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Senator Mike Enzi

Barrasso, Enzi Praise Amy Coney Barrett, Agree They Will Confirm Her

in News/politics

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Mike Enzi are voicing support for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, saying she is the best choice to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg on the court.

The two Republicans joined their colleague U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney in praising Barrett’s judicial efforts, although Cheney, as a member of the U.S. House, can’t vote to confirm the judge.

Barrasso spoke on the U.S. Senate floor this week to say Republicans need to confirm Barrett to the court despite what he described as “false attacks and scare tactics” from Senate Democrats.

“I’ll tell you, she’s terrific, so impressive, so exceptionally well-qualified to take on this new responsibility,” Barrasso said. “The partisanship that she has faced from Democrats, it’s predictably backfired on them, certainly by the American people who say get her confirmed, put her on the Supreme Court.”

Barrasso drove his point home by saying Barrett’s confirmation was an important moment in history, and that she was ready to serve the nation and apply the law instead of using politics to make judicial decisions.

He criticized the questions for Barrett from Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying the hearing on Barrett’s confirmation turned into a “partisan infomercial on Obamacare,” then going on to critique the Affordable Care Act.

“Judge Barrett has been clear. She has no agenda, for any case. As a judge, she considers each case on the merits,” Barrasso said. “The Senate will vote, the Senate will confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court.”

Enzi was much more brief in his comments, issuing a statement this week on his thoughts on Barrett and her confirmation. Enzi voted to confirm Barrett to the District of Columbia Circuit Court in 2017.

“After meeting with Judge Barrett, I am confident that she is well qualified to be a member of the Supreme Court,” he said. “We had a great conversation that included issues important to Wyoming. She is a remarkable judge and legal scholar with impressive credentials, and I look forward to supporting her nomination.”

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Enzi, Barrasso Express Disappointment About Stimulus Package Being Voted Down (Again)

in News/Coronavirus/politics

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The two U.S. senators representing Wyoming expressed disappointment in the Senate’s defeat Wednesday of a second coronavirus stimulus package.

U.S. Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso were two of 44 senators who voted to pass the bill through the Senate on Wednesday. A majority of Republicans voted to pass the bill, while a majority of Democrats (51 total senators) who voted it down.

Five senators, including vice presidential nominee U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, chose not to vote on the bill.

The relief package would have reopened and re-funded the Paycheck Protection Program for certain small businesses, along with providing an additional $300 per week in unemployment benefits, more funding for vaccines and testing, coronavirus liability protection for schools and businesses, assistance for scholarship-granting organizations and funding to help childcare providers reopen and stay open.

It also included a provision intended to reduce America’s reliance on China and other nations for critical minerals, including rare earth minerals.

Barrasso blamed the defeat on U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.

“Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi have made it clear that they will continue to block coronavirus relief,” Barrasso said. “They think it gives them a better chance of winning the election. This is a calculated political decision by Democrats in Congress. The American people deserve better from people who claim to represent them.”

Enzi was more reserved in his statement, expressing disappointment but also hope that the two parties could come together and pass a bill to help the American people.

“This package would have provided real relief for folks across the country, like providing more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program and supporting childcare providers,” Enzi said. “The American people are looking to us for help and all we are delivering is stagnation. I hope we can get to work to provide the assistance needed to weather this pandemic before our constituents and the economy suffer even more.” 

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Enzi Criticizes EPA Decision On Small Refineries

in News/politics

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to deny requests by small oil refineries to be considered exempt from renewable fuel standards will hurt energy workers, U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi said Monday.

Enzi, in a news release, criticized the decision of EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to deny requests from 17 refineries, including some in Wyoming, to either reconsider their requests for exemptions from the rules or apply those exemptions to the years from 2011 to 2018.

“I’m disappointed in the EPA’s denial of these important small refinery waivers,” Enzi said in the news release. “The Renewable Fuel Standard program is in many ways a broken system, and exemptions are necessary for our small refineries to compete on a level playing field.”

The Renewable Fuel Standard program sets levels of renewable fuels such as biofuels to be included in gasoline and diesel.

When the program was launched small refineries — those producing 75,000 barrels of fuel a day or less — were exempted from the rules if they could prove that obeying those rules would “impose a disproportionate economic hardship” on them.

In March, the 17 small refineries in Wyoming and 13 other states asked the EPA to either reconsider its denials of exemptions they had requested between 2011 and 2018 or grant them retroactive exemptions for the same period even if they did not request the exemptions.

The request was denied because Wheeler said the refineries failed to prove the requirements of the program would impose an undue economic burden on them.

Refineries have argued without the exemptions, it is too expensive for them to produce fuels that meet the renewable fuel standards.

Enzi said in his release the decision would create negative impacts on the oil industry.

“This decision could hurt many energy workers in Wyoming and across the country,” he said.

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Enzi Warns Congress Of Out Of Control Overspending

in News/Economy/politics

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi called on Congress to be mindful of the nation’s debt and deficit as legislators tackle a new bill to address the coronavirus pandemic.

As Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, the senator has had a close eye on the debt as the numbers have ticked upward in the last few months.

During his speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, Enzi noted this fiscal year, the country has already run up a deficit of $2.7 trillion, more than triple the size of the deficit the country ran at the same time last year.

“I recognize the unprecedented crisis presented by COVID-19 and I supported the necessary response,” Enzi said in his speech. “When this crisis abates, and it will, the federal government cannot afford to return to the status quo of unsustainable budgets and surging debt that jeopardizes the prosperity of future generations. We have to start a serious conversation about how we are going to pay our bills and put our finances on a more sustainable path. We can justify aggressive borrowing and spending as necessary during times of crisis, but that cannot be our default.”

The Congressional Budget Office projects the country is on track to spend $3.7 trillion more than we take in this year, without any new coronavirus legislation. By the end of the fiscal year, the country’s publicly held debt will exceed the size of the economy and by the end of 2021, debt as a percentage of the economy will be higher than it’s ever been in United States history.

“We are spending billions of dollars without so much as a discussion of how to pay for things while we keep digging the hole deeper for future generations,” Enzi said. “More legislation may be needed to combat the virus and help the economy, but we cannot use the crisis to justify opening the spending floodgates and borrowing from future generations to fund non-emergency priorities. We all owe it to them to do better, and I hope we start to do so soon.”

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Enzi Expresses Concern Over “Second Wave” of Coronavirus Pandemic

in News/Coronavirus

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Despite the presence of vocal protestors in the state who believe the coronavirus pandemic is a hoax, nothing more than the flu, or a “plandemic,” Wyoming’s congressional delegation is taking the issue much more seriously.

At a Senate Health Committee hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Mike Enzi said the creation of a vaccine was critical and said he was worried about future large outbreaks of coronavirus.

“We also need to be sure we’re prepared for a second wave of outbreaks that could coincide with the start of the flu season, potentially stressing our health care system more than it already has been,” Enzi said.

The senator told Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn it was important that a delivery system be in place to administer the vaccine if created.

“We’ve been leaning in on this supply chain to ensure that when a vaccine is ready to go, we will have the necessary supplies to actually administer it and operationalize the vaccination,” Hahn replied.

At that same hearing, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned the committee that if the U.S. acted too soon in relaxing the restrictions designed to slow the spread of coronavirus, there would be severe consequences.

“My concern is we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks,” Fauci said. “The consequences could be really serious.”

“Opening too soon could turn the clock back and that not only would cause some suffering and death that could be avoided, but could even set you back on the road to try to get economic recovery,” he said.

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Enzi Urges Democrats To Quit Playing Partisan Games And Pass Coronavirus Bill

in News/Coronavirus

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi urged Senate Democrats on Tuesday to stop delaying action on a proposed coronavirus relief bill and approve the measure in the interest of small business owners and workers.

Enzi, in a speech from the Senate floor, said the $2 trillion bill is needed to protect small businesses and their employees.

“The virus has closed businesses which in turn lay off employees,” Enzi said. “It has done it in what was a strong and growing economy. Why isn’t there more concern for the employees out of work? Why haven’t we already done at least the parts of this bill that give non-government employees some comfort and hope?”

Enzi said it was time to end partisan “gamesmanship” and approve the bill immediately.

Democrats have twice blocked a procedural vote to bring the bill to a final vote in the Senate, arguing it does not do enough for the average citizen and gives corporations hundreds of millions of dollars without sufficient oversight.

But Enzi said the minority party is also holding up passage of the bill because its members are demanding provisions that would advance the causes of the Democratic Party that have nothing to do with the epidemic.

“We are not doing climate change as part of this emergency bill,” he said. “Everything should have a direct connection to the coronavirus. Rome is burning and Congress is fiddling!”

The measure originally proposed in the Senate would provide financial assistance needed to keep businesses open so they could continue to employ people, Enzi said.

He added it would also include payments for taxpayers and billions of dollars for state and local governments.

September Song: One Shot memories remind why I love this month so much

in Column/Bill Sniffin
Donald Trump Jr. One Shot
At the 2004 One Shot Hunt, Donald Trump Jr. got his bullet blessed by the late Darwin St. Clair, who served as ceremonial Shoshone Chief for the festivities. Chief Medicine Man Willie LeClair is pictured on the left. (Courtesy: One Shot)

By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily

“Well, the sun’s not so hot in the sky today; And you know I can see summertime slipping on away.”

 – James Taylor

To me,  September in Wyoming means two things:

First, it is probably my favorite month, despite the occurrence of allergies and the ominous evidence of winter’s onset. And despite the need for an occasional jacket, the weather is usually quite predictable.

Second, it is when the annual One Shot Antelope Hunt occurs here in Lander.

Most Wyomingites keep an emergency travel kit in their cars year-around, but September is the time when you make sure you have re-stocked your trunk with this indispensable item.  Mountain highways across Wyoming can be very wintry in September.

Yellowstone Park is at its “yellow-est” at this time of year. It is fun to watch the locals in their wool shirts and jeans walking along a path next to a confused Californian, shivering in his tee shirt, shorts, and sandals.

Fall is the most colorful time of year in Wyoming. The leaves turn to breathtaking yellows, golds and reds.  Green lawns offer a nice contrast.  And the sky is as deep blue as always, the sun is shining its most golden and the high mountains glisten with early snow.

On the political scene, it often is the month where key decisions are being made.  Pundits always talk about “October surprises,” but the heavy campaign lifting needs to be done in September.

One Shot Antelope Hunt guide
The vast Red Desert and the High Plains of Wyoming served as a backdrop for Gov. Freudenthal’s 2004 hunt, here pictured with his guide Mike Yardas.

In my hometown, September also means it is time to go antelope hunting.  The 76th annual One Shot Antelope Hunt will be held during this upcoming weekend, Sept. 19-21. It is the Super Bowl of Shooting Sports.

I was the historian for the Hunt for decades before retiring some years ago.  While looking back on some of the hunts held this century, the one in 2004, some 15 years ago, sure was fun.

Then-Gov. Dave Freudenthal was the host and got his antelope with one shot.

One Shot Antelope Hunt
The 2004 One Shot Hunt featured some good shooting by then-Gov. Dave Freudenthal and U. S. Sen. Mike Enzi (right).

One of his fellow hunting competitors that year was U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, who also was considered a winner, shooting his buck with one shot. Sen. Enzi dedicated his hunt to his grandpa who always followed the One Shot.  He even used granddad’s old Springfield rifle that always “shoots four inches high and four inches to the right.”  Frankly, I cannot imagine anything to do with Sen. Enzi “moving to the left.”

The senator was so tickled with his success, he talked about it on the Senate floor the following Monday.

Gov. Dave Freudenthal’s team during the 2004 One Shot consisted of (l-r) Tony McRae of Lander, the governor, and Arch Coal CEO Steve Leer. Also pictured in their greeter Dave Kellogg.

One of the governor’s teammates was Steve Leer, then-CEO of Arch Coal.  Leer also nailed his buck with one shot. He spoke very highly about the quality of the Wyoming workers who work for his huge company. What a heady time that was for Wyoming coal.

Gov. Dave joined a group of hardheaded Lander Republicans called the Fox News All Stars for coffee that Friday morning prior to the Hunt.  I teasingly referred to them as  “Republicans for Freudenthal.” Although all were fond of the governor, not sure many liked him enough to join such a group.

As we left the restaurant, a passenger in a passing car flagged down the governor and appeared to recognize him. Was this an old friend? The governor walked over to the car.  A man opened his window and asked: “Hey, can you tell me how to get to Dubois?” Obviously the man did not realize who he was talking with.

After Gov. Dave answered the man’s question and the car started to pull away, someone yelled: “You might want to look at the picture on your highway map!”

Coincidentally, Donald Trump Jr. also shot in that year’s hunt.

He seemed to avoid the limelight during the weekend and was courteous to everyone around him.

This weekend Gov. Mark Gordon will participate in his first One Shot.  It is a fantastic tradition and I predict he will do a good job as host and will have a memorable weekend.

September is also football season.  As I write this, UW is boasting a 3-0 record and a seven-game win streak. I have great faith in coach Craig Bohl. 

This month, which used to be famous for containing the first day of autumn, is now known for other things since Sept. 11, 2001.  It will forever be recognized as the month when 3,000 innocent Americans died. 

And here in the Cowboy State, it will be recalled as the time when eight young Wyoming men died in their athletic prime on a dark highway south of Laramie. They were all killed when a drunk driver lost control of his big pickup and slammed into them head-on. An unbearable tragedy.

On a brighter note, around our house, it is wild bird frenzy time. My wife Nancy keeps two ducks around and this time of year, dozens of the wild ducks descend on our house to commiserate with our domestic fowl.

Check out additional columns at www.billsniffin.com. He has published six books.  His coffee table book series has sold 34,000 copies. You can find more stories by Bill Sniffin by going to CowboyStateDaily.com.

Wyoming socialist Democrat says Trump supporters unsure of what is happening Washington

in News/politics

A self-described socialist Democrat seeking one of Wyoming’s U.S. Senate seats said she believes Wyoming residents who supported the campaign of President Donald Trump are now not sure what to think of what is happening in Washington.

Yana Ludwig, a Laramie resident running for the seat to be vacated with the retirement of U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, compared her positions on many issues to those espoused by Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, particularly in the areas of providing Medicare coverage for all American citizens and stopping climate change.

Ludwig told the Cowboy State Daily that her positions do not necessarily put her at odds with Wyoming’s generally politically conservative residents.

“I think there’s a lot of people who don’t quite know what to do with what’s happening in Washington right now,” she said. “My feeling is we have a lot of working class people in this state who thought they were going to get a really good deal out of Donald Trump and are not getting a good deal out of it. I think they’re just not sure what to do.”

Among Ludwig’s campaign issues is what she said was inequity in the salaries paid the heads of American companies and their employees. One survey she cited showed that CEO compensation in the 1950s was 20 times that of the average employee, a number that increased to 360 by 2018.

“In what universe is that fair?” She said. “I am strongly in favor of moving our economy toward worker ownership. Worker-owned cooperatives are more successful in general and they’re much more democratized.”

Ludwig is also opposed to the construction of a wall along America’s southern border to stop the influx of immigrants.

“I’m very curious why we’re all about building a wall on the southern border where brown people are coming in and not on our northern border where white people are coming in,” she said. “So I think racism has a lot to do with why the border wall has gotten the traction it has gotten.”

In the area of gun control, Ludwig said she is reluctant to pursue any action without first addressing the root causes of violence in society.

Ludwig, who said she will not take any campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry, also said she believes Wyoming’s public lands should be protected from mineral development.

New approval poll shows high approval of Gordon, Barrasso and Enzi

in News/politics
Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon

By Laura Hancock, Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon has the fifth-highest approval rating of U.S. governors, according to new polling by Morning Consult, a Washington, D.C.-based media and technology company. 

Furthermore, U.S. Sens. John Barrasso, Wyoming’s junior senator, has the fifth-highest approval rating and Sen. Mike Enzi, the senior senator, enjoys the 7th highest, according to Morning Consult’s approval ratings of all 100 U.S. senators

The Morning Consult poll surveyed nearly 500,000 registered U.S. voters. A total of 649 Wyomingites were surveyed: 323 Republicans, 236 independents and 90 Democrats. 

The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percent.

Among approval of Gordon, a Republican: 

  • 59 percent approved of his job performance; 9 percent disapproved.
  • In the first quarter of 2019, when he had just begun as Wyoming’s governor, 53 percent approved and 10 percent disapproved. 
  • 33 percent of Wyoming registered voters were undecided in the second quarter, the highest among the 50 governors.

Gordon is still a new governor, noted Jim King, a University of Wyoming political science professor.

“The Legislature’s budget session next year will be more telling,” King said. “Mr. Gordon will lay out his priorities in his budget proposal and will reveal more about his vision for the state. For now, a Republican governor in a Republican state who has had no notable missteps yields a strong poll rating.”

Among approval for the senators, who are also Republicans: 

  • 57 percent approved of Barrasso’s job performance; 26 percent disapproved in the second quarter of 2019.
  • In the first quarter, Barrasso’s approval rating was 56 percent; 26 percent disapproved. In the second quarter of 2018, his approval rating was 52 percent and his disapproval rating was 33 percent. 
  • 54 percent approved of Enzi’s job performance in the second quarter of this year; 25 percent disapproved.
  • In the first quarter, Enzi’s approval rating was 52 percent; 23 percent disapproved. In the first second quarter of 2018, 52 percent approved and 31 percent disapproved. 

“On the senators, there is no real difference in the ratings of Mr. Barrasso and Mr. Enzi once the poll’s margin of error is taken into consideration,” King said. “These numbers on Mr. Barrasso and Mr. Enzi are quite similar to those in other polls (by) this firm and by others.”

Wyoming’s low population may also play into the likability ratings, said Kristin Walker, a GOP strategist.

Chances are high that Cowboy State voters have personally interacted with elected officials. That doesn’t happen everywhere, said Walker, who is working on the U.S. Senate campaign of Cynthia Lummis, who is seeking Enzi’s seat when he retires.

(Lummis’ daughter, Annaliese Wiederspahn, is the publisher of Cowboy State Daily.)

“This means Wyoming’s politicians are forced to keep a close ear to the ground, and when they aren’t meeting voters’ expectations — they are going to hear about it quick,” Walker said. 

Indeed, the Wyoming Democratic Party criticized Barrasso on Twitter last week for not coming criticizing a President Donald Trump rally in which people chanted, “send her back,” in reference to U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat. 

Levi Shinkle, chairman of the Young Democrats of Wyoming, noted that Barrasso, the third-ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate, toes the party line. 

“We’re in an overwhelmingly pro-Trump state,” he said. 

Wyoming congressional delegation welcomes end of Mueller probe

in News

By Cowboy State Daily

The end of the special investigation into President Donald Trump’s campaign by Special Counsel Robert Mueller should free members of Congress to focus on important issues, according to members of Wyoming’s congressional delegation.

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso and Rep. Liz Cheney both said that in the wake of the finding that the president did not work with Russians to sway the outcome of the 2016 election, it is time to move past the issue.

“Now, it’s time to move on,” Barrasso said in a prepared statement. “My focus will continue to be on growing the economy, expanding opportunities and improving the lives of people in Wyoming.”

Cheney singled out members of the Democratic Party for raising the allegations that were ultimately dismissed by Mueller’s investigation.

“They have peddled falsehoods about the president, making one scurrilous claim after another,” she said. “As we go forward, it’s time for Democrats to put aside their partisan agenda of attacking this president and instead focus on addressing the real issues facing the American people.”

U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi joined Cheney and Barrasso in welcoming the outcome of the investigation, but he pointed out that the report did conclude that Russia did attempt to interfere with an American election.

“It is important we do not get distracted from what has always been the true issue at hand,” Enzi said. “Russia’s egregious efforts to interfere with our electoral process … are a serious threat to our country, and I am committed to continuing to work with my colleagues to address this.”

Barrasso and Enzi also both indicated they would welcome the release of as much of the report as is possible.

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