Wyoming Senators talk bills, budget and Washington, D.C. at Farm Bureau conventionWritten by Christy Martinez
Cheyenne – “Our fundamental belief in regard to EPA is: leave us alone. Our land, our water and our people,” said Wyoming Senator John Barrasso in an address to the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB) on Nov. 11 in Cheyenne.
Barrasso visited the convention along with Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi and Wyoming Governor Matt Mead.
Barrasso was speaking in regard to “fugitive dust” regulations under consideration by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“You’ll be in violation by driving your pickup down any kind of dirt road,” he said, noting, “We shouldn’t have to put laws on the books to prevent things that don’t make sense.”
Barrasso said he, along with Wyoming Representative Cynthia Lummis and Enzi and others in the Western Conference, have put together a report called the Western Jobs Frontier, which focuses on breaking down the Washington barriers to what they refer to as America’s red, white and blue jobs.
“Those jobs are being prevented by this administration, and we want to promote agriculture, ranching and forestry and support recreation, hunting and public land access,” said Barrasso. “We have 40 bills that would put people back to work, would get the government off our backs, and that everyone in this room would support.”
In addition to the proposed EPA rules, Barrasso said another part of the “regulatory rampage” coming from the Obama administration is the changes to the Department of Labor’s rules that would apply to young people working in agriculture.
In his speech, Enzi addressed a bill that would make Washington more like Wyoming.
“This bill would limit bills to one topic, with no earmarks and no trading votes,” said Enzi. “In Wyoming, that’s a felony: ‘If I vote for your crappy bill, you vote for my crappy bill, and then we have two crappy bills.’ They need to be one topic, shorter and understandable.”
Enzi added that the bills also need to be bipartisan.
“The way I do that is with the 80 percent rule. We can agree on 80 percent of the issues, and the way to get things done is by leaving out the things we don’t agree on,” he explained. “The key to getting that other part done is to find a new way to do it, so both sides can claim they’ve found the answer.”
“We’ve got some real dilemmas in Washington right now, and I hope my 80 percent rule works,” he added. “Right now we’re having problems with regulations. The President’s found out he doesn’t need Congress – he can write regulations.”
Of efforts underway in mid-November, Barrasso said the big fight would be against the administration’s attempt to take over water.
“Most bills are long and complicated, but this one is simple and has to do with the word ‘navigable,’” said Barrasso. “The guys who were pushing this were defeated in both the House and Senate in last year’s election. There was nobody promoting it in Congress, so EPA stepped in with regulations, and I’m leading the charge in the appropriations bill to make sure the Army Corps gets no money at all to implement this change.”
“They’re trying to take over just about everything they can on water,” said Enzi.
Regarding wolves and the current Wyoming management plan under consideration by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Enzi said he’s holding his breath, even though the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has bought into it and FWS says they have. He added that it all comes down to what court the plan ends up in, although he mentioned Lummis’s provision in the appropriations bill that would prevent lawsuits.
Of Lummis’s participation in appropriations, Enzi said, “She’s done so well that she hasn’t been invited on a trip to Europe to look at financial solutions. She’s cutting with a scalpel, not a machete, because she understands agriculture, the treasurer’s office and she knows how to look for the things that are not doing well.”
Enzi said that, in a study of health and human services, which are part of his jurisdiction, he found $900 billion in duplication.
“Duplication is easier to get rid of than fraud, waste and abuse, because those are things you estimate, but you don’t know the amounts for sure. Duplication is in the appropriation, and you can eliminate that and take credit for a real number,” stated Enzi.
Of the super committee, whose plan is due at the end of this month, Enzi said it has shifted the country’s viewpoint from spending to cutting.
“The President, in his State of the Union, could have painted the same bleak picture they discovered, and he could have got our attention and turned in a budget following what they suggested. Instead, he turned it into the stimulus bill, and his budget failed 97 to nothing, which is a first in the history of the U.S. Not a single Democrat voted for his bill.
“Now he’s come back with his new jobs package, which is the same thing warmed over. He’ll finally let us vote on pieces of it, and that might have a chance, but they always package something that can’t be done with something that should be done. The good piece ought to stand on its own.”
“This country really is in the same situation as Greece, Italy and Spain, the only difference is we own our own money, and the U.S. has been in worse pickles than this and pulled itself out, so we can handle it,” said Enzi. “It’s a difficult time, and we’ve got to get the budget balanced. I put together a one percent solution, where if everybody cut one percent from their budget for each of seven years, in the eighth year the budget would balance, and they would find out it really isn’t that harmful. We need to stop doing new programs, get rid of the ones that aren’t working and cut the money. I don’t think it would be harmful to the country, but encouraging. Margaret Thatcher did that when she was Prime Minister of England, and the economy went through the ceiling.”