Federal landscape: Barrasso, Lummis look at legislation, impactsWritten by Saige Albert
Laramie – With great support of the agriculture industry coming from Wyoming’s congressional delegation, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Congressman Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) visited the Wyoming Stock Growers Association Summer Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show June 3-4 to update farmers and ranchers on the latest happenings from Washington, D.C.
The top of many political conversations lately has been the upcoming presidential election, and Barrasso said, “A woman in church asked me, how did it come to this?”
He continued that he is strongly against Hillary Clinton, commenting, “I think we can never afford, as a country, to be like the last four years. It would basically be like a third Obama term. I think it’s been a terrible eight years for the country under President Obama’s one-size-fits-all approach.”
With regulations skyrocketing in number and no-win situations across energy and healthcare fields, Barrasso said, “Is help on the way? The election will have a lot to do with it.”
“Everyone is worried about the impact of this administration and the rules and regulations we see,” he continued. “As WSGA’s Jim Magagna put it, we need more carefully chosen words in terms of regulations that would lead to more defensibe outcomes.”
With overwhelming regulations, Barrasso noted that a positive has been seen in the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling against the Environmental Protection Agency last week.
“Justice Kennedy said, ‘The Clean Water Act remains notoriously unclear. The law continues to raise troubling questions regarding the government’s power to case out on the full use and enjoyment of private property throughout the nation,’” Barrasso quoted. “That’s good coming from a Justice who’s not with us all the time. The administration has gone so far overboard that the Supreme Court has ruled against them 8-0.”
However, with challenges abounding, Barrasso also noted that some progress is being made in Congress.
“We’re making progress on wildfire, the Equal Access to Justice Act and trying to get more transparency,” he said. “We’re making progress in a number of areas, but we’re not making enough.”
Barrasso added, “The outcome of this election has a lot to do with it.”
While congressional review was passed to overturn regulations, Barrasso noted that presidential vetoes are difficult to overcome.
“This election is more consequential than ever because it’s not just the presidency,” Barrasso said. “The Senate hangs in the balance, and so does the Supreme Court. When Justice Scalia died, it made an impact. He was magnificent, and in his view, the constitution is a legal document, not a living document. It was built for rigidity, not for flexibility. We lost a great friend in Justice Scalia.”
The next president will appoint a new Supreme Court justice, which will dramatically impact the direction of the U.S.
Lummis noted that in addition to the election, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has taken up much of her time lately.
“I’ve concentrated on TPP this spring in ways that are more detailed than I have in the past,” she said. “I’ve taken a deep dive into TPP, including spending more time in Southeast Asia, and it has had an impact on me. I’ve become a very strong advocate of TPP.”
Lummis noted that, while she voted against Trade Promotion Authority last summer, she has devoted her time to learning about the details of TPP. The opinion she has formed as a result of much education is that TPP is an agreement that will benefit the livestock sector and agriculture.
“Beef came out just about better than any industry,” she said. “The industries that are not happy with TPP include the prescription drug industry, because it reduces the protection on drugs before they can go generic to eight years. The automobile industry and the tobacco industry are not tickled pink, but agriculture has a lot to cheer about.”
She also noted that she will be working directly with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to promote TPP.
“This is one of the few things that we can agree on with this administration – and maybe the only thing we can agree on as this administration winds down,” Lummis said.
While Lummis noted she typically focuses her legislative efforts around agriculture, natural resources, energy, entitlement reform and spending reductions, recently, she has jumped into another arena.
“We have reached a level of executive overreach that is absolutely unprecedented in this country to the point that the constitution has been stood on its head,” she said. “One of those areas in when President Obama mandated that K through 12 education let young people pick the bathroom of their choice and the locker room of their choice if they take federal funds.”
Lummis is strongly against the effort and has since crafted and will be introducing a bill to allow parents to obtain a voucher to send their children to a different school if any federal mandate is imposed on the school that they are against.
“This is an extreme departure from what I usually legislate on, but I’ve had it up to here with these federal mandates,” she emphasized. “We can’t just let is happen. We’ve got to fight back.”
“As I came over to Laramie from Cheyenne this morning, it is a gorgeous day, and right next to the interstate fences, we saw Eisele’s cattle. It was just a scene out of heaven to see cattle on green grass on this beautiful day in this beautiful state,” Lummis said. “The people in the ag industry and the people who preceded them are the ones who have sustained Wyoming’s culture, value of hard work, stewardship of the land and the cattle, sheep, wildlife and more.”
She continued, “Wyoming ag people protect it, nurture it and sustain it, so thanks to all of you who provide that for the people of this state.”
Lummis commented, “The people in agriculture make Wyoming life possible.”