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John Barrasso

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

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

in News/John Barrasso
Photo by Alex Brandon-Pool/Getty Images
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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

in News/politics
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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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Barrasso Thinks Trump Will Get Twitter Account Back

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

With Twitter being purchased by billionaire Elon Musk this week, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that former President Donald Trump will likely have his account reinstated.

On Monday, it was announced Musk, who also is the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, would purchase the social media giant for $44 billion.

Although Trump was banned from Twitter more than a year ago in the wake of the U.S. Capitol riot, Barrasso said he believes Musk will allow for more open conversation as the new owner.

“Twitter has a history of unfairly censoring conservatives,” Barrasso said. “I expect Elon Musk will open the marketplace of ideas to more inclusive points of view, including President Trump’s.”

However, even if his account is reinstated, Trump has said he will not go back to the platform. Since his removal from Twitter, Trump has used a variety of other platforms to get his messages across, using his website in recent months.

“I am not going on Twitter, I am going to stay on Truth,” Trump told Fox News. “I hope Elon buys Twitter because he’ll make improvements to it and he is a good man, but I am going to be staying on Truth.”

Truth Social is a startup social media platform that has seen a turbulent time since its launch earlier this year.

Trump’s Twitter account was suspended days after the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 and the company said its actions stemmed from concerns the account could be used to incite violence.

Trump was also banned from Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat after the Twitter removal, with all of the companies pointing to his alleged role in inciting the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Trump had more than 100 million followers on Twitter before his account was banned and he was known as a prolific user of the platform.

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis this week welcomed Musk’s buyout of the social media company.

“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.”

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Barrasso, Lummis Will Vote Against Jackson Confirmation To Supreme Court

in Judiciary/News
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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 Says American, Not Russian, Uranium Needed To Power Kemmerer Plant

in Energy/News/John Barrasso
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Barrasso, Lummis Applaud Withdrawal Of Failed Biden Vaccine Mandate

in News/Coronavirus/politics
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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, 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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Barrasso Says U.S. Needs To Balance The Budget Each Year Like Wyoming

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Barrasso Shares Thanksgiving Dinner with Wyoming Troops in Bahrain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Democrats Concerned Too

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

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

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

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

Inflation Soaring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Barrasso Disagrees With Trump Over ‘Hang Mike Pence’ Chant

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Barrasso: Biden Embarrassed America During Climate Conference

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Barrasso Calls Biden A “98 Pound Weakling”

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By CJ Baker, Powell Tribune

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

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

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

However, Barrasso also described himself as anti-mandate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fox Host Questions Barrasso’s Lack Of Support for Policies Benefitting Wyoming

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso’s opposition to the budget reconciliation bill even though it contains provisions that would benefit Wyoming drew some sharp questions over the weekend from Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace.

During Barrasso’s appearance on the show, Wallace pointed out that the Republican is opposing the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, which contains an extension and increase of the child tax credit that the senator supported when he voted for former President Donald Trump’s tax cuts in 2017.

“Your state of Wyoming is one of the states that benefits most from the increase in the child tax credit. Why oppose that?” Wallace asked.

Barrasso began to discuss the bill’s multi-trillion dollar price tag, but Wallace interrupted him, asking the senator be specific about the child tax credit.

“It’s part of the bigger bill,” Barrasso said. “The issue for any member of the Senate or Congress, you have to look at the entire bill and say either you’re for it or you’re not.”

The senator also claimed congressional Democrats were not coming to talk with Republicans about any of the issues in the bill.

Wallace also questioned Barrasso on universal pre-kindergarten, another part of the bill.

“In the state of Wyoming, less than one-quarter of children 3 to 4, who would be covered in the bill, are enrolled in publicly funded preschool. Less than a quarter,” the Fox News host said. “Wouldn’t a lot of Wyoming families benefit from universal Pre-K?”

While the senator concluded some elements of the bill would benefit Wyoming residents, overall, the benefits did not outweigh the bill’s shortcomings.

“There’s a number of things that would help Wyoming,” he said. “Overall, Joe Biden’s policies have been hurting the people of Wyoming.”

Barrasso also said that he did not support universally free things such as community college, pre-K and daycare, adding there should be some sort of work requirements for recipients.

“That’s not the way our country has been founded,” he said.

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Barrasso Slams Biden On Economy, Immigration, Afghanistan

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By Caleb Smith editor@rocketminer.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Barrasso: White House, CDC Are Guilty Of Medical Malpractice

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Barrasso: Biden’s Eco-Terrorist BLM Nominee Should Be Removed

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The involvement of President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in what U.S. Sen. John Barrasso described as an “eco-terrorist operation” should be cause to withdraw her nomination, Barrasso said.

Barrasso said a recent discovery of activities by Tracy Stone-Manning linked to a plan to embed spikes in trees that were targeted for harvest should lead to her being removed from consideration for the post.

“Tracy Stone-Manning collaborated with eco-terrorists who had booby-trapped trees with metal spikes,” Barrasso wrote on Twitter Monday morning. “She mailed the threatening letter for them and she was part of the cover-up.”

This was in reference to Stone-Manning’s involvement in a 1989 incident in Idaho, when individuals placed metal spikes in trees in a national forest to prevent them from being sold in a timber sale.

“Tracy Stone-Manning lied to the Senate (Energy and Natural Resources) Committee by claiming the tree spiking was ‘alleged’ & that she was never investigated,” Barrasso said on social media Monday. “Now, we have confirmation that neither of those things are true. @POTUS must withdraw her nomination.”

According to Fox News, Stone-Manning was granted immunity in the incident in exchange for testifying that she retyped and sent an anonymous and threatening letter to the U.S. Forest Service on behalf of John P. Blount, her former roommate and friend.

“This investigator has confirmed what I have been saying,” Barrasso also wrote on social media Monday, linking to an article about the BLM nominee from E&E News, which covers energy and environmental issues. “Tracy Stone-Manning collaborated with eco-terrorists who had booby-trapped trees with metal spikes. She mailed the threatening letter for them and she was part of the cover-up.”

Barrasso is a ranking member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and has been outspoken about Stone-Manning’s ties to the incident. He has said before that her involvement with the environmental group Earth First should disqualifying her for the BLM post.

Stone-Manning eventually testified against two activist friends, Blount and Jeffrey Fairchild, both of whom were later convicted of embedding spikes in hundreds of trees in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest in an effort to block a 1989 timber sale, according to E&E News. Court records indicated she had no knowledge of the tree spiking.

Stone-Manning is a longtime Montana government official and current senior adviser for conservation policy at the National Wildlife Federation.

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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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Biden Stops Infrastructure Talks With GOP; Barrasso Fires Back

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso was none too pleased this week when President Joe Biden ended negotiations with a group of Republican senators regarding a proposed infrastructure bill.

Biden ended negotiations with the senators, including Barrasso, on Tuesday following weeks of discussion without any forward movement.

“The president has made it clear that he has no intention of agreeing to a plan that addresses core, physical infrastructure,” Barrasso said. “President Biden and his team are trying to satisfy an insatiable far-left agenda that demands massive tax hikes and spending trillions of dollars on things unrelated to physical infrastructure.”

Biden proposed a $2 trillion infrastructure bill earlier this year, but many Republicans, including Barrasso, have been outspoken in their opposition to it because of a perceived lack of focus on “traditional” infrastructure such as roads, bridges and waterways.

However, Barrasso was criticized by ABC News host Martha Raddatz for some unchecked claims he made about the bill.

“The 6% for roads and bridges figures you and other GOP leaders have cited has been fact-checked multiple times,” she told Barrasso during an appearance in May. “The total amount for what you have called traditional infrastructure, roads, bridges, waterways, public transit is more than 25% of the Biden plan. So, do you want more?”

The total proposed $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.

“In return for our multiple, significant offers to invest in our roads, bridges, ports, airports and waterways, the president continues to seek a massive tax and spend plan,” Barrasso said. “Republicans are serious about passing a responsible, targeted infrastructure plan that truly meets the needs of America, without adding the burdens of higher taxes, more federal debt, and job-killing regulations.”

He added that he and his fellow senators were ready to work with congressional Democrats who recognized that a bipartisan agreement on physical infrastructure was possible.

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Barrasso Hears Concerns Over Police, Border During Cody Visit

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Barrasso: Biden Economy Is Reason Behind High Grocery, Gas Prices

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Just days after U.S. Sen. John Barrasso praised President Joe Biden for his willingness to work with Republicans over an infrastructure deal, the senator criticized the president for the current state of the economy.

Barrasso spoke on the Senate floor this week about the latest rise in unemployment, as well as the uptick in prices for consumer goods, especially gasoline and groceries.

“Before Joe Biden took office we saw the fastest economic recovery in American history. We were bouncing back from the coronavirus shutdowns,” Barrasso said. “It’s a very different story now. It no coincidence this is a direct result of President Biden’s policies.”

He blamed Biden and congressional Democrats for continuing to pay out an additional $300 weekly pandemic-related unemployment insurance benefits, thereby incentivizing to people to stay unemployed rather than seek a regular paycheck. Many states, including Wyoming, have ended these benefits to push people to go back to work.

Barrasso added that job openings were at an all-time high, but industries of all kinds have struggled to hire people due to low wages, a lack of benefits or both.

Some people have also been hesitant to return to work in-person because of the pandemic, even though infection numbers have declined steadily recently.

Barrasso felt that the Biden administration was wrong in continuing to incentivize people to stay home.

“People want to work. People want to hire. The incentives coming from government are absolutely wrong,” Barrasso said. “It’s Joe Biden and Big Government that are getting in the way of people returning to work.”

He added that under the Biden administration, middle class people will be “squeezed,” something he claimed also happened under former President Barack Obama’s administration. The senator said April was the worst month for inflation since the recession in 2008.

“It’s working families in Wyoming who are struggling to get by who are going to get hurt the worst,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the price of gas has gone up. Joe Biden’s first action in office was to draw a target on the back of American energy and pull the trigger.”

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Barrasso Praises Biden For Willingness to Work With Republicans

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ABC Host Spars With Barrasso About Biden’s Infrastructure Bill

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A host of ABC’s “This Week” interrupted an interview with U.S. Sen. John Barrasso over the weekend to challenge his claims about President Joe Biden’s proposed infrastructure bill.

Barrasso appeared on the news program to discuss the proposed $2 trillion infrastructure bill and congressional Republicans’ $548 billion counteroffer and repeated claims about the bill made recent weeks, including the statement that only 6% of Biden’s bill goes to roads and bridges and that there was more money in the bill for electric cars than “traditional” infrastructure.

Host Martha Raddatz quickly said this was an incorrect claim.

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

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

“So I actually believe there’s a deal to be had if we leave things out like the Green New Deal, and recyclable cafeteria trays and climate justice, because $500 billion to $600 billion of infrastructure is a massive amount of infrastructure,” Barrasso said.

He said if the administration would go back and look at his infrastructure bill which passed unanimously when he chaired the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, the issue would be solved.

“I voted for it, Bernie Sanders voted for it. It focuses on building faster, better, cheaper, smarter, it focuses on the things that people think of as core infrastructure that the president talks about — his hard infrastructure,” Barrasso said.

The total proposed $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.

When Raddatz tried to change the topic to President Trump’s continuous attacks on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Wyoming colleague Rep. Liz Cheney and if that hurt the Republican Party, Barrasso punted stating that we needed to “get beyond all of that.”

“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.

Raddatz didn’t act surprised that Barrasso reeled off GOP talking points instead of answering the question as she chuckled when thanking him for appearing on the program.

“Okay, that question not exactly answered, but we appreciate you coming on this morning, senator,” she said.

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

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

“In fact, it’s not just one crisis: it’s a double crisis. It’s a national security crisis as well as a humanitarian crisis,” the senator said. ““We spoke to the Border Patrol agents. They told us their jobs got an awful lot harder on Jan. 20, when Joe Biden became president of the United States.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

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

In this case, it was not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cheney, Barrasso Say Biden Policies Leading to Surge Of Illegal Immigrants Crossing Border

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso and U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney have both been outspoken this week in expressing their feelings regarding President Joe Biden’s latest immigration policies.

On Thursday, Cheney joined many of her colleagues at a news conference to call on Biden to secure the U.S./Mexican border, since thousands of migrants have been attempting to cross into the U.S. over the last couple months, according to CNN.

“When the Biden Administration refuses to enforce our immigration laws, when they refuse to build the wall, when they pass legislation like the bill that we passed yesterday that includes money for illegal immigrants, this is what happens,” Cheney said, referring to the influx of people attempting to cross the border. “What happens and what’s going on right now at the border is foreseeable – it’s a foreseeable consequence of their statements, of their policies – they caused this, they are responsible.”

Cheney’s comments about money for undocumented immigrants stemmed from congressional approval of the latest coronavirus relief package. While congressional Republicans have said there is no language to prevent stimulus payments from going to undocumented immigrants, Democrats have argued that without Social Security numbers, undocumented immigrants simply cannot get the payments.

Cheney also said that with their efforts to open borders, congressional Democrats are attempting to overwhelm law enforcement officers across the country and are trying to infringe on gun rights, which combines to “form a very dangerous and toxic mix.”

“We’re calling on the Biden administration to take action immediately to secure the border, to stop what we’re seeing happen, to change the policies to make clear that the hundreds of thousands of people that we’ve seen now attempting to enter the country illegally will not be able to do so,” she said. “They need to reiterate and recommit to protecting and securing the nation and to protecting the American people.”

On Wednesday, Barrasso spoke on the Senate floor, condemning Biden’s approach to immigration since he has been in office.

“In just over one month in office, President Biden has already proven to be the most open border president in the United States history,” Barrasso said. “President Biden needs to listen to the American people. The American people don’t want a radical, extreme, dangerous, scary agenda. We want safe communities. We want laws obeyed. We want a secure border.”

He told his colleagues to stand up against Biden and the Democrats’ “radical agenda.”

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Lummis, Barrasso Oppose $1.9 Trillion COVID Relief Bill

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Both of Wyoming’s U.S. senators oppose the coronavirus relief bill approved by the U.S. Senate over the weekend.

As approved by the Senate, the bill now headed back to the U.S. House of Representatives for its approval includes stimulus payments of $1,400 for most taxpayers, along with extended unemployment benefits and funds for vaccine distribution, local governments, schools and small businesses.

But Lummis and Barrasso said in separate events that the bill contains funding for many programs that have nothing to do with coronavirus relief.

“Even after the most egregious, progressive handouts were stripped from this behemoth bill, we were left with a spending bill full of programs that have nothing to do with the targeted, temporary relief the people of Wyoming need to weather the rest of this pandemic,” Lummis said on Saturday, after the bill narrowly passed through the Senate.

The relief package totals $1.9 trillion.

Among measures removed from the bill in the Senate was a provision that would have raised the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Senate also eliminated funding for an extension of the Bay Area Rapid Transit subway in Silicon Valley and a bridge in upstate New York.

“What’s worse, after the two parties worked together on five different occasions last year to bring relief to the American people, Democrats decided this time to ignore Republican input or support at any point along the way – and this massive price tag is what they have to show for it,” Lummis said.

Lummis submitted seven amendments to the bill, including one to make the Shuttered Venue Grant program more accessible to Wyoming businesses such as concert venues and rodeo grounds, an amendment to redirect money from Amtrak to help the rural aviation industry and multiple amendments to ensure relief money is properly allocated to programs including veterans’ services and tribal health care.

Barrasso echoed Lummis’ statements that the bill directed too much money to items not connected with COVID relief.

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

He made similar comments during an appearance on Fox News last week.

“The White House chief of staff said this is the most progressive, the most progressive piece of domestic legislation in a generation,” Barrasso said Sunday. “This was never about getting people back to work or kids back to school or the disease behind us. That’s where it should have been focused.”

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John Barrasso Supports Liz Cheney’s Re-Election

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Barrasso: COVID Relief Bill Is “Packed With Pork”

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso said the coronavirus relief bill headed to the U.S. Senate this week gets a grade of “F” from him because it is “packed with pork.”

He criticized the bill in two different venues on Tuesday, on the Senate floor and during an appearance on Fox Business with Maria Baritromo.

“This whole coronavirus so-called relief bill is packed with pork,” Barrasso said on Fox. “This is a piece of legislation that is the wish list of liberal Democrats for a long, long time. This whole bill, in my opinion, gets an F grade.”

Barrasso was referring to certain provisions of the bill, including one raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 (something both he and U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis have been vocal in opposing), another providing money for “failing pension funds” and a third funding what he called “bailouts for blue states.”

Congressional Budget Office report estimated the legislation, if passed, would increase the cumulative budget deficit by $54 billion in the next decade. Prices for goods and services would also increase as a result of paying workers more, the report said.

But the report also estimated the minimum wage increase would pull 900,000 workers out of poverty and pump $333 billion back into the economy.

Barrasso said on the Senate floor that he opposed the billions of dollars being spent on issues unrelated to the virus.

He also mentioned that the bill would subsidize health insurance, allowing people who make significant amounts of money to still get government aid for health care which they do not need.

“Government aid is supposed to be for those who need it — people who can’t make it on their own. But that’s not been the focus of the Democrats with this legislation,” Barrasso said on the floor. “This legislation is not about coronavirus, not about coronavirus testing and vaccination. This new proposal with these additional subsides is just going to get us this much closer to one-size-fits-all, socialized medicine.”

He added that Republicans wanted to lower health care costs, but Democrats wanted to raise what the government pays and that the party was pressuring states to expand Medicaid, something Wyoming has declined to do during numerous legislative sessions.

“I think only one dollar out of 11 of this $1.9 trillion bill actually goes to help get people back to work, kids back to school, focuses on the health care components of the coronavirus,” he said. “Republicans are offering the American people a stronger economy and opening schools. That’s what we ought to be focusing on.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lummis, Barrasso Criticize Proposed $15 Minimum Wage

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis criticized the proposed $15 minimum wage included in the latest coronavirus relief bill, calling it an inappropriate and irresponsible addition.

“The Biden Administration’s $15 minimum wage increase may work in New York and California but it does not work for states like Wyoming,” Lummis said in a statement. “Placing that one-size-fits-all standard on every state is irresponsible.”

On the Senate floor, Barrasso gave a more impassioned speech about the wage increase.

“The bill includes a mandate from Washington D.C. to double the minimum wage, nothing to do with coronavirus. In fact, it would actually make things worse,” Barrasso said.

Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25, which has been in place since 2009. The proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill includes not only a stimulus payment for residents, but a proposal to boost the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025.

Barrasso maintained federal studies showed the increase would do more harm than good.

“The Congressional Budget Office took a look at this and said what would the impact be on the economy? They say that 1.4 million people who have jobs right now would lose their jobs if the federal government came in with a mandate to double the minimum wage,” Barrasso said. “That’s not a stimulus.”

According to Business Insider, Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, two of the party’s most moderate politicians, have both said they are opposed to using budget reconciliation — a maneuver that allows the majority party to speed through high-priority fiscal legislation without support from the minority party — to pass the minimum wage hike.

Manchin, along with other moderates and most conservatives, said he is worried that the incremental wage increase could end up doing more harm than help. 

Manchin has said he would support something “responsible and reasonable” when it comes to raising the federal minimum wage and has proposed a smaller increase to $11 an hour. 

Congressional Budget Office report estimated the legislation, if passed, would increase the cumulative budget deficit by $54 billion in the next decade. Prices for goods and services would also increase as a result of paying workers more, the report said.

But the report also estimated the hike would pull 900,000 workers out of poverty and pump $333 billion back into the economy.

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

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Her response was cringeworthy.

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

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

To that, Haaland had no response.

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

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

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

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Barrasso Wants Republicans to Come Together to Take On Biden

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso this week called for unity in the Republican party in order to challenge President Joe Biden’s administration.

While talking with Fox Business host Stuart Varney on Wednesday, Barrasso lamented the fact that the party has become so divided in recent years, partially due to the polarizing personality of former President Donald Trump.

“We need to stick together because of what we see happening with the Biden administration,” the senator said. “Right now, they’re killing millions of great jobs here in America. The administration is spending trillions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars that we just can’t afford to spend.”

Barrasso was referring to the recent moratorium Biden placed on oil and natural gas leases on federal lands and a proposed coronavirus relief bill totaling $1.9 trillion.

He noted that as a doctor, he had a prescription for the nation to get back on the right track: the Republicans should stick together so they can dominate the 2022 elections.

“[We can stop] this runaway freight train, which is the far-left liberal agenda of the Biden administration,” Barrasso said.

Currently, in addition to the White House, the Democrats hold a majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

This isn’t the first time Barrasso has called for unity in his party, although the last time he did so, it was in reference to both the Republicans and Democrats coming together to pass the last coronavirus relief bill in December.

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

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Barrasso Slams Biden’s Proposed Gun Reform

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso slammed President Joe Biden’s call for “commonsense” gun reforms on social media Tuesday, calling the Democrat’s ideas an assault on Second Amendment rights.

“I won’t let @JoeBiden threaten the right of people in Wyoming to keep & bear arms,” Barrasso said on his Twitter account early Tuesday afternoon, retweeting an article from political website The Hill about Biden’s reform.

Biden called for Congress to enact commonsense gun law reforms, including a requirement for background checks on all gun sales, a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and the elimination of legal immunity for “gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets.

Biden’s comments came in a statement on Sunday, the three-year anniversary of the Parkland, Florida school shooting, the deadliest in American history.

“The time to act is now,” Biden said.

While Barrasso agreed that the United States must find ways to control violent crime and keep guns out of the hands of criminals, Biden’s attack on the Second Amendment wasn’t the way to do so.

According to The Hill, gun sales have been on the rise across the nation in recent weeks, an increase attributed to concerns that Biden will act on gun control in his early days in office.

Biden regularly spoke on the campaign trail about his passion for gun law reform and regularly said he would implement some type of background check legislation.

The new administration hasn’t appointed a new head to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which is the department that enforces gun laws.

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Barrasso, Lummis Vote No On Trump Impeachment

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U.S. Senators John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis on Saturday voted against impeachment of former President Donald Trump.

Seven Republicans voted with Democrats which made it the most bipartisan impeachment in history but not enough needed to convict as 17 Republicans would have needed to vote in the affirmative.

Immediately after the vote, Lummis issued a press release stating that the proceedings were “political theater”.

“From the start, I made it clear that I believed this exercise was an unconstitutional distraction that prevented Congress from addressing the very real issues that Wyoming citizens are dealing with,” Lummis said.

“While we spent a week on a political sideshow to which we already knew the ending (acquittal), Congress could have been working on a bipartisan COVID relief package to help struggling businesses in Wyoming,” she said.

Later on Saturday, Barrasso said he opposed Trump’s impeachment from the start and it was time to move forward.

“We have an opportunity to bring about some much-needed healing by focusing on our greatest needs,” Barrasso said. “There is important work to be done for the people of Wyoming and our country. We can start by working together to bring back jobs, get kids safely back to school, and by putting the virus behind us.”

“The violence and mayhem of Jan. 6 will never be forgotten. I continue to reflect on the bravery of the men and women who protected our Capitol that day, and honor those who lost their lives in service,” he said.

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Barrasso: Democrats Aren’t Focusing on Real Issues

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso believes congressional Democrats aren’t focusing on the real issues the nation is facing and are instead focusing all of their attention on impeaching former President Donald Trump.

Barrasso shared these thoughts during an appearance on Fox News with Stuart Varney on Thursday, not long before Trump’s Senate impeachment trial resumed.

“They’re impeaching a former president,” Barrasso said. “They’re not focusing about the issues that I hear back home in Wyoming, which is getting back to work, getting kids back in school and getting this virus behind us.”

He again criticized President Joe Biden for the executive orders stopping production of the Keystone XL pipeline and the moratorium on oil and natural gas leases on federal lands, a move Barrasso and other Wyoming officials have spoken out against.

Varney also asked Barrasso’s medical opinion on the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention’s recent recommendation for people to wear two masks to prevent even further spread of the virus.

“The CDC is saying ‘Let’s do some things that we can protect ourselves with until everybody gets vaccinated,'” the senator said. “I think we ought to listen to the CDC.”

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Barrasso Expresses Concern About Potential COVID Relief Bill

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso expressed much concern during an appearance on PBS News Hour Tuesday about President Joe Biden’s proposed coronavirus relief bill.

This would be the third relief bill, the first put into action by Biden, and would include a latest round of stimulus checks, and features a price tag of $1.9 trillion.

“One of the things in the president’s proposal is to pay unemployment bonuses,” Barrasso said. “Basically, the math says you do better by not working than working.”

Senate Republicans have balked at the number, feeling there are too many non-coronavirus related stipulations in the bill, such as an increase of the U.S.’ minimum wage to $15 per hour.

A bipartisan group of senators is planning to meet with Biden to discuss the bill and see if any compromise can be made.

Barrasso hoped some good would come from the meeting, and noted that more work needed to be done to get people back to work and for the coronavirus vaccine to be rolled out more efficiently.

Last week, the senator criticized the proposed relief bill, echoing similar sentiments.

“We want to make sure people can get back to school and work and that they can get the vaccine,” he said. “Those are the critical issues we need to address.”

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Barrasso: Biden Drew Target on the Back of American Energy

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

President Joe Biden’s executive orders aimed at slowing climate change have unfairly targeted America’s energy sector, U.S. Sen John Barrasso said late last week.

“He picked up his pen and drew a target on the back of American energy,” Barrasso said during an appearance on Fox late last week. “Then he pulled the trigger and killed the Keystone XL pipeline and he’s killing energy jobs all around the country.”

On his first day in office, Biden halted oil and gas leases on federal land for 60 days.

Last week, he issued a second executive order on the subject, extending the moratorium for an unspecified amount of time to allow the Department of Interior to thoroughly review the federal leasing program and existing leases on federal lands.

Barrasso said during his Fox appearance that this moratorium and other executive orders issued by Biden could affect 30,000 jobs in Wyoming.

“The Democrats have gone back to a ‘blame America first’ approach,” the senator said. “The reason we want a strong energy economy in America is its jobs, its affordable energy and because of national security.”

Biden also rejoined the Paris Climate Accord, among other orders on his first day in office.

A University of Wyoming study commissioned by the Legislature has concluded that a moratorium on oil and gas leasing on federal land could reduce Wyoming’s production by $872 million per year, costing the state more than $300 million a year in tax revenue.

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis and U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney have both introduced legislation that would require congressional approval for any executive branch effort to stop energy or mineral leasing and permitting on federal land.

Lummis’ bill, co-sponsored by Barrasso and 24 other members of the Senate, is called the “Protecting Our Wealth of Energy Resources Act” and would require congressional approval for mineral and energy leases on federal land.

Cheney actually introduced two bills, one dealing with oil and gas leases and the second with coal leases. Both would require a joint resolution from Congress to approve any moratorium on leasing on federal land.

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Barrasso: Biden Talks About Uniting Country, But I Haven’t Seen It

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

While President Joe Biden has called for unity in the country following the departure of former President Donald Trump, he has yet to act on his remarks, according to U.S. Sen. John Barrasso.

Barrasso, in his first television appearance in more than a month, criticized Biden for doing more to divide the country than unite it.

“He ran on a campaign for a year of uniting the country, bringing us all together and I thought he gave a great inaugural speech,” Barrasso told CNN’s John King. “But I’d like to see one thing he’s actually done to try to unite the country.”

Specifically, Barrasso condemned Biden’s halt of the Keystone XL pipeline, calling for a moratorium of oil and gas development on public lands and a call for a $15 minimum wage.

“The small business owners I’ve been talking to in Wyoming are saying if [the minimum wage hike] happens, I’m out of business,” he said.

The senator added that Senate Republicans want to find ways to work together with their Democratic counterparts, but Democrats don’t seem to want the same thing.

Barrasso also criticized Biden’s newly proposed coronavirus relief bill, a $1.9 trillion package that would include $1,400 stimulus checks, vaccine funding and also the minimum wage hike.

He told King that the Republicans weren’t just balking at the price tag of the bill, but also the provisions, mainly the minimum wage increase.

“We want to make sure people can get back to school and work and that they can get the vaccine,” Barrasso said. “Those are the critical issues we need to address.”

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Lummis, Barrasso Oppose Trump Impeachment Trial

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis on Tuesday voted against an impeachment trial for former President Donald Trump, although a razor-thin majority vote by the Senate moved it forward.

All but five Senate Republicans (including Utah Sen. Mitt Romney) voted against the trial, which many political pundits believe is a sign that the former president will likely be acquitted, meaning he can run again for office, should he choose so.

Trump is being impeached on allegations he incited a riot that left five people dead at the U.S. Capitol building earlier this month.

Neither Wyoming senator had stated publicly whether or not they would vote for or against the trial, but Lummis has been an outspoken supporter of Trump since he was elected.

Barrasso has supported Trump, but not always as enthusiastically as his colleague. He quickly condemned many new moves made by President Joe Biden’s administration, but was mum on the impeachment.

Of Wyoming’s congressional delegates, only U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney voted to impeach the president, saying she was voting with her conscience and to protect the U.S. Constitution.

Cheney has been censured by three Wyoming county Republican Parties for her vote to impeach and she was condemned by the state Republican Party for her actions.

However, it should be noted that Cheney’s votes in the House of Representatives aligned with Trump more often than not, with her votes backing him 93% of the time.

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Lincoln County GOP Urges Lummis, Barrasso to Oppose Impeachment Trial

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Lincoln County Republican Party is urging U.S. Sens. Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso to oppose former President Donald Trump’s upcoming impeachment trial.

Lincoln County GOP Chairman Michael Lundgren shared a resolution approved by the party over the weekend, asking Barrasso and Lummis to oppose the Senate trial, calling the impeachment a “travesty.”

“The impeachment of President Donald J. Trump in the House was a travesty without giving President Trump due process,” the resolution said. “Holding a Senate trial would tend to legitimize this impeachment travesty and set a dangerous Constitutional precedent.”

The resolution also said that impeachment is only pertinent for a sitting president, not a former president like Trump.

A number of congressional representatives, including U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, voted to impeach Trump following a mob attack on the U.S. Capitol building earlier this month. The articles of impeachment approved by the House have been sent to the Senate, where that body’s Democrat leaders have vowed Trump will be tried on the allegations he incited a riot and invasion of the U.S. Capitol.

The riot was in response to congressional leaders voting to certify the presidential election results, which confirmed President Joe Biden as the winner.

Barrasso hasn’t said publicly whether he will vote to impeach the president and has been largely out of the public eye over the last month, having last appeared on television on Dec. 20.

Last week, he broke his silence to condemn some of the first moves made by Biden, such as stopping construction of the Keystone pipeline.

Lummis also hasn’t said whether or not she will impeach the president, but as she even questioned some of the votes cast in the presidential election, it is likely she will oppose the trial or won’t vote for impeachment.

Cheney voted for the impeachment to “protect the Constitution.”

“All of us have an obligation to the Constitution and obligation to do what what we believe is right, what our oath compels us to do that that is above politics and above partisanship,” Cheney said on Fox News last week.

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Barrasso Criticizes New Biden Policies, Cabinet Nominees

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso criticized a number of new policies signed into law on Wednesday by newly sworn-in President Joe Biden.

Just hours after Biden was sworn in and signed a series of executive orders, Barrasso criticized various moves the new president made, including stopping the Keystone Pipeline and returning the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement.

“A return to the Paris climate agreement will raise Americans’ energy costs and won’t solve climate change,” the senator said. “Under the agreement, the Biden administration will set unworkable targets for the United States while China and Russia can continue with business as usual.”

President Donald Trump’s administration withdrew the United States from the climate agreement in 2017, a decision Barrasso then praised.

“The Paris climate agreement is based on the backward idea that the United States is a culprit here, when in reality the United States is the leading driver of climate solutions,” he said in his statement Wednesday. “It will result in spiking electricity bills and higher prices at the pump. These are additional burdens during a particularly tough time for Americans and for every small business. It hurts America’s competitiveness and gives a free pass to our adversaries.”

In a separate statement, Barrasso said that by stopping the Keystone Pipeline, Biden will rob both American and Canadian workers of good-paying jobs.

“Currently, one thousand union workers are busy constructing the Keystone XL pipeline,” Barrasso said. “When completed, the pipeline will ship oil from the Canadian and Bakken oil fields to American refineries along the Gulf Coast and across the Midwest. President Biden’s actions will not end our need for oil from our strongest ally, Canada. Instead, it will cost jobs, result in more shipments of oil by rail and make America even more vulnerable to OPEC and foreign adversaries, like Russia.”

Finally, Barrasso questioned Biden’s Secretary of State nominee, Tony Blinken, for what he referred to as “policy failures” during Blinken’s testimony in front of Congress.

Barrasso touched on topics such as China’s human rights abuses, the Keystone Pipeline and more when questioning Blinken.

“You admitted, ‘We failed in preventing a tragic loss of life as well as millions of people made into refugees or internally displaced, and that’s something that we will have to live with,'” Barrasso said. “You also went on to say, ‘In Syria, we rightly sought to avoid another Iraq by not doing too much, but we made the opposite error of doing too little.’”

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Barrasso, Lummis Call For Stopping Loans to Planned Parenthood

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sens. Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso have joined a number of thier colleagues in calling on federal Small Business Administration to stop giving loans to Planned Parenthood.

The senators sent a letter to SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza asking her to specify that Planned Parenthood affiliates employ too many people to be eligible for loans under the Paycheck Protection Program.

“Planned Parenthood employs about 16,000 people nationwide,” the letter said. “The group’s national organization, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, jealously exercises control over local affiliates, subjecting them to uniform bylaws, accreditation, frequent reviews, and mandates about what services they must provide to remain part of the Federation, such as on-site abortion.

Planned Parenthood affiliates thus are ineligible to receive PPP loans, as part of an affiliated group that employs far more people than the number allowed for an initial or second-draw PPP loan.”

Co-signers of the letter, in addition to Barrasso and Lummis, include U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida and Jerry Moran of Kansas.

Senators sent a similar letter last year to the SBA, after Planned Parenthood organizations were awarded around $80 million. Each of Planned Parenthood’s state and local affiliates is a separate nonprofit, with its own leadership and funding organization, according to the Washington Post.

The SBA said in May that the local chapters are too closely affiliated with Planned Parenthood’s national organization to be considered independent entities. 

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