrorism Prevent Act if Republicans would allow the bill to be discussed.

Schumer was referencing Republican gun violence-related amendments such as Sen. Ron Johnson’s, R-Wisconsin, legislation to create a clearinghouse of information on the best practices for school safety.  

Some congressional Republicans have compared the domestic terror bill to the recent establishment of a “disinformation board” by the Biden administration.

The board was established to determine a set of “best practices” to surveil for threats of violence from foreign states and adversaries while simultaneously safeguarding free speech, civil rights, liberties and privacy. 

The board had no authority, never met and was paused after its Executive Director Nina Jankowicz resigned in the face of public opposition. Its status is currently under review by the DHS’s Homeland Security Advisory Council.

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Lummis Co-Sponsors Resolution Calling For Feds To Recognize Only Male, Female

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

U.S.  Sen. Cynthia Lummis is co-sponsoring a resolution urging federal agencies to recognize only males and females in what is described as an effort to “reaffirm legal protections” for women.

“Male and female individuals possess unique and immutable biological differences that manifest prior to birth and increase with age and puberty,” the resolution said. “(Recent) misguided court rulings relating to the definition of ‘sex’ have led to the endangerment of spaces and resources dedicated to women.”

The Women’s Bill of Rights, also known as Senate Resolution 644, said it is important to clearly define men and women in certain situations.

“There are important reasons to distinguish between the sexes with respect to athletics, prisons, domestic violence shelters, restrooms, and with respect to other areas, particularly where biology, safety and privacy are implicated,” it said.

The resolution called for a person’s sex to be determined by his or her biological sex at birth.

The Woman’s Bill of Rights surfaced less than a week after Lummis’ remarks on the topic of sex at the University of Wyoming graduation ceremony resulted in her being booed by some in the crowd.

“Even fundamental scientific truths such as the existence of two sexes, male and female, are subject to challenge these days,” she said.

Lummis issued an apology after the event and said she acknowledged “there are biological differences and circumstances in which these differences need to be recognized.” 

However, the resolution mentions only the sexes of male and female.

A Lummis spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment about the senator’s intent with the resolution or reason for co-sponsoring it.

Senate resolutions are not binding law. They are used to express a collective sentiment from the Senate on a particular topic, although their passage can lead to the creation of Senate committees to examine the issue raised.

Lummis’ co-sponsorship of the resolution was criticized by Sara Burlingame, executive director of Wyoming Equality, a nonprofit LGBTQ advocacy group.

“It just makes me feel sad,” Burlingame said. “I have a sense for who Sen. Lummis is. She is someone who cares about making people feel welcome and this resolution does not do that.”

Transgender advocates argue that an individual’s biological sex at birth does not represent what sex or gender they might choose to identify with later in life.

Burlingame said it is important to recognize sex and gender as two different things, the former being biological and the latter a social construct.

“Just because they have been conflated in the past doesn’t make them so,” she said. 

Burlingame also said she is disappointed the resolution also does not recognize intersex people, individuals born with both male and female reproductive organs and an ambigious sexual identity.

The resolution does not go into how the designations of male and female, man and woman or boy and girl should be enforced.

The issue of transgender students competing in women’s sports has surfaced in Wyoming in recent years, with legislation drafted this year to ban people born as males from competing on women’s sports team. The bill was approved by the Senate but the House did not consider it.

The Transgender Law Center gives Wyoming a “low” ranking for its LGBTQ-related laws, while Colorado to the south was given a rating of “high.”

In Feburary, Alabama lawmakers passed legislation that would bar transgender students from using school bathrooms and locker rooms that match their current gender identity and on Thursday, Oklahoma adopted similar legislation requiring students at public schools to use restrooms and locker rooms that match the sex listed on their birth certificates. 

But in Tennessee earlier this week, a federal judge struck down a law that required businesses to alert patrons if they allow transgender use of their bathrooms.

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Mississippi, is the lead sponsor on the resolution. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is a co-sponsor with Lummis. The resolution was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

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Cynthia Lummis Booed For Saying There Are Only Two Sexes At UW Commencement

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

The University of Wyoming’s annual graduation ceremony, typically a ceremony filled with glowing remarks and optimism about the future, took on a more political tone Saturday as U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis prompted boos with her outlook on transgender individuals.

Toward the end of her roughly 17-minute speech, Lummis said, “Even fundamental scientific truths such as the existence of two sexes, male and female, are subject to challenge these days,” bringing loud jeers and a stammering response from Lummis. 

Lummis went on to explain that she wasn’t commenting on people who transition between genders, which was met with continued outrage from the audience. 

Lummis then pivoted to the topic of COVID-19 restrictions, which brought a more supportive reaction from the crowd filling up more than half the seats in the roughly 11,612-seat auditorium.

Lummis, in a statement from her office Sunday, apologized for her remarks and said it was never her intention to make anyone feel unwelcome or disrespected.

“My reference to the existence of two sexes was intended to highlight the times in which we find ourselves, times in which the metric of biological sex is under debate with potential implications for the shared Wyoming value of equality,” Lummis said.

“I share the fundamental belief that women and men are equal, but also acknowledge that there are biological differences and circumstances in which these differences need to be recognized,” she said.

University Reaction

The university itself acknowledged Lummis’ statements in a press release on Sunday, saying it “supports and celebrates its diverse communities that collectively make us the wonderful place that we are.”

Chad Baldwin, associate vice president of communications & marketing for UW, said Lummis’ speech was screened by staff before she gave it, and the school does not regret letting her make her remarks.

“The university recognizes the importance of the First Amendment on campus,” Baldwin said, explaining the school did not believe Lummis’ comments should be restricted. Baldwin said the topic of free speech is an issue UW President Ed Seidel is “still firm” on. 

Members of the university’s Inclusion Council issued a longer, more critical response to Lummis’ comments in a press release Monday morning.

“We affirm that humans may comprise various chromosomal variations, and not every person is strictly born female or male,” the press release said. “Intersex members of our community who have diverse chromosomal makeup should be seen and recognized.”

The Council recognized the free speech argument, but said words leave an impact and can sometimes be “hurtful and marginalizing.” 

“The University of Wyoming works to pursue an environment where critical discourse is held while maintaining civility and respect,” the Inclusion press release said. “As with all areas of study and engagement, education is needed across communities to create a better informed campus, community and world.”

Student Reaction

Annika Pelkey was one of the several hundred graduates on-hand Saturday. She said a UW student who identified as non-binary committed suicide this year.

“It feels very real,” Pelkey said.

A recent survey from the Trevor Project focusing on suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth showed that nearly half of all LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year nationally.

Hunter Swilling, a former UW student body president and current president pro tem of the student government senate, said Lummis’ comments were particularly insensitive given the transgender student’s death.

“Senator Lummis is an immensely successful person, but instead of imparting her knowledge onto our graduating students, she used it as an opportunity to bring others down,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “Her comments were also immensely insensitive, given UW has had a transgender student commit suicide this year. Her bigotry runs counter to everything we hold dear and to our ideals as the Equality State.” 

As a member of the LGBTQ community which she estimates composes at least 25% the UW student body, Pelkey said she was “confused why” Lummis had been invited to speak at the ceremony, but also said she and her colleagues decided to “give her a shot” and “give her the respect” of hearing what she had to say.

“What she said was a very disrespectful thing about the LGBTQ community,” Pelkey said. “What she said was blatantly wrong.”

She was, however, encouraged by the student and audience response. Pelkey said around 80% to 90% of the students reacted the same way she did, letting out loud boos and other expressions of condemnation.

“It was really amazing to see my peers stand up and blatantly boo her,” Pelkey said. “Overall, it was a good reminder that my peers are incredible.”

For many like Pelkey, it may have been the venue that Lummis, a UW grad, chose to utter her statements, rather than any surprise about the beliefs she holds. 

In the past, Lummis has spoken out against gay marriage, sponsored a bill to allow parents who oppose federal support of transgender students to access to vouchers for private or homeschooling, co-sponsored a bill that allows nonprofits to discriminate against LGBTQ people and voted against repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, according to LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD. 

The Movement Advancement Project gave Wyoming a 2.75 score on a scale of 42.5 for its LGBTQ laws.

“I think she said what she did to earn brownie points with her party,” Pelkey said.

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Barrasso, Lummis Back Move To Kill Biden ‘Disinformation’ Board

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s U.S. senators signed on to a bill Tuesday intended to kill a newly created “disinformation” board designed to cut down on the distribution of foreign misinformation in the U.S.

The bill would prohibit the use of federal funds for the Disinformation Governance Board of the Department of Homeland Security and would also prevent funds from going toward “any other similar entity established” in DHS.

The bill already has 18 senators signed on including Sens. Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso, as well as Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Marco Rubio, R-Florida, Rick Scott, R-Florida, and bill sponsor Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas.

The bill was developed in response to the announcement by the administration of President Joe Biden about the creation of a government department to combat online disinformation.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced the department will be led by Nina Jankowicz, an American researcher, author, and commentator who has specialized in the topic of disinformation and who Mayorkas has defended as “absolutely” neutral.

But Cotton expressed his doubts about how the department would be used.

“The Biden administration wants a government agency dedicated to cracking down on what its subjects can say, an idea popular with Orwellian governments everywhere,” Cotton said on Twitter Tuesday morning. “This board is unconstitutional and un-American—my bill puts a stop to it.”

Barrasso, meanwhile, said the administration has more important things to worry about.

“The Department of Homeland Security’s number one job right now should be securing our southern border,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “The last thing they should be wasting taxpayer dollars on is creating a new government-controlled, so-called truth squad that infringes on Americans’ constitutional rights.”

Many Republicans have decried the new department as “Orwellian,” comparing it to the Ministry of Truth in the novel “1984” by George Orwell.

But Mayorkas said the concerns are unfounded. 

“Those criticisms are precisely opposite of what this small working group within the Department of Homeland Security will do,” he said on CNN on Sunday.

Mayorkas identified misinformation as a national security threat and said the Department of Homeland Security has been addressing the issue since the administration of former President Donald Trump. 

He said the new Disinformation Governance Board will have no operational authority but will determine a set of “best practices” to surveil for threats of violence from foreign states and adversaries while simultaneously safeguarding free speech, civil rights, liberties and privacy. 

The bill was referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Monday.

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Lummis Welcomes Elon Musk’s $44 Billion Twitter Buyout

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s junior U.S. senator welcomed the buyout of social media giant Twitter on Monday by billionaire Elon Musk.

Hours after it was announced that Musk would purchase Twitter, U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis praised the move to Cowboy State Daily.

“Social media is long overdue for some change,” Lummis said Monday. “Elon Musk has floated a number of ideas, and I’m interested in seeing how those changes impact the dialogue on social media and the protection of user privacy.”

This is not the first time Lummis has praised Musk, who has become a controversial figure in recent years due to his high-profile status. Last year, she invited him to move to Wyoming, calling it one of the most business-friendly states in the nation.

In the last month, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO has become one of the social media company’s largest shareholders, was offered a seat on the board of directors and turned it down and submitted an earlier offer to buy Twitter, which was declined.

The deal was unanimously approved by Twitter’s board of directors and is expected to close at the end of the year. Twitter’s stock was up nearly 6% following the announcement of the deal, hovering around $51.84 per share.

“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said Monday. “Twitter has tremendous potential; I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”

Musk currently has around 83 million Twitter followers.

When Musk last offered to buy Twitter, congressional candidate Harriet Hageman told Cowboy State Daily she thought it would be an interesting move.

“Elon Musk is a great innovator and disruptor of the status quo,” Hageman said earlier this month. “We don’t know what impact he will have on Twitter, but right now the platform is an obvious, aggressive opponent of true freedom of expression.” 

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso and U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney did not respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Monday.

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Bill Introduced To Create Universal “No Fly” List For Violent Passengers; Lummis Opposed

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

A bill in Congress that would create a national “no-fly” list for disruptive airline passengers is being opposed by U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis.

Lummis has been outspoken in her opposition to the “Protection From Abusive Passengers Act,” introduced Wednesday, which she sees inviting overreach by the federal government

“TSA no-fly lists have been historically restricted to suspected terrorists because such individuals are a threat to every airline and every traveler,” Lummis said.

“Expanding the use of no-fly lists to include people who are frustrated about mask mandates would tacitly equate ordinary flyers to violent extremists,” she said.

The act is sponsored by Lummis colleague Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), and supporters say it is part of an effort to reduce the rise of violent confrontations in airplanes.

He said the legislation would make people who have been convicted of assaulting crew members eligible to be placed on a ‘no-fly’ list maintained by the Transportation Security Administration.

“We’re here today to stand up for the 99.99999 percent of travelers who’ve had enough of bad behavior,” Sen. Reed said. “There should be zero tolerance for violence aboard an airplane. This bill will help reduce incidents of in-flight violence and hold unruly passengers accountable if they break the law.”

There were nearly 6,000 unruly passenger incidents on airplanes reported in 2021.  Of those, 1,105 were labeled as “serious,” which is three times the previous high since the agency began collecting the data in 1995.

In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Lummis said the increase in unruly behavior stems primarily from individuals opposing the federal mask mandate.

“Creating a federal ‘no-fly’ list for unruly passengers who are skeptical of this mandate would seemingly equate them to terrorists who seek to actively take the lives of Americans and perpetrate attacks on the homeland,” she wrote.

But Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said the legislation is necessary because a violent passenger can jump from one airline to another after an incident.

“Right now, a passenger can be fined or convicted, and may be banned on an individual airline – but that does not prevent this violent offender from flying another airline,” Nelson said. “This bill would change that. It’s really just a handful of bad actors who need to be grounded and face consequences for their violent actions.”

Many airlines support the measure including American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and Southwest Airlines. Also behind the bill is the Airline Pilots Association, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, and the Transport Workers Union of America.

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Barrasso, Lummis Will Vote Against Jackson Confirmation To Supreme Court

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

Both of Wyoming’s U.S. senators plan to vote against Judge Kentaji Jackson’s appointment to the nation’s highest court.  

Nominated by President Joe Biden, Jackson is expected to be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court by the U.S. Senate in the coming days. The confirmation vote follows a tie vote along party lines in the Senate Judiciary Committee on whether to recommend Jackson’s appointment.

Sen. John Barrasso, a Republican, said he had hoped Biden would select a more moderate judge to fill the vacancy created with the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer.

“President Biden had an opportunity to make a more mainstream choice,” Barrasso wrote in an email to Cowboy State Daily. “Instead, he once again listened to the most extreme voices in his party.” 

Jackson made headlines last month when Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, asked during a confirmation hearing how Jackson would define the word “woman.”  

Jackson refused to give a definition, saying “I’m not a biologist.”  

Barrasso did not reference the exchange directly, but noted other concerns, namely that Jackson may “legislate from the bench.” 

“I disagree with Judge Jackson’s judicial philosophy and interpretation of the Constitution,” he said, noting that Supreme Court justices make decisions that “impact Wyoming and our country for generations to come.”  

‘Duty to Oppose’ 

Wyoming’s junior senator, Republican Cynthia Lummis, told Cowboy State Daily that it is her “duty to oppose” Jackson’s confirmation, given what Lummis has learned about her record and philosophy.  

“I take my constitutional duty of fully vetting each of the president’s nominees very seriously,” Lummis wrote in an email, adding that she met Jackson personally, spoke with others, and reviewed Jackson’s record.  

“I am not confident that she will be able to fairly and impartially interpret the Constitution as originally drafted,” wrote Lummis. “Though I expect that she will ultimately be confirmed, on behalf of the people of Wyoming I believe it is my duty to oppose her nomination.” 

Republicans on Board 

Jackson’s confirmation is expected to pass the Senate because three Republicans have announced their decisions to vote to confirm her: Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska.  

Romney, a former presidential candidate who unsuccessfully challenged Barack Obama, called Jackson “well-qualified,” and said she “more than meets the standard of excellence and integrity.”  

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Barrasso, Lummis Look Forward To Meeting With Biden’s Supreme Court Pick

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis both said on Friday they look forward to meeting with President Joe Biden’s nominee to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was nominated by Biden on Friday to become the next U.S. Supreme Court justice, succeeding Justice Stephen Breyer, who will retire at the end of his term, when the court takes its summer recess. Breyer has served as a Supreme Court justice since 1994 and was nominated to the post by former President Bill Clinton.

Jackson is the first Black woman to be nominated for a Supreme Court justice. Only two Black men, Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas, have served as justices.

Barrasso said the Senate would focus on Jackson’s legal decisions of the past in making its decision on confirmation.

“We won’t follow the radical Democrat playbook of baseless character assassination and personal attacks,” Barrasso said. “Our next Supreme Court justice will make decisions that impact Wyoming and our country for generations. That’s why it’s important to confirm a justice who will apply the law, not legislate from the bench. It is critical that the Senate takes all the time it needs to thoroughly evaluate Judge Jackson’s record and past decisions. The American people cannot afford for this process to be rushed.”

Barrasso said he looked forward to meeting with Jackson in person soon and learning more about her judicial philosophy and understanding of the U.S. Constitution.

Lummis echoed similar sentiments in a tweet she posted on Friday.

“I’m looking forward to meeting Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as we consider her nomination to the Supreme Court,” Lummis said. “It’s important that we have a justice who impartially interprets the Constitution, maintains separation of powers & federalism and who upholds our constitutional rights.”

Jackson is a Harvard Law School graduate and has been serving as a district court judge since 2012, when she was nominated by former President Barack Obama.

Former President Donald Trump nominated two Supreme Court justices during his term, Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney’s spokesman Jeremy Adler did not immediately return Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Friday.

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Sen. Lummis Pays Tribute to Late State Sen. Leland Christensen

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

In an emotional address on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Wyoming’s junior U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis paid tribute to late Leland Christensen, a former state legislator who served as her state director.

Christensen, died on Feb. 4 in an Idaho Falls, Idaho, hospital following a battle with cancer and a subsequent COVID-19 infection.

“I am just profoundly sad,” Lummis said with her voice wavering. “And also humble and proud to honor the memory of a cherished son of Wyoming.”

“More than anything, I rise to honor my longtime friend Leland Christensen,” she said.

Lummis, who had been close friends with Christensen for decades, discussed her trips with Christensen and her daughter, Annaliese, into the Wyoming backcountry, including Yellowstone’s Thorofare area, which is the most remote place in the lower 48 states.

She said Leland often went on search and rescue missions in wilderness areas in the region because he knew them “like the back of his hand.”

“He rescued people in swollen rivers, he rescued their horses,” she said. “He was a totally unique human being.

Lummis said Christensen’s passing was unique in that there were few deaths that affected her as “deeply.”

“Truly, his death cuts me to the depth of my heart,” she said.

Describing Christensen as “all Wyoming,” she said he was “tough as nails, endlessly patient and unwaveringly kind.”

“Rarely do I come across someone whose sincere humility, generosity, and selflessness come close to those of Leland Christensen,” Lummis said. “Every day spent with Leland was a better day.”

Christensen served two terms as state senator representing Teton County. Before then, he had a distinguished 20-year career as a deputy sheriff for Teton County.

The Alta native served as a Teton County commissioner from 2005 to 2011 and served with the 19th Special Forces Airborne Army and the National Guard for 15 years.

In 2016, Christensen ran for U.S. Congress, coming in second to now-U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney.

In 2019, Christensen was appointed by Gov. Mark Gordon as Deputy Director for Wyoming’s Office of Homeland Security and in 2021 U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis appointed him as her state director.

Christensen’s son Hunter said his father contracted COVID in December and was admitted to the hospital on Dec. 19.

Leland was subsequently moved to the intensive care unit in an Idaho Falls hospital and was in a medically-induced coma since late December.

Leland is survived by wife Anita, five children, and 13 grandchildren.

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Lummis: Disruptive Passengers Protesting Masks Should Not Go On No-Fly List

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis joined several Republican colleagues this week in arguing against putting people who disrupt airplane flights to protest facemask mandates on a “no-fly list,” saying it would put them on the same footing as terrorists.

In a letter sent Monday to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland by Lummis and seven other Republican senators, the senators expressed strong opposition to a proposed comprehensive “no-fly” list for disruptive airplane passengers.

“While airlines are currently free to deny service to any individual over past transgressions on their flights, the federal government’s role in denying access to the commercial aviation network has been limited to ensuring that suspected terrorists remain off of domestic flights,” the letter said.

The senators noted in their letter that the majority of recent infractions on airplanes have been related to the Transportation Security Administration’s mask mandate, as there is “significant uncertainty” around the mandate’s efficacy.

“Creating a federal ‘no-fly’ list for unruly passengers who are skeptical of this mandate would seemingly equate them to terrorists who seek to actively take the lives of Americans and perpetrate attacks on the homeland,” the letter said. “The TSA was created in the wake of 9/11 to protect Americans from future horrific attacks, not to regulate human behavior onboard flights.”

Garland received a letter from Delta Airlines earlier this month, in which officials indicted their desire for the U.S. Department of Justice to create a list that would essentially ban any airline passenger who has been convicted of disrupting a flight from using being any to fly on any commercial air service provider.

But the senators argued that such a list would result in a “severe restriction” on the ability of citizens to fully exercise their constitutional right to engage in interstate transportation.

“It also raises serious concerns about future unrelated uses and potential expansions of the list based on political pressures. If the airlines seek to have such a list created, they would be best served presenting that request before Congress rather than relying on a loose interpretation of a decades-old statute originally written to combat terrorism,” the letter said. “Absent any updated expressed directive from Congress, we strongly urge DOJ to reject this request.”

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there were 5,891 reports of unruly passenger incidents in 2021, 72% of which were related to masks.

The current mask mandate on flights is set to expire on March 18.

The idea of a comprehensive “no-fly” list has generated mixed reactions. A senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union told NPR last week that it was a bad idea to create the list.

However, many officials within the airline and transportation industry have been in support of the list.

An American Airlines flight was diverted on Sunday to the Kansas City International Airport after a passenger attempted to open the plane’s exit door. A flight attendant subdued him after hitting him in the head with a coffee pot.

Last week, a man was removed from a Frontier Airlines flight in Cleveland after he and another passenger exchanged heated words about the upcoming Super Bowl game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams, who ultimately won.

As the man was escorted off the plane, he declared himself the “only Bengals fan.”

Lummis spokeswoman Abegail Cave told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday that Lummis believes incidents like the man attempting to open the exit door should be prosecuted via the proper legal channels.

“The letter she led to the Department of Justice denounces behavior such as this,” Cave said. “However, the concern remains that a list such as this would enable a secret process that could result in many Americans being denied access to the commercial aviation system. Airlines are well within their rights to ban these passengers from their flights, but the federal government should not be keeping lists on their behalf. Sen. Lummis is strongly opposed to removing one’s constitutional right to travel without due process, which is precisely what this ‘no-fly’ list would do.”

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IRS Cancels Facial Recognition Software for Taxpayer Identification

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Read the room.

Had the IRS followed that maxim, the agency perhaps would not have introduced facial recognition software for taxpayer identification purposes.

The mechanism was so unpopular that both parties in Congress actually agreed on something: it was a terrible idea.

After being lambasted by both Republicans and Democrats, the IRS last week waved the white flag and announced the identity verification system — which would force Americans to undergo a facial recognition scan to access their historical tax documents — would not be used.

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo) swatted the IRS after the announcement stating that the fact that the idea was even considered was “absolutely appalling.”

“The IRS can’t even protect the data that it does have access to – why in the world would we give them access to our biometric data?” Lummis said.

In announcing the decision to rescind the controversial plan, the IRS Commissioner claimed the agency took “taxpayer privacy and security seriously.”

“Everyone should feel comfortable with how their personal information is secured, and we are quickly pursuing short-term options that do not involve facial recognition,” Charles P. Rettig said.

Earlier in the week, Wyoming’s senior senator John Barrasso joined 14 other Republican senators in sending a letter to the IRS condemning its use of the technology.

“The IRS has unilaterally decided to allow an outside contractor to stand as the gatekeeper between citizens and necessary government services,” the letter read. 

“The decision millions of Americans are forced to make is to pay the toll of giving up their most personal information, biometric data, to an outside contractor or return to the era of a paper-driven bureaucracy where information moves slow, is inaccurate, and some would say is processed in ways incompatible with contemporary life,” it read.

The agency reportedly is developing another process to identify taxpayers that does not include facial recognition.

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Cynthia Lummis: Standing Up For The Jim Bridger Power Plant

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By Senator Cynthia Lummis, United States Senator

Wyoming powers America. As the nation’s biggest net energy supplier, we fuel America’s cars and we power the West’s homes. When America achieved energy independence, the Cowboy State was a key driver.

Unfortunately, the Biden administration is trying to undermine our success, and Wyoming’s workers and families will suffer for it.

This is what is going on: During the Trump administration, non-partisan Environmental Protection Agency employees approved the State of Wyoming’s regional haze State Implementation Plan for energy company PacifiCorp’s Jim Bridger Power Plant, located outside of Point of Rocks, WY. 

The Jim Bridger plant is one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the U.S. It burns Wyoming coal, which is some of the cleanest burning coal in the world. It is an essential part of our power grid.

PacifiCorp worked diligently with the State of Wyoming and the EPA to make sure the Jim Bridger plant was meeting environmental standards. However, climate czars at the White House do not like American coal. So Biden EPA Administrator Michael Reagan decided to overturn the EPA’s approval, which would shut down part of the power plant.

This jeopardizes the jobs of the over 300 Wyoming employees who work at the plant. According to a new University of Wyoming study, this would also cost our state over $148 million in added value, over $34 million in wages, and over $33 million in taxes.

Governor Mark Gordon has not taken this thinly-veiled attack on Wyoming’s energy sector lying down. Under his watch, Wyoming submitted a revised environmental plan to the EPA. 

But instead of reviewing it, President Biden’s EPA simply sat on our plan and ignored repeated efforts over several months to address it. The EPA delayed so long that their actions violated federal law.

This is precisely the kind of government cronyism that Americans hate. I sit on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which oversees the EPA, so I have put a “hold” on President Biden’s appointees, significantly slowing their nomination processes, until the EPA works with Wyoming to address concerns and keep the Jim Bridger plant fully operational.

I’m disappointed, but not surprised. The Biden administration has continuously shown hostility to America’s domestic energy industry and the Wyoming way of life. 

The environmental activists that President Biden hired have put their agenda ahead of science and facts, but I will keep blocking any EPA nominees until the Biden administration comes to the table and works with the State of Wyoming to protect our energy sector, our workers and our families.

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Barrasso, Lummis Applaud Withdrawal Of Failed Biden Vaccine Mandate

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Both U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis praised this week’s decision by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to withdraw the federal vaccine mandate for employees of large companies.

Both senators have been vocal in opposition to the mandate proposed by President Joe Biden, saying individuals should be able to choose their own health care. Barrasso has regularly said he is “pro-vaccine, but anti-mandate.”

“It’s about time the Biden administration officially withdrew its overreaching OSHA vaccine mandate on private businesses. As the Supreme Court recently ruled, this mandate is unconstitutional. Thousands of Wyoming workers can now make their own health care decisions without the fear of losing their job,” Barrasso said. “Now the administration must do the same for millions of health care workers. Health care facilities across the nation are short staffed. We shouldn’t make it even harder for hospitals, clinics and nursing homes to get people the care they need.” 

OSHA said Tuesday it will withdraw the requirement that workers at companies with 100 or more employees either get vaccinated or be regularly tested for coronavirus. The news came in a statement on the agency’s website.

Lummis also cited the right of an individual to choose his or her health care in hailing OSHA’s decision.

“Businesses across Wyoming are working hard to recover from the pandemic and from rising inflation. This mandate would have forced employers to step into the relationship between a patient and their doctor,” Lummis said. “I am vaccinated, and I encourage everyone to discuss the vaccine with their doctor, but it is ultimately a personal decision, and employers shouldn’t be forced to make that decision for their employees. It is irresponsible for the federal government to further burden Wyoming businesses with job-killing mandates.”

Earlier this year, Barrasso and Lummis joined 44 of their fellow senators and 136 representatives in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court to support a block of the mandate on private businesses.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court halted the implementation of the federal vaccine mandate as it applied to workers at large companies.

Wyoming had joined in a lawsuit aimed at stopping the mandate and Gov. Mark Gordon said he was “delighted” to hear of the court’s decision.

President Joe Biden announced in September that he would require federal employees , health care workers and workers at companies employing more than 100 people to get the coronavirus vaccine.

In response, Wyoming filed three lawsuits seeking to block the mandate for employees of large companies, health care workers and federal contractors and their employees.

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Wyoming’s Delegation Unimpressed With Biden’s Second News Conference

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

President Joe Biden’s recent news conference missed the mark on foreign relations, and the economy, according to the members of Wyoming’s congressional delegation.

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney and U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis all made critical comments about Biden’s news conference Wednesday, the first time he has spoken with reporters for several months.

Cheney singled out Biden’s comments about tension between Russia and Ukraine for criticism.

“President Biden’s description of a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine as a ‘minor incursion’ was deeply troubling & dangerous,” Cheney said. “Putin must understand that any Russian invasion will be met with a swift and overwhelming response from the US and our NATO allies.”

She was referring to a question Biden was asked about the possibility of a Cold War with Russia. Biden said he expected Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine, but U.S. and NATO allies would respond with “severe costs and significant harm on Russia and the Russian economy.”

Biden used the news conference to describe his first year in office as a year of challenges, but also of progress, while discussing his plans for upcoming months.

Biden said he expects his proposed action on social issues and climate change will have to be broken up to clear Congress, meaning some of his top priorities, such as child care, may be dropped.

Lummis told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday it appears that Biden is not aware of the challenges being faced by American citizens.

“It seems like he is completely unaware of what people in Wyoming and across the country are facing every day. Empty shelves, higher prices, and stagnant wages are just the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “Instead of being a unity president, he is taking every opportunity to point fingers and shift blame. The White House branded this press conference as a reset, and I truly hope it is, but it felt like more of the same. The people of Wyoming deserve better from their President.”

Barrasso had similar comments during a Senate floor speech on Wednesday afternoon, saying that the White House did not have a communication problem with Biden, it had an agenda problem.

“The White House seems to think that the cure for Joe Biden’s poll numbers is more communications from Joe Biden,” he said. “The White House doesn’t have a communications problem. It has an agenda problem. The American people understand exactly what President Biden and Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi are trying to sell. The American people aren’t buying it. Democrats don’t need a message reset. They need a better agenda for the nation.”

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Lummis Blocks Biden’s Pick For EPA Enforcement Chief Over Power Plant

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis has stalled confirmation of President Joe Biden’s choice to enforce federal environmental rules due to the agency’s handling of coal power plants in Wyoming.

Lummis’ office confirmed that the Republican on Wednesday removed from the agenda of a Senate committee a confirmation vote for a nominee to serve as assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee had been scheduled Wednesday to take a confirmation vote on the appointment of David Uhlmann to the post, according to energy news outlet E&E News.

But committee Chair U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, announced at the start of the meeting that Uhlmann’s nomination had been pulled from the agenda. He said an unnamed senator was waiting for information from the agency before considering whether to support Uhlmann.

Lummis’ office confirmed she had asked that the vote be postponed.

According to the outlet, Lummis was waiting to hear from EPA about whether Wyoming’s regional plan for managing haze in the area of the Jim Bridger power plant near Rock Springs would be approved.

The state and federal governments in 2020 had agreed to a regional haze program that would allow the plant to continue operating, but after President Joe Biden took office, the EPA reversed its decision and ordered the plant to comply with rules previously in place.

The federal haze program seeks to reduce pollution to increase visibility, which has proved troublesome for the southeastern Wyoming power plant.

After Wednesday’s meeting ended, EPA released a decision saying it would reject Wyoming’s haze management plan for the power plant.

“The EPA’s decision today is a complete reversal from that of career EPA employees during the previous administration,” Lummis said after the rejection. “The Biden EPA’s decision here is needlessly hurting Wyoming’s energy workers and threatening America’s energy independence as well.

“It is blatantly political, and I will continue to block President Biden’s EPA nominees over this issue,” she continued. “Wyoming has worked tirelessly to comply with federal law on its regional haze plan for the Jim Bridger Power Plant. The Biden administration’s decision to reverse course to appease environmental activists, including climate czars in the White House, will not help the people, or the environment, of Wyoming.”

The committee did advance other nominees at Wednesday’s meeting, including Martha Williams, Biden’s pick for Fish and Wildlife Service director, and Chris Frey, tapped to lead the EPA’s science office.

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Lummis, Barrasso Sign On To Bill Keeping Toddlers From Being Forced To Wear Masks

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis signed on to legislation Thursday that would prevent toddlers from being forced to wear masks in certain places.

The Preventing Mandates on Toddlers Act would nullify an interim final rule that was published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that requires universal masking for all individuals in a Head Start facility over the age of two, including staff, volunteers, contract workers and children.

“The Biden administration’s federal overreach knows no bounds. They’re now coming after Wyoming’s toddlers. Individual Head Start programs and families know what is best for their children, not the federal government,” Barrasso said on Thursday. “This bill will protect children in Wyoming and across the country from Washington’s impractical and unreasonable mandates.”

The rule also requires toddlers to wear masks while they are outside on the playground and mandates staff and volunteers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 31.

“Our Head Start programs should be focused on education, but the Biden administration is trying to turn our educators into mask police for some of our youngest kids. I am proud to join my colleague John Barrasso in opposing this ridiculous mandate on Wyoming’s educators, and on our toddlers,” said Lummis. “When Head Start educators are forced to turn their focus from education to other issues, our children suffer. Our educators know this. Our parents know this. I just wish the Biden administration did as well.”

The bill was introduced this week by U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, and U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Michigan.

The legislation is co-sponsored by multiple Republican senators and representatives, including Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

The Head Start program is a federal government program that provides qualifying, low-income children with early education services. Program facilities are located throughout the nation and, up until this point, individual locations have been able to set and enforce their own COVID-19 protocols.

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Lummis Calls Supreme Court Abortion Hearing ‘Pivotal Moment For Our Country’

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis said Wednesday she would like to see a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of a Mississippi abortion ban, calling the case a “pivotal moment for our country.”

The court heard arguments on Wednesday regarding Mississippi’s abortion ban, which does not allow abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy except in extreme circumstances, such as a medical emergency, according to NBC News.

“This is a pivotal moment for our country and I continue to pray for a pro-life decision and for both mothers and the unborn,” Lummis said“Early in my legal career, I worked with birth mothers who were giving their babies up for adoption. It was an honor to help support birth mothers in facilitating adoptions, and seeing the look on adoptive parents’ faces as they held their child for the first time.

“I think it’s important to also note what a pro-life decision in (the Mississippi case) would not do. It would not ban all abortions,” Lummis continued. “The life of the mother would still be protected. A pro-life decision … would protect both the mother and her unborn child, and would assert to the world that we, as a nation, value life.”

NBC News reported that a majority of the Supreme Court’s conservative justices suggested they were prepared to discard the court’s previous standard set forth in Roe vs. Wade, which prevented states from banning abortion before a fetus becomes viable, which is generally considered to be at about 24 weeks into a pregnancy.

However, the three more liberal justices argued that the court would appear to be a political body if it tossed out abortion rulings that the country has relied on for decades, the outlet reported.

Earlier this year, Wyoming joined Texas and 23 other states in filing an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the decision to regulate elective abortions should be left to states.

In the brief joined by Wyoming, the 24 states agreed that nothing in the text, history, or tradition of the U.S. Constitution supports a right to elective abortion.

“This year has made abundantly clear that federal overreach harms Wyoming and its citizens,” Gov. Mark Gordon said at the time. “Wyoming must stand up for states’ rights. I am happy to extend support to Mississippi in order to properly keep state control over state issues, especially in the fight to protect the unborn.”

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Lummis Introduces Bill Preventing Workers From Being Fired Due To Vaccine Mandate

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis on Monday joined fellow legislators in introducing a bill that would prevent essential workers from being fired if they refuse to comply with a proposed federal vaccine mandate.

Lummis joined U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, and other colleagues to introduce the Keeping Our COVID-19 Heroes Employed Act on Monday.

“From the earliest days of the pandemic, our frontline workers and first responders in Wyoming put themselves in harm’s way to respond to emergencies, to keep essential goods stocked and to care for the sick in our communities,” Lummis said. “We should be celebrating their heroism, not punishing them for exercising their individual health freedoms. I’m proud to defend their rights and fight the Biden administration’s mandate.”

The administration has proposed requiring coronavirus vaccines for federal employees, health care workers and employees at companies employing more than 100 people. The federal rules that would put the mandate in place have not yet been issued.

Under the bill proposed by Lummis and others, essential workers who would be protected from being fired if they were unwilling or unable to get the vaccine would be the same people deemed as providing essential services by states during the pandemic. This would include people who work in health care and at businesses such as grocery stores, airlines and trucking companies.

Lummis and the other senators expressed concern that the new vaccine mandate would mean more job openings, at a time when the U.S. has already recorded more than 10 million open jobs in August.

Wyoming has not escaped the employment crisis, with reports coming out this year that the state has seen a shortage of snowplow drivers, restaurant employees and workers in other fields.

“(Workers in) Wyoming and across the nation are under threat of losing their jobs if they choose not to take the COVID vaccine,” said a release from Lummis’ office. “While these vaccines have proven to be safe and effective, the decision to get vaccinated is a personal one. People in Wyoming – especially the essential workers who showed up to work every day during the worst days of the pandemic – should not be forced into vaccination under the threat of losing their job.” 

The state’s unemployment rate has dropped this year, but it’s more due to people leaving the job force than getting jobs.

Ty Stockton, with the Workforce Service Office in Cheyenne, previously said there isn’t really a way to find out why people are not going back to work, since his office only sees people who are actively looking for employment.

Lummis joined Blackburn and Sens. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, Bill Hagerty, R-Tennessee, Mike Braun, R-Indiana, Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama, and Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, in introducing the legislation this week.

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Lummis to Federal Employees: Get Back To Work!

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Walking down a main street in Wyoming, you couldn’t necessarily tell that the COVID pandemic is still keeping people at home.

Private business doors are open and have been for months. In fact, two Wyoming communities — Cody and Sheridan — have little real estate space available on their main streets.

But the federal government is not fully back to work and closed offices or limited hours at some agencies have U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming, exasperated.

Wyoming’s junior senator on Thursday introduced legislation to get fully vaccinated federal employees working again — which means at their desks and in their offices.

Lummis said the legislation is necessary because the lack of an in-person workforce has created problems for her constituents.

“It’s long past time for federal workers to be back in the office helping the people of Wyoming and constituents across the United States. There is a huge casework backlog, and that is negatively impacting our veterans, our seniors, our business owners and American citizens,” Lummis said.

Lummis’ legislation, the “Having Employees Return To Duty Act” would require all federal employees who have been vaccinated to return to their place of work and work the same number of hours they worked before the pandemic started in February 2020.

“Americans across the county have been returning to in-person work and the federal bureaucrats who work for them should do the same,” she said.

Lummis said she has heard from constituents who have not received services — because of closed offices or limited hours — at the Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service, National Personnel Records office, Veteran’s Affairs offices, U.S. Department of State Visa Processing Center and the Western Passport Center

Thad Leybush, an oil worker living in Wamsutter, said he was pleased to hear about the legislation but couldn’t believe there was a need for it.

“I’m busting my ass in hurricane force wind gusts while bureaucrats are staying home watching ‘The View’ and I’m paying for it,” he said while eating lunch at Chester’s Chicken at a local truck stop.

According to Government Executive magazine, some federal agencies aren’t expecting employees to return to work until as late as March, 2022.

Other federal agencies have yet to set a date.  

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Lummis Criticizes Congress For Not Talking About National Debt

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis criticized her congressional colleagues on Thursday when she pointed out that despite numerous conversations about raising the nation’s debt limit, no one is discussing the debt itself.

Lummis took to the floor to condemn the reckless spending in Congress without any acknowledgement of the continual growth of the national debt.

“I’m a rancher and I often think about policy in ranching terms,” Lummis said. “This is all hat, no cattle politics. We’re starting down a track of a $29 trillion national debt.”

According to CNBC, the ceiling prevents the U.S. Treasury from issuing new bonds to fund government activities once a certain debt level, or date, is reached.

Lummis said when she first came to Congress in 2009, the national debt was just under $10 trillion, which she said at the time seemed “insurmountable.”

Now, the debt has nearly tripled in a little more than a decade.

Lummis paraphrased a popular meme of activist Jimmy McMillan during her speech, saying “The debt is too dang high.”

She said that Congress could not go on spending the way it was without addressing the nation’s debt to its gross domestic product ratio.

She pointed to the proposed $3 trillion spending plan, the 10-year Build Back Better Act that would fund everything from free community college to expanded Medicare, as one of the most irresponsible decisions that Congress and President Joe Biden could make.

“The fact of the matter is unless we actually address the spending problems that are driving our national debt, we are already saddling future generations of people in my state of Wyoming and all the American people with a debt that they will never be ably to repay,” Lummis said. “Soon, interest payments on that debt will crowd out other spending.”

The senator noted that the only reason the interest payments have not overtaken the main debt bill is because interest rates have been relatively low. But, the nation will have to pay back interest before paying for other things, including the items in the spending bill.

“We cannot go on like this,” Lummis said. “It is irresponsible at the deepest levels. I believe this is unforgivable.”

Congress raised the debt ceiling in 2017 under former President Donald Trump, but Lummis said that congressional Democrats left congressional Republicans to be the ones to make the decision on raising the debt ceiling alone. Now, congressional Democrats were used to seeing the debt ceiling raised.

“The problem is that both when Republicans have been in the majority and have raised the debt ceiling, and now Democrats are in the majority and are going to raise the debt ceiling, neither party seems to talk about the debt,” Lummis said. “They only talk about raising the debt ceiling.”

This week, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney voiced similar sentiments on two Wyoming TV news outlets about the debt ceiling and wasteful spending.

“The spending that we’re seeing is so significant and so huge and comes at a moment where it will fundamentally restructure our economy, fundamentally restructure the relationship between the government and individuals in a way that’s very negative,” she said. “I would hope that it would cause some reflection for people to say, ‘We can’t afford this level of spending.’ And it’s not good for the country, and it’s not good for our freedoms. It’s not good for our constitutional rights to have the federal government play such an expansive role in terms of this massive overreach that these bills will entail.”

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Rep. Hans Hunt Steps Down From Legislature To Join Lummis’ Staff in DC

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

State Rep. Hans Hunt, R-Newcastle, on Thursday announced he is resigning from the Wyoming Legislature to join U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis’ staff in Washington, DC.

Hunt, who has served for six terms in the House representing Weston, Niobrara, and Goshen counties, will serve as Lummis’ agriculture and trade policy advisor.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve the voters of House District 2 for the past 10 years,” Hunt said. “Thank you for putting your trust in me to represent you in Cheyenne for six terms. I cannot thank my family and friends enough for all the support they’ve given since day one.”

Hunt was greeted by a bipartisan display of good wishes on Facebook from many members of the Legislature including State Sens. R.J. Kost, R-Powell and Fred Baldwin, R-Kemmerer, and Mike Gierau, D-Jackson, and Reps. Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie, Shelley Duncan, R-Lingle, and Jared Olson, R-Cheyenne.

Many former legislators thanked Hunt for his service as well, including former Sen. Tony Ross, and former Reps. Mary Throne, Lori Garrison, Tom Lubnau, and Tom Jones.

Looking back at his 11 years in the House, Hunt told Cowboy State Daily he was proud of serving as Chair of the House Ag Committee and the Select Water Committee.

In terms of legislative accomplishments, he said House Bill 187 was his favorite. The legislation clarifies residency requirements for most elected county officials.

“I’ve passed other legislation over the years of course, but I personally feel that one had the most impact and did the most good in working to solve a problem,” he said.

Hunt’s addition to Lummis’ staff gives it even more legislative firepower, with three former members of the Legislature working alongside the senator.

Hunt will join former Sen. Leland Christensen and former Rep. Tyler Lindholm — although both of them work here in Wyoming.

Lummis herself was a member of the Legislature. At age 24, she became the youngest woman to be elected to the body. She served in both the House and the Senate before joining Gov. Jim Geringer’s office as general counsel.

Note: There’s only one member still serving in the Legislature who was a freshman with Lummis. That’s State Sen. Charlie Scott, R-Casper, who has the most seniority of the entire body.

Both he and Lummis were elected when Jimmy Carter was the president, Ed Herschler was Wyoming’s governor, Warren Morton was the incoming Speaker of the House, and Neal Stafford was the incoming President of the Senate.

The Pittsburgh Steelers won their fourth Super Bowl in their first year of office. The Atari 2600 was considered state-of-the-art and Löwenbräu was enjoying its peak of success.

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Lummis Slams Yellen For IRS Proposal Mandating Every Transaction Over $600 Be Reported

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis’ grilling of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen over a controversial Internal Revenue Service measure on Tuesday is getting some big time exposure.

Great Britain’s Daily Mail is leading its newspaper with the exchange along with the headline “Biden’s Bank Stasi”.

Secret police references aside, at issue is a controversial measure which would vastly expand the powers of the IRS mandating that every financial transaction — personal and business — be reported to the tax agency.

A fierce critic of the proposal, Lummis laid into Yellen, telling her she was “horrified” that the secretary supported it.

“I am astounded by what you’re supporting and proposing. I think it’s invasive. I think privacy for individuals is being ignored. And I think that treating the American people like they are subjects of the government is unconscionable,” Lummis said.

Privacy concerns, costs to the private sector and new regulatory burdens that financial institutions would have to bear were Lummis’ main points of contention, with privacy issues being paramount.

The Wyoming Bankers Association agrees. It is just one of many organizations in the state and across the country which are objecting to the proposal. 

“This proposal would turn every American’s local bank, credit union and payment provider into an IRS agent, monitoring and reporting on deposits and withdrawals made in private accounts — at a threshold of as little as $600,” the organization told Cowboy State Daily last week.

Lummis took it a step further stating that financial institutions would have to “hire contractors to rat on their customers”.

Lummis referred to her agricultural roots during the questioning asking Yellen if she “distrusted the American people so much that you need to know when you bought a cow?”

Yellen ignored Lummis’ question about the cow — and most of the rest of her testimony — suggesting that she disagreed with how the senator interpreted the proposal.

Yellen said the purpose was to catch individuals who aren’t paying their taxes, prointing to a projected $7 trillion loss in tax revenues “which are not being paid to the government.”

Interrupting the secretary, Lummis said, “Well, $600 threshold is not usually where you’re going to find the massive amount of tax revenue you think Americans are cheating you out of.”

Yellen agreed but said the provision was needed anyway just to make sure.

If it’s enacted, don’t expect Wyoming people to participate, Lummis said. They’ll pull their money out of traditional financial institutions.

“Wyoming’s people, literally we’ll find alternatives to traditional banks, just to thwart IRS access to their personal information, not because they’re trying to hide anything, but because they’re not willing to share everything,” she said.

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Lummis Grills Dept of Transportation Nominees; Gets Them To Commit To Getting Cheyenne Airport Open

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U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis convinced two U.S. Department of Transportation nominees to commit to relaunching air service in Cheyenne, where no commercial airport has been in service for more than a year.

During a Senate Commerce Committee hearing this week, Lummis questioned Victoria Wassmer and Mohsin Syed about their willingness to help get the Cheyenne Regional Airport back in service if they were confirmed to the positions they’ve been nominated for in the department.

“The Cheyenne airport is facing serious challenges and they’re threatening the long-term viability of commercial air service right now,” Lummis said. “Cheyenne has absolutely no commercial air service. That’s been the case since last spring.”

The airport has been closed due to repairs that were originally scheduled to be completed this summer, in time for Cheyenne Frontier Days. However, the airport announced mid-summer it would not open for the 10-day rodeo.

The runway repair was slowed by nationwide shortage of a specific type of concrete that must be used according to Federal Aviation Administration rules. A lack of workers is also making the process take months longer to complete, Wyoming News Now reported.

Lummis pointed to FAA approval as one of the major factors slowing the repair project and said she was worried the capital city might not have air service for even longer than expected, possibly another year or two.

“Without FAA funds being expedited, the airport will not be able to offer commercial air service for the foreseeable future. Maybe a year or two years or more. That would make it the only state in the nation whose capital city has no commercial air service,” she said.

This week, Wyoming News Now reported that airport officials are eyeing a new opening date for later this year, hopefully in time for the holidays.

“It is not a long-term solution for the city of Cheyenne to be without air service,” Lummis said. “In addition to that, it’s a huge problem for Cheyenne’s economy, it will jeopardize our state’s efforts to combat wildfires and it jeopardizes procurement for F.E. Warren Air Force Base.”

Syed, who has been nominated to serve as the DOT’s assistant secretary for government affairs, confirmed to Lummis that he has spoken with her staff about the issue in Cheyenne, and affirmed he would commit to helping the senator with relaunching air service in the city. Wassmer also committed to working with Lummis if she won confirmation.

“We’ll work closely to identify other opportunities associated with the funding for the runway improvements that are happening there at Cheyenne,” Wassmer said.

Lummis is not the only person frustrated with the lack of commercial air options in Cheyenne, with many people visiting the Cheyenne Regional Airport’s Facebook page questioning when flights might again be offered, as some do not want to drive to Denver to catch a plane.

“Wow Cheyenne! One epic fail after another. Maybe try a change in your good ole boy thinking for christs sake..you and your pro trumpian and anti vax attitude are the laughing stock of the world.. but every circus needs a clown!” user Kyle C. Baber said.

“I travel frequently for business & leisure. Its very frustrating to go to Denver for flights. So to get the great rates and flights out of Cheyenne Wy is huge for myself, business partners & family” user Tara LH said.

“Put real airlines to fly in and out of the airport!!!! Such an inconvenience to have to go to denver to fly!!!” user Latini Jmarie said.

“We had tickets to fly in for Frontier Days in 2020. American gave us a credit, so we couldn’t fly into Cheyenne in 2021, did the Denver ratrace. Never again,” user Janet Gabbert said.

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Lummis Honors Slain Wyoming Marine Rylee McCollum on Senate Floor

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Stating that Wyoming’s “heart is heavy with grief today,” U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis took to the Senate floor on Tuesday to pay tribute to Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, a U.S. Marine from Jackson who was one of 13 service members killed in Afghanistan last month.

McCollum’s wife Gigi gave birth to their daughter early Tuesday morning and Lummis said although Rylee will never know Levi Rylee Rose McCollum, she will be in good hands.

“She will be surrounded by love from mother Gigi, proud grandfather, Jim McCollum, Rylee’s sisters, and many other relatives who will share with Levi what a wonderful and heroic father she had,” Lummis said.

The senator said she spent some time with McCollum’s family over the weekend and had the honor of expressing Wyoming’s “deep appreciation of Rylee’s sacrifice to them” pointing to the thousands of people who lined Jackson’s streets to welcome him home.

“Wyoming’s very special way of honoring its beloved Rylee was on full display last Friday, people waving American flags lined the streets of Jackson to give Rylee a hero’s welcome as his remains were returned home,” she said.

“The people of Wyoming are heartbroken but infinitely proud of his bravery and sacrifice,” she said.

Earlier in the day, Rylee’s father Jim wrote a poem welcoming his granddaughter into the world and posted it on his Facebook account.

Levi Rylee rose
I love you little girl
You blessed us with light and love
When you came into the world
Hold on to your mama
She’s needing you right now
You’re precious
You are beautiful
You brought the world together somehow
Your daddy
He’s watching over you
He loves you both so much
You’ll feel him with you always
A random feather
A subtle touch
I can’t wait to hold you
I’m excited to watch you grow
I love you little Levi Rylee Rose
I wanted you to know


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Lummis Says Raising Debt Ceiling Would Just Be Kicking Can Down The Road

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis took to social media on Wednesday to discuss the national debt ceiling, which she doesn’t feel should be raised, as it would just be akin to kicking the can down the road.

This week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Democratic leadership should either raise or suspend the debt ceiling as soon as possible, as the nation is in trouble on defaulting on its debt, according to CNBC.

“I wasn’t in office last time we had this fight, but I would have voted no then too,” Lummis wrote on social media Wednesday morning, linking to a Politico article about the situation. “Raising the debt ceiling is just another attempt to kick the can down the road instead of fixing our spending problem.”

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

On Friday, Lummis also posted a link to an opinion piece by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin in the Wall Street Journal, noting why he wouldn’t support spending another $3.5 trillion due to the nation’s rising debt.

“Joe Manchin is right, ‘An overheating economy has imposed a costly ‘inflation tax’ on every middle- and working-class American” and our national debt is the “biggest threat to national security,’” Lummis wrote.

Lawmakers have until some time in October to decide on raising or suspending the debt ceiling.

According to CNBC, the ceiling prevents the U.S. Treasury from issuing new bonds to fund government activities once a certain debt level, or date, is reached.

That level reached $22 trillion in August 2019 and was suspended until the end of July 2021. The Congressional Budget Office estimated in July that the new cap will likely come in just north of $28.5 trillion.

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Wyoming Lowest In Nation For COVID Vaccinations; Barrasso Says Get Vax, Lummis Says Personal Decision

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

With news from the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) that Wyoming ranks the lowest in the nation for coronavirus vaccinations, the state’s two U.S. senators have differing thoughts on what residents should do about it.

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, a physician by trade, is encouraging individuals to get vaccinated while U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis said the decision is a personal one.

“Vaccines work,” Barrasso said. “If you want to protect yourself and your family, the best thing you can do is get vaccinated. I’m a doctor and I have been vaccinated, as has my wife and my adult kids. I’ll continue to encourage folks across Wyoming to talk to their doctor and get the vaccine if they are eligible.”

Barrasso spokeswoman Laura Mengelkamp told Cowboy State Daily that Barrasso has visited vaccine clinics across the state, written a column on the importance of being vaccinated, advocated for vaccines on TV, participated in public service announcements and repeatedly encouraged people on social media to get the vaccine.

A spokeswoman for Lummis said although the senator has been vaccinated against the coronavirus, she feels it is a decision that should made with input from a doctor, not the government.

“She is hopeful that with the recent full authorization of the Pfizer vaccine, people in Wyoming will discuss the risks and benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine and make the decision that is best for them and their families,” spokeswoman Abegail Cave told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday.

She noted Lummis recently signed on as a co-sponsor to a bill proposed by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, which would prohibit the federal government from requiring citizens to carry proof that they have been vaccinated — so-called vaccine passports.

According to the CDC, Wyoming had 201,863 unvaccinated adults in the state, 45.36% of its population, the highest rate of unvaccinated people in the country.

West Virginia and Mississippi each owned the distinction of having the highest share of unvaccinated residents in the nation for months until Wyoming recently surpassed each state.

West Virginia is in 49th place with 44.36% of its citizens being unvaccinated while Mississippi is next at 44.20%.

Texas actually had the highest number of unvaccinated adults, with 6.6 million, but that amounted to only 30.8% of its population.

Spokespeople for Gov. Mark Gordon and U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney did not respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment.

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Lummis Supports Bill Preventing Vaccine Mandate

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis announced her support on Friday for a new bill that would prevent federal vaccine mandates.

Earlier this year, Lummis and U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Braun (R-Indiana) introduced legislation to prohibit such federal requirements.

“Much like Obamacare, a federal vaccine mandate would insert government into what should be a personal decision between a patient and their doctor,” Lummis said Friday. “Any vaccine mandate will further divide our country, instead of uniting us. That’s why I’m supporting the No Vaccine Passports Act, which would keep the federal government from forcing anyone to get a vaccine approved under Emergency Use Authorization, like the COVID vaccines.”

President Joe Biden has not implemented a nationwide vaccine mandate, although earlier this week, he announced that federal employees would be required to either obtain the vaccine or be tested regularly for coronavirus and would be required to use masks and practice social distancing.

In May, Gov. Mark Gordon officially banned state agencies, boards and commissions from requiring “vaccine passports” to access state spaces and services. Other states have implemented similar bans against vaccine passports.

“Vaccine passport programs have the potential to politicize a decision that should not be politicized,” Gordon said. “They would divide our citizens at a time when unity in fighting the virus is essential, and harm those who are medically unable to receive the vaccine. While I strongly encourage Wyomingites over the age of 16 to get vaccinated against COVID-19, it is a personal choice based upon personal circumstances.”

The new directive also encouraged Wyoming’s counties, cities and towns, as well as private business, to follow the state’s example in providing access to public spaces and services to all.

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Barrasso, Lummis Ask Biden To Not Revoke Ability To Expel Immigrants From Infectious Countries

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis joined a group of senators this week in asking President Joe Biden to leave in place a rule allowing the U.S. to expel undocumented immigrants who came to America from countries with high coronavirus infection rates.

“Ending this order will have a dire impact on the crisis already engulfing our southwestern border,” the senators wrote in a letter to Biden.

Title 42 allows the government to expel immigrants who have been in a country where a communicable disease is present. According to political website The Hill, the rule was implemented under former President Donald Trump and has been used to expel around 100,000 immigrants every month.

Reports have indicated Biden is thinking about revoking the rule, perhaps as early as the end of July.

In their letter to Biden, the senators highlighted how immigration facilities are already overcrowded and overwhelmed, and ending Title 42 will further exacerbate the crisis at the southern border.

“We urge you in the strongest possible terms not to take this action…Immigration facilities are overwhelmed,” the letter said. “Revoking the authority of officials to rapidly expel illegal migrants under Title 42 without a clear plan in place to handle the stress this population will place on the system and on border communities will further exacerbate the crisis at the southwestern border.”

The senators added that limiting the number of individuals held in close quarters through expulsion is a justified measure while dealing with the persistent threat of the coronavirus, which is highly transmissible.

“The administration’s first priority must be to protect the American homeland,” the group wrote. “Allowing political considerations to overrule the clear public health threat created by the spread of COVID-19 at the border is reckless and irresponsible.”

Other than Barrasso and Lummis, the group of 30 senators who signed the letter included Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo and South Dakota Sen. John Thune, to name a few.

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Lummis Praises Court’s Decision To Allow People Under 21 To Buy Guns

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis is praising a federal court’s decision this week to allow adults under the age of 21 to own a handgun.

A panel of judges for the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals handed down the decision on Tuesday in favor of arguments that that federal laws preventing law-abiding 18-,19-, or 20-year-olds from owning a firearm violated the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.

“The Second Amendment is a constitutional right,” Lummis said. “There is no reason a law-abiding 18-year-old adult should be denied that right solely based on their age. If we trust them to defend our country, we should trust them enough to purchase a handgun. I applaud the decision of the Fourth Circuit.” 

Judge Julius Richardson of the Fourth Circuit wrote in the decision, “When do constitutional rights vest? At 18 or 21? 16 or 25? Why not 13 or 33? In the law, a line must sometimes be drawn. But there must be a reason why constitutional rights cannot be enjoyed until a certain age. Our nation’s most cherished constitutional rights vest no later than 19. And the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms is no different.” 

In April, Lummis introduced a bill that would allow adults under 21 to purchase firearms.

The Second Amendment Mandates Equality Act of 2021 would repeal the law that currently prohibits people under the age of 21 from buying a handgun and reinstate the right of adults between the ages of 18 and 20 to purchase a handgun from a federally licensed dealer. The bill was co-sponsored by a number of Republican senators, including Montana’s Steve Daines, Idaho’s Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and North Dakota’s Kevin Cramer.

“The Second Amendment is a constitutional right, and does not treat 18-year-olds as second-class adults,” Lummis said at the time. “In keeping with the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, the SAME Act would overturn our current restrictive anti-handgun statute and ensure equal treatment under law for adults under 21.”

“Ultimately, if we trust 18-year-olds enough to defend our country and to choose our elected officials, we should trust them enough to purchase a handgun,” she added.

The senators argued that people age 18 to 20 are considered adults and can get married, serve in the military and form business contracts, therefore, they should have the right to buy a handgun.

“Sen. Cynthia Lummis’ Second Amendment Mandates Equality Act (SAME Act) is true ‘common-sense’ gun legislation,” Gun Owners of America spokesman Aidan Johnston said. “The current 18–20-year-old handgun ban is antiquated and keeps honest, young adults disarmed – sending the message that the Second Amendment is a second-class right.”

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Lummis Calls For End of Mask Mandate For Vaccinated Americans on Airplanes

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Sen. Cynthia Lummis on Wednesday said it is time to end mandates for the use of face masks on airplanes and public transportation for Americans who have been vaccinated against coronavirus.

In announcing her support for the bill which would eliminate the mask mandate for vaccinated people in airports, commercial airplanes, buses, and rail systems, Lummis said the mandate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is no longer necessary and needs to rescinded immediately.

“Outside of the beltway, the country is going back to normal. Wyoming and most other states lifted their mask mandate months ago,” Lummis said.

“The only place most Americans are wearing masks now is in airports and on airplanes,” she said. “[Transportation] Secretary Buttigieg even said that the mandate is not actually about the science, but instead about ‘respect.’ If there’s no science backing it up, it’s time for the mandate to go.”

Other Republican senators from the more conservatives and moderate wings of the party also spoke in support of the bill stating that the mandate has outgrown its usefulness as more than 150 million Americans have been fully vaccinated.

“Americans should be able to travel to celebrate Independence Day with their friends and loved ones without having to follow an outdated and unnecessary mandate,” Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said.

“I recently spoke with two flight attendants about the mask mandate for air travel,” said Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). “Given the horrendous and unthinkable violence that has occurred on flights, one of them was frightened by what would happen if she tried to enforce the mandate.”

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Lummis, Barrasso Criticize ATF For Proposed Pistol Brace Rule

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis have joined a majority of their Republicans in the Senate in sending a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms asking it to withdraw a newly proposed gun rule.

Barrasso and Lummis joined 46 of their Republican colleagues in signing the letter to the ATF late last week that criticized proposed restrictions on “stabilizing braces” for handguns, saying they amounted to an infringement on Second Amendment rights.

“Every day, people across Wyoming responsibly use their Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms,” Barrasso said. “This proposed rule threatens to turn law-abiding Americans into criminals by imposing the largest executive branch-initiated gun registration and confiscation program in American history. Our letter calls on the Biden administration to correct this mistake and withdraw this misguided rule.”

The rule, which was proposed earlier this month, would reclassify many pistols used with stabilizing braces as short-barreled rifles. A federal license is required to own a short-barreled rifle under the National Firearms Act, according to a Fox News article.

The letter from the senators said that by creating this rule, the ATF is suggesting the braces are “dangerous alterations to firearms designed to help criminals evade federal law,” which couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Stabilizing braces were initially designed and manufactured to assist disabled combat veterans in shooting larger pistols that were otherwise too cumbersome for a disabled gun owner to use,” Lummis told Cowboy State Daily. “The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has previously ruled that they are permissible. This decision to overturn that ruling infringes on the Second Amendment rights of disabled veterans and non-veterans alike, across Wyoming and the nation.”

According to the ATF, the proposed rule would not affect stabilizing braces that are “designed to conform to the arm,” only devices that are designed to allow a handgun to be fired from the shoulder, like a rifle, the Fox News article said.

Republican Senators argued that the ATF’s criteria with this new rule is “vague, confusing, and largely subjective.”

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All of Wyoming’s Delegation Oppose Teaching Critical Race Theory In Schools

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A congressional measure critical of “critical race theory” has won the support of U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis.

Earlier this week, Lummis backed a bill that would prohibit federal funding from being used to teach the New York Times’ 1619 Project (named after the year Black slaves were first brought to the American colonies) and critical race theory in schools.

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton introduced the act last July, but reintroduced this week, with support from Lummis, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and fellow Arkansas Sen. John Boozman, to name a few.

“Students and teachers should have an open and honest dialogue in the classroom about our nation’s history,” Lummis said. “However, the 1619 Project is pushing an anti-American agenda and distorted, revisionist history with hard-earned taxpayer dollars. I’m pleased to join my colleagues in opposing this waste of federal money.”

Lummis is not alone among Wyoming’s congressional delegates in her opposition to critical race theory. U.S. Sen. John Barrasso echoed his colleague’s sentiments in a statement to Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday.

“Students need foundational knowledge about American history and a good understanding of our governing institutions,” he said. “The 1619 Project is the far left’s attempt to force a political and divisive agenda on students across the country.”

In a comment to Cowboy State Daily, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney said decisions about teaching children should be made by parents and local stakeholders in Wyoming schools, not Washington bureaucrats.

“I strongly oppose the mandated teaching of critical race theory or using taxpayer dollars to advance that curriculum,” she said. “Decisions about teaching and educating our children should not come from Washington bureaucrats or from radical liberals with extreme liberal agendas, but should be made by parents and local stakeholders in Wyoming so we can instill students with the Western values and principles that our state embodies.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education proposed priorities for American history and civics education grant programs which include encouraging districts to use curriculum related to the New York Times’ 1619 Project (a journalism project that focuses on the consequences of slavery and contributions of Black Americans), critical race theory and the work of anti-racism activist and author Ibram X. Kendi.

Critical race theory is described as some as proposing that racism is a social construct ingrained in American life and laws.

Last month, Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow spoke out against the teaching of critical race theory in Wyoming schools.

“The draft rule is an attempt to normalize teaching controversial and politically trendy theories about America’s history. History and civics should not be secondary to political whim,” she said. “Instead, history and civics instruction should engage students in objective, non-partisan analyses of historical and current events.

“For good reason, public schools do not promote particular political ideologies or religions over others,” she continued. “This federal rule attempts to break from that practice and use taxpayer dollars to do just that.”

While Balow agreed that America needed to update and renew its expectations for teaching and learning about history and civics, she countered that every school board, state legislature and state superintendent should work to build a local consensus about what should be taught and what materials should be used in classrooms.

“Every family should be engaged in activities that ensure the rising generation is properly prepared to be informed citizens,” Baow said. “Every student deserves a rich and engaging education about America’s triumphs, treacheries, losses, and victories. Our touchstone is our shared principle that all Americans have infinite value and individual freedom and responsibility. We must strive to find common goals and values as a nation, not tear each other and our country apart.”

In late April, Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed a bill that outlawed state teachers to instruct on critical race theory and other “social justice” issues.

In addition to Idaho, Florida, Arkansas and Oklahoma have officially banned the teaching of critical race theory in K-12 schools, but multiple other state legislatures are discussing the same decision, according to Newsweek.

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Lummis, GOP Senators Introduce Resolution Highlighting Importance of Free Speech

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis joined other Republican senators this week in introducing a resolution confirming the importance of the First Amendment’s freedom of speech protections.

Lummis joined North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer, Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn, among others, to introduce this legislation.

“I am an ardent defender of the U.S. Constitution, and the liberties it protects,” Lummis said. “People in Wyoming don’t always agree on everything, but we are always proud to defend the right of others to voice their opinions. Everything exceptional about America can be traced back to the protections granted under the First Amendment. We must all work every day to reaffirm those principles, especially that those we disagree with still have a right to be heard.”

In the resolution, the senators pointed out a number of examples where people’s freedom of speech rights were suppressed for some reason or another.

These included an Oregon high school student who was suspended for wearing a shirt supporting former President Donald Trump, a person being suspended from e-sports competitions for wearing a mask supporting protests in Hong Kong and a New York Times opinion editor who resigned six months after editing and publishing a controversial editorial piece by Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton.

The senators noted that “freedom of speech is one of the most basic values of the United States,” and “the ability of all people of the United States to speak, protest, and express their opinions publicly is central to the democratic process and to a free society.”

If passed, the resolution would certify that the Senate “recognizes that freedom of expression and freedom of speech are sacred ideals of the United States and should protect the freedom to peacefully express thoughts and opinions without fear.”

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Cynthia Lummis: Why I’m Founding The Financial Innovation Caucus

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By Senator Cynthia Lummis

Wyoming has always boasted pioneers. We’re called the Equality State because we broke so many barriers for women. We also lead in the energy sector, as both the country’s biggest net energy supplier, and the creator of new, cleaner means of energy production.

Today, I’m launching the Financial Innovation Caucus in the United States Senate to cement our pioneering leadership in another area: financial technology, digital assets, and our economic future. 

Technology has changed so much of our lives, mostly for the better. In the world of finance, technology has the potential to bring Wyoming families and business owners greater wealth and investment opportunities through a faster, safer financial system.

It starts with something called a “digital asset.” A digital asset is like any asset you might own (a house, a car, or share of stock), but consists of a computer code-based representation of that asset. Essentially you own computer code. This might sound farfetched, but if you think about it, the website Google.com is nothing more than computer code, and we would all agree that Google.com has substantial value.

Digital assets hold value because of a technology called “blockchain.” Blockchains are a secure way of recording actions and transactions. Blockchain records are hacker-proof because they created a lot of copies of the transaction record, so if someone tampers with one copy, the other copies will immediately show it.

Blockchain technology can be used for a lot of things, but one example in Wyoming is supply chain management. Wyoming ranchers today are using a blockchain for cattle that allows consumers to track the steak they are eating from “conception to consumption.” You can know what steer your filet came from, whose ranch, what butcher, and it brings ranchers higher prices.

In the future, this technology can also help eliminate the time it takes to make money transfers, or to clear your paycheck at the bank. It can update the “plumbing” of our financial system.

This brings us to Wyoming. Starting in 2018, Wyoming enacted a series of laws that are turning our state into the ideal place to set up digital asset and blockchain businesses. We grant property rights to digital asset owners. We are empowering entrepreneurs to try new things with the assurance that their work is protected. And we have authorized the creation of a new kind of bank specifically for digital assets that integrates them into the financial system safely.

As a result of these laws, we started something: a movement to bring America’s financial system into the 21st Century. A dozen other states and the federal government have copied our laws.

South Dakota did something similar in the 1980s. Credit cards were brand new, and South Dakota passed a series of laws to attract credit card companies to the state. Because they were first, many credit card companies to this day house themselves in South Dakota, and the state holds over $3 trillion in bank assets – more than any other state in the country. More importantly, there are tens of thousands of high paying financial industry jobs in South Dakota.

Delaware did something similar, but for corporations. Today, more than 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies are incorporated in Delaware. These corporations provide billions in tax revenue to fund Delaware’s schools, roads, and hospitals.

I want Wyoming to be the next financial success story. But this is about more than just our state. For much of the last decade, China has spent enormous amounts of time and money on researching blockchain technology, digital assets, and more. Today, they have introduced a new form of digital money in several cities, and they want to do this internationally. If they out-innovate us, that could shift the global financial system to China and away from the United States. 

A shift like that would undermine the U.S. dollar as the leading global currency, and would mean that the low interest rate we currently pay on our $28 trillion national debt would increase – putting our country in a very difficult financial situation.

Clearly, we need to bring our financial system into the 21st Century. That’s why we need the Financial Innovation Caucus. This caucus will educate senators of both parties about digital assets, blockchain, faster payments, and how the United States can surpass countries like China.

This will take a lot of work, and the caucus is just the starting point. But it is a central part of how I am working to ensure that what we pioneered in Wyoming brings our state the same success that Delaware and South Dakota experienced from their efforts. And at the same time, it will help the United States lead in the 21st Century, and for generations to come.

Cynthia Lummis is the junior senator from Wyoming.

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Cynthia Lummis: Let Wyoming & Other Conservative States Lead On Reducing National Debt

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By U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis

Governor Mark Gordon recently announced that Wyoming would end its participation in the federal supplemental unemployment benefits program. He joined governors and leaders in 20 other conservative states in rejecting these benefits as doing more harm than good.

What began as a lifeline intended for individuals struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic has turned into a deterrent for some to return to work. These states’ rejection of these supplemental benefits was a smart move for their business communities in desperate need of workers, and it is an important signal to the federal government that if states doesn’t need federal funding, they will not take it.

If only the federal government could be as fiscally conservative. With our national debt sitting at a staggering $28 trillion, one would think that President Joe Biden would be ready to take a hard look at our spending and find ways to reduce it.

Instead, he has plans to spend $6 trillion this year alone on progressive priorities like the Green New Deal under the guise of infrastructure and new entitlement spending we simply cannot afford. His proposed tax increases would do more to wreck our economy than pay this tab. Clearly, something must change.

One of the problems that fiscally conservative state leaders face is when Congress allocates money, they must make a tough choice: Either accept grant money their state does not necessarily need – or want – like Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion or extra unemployment benefits; or reject the money and see it go to governors and states who are happy to take these tax dollars for their own residents.

Typically, if a red state like Wyoming takes the responsible route, a blue state – like Massachusetts or New York or California – will pocket the allocations.

It shouldn’t be that way.

That’s why I recently introduced the Pay Down the Debt Act, a bill that would prevent any federal grant funds refused by a fiscally responsible state government from going to another state. Instead, my bill would require those funds to go to reduce our national debt.

Now, I am not opposed to every grant. I’m a small government conservative, not anti-government. But I know what happens when your tax dollars get funneled through Washington on the way back to our state for its use. The bureaucracy adds layers of restrictions and requirements on its way back to you.

At the end of the day, even if the federal government won’t take our national debt seriously, we know that average Americans and your state legislators and governors often do.

In fact, a recent Gallup poll found 78 percent of Americans surveyed had some personal worry about the national debt and federal deficit. Only eight percent of respondents did not worry about the debt and deficit.

It’s time for Congress to let conservative states do what we seem constitutionally incapable of doing: saying no to taxpayer dollars and instead using it to pay what we already owe.

If my bill were to pass, conservative state leaders would know they have the power to say no to federal government waste. Moreover, they would be actively empowered to reduce the American taxpayers’ national debt burden. 

Fiscally prudent citizens and elected officials must do all in our power to reverse the direction of our deficit and debt spending.

This legislation is a meaningful, real step to start reining in spending and reducing our debt, however small. And for every dollar this legislation saves today, it is one less one that we have to pay back tomorrow.

Cynthia Lummis is the junior senator from Wyoming.

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Lummis Promotes Grizzly Delisting While Questioning Biden Nominee

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

After questioning President Joe Biden’s nominee for assistant secretary of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis remains unsure about whether she will vote to confirm the woman to the post, according to her office.

An aide to Lummis to the senator said while Lummis appreciated Shannon Estenoz’ statements during a Senate committee hearing that the state management of grizzly bears is central to continuing the species’ recovery.

“Wyoming, Idaho and Montana first achieved all of the grizzly bear’s recovery objectives set by the federal government in 1997, more than 24 years ago,” the aide said. “The committee will vote on Estenoz’s nomination in coming weeks (the date has yet to be determined). Sen. Lummis is still considering how she will vote on her nomination.”

Lummis asked Estenoz during the hearing whether grizzlies should be removed from the Endangered Species List, given the fact the recovery of the bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is one of the greatest success stories of the Endangered Species Act.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Bush administration, the Obama administration and the Trump administration’s all agreed that the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear population has recovered and should be delisted,” Lummis said. “Do you believe we should keep species on the list?”

Estenoz agreed that the Yellowstone area grizzly “is doing very, very well.”

“I believe when species meet the definition of delisting or down-listing, then we should delist or down-list,” Estenoz said.

“It’s really important for folks to feel supported and listened to and that we have the right tools in the toolbox to help folks live and exist with a recovering predator species, and state management and state expertise as I said before is absolutely central to this approach,” she said.

Estenoz said if she is confirmed, she will prioritize working with communities to “recover,” or delist, predators in particular.

In 1975, there were 136 grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In 2019, there were 728 bears, evidence of an effective conservation effort. At this point, grizzly numbers have been in the 700s for a number of years. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team’s analysis suggests that the park is at or near its ecological carrying capacity for grizzly bears.

Lummis is a sponsor of the Grizzly Bear State Management Act of 2021, which would remove grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the Endangered Species List and shift management of the grizzlies to wildlife scientists in the states. U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.

Bears have become so populous in the park and Yellowstone area that it is common for tourists to encounter them every summer. This week, a woman was charged by a grizzly while filming three bears running around.

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Cheney is On Her Own; Barrasso, Lummis, Gordon Offer No Support

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s top elected officials are offering no support for U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney as she fights to retain her U.S. House leadership position.

However, two of the three, Gov. Mark Gordon and U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis, vowed to continue working for Wyoming regardless of the outcome of a vote to remove Cheney as chair of the House Republican Conference, the No. 3 position among Republicans in the House.

“We have to remember that (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi and (Senate Majority Leader) Chuck Schumer are the real threats to Wyoming,” Gov. Mark Gordon told Cowboy State Daily on Monday. “Regardless of what the House does, I’ll continue working with our delegation to protect our Wyoming’s way of life and advance a conservative agenda.”

Last week, U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Lousiana, confirmed that he is now backing U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-New York, for Cheney’s position. Former President Donald Trump is also expected to endorse Stefanik for the job.

Lummis spokeswoman Abegail Cave directed Cowboy State Daily to a statement the senator gave to the KROE radio station in Sheridan last week about the Cheney situation.

“I served in the House for eight years and I was a member of the Republican conference there,” she said. “[Cheney] is currently the spokesman for that current conference and it’s up to them to determine who they want to lead.”

Lummis added that she didn’t comment on matters in the House of Representatives and how they conduct their business. She noted that during her time in the House, former House Speaker John Boehner lost the support of the conference, which led him to step down and by replaced by former House Speaker Paul Ryan.

“I know how difficult these times can be, having been through it when I was in the House,” Lummis said. “All I can say is, House Republicans will do the best thing for their conference. And I’ll just leave it at that.”

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso did not respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment.

However, when asked by Fox News host John Roberts if Cheney should be replaced, he dodged the question, speaking instead about the importance of returning Republicans to the majority in Congress.

“I chair the conference in the Senate,” Barrasso said. “And we’re focused on the future and taking back the Senate in 2022. We need to be together as a team.”

This isn’t the first time. Two weeks ago while appearing on ABC News, he said the same thing when host Martha Raddatz asked him if Cheney hurt the Republican Party.

“We need to focus on the 2022 elections, so that we can win back the House win back the Senate, get united on the things on which we agree, and then successfully stop the far extreme efforts of this Biden administration and those that are taking the country towards socialism,” he said.

Cheney has faced growing backlash among her Republican colleagues (and many Republicans and conservatives in general) for her vote to impeach Trump following the Capitol riot on Jan. 6. She was one of 10 House Republicans to do so.

Since then, Cheney and Trump have been locked in a battle of sorts, with the former president regularly throwing barbs her way. She recently commented on his claims that he truly won the presidential election, saying anyone who believed that the election was stolen was spreading lies and turning their back on the rule of law.

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Lummis Blasts Biden For Being Partisan On Infrastructure

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis this week questioned the motives behind President Joe Biden’s latest infrastructure bill, noting that the legislation only has support from congressional Democrats.

During a speech on the Senate floor Monday, Lummis called on Biden to unite the two parties in Congress so they can work together on the proposed $2 trillion package.

“Honestly, I am hard pressed to remember a time when infrastructure was not bipartisan,” she said. “In 2021, this should be no different. If President Biden wants to truly unite the nation, he can start by working with Republicans on the most basic bipartisan issues.”

She said it was “perplexing” that Biden, who campaigned on a message of bringing the nation together, was pushing a “blatantly partisan bill.”

“While much divides Congress these days, infrastructure, as that term is understood by most Americans, is a bipartisan issue,” Lummis said. “As such one would assume President Biden would want to find some common ground in order to build relationships in Congress and address the needs of every citizen.”

The infrastructure package focuses on job creation, traditional infrastructure spending and investment in certain areas such as funding for care workers and for childcare to be offered at workplaces.

In particular, Lummis addressed the current backlog in funding that the nation’s highways and bridges face. 

“Right now, we have a highway trust fund that we can’t actually trust,” she said. “Since 2008 we have been relying on general fund transfers to pay for our roads and bridges, instead of fixing our user fee model to keep the trust fund solvent.”

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Lummis Introduces Bill That Would Allow People Under 21 to Buy Handguns

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis introduced a bill this week that would allow adults between the ages of 18 and 20 to purchase a handgun from a federally-licensed dealer.

The Second Amendment Mandates Equality Act of 2021 would repeal the law that currently prohibits people under the age of 21 from buying a handgun. The bill was co-sponsored by a number of Republican senators, including Montana’s Steve Daines, Idaho’s Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and North Dakota’s Kevin Cramer.

“The Second Amendment is a constitutional right, and does not treat 18-year-olds as second-class adults,” Lummis said. “In keeping with the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, the SAME Act would overturn our current restrictive anti-handgun statute and ensure equal treatment under law for adults under 21.”

“Ultimately, if we trust 18-year-olds enough to defend our country and to choose our elected officials, we should trust them enough to purchase a handgun,” she added.

The senators argued that people age 18 to 20 are considered adults and can get married, serve in the military and form business contracts, therefore, they should have the right to buy a handgun.

“Arbitrary age restrictions barring law-abiding adults from legally and lawfully purchasing a handgun are unconstitutional and out of line with our country’s foundational beliefs,” Risch said. “The SAME Act will reinstall the constitutionally guaranteed Second Amendment rights of 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds and expand access for Americans seeking to purchase firearms legally.”

The SAME Act is supported by Gun Owners of America and the National Association for Gun Rights.

“Sen. Cynthia Lummis’ Second Amendment Mandates Equality Act (SAME Act) is true ‘common-sense’ gun legislation,” Gun Owners of America spokesman Aidan Johnston said. “The current 18–20-year-old handgun ban is antiquated and keeps honest, young adults disarmed – sending the message that the Second Amendment is a second-class right. GOA commends Senator Lummis for standing for the Second Amendment rights of young adults.”

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Lummis Scoffs At Biden’s Order to Quit Using Phrase “Illegal Alien”

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis scoffed at President Biden’s order that federal agencies can no longer use the phrase “illegal alien” when describing immigrants who are not in the United States legally.

The phrase, which is used throughout U.S. immigration law, is not the issue, Lummis said. Rather, it’s the calamity at the U.S. – Mexico border, where tens of thousands of migrants have illegally entered the United States with the change of presidential administrations.

“While President Biden should be focused on the crisis happening at our southern border, it’s disappointing to see him instead focusing on semantics,” Abegail Cave, a spokesperson for Lummis, told Cowboy State Daily. “Immigrants who come across our border illegally are, in fact, illegal immigrants.”

The president earlier this week directed all U.S. immigration divisions to stop using the term “illegal alien” and to instead use the phrase “undocumented noncitizen”.

“We enforce our nation’s laws while also maintaining the dignity of every individual with whom we interact. The words we use matter and will serve to further confer that dignity to those in our custody,” the memo reads.

Like Lummis, Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney said the issue is the crisis at the border, not terminology.

“People who attempt to enter the country illegally are not simply non-citizens,” Cheney said. “[Biden and Harris’] decision to embrace open borders has resulted in a humanitarian, public health and national security crisis. Migrants who unlawfully enter our country are, by definition, illegal aliens.

“President Biden needs to reverse course and put in place the policies that will secure our border and put an end to the surge of illegal immigration,” she added.

While Sen. John Barrasso did not respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for a comment, he has previously criticized the president’s approach to immigration.

“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 on the Senate floor earlier this month. “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.”

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Jimmy Orr: Cynthia Lummis Bodyslams Montana Rep Who Doesn’t Understand Where Yellowstone Is

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Anyone who’s from Wyoming might occasionally get annoyed when people sometimes associate Yellowstone National Park with Montana.

After all, it’s barely in Montana. Only 3 percent of the park is located in Montana whereas 96% is located in Wyoming and the extra 1 percent (if anyone cares) is located in Idaho.

So when Montana Congressman Matt Rosendale had the audacity to say that Montana was the home of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming Sen. Cynthia Lummis rightfully body slammed him.

This all took place on social media where Rosendale apparently was celebrating National Park Week and cut a :45 second video where he committed the foul.

“When you think of national parks, there is a reason you think of Montana. We’re home to the two crown jewels of the National Park system: Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks,” he wrongly said.

The Western Caucus, a group representing western representatives, tweeted the video along with the error-filled language “Rep. Rosendale of Montana represents Yellowstone National Park, the first national park in the world, and Glacier National Park, which includes over 1 million acres.”

Lummis, rightfully, reworked that tweet correcting the language.

With a red pen, Lummis corrected the first sentence to read:

“When you think of national parks, there’s a reason you think of Wyoming.”

Then she took to the second sentence where she inserted some language that made the statement correct.

“Rep. Rosendale of Montana represents a tiny part of Yellowstone National Park…” the corrected copy reads.

Rosendale weakly tried to come back by saying:  “They put the show in Montana for a reason.”

Then, Lummis, from the top ropes emasculated Rosendale with one deadly sentence.

“Not our fault the Hollywood is bad at geography,” she said.

Silence. Rosendale couldn’t reply. She annihilated him. 

He should probably resign.

Montana’s Sen. Steve Daines then chimed in saying “I think we should talk.”

Lummis happily obliged tweeting a photo of a Wyoming shirt with a bison and the wording “Yellowstone National Park.”

Game. Set. Match. Wyoming.

Well done, Sen. Lummis. Well done.

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Lummis On National Debt: “We Are On An Unsustainable Trajectory”

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis and some fellow Republican senators introduced legislation Thursday that pushes to balance the federal budget within the next decade.

The Sustainable Budget Act would create a bipartisan national commission to review the nation’s budget and recommend ways to reduce the deficit and balance the budget within 10 years.

“Congress has spent nearly $6 trillion in the last year,” Lummis said in a social media post about the bill. “Much of it was necessary to weather the pandemic, but I know that people in Wyoming are concerned that we have no plan to pay it back. We are on an unsustainable trajectory. It’s time to make some changes.”

The bill is co-sponsored by Republican U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, according to an article by conservative news outlet Washington Examiner, which had an exclusive interview with Lummis about the bill.

In the interview, Lummis expressed concern that the U.S. would spend more on debt interest than it does on defense.

Her proposed commission would work to find policies to improve the fiscal situation of the federal government in the medium- and-long term by balancing the national budget.

The commission would be chosen by a number of White House officials, including the president.

Specifically, Lummis wanted to look at “entitlement spending” in federal programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The current national debt is $28.1 trillion.

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Lummis, Cheney Differ on Biden’s Afghanistan Troop Removal Announcement

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Congresswoman Liz Cheney and U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis have differing opinions on President Joe Biden’s announcement that American troops will be removed from Afghanistan.

The president made the announcement on Wednesday that all troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, ending America’s longest war.

Cheney said the announcement was a “huge propaganda victory” for the Taliban and al Qaeda.

“Any withdrawal of forces based on a political timeline … any withdrawal of forces that is not based on conditions on the ground puts American security at risk,” Cheney said.

“I’m not sure why the White House has selected [Sept. 11], but I can tell you that this is a huge victory, a huge propaganda victory for the Taliban, for al Qaeda,” she said. “The notion that on the day that they attacked us, we are going to mark that anniversary by withdrawing our forces.”

Lummis, however, saw things differently. She welcomed Biden’s announcement with the caveat the troops should be coming home sooner.

“After 20 long years our troops will finally be leaving Afghanistan,” she tweeted. “I wish the Biden Administration had kept to President Trump’s May 1 deadline, but I am pleased our troops are coming home.”

“I look forward to working with the current Administration to continue our intelligence gathering efforts and preventing terrorists from using Afghanistan as a home base,” she said.

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso had not released a statement on the announcement by Wednesday afternoon.

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Barrasso, Cheney, Lummis Say Biden Is Infringing on Consitutional Rights With Gun Orders

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

All three of Wyoming’s congressional delegates are criticizing President Joe Biden’s firearm-related executive actions.

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, along with U.S. Sens. Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso, all took to social media on Thursday to slam Biden’s six orders regarding firearms that were announced this week.

“The Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. I will always defend it,” Cheney said. “Actions like the ones President Biden took today infringe on the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans, while doing nothing to prevent criminals from committing the tragic attacks we have seen in communities across our country.”

Biden’s six orders included one to tighten restrictions on “ghost guns,” weapons that can be built from parts purchased online and that do not carry serial numbers, and one to tighten restrictions on stabilizing braces used with handguns to improve their accuracy.

He also ordered the Justice Department to prepare model “red flag” legislation for states that may want to adopt such laws. “Red flag” laws allow family members or law enforcement agencies to ask courts to temporarily ban people who may pose a threat to themselves or others from possessing firearms.

Lummis said that these orders wouldn’t stop “evil people.”

“The problem is still not the 2nd Amendment, and President Biden’s actions won’t stop evil people, just make it harder for law-abiding people in Wyoming to exercise their rights,” the senator wrote on Twitter.

Barrasso also commented on the social media platform, saying Biden was infringing on people’s constitutional rights.

“Every day across Wyoming, we responsibly exercise our right to keep and bear arms. The last thing we need is for the president to infringe on our constitutional right to protect our homes and families,” he said.

They are just a few of the Wyoming officials who have spoken out against these orders.

On Thursday, Gov. Mark Gordon said he was disappointed with the executive orders signed Thursday by President Joe Biden that the president said were aimed at slowing gun violence.

“I just want to say how disappointed I really am at the Biden administration and their actions today, because the Second Amendment is something that is absolutely fundamental to Wyoming,” he said. “There is no question the Second Amendment is a constitutional right and Wyoming will stand firm against any attempts to erode that right. We will protect our firearms at all costs.”

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Wyoming’s Delegation Oppose Biden’s Infrastructure Plan; “Out-Of-Control Socialist Spending Spree”

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s congressional delegates have all come out against President Joe Biden’s newest infrastructure plan, calling it “out-of-control” and a “political football.”

The $2 trillion package focuses on job creation, traditional infrastructure spending and investment in certain areas such as funding for care workers and for childcare to be offered at workplaces.

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis wrote a short comment about the plan on Twitter, retweeting an article from political website “The Hill.”

“Everyone agrees that we need to update our transportation infrastructure. Biden wants to make it a political football,” she wrote. “We can do better.”

Her congressional colleagues had much more to say, though.

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso called the plan an “out-of-control socialist spending spree.”

“This proposal…will hike taxes and spend trillions of dollars on the left’s radical agenda,” Barrasso said. “Democrats are offering to hamstring the economy with higher energy bills and higher taxes for families in Wyoming and across the country. Republicans want to protect our energy dominance, and let hardworking Americans keep the money they earned.”

“President Biden should change course and look to our bipartisan highway bill from the last Congress if he is really interested in improving our infrastructure,” Barrasso added.

Biden also intends to hike taxes on corporations, which would offset the bill’s spending in about 15 years.

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney called the plan the “largest tax hike in history” and said it would destroy jobs and increase the nation’s debt.

“These tax increases would hurt middle-class Americans, taking more of their hard-earned money at a time when our economy is still recovering.” Cheney said. “The Biden plan would eliminate the pro-growth policies that reduced unemployment to historic lows and led to the creation of one of the strongest economy’s our country has ever seen.”

She added congressional Democrats admitted the plan was more about fulfilling “Green New Deal fantasies” rather than helping the nation.

“Once again, President Biden has shown that he does not appear to be serious about working across the aisle,” Cheney said. “I hope Congress will reject the far-left outline he put forward today and instead work in a bipartisan manner to pass targeted infrastructure legislation that both parties agree we need.” 

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Laramie Man Charged With Threatening to Kill Lummis, Barrasso, Bouchard, Gaetz

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Laramie man faces multiple charges after allegedly threatening to kill several state and national political figures.

Christopher Kent Podlesnik, 51, was charged last week in U.S. District Court with seven counts of transmitting threats in interstate commerce.

A federal grand jury charged Podlesnik with leaving voicemail messages on the phones of several elected officials on Jan. 28, including U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, in which he threatened to them with violence.

According to the indictment, Podlesnik left three voicemails for Lummis on different contact numbers, threatening to shoot her in the head.

“I will [expletive] kill you. I will,” he said in one voicemail.

He left two voicemails on phones connected to U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, threatening him in regards to a recent to Wyoming visit by U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, who was in the state to criticize U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney’s impeachment vote against former President Donald Trump.

“You let Gaetz step into the state of Wyoming, not only is he going to be dead…you’re going to be dead,” Podlesnik told Barrasso, according to the indictment.

He left Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, two voicemails, calling the state senator a traitor and saying that he would take Bouchard down.

Finally, the indictment said, Podlesnik left a voicemail with a contact number for Gaetz, saying he would put two bullets in the congressman’s head.

“As Americans, we cherish the freedoms secured by our Bill of Rights, including our freedom of speech,” Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Murray said. “However, true threats of violence are not protected by the Constitution. Working with the FBI and other partners, the United States Attorney’s Office will continue to investigate such threats and seek charges in appropriate cases.”

“The FBI remains committed to protecting the civil liberties of all Americans to include First Amendment protected speech. We are equally committed to investigating violations of federal law when speech threatens violence and physical harm to others,” said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider.

A person convicted of one charge of transmitting threats in interstate commerce faces a sentence of up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release. If convicted, Podlesnik could face that punishment for each of the seven counts against him.

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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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Lummis Praises Kanye’s Vision For Wyoming

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis has touted Wyoming’s arguably most famous resident, Kanye West, and his vision for the state following reports he is worth nearly $7 billion.

On Thursday, Lummis retweeted conservative pundit Candace Owens, who wrote a post praising West and claiming he was the richest Black man in U.S. history.

“Grateful that Kanye’s vision includes creating jobs in Cody, Wyoming,” Lummis wrote in her retweet.

According to CNN, West just became a billionaire last year, but is now one six times over, with his worth now being around $6.6 billion. Much of this wealth is from apparel lines, mainly his Yeezy shoe line with Adidas and a clothing line deal with the Gap.

The rapper has been planning to establish a production facility for Yeezy shoes in Cody, but there have been stops and starts to that plan.

Lummis, through a spokeswoman, told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that it would only make sense the rapper would want to do business in Wyoming.

“Wyoming is consistently rated the best state to do business, and it makes sense that a successful artist like Mr. West would recognize the Cowboy State as the perfect place for chilling, trying to stack his millions,” Lummis spokeswoman Abegail Cave said. “Our state has natural beauty, great communities, and low tax rates for individuals and business owners alike. Welcome to the good life, Kanye.”

West has been relatively quiet over recent months, especially after losing the presidential election in November. He did tease another possible run in 2024, though.

West’s wife, Kim Kardashian West, filed for divorce last month. The two share four children.

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Lummis Urges Colleagues to Vote Against Interior Sec. Nomination; “She’s More Radical Than Biden”

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis on Thursday urged her colleagues to vote against the nomination of Secretary of Interior Nominee Deb Haaland.

In a passionate speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Lummis said she agreed that it was “high time” for a Native American woman to lead the Department of Interior, but this wasn’t the right person for the job.

Lummis said Congresswoman Haaland wouldn’t stand up to President Biden and instead would “blindly enact the Biden agenda without consideration for the extraordinary impacts it will continue to have on energy states like Wyoming.”

These impacts have alarmed lawmakers all across the West — specifically the far-reaching implications of an executive order President Biden signed which bans all new oil and gas development on federal lands

Lummis cited a University of Wyoming study which found that Wyoming could lose $13 billion in tax revenue as a result of this executive order.

“Banning permitting on federal lands in Wyoming means banning access to 68% of Wyoming’s minerals,” she said. 

“For our state and our country to remain energy independent, we need someone at the Department of Interior who recognizes that if we shut down producers at home, we are only increasing the power of polluters like Russia and China,” she said.

In contrast, Lummis said, the U.S. has had the largest absolute decline emissions of any country while becoming the world’s top energy producer.

She said this is proof that you can be environmentally and energy-friendly.

What’s not friendly, she said, is the Green New Deal — something Haaland co-sponsored.

Further, in 2019, Haaland told The Guardian that she was “wholeheartedly against fracking and drilling on public lands.”

Biden, on the other hand, has flip-flopped — repeatedly — on the issue of fracking.

“Congresswoman Haaland is more radical in her positions than President Biden,” Lummis said. “What we need is a secretary who understands the issues that Westerners face.”

“We need someone who knows the ways that states like Wyoming are contributing to America’s energy independence and doing so in increasingly environmentally friendly ways,” she said.

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