Congressional delegation looks at issues in Washington, D.C.
Casper – As Wyoming’s lone representative in the House of Representative in Washington, D.C., Cynthia Lummis continues to work to make improvements in the federal government for the benefit of Wyoming citizens.
In her Dec. 16 visit to the Roundup office in Casper, Lummis marked the Equal Access to Justice Act, Farm Bill and Endangered Species Act as her top priorities continuing in the new year.
Lummis remained adamant that her top priority this year and continuing through 2014 is the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA).
“EAJA is my top priority legislation that I submitted to House Majority Floor Leader Eric Cantor, and I want to see it on the floor of the House for a vote in 2014,” said Lummis. “That bill has not yet come out of the House Judiciary Committee.”
One obstacle that the bill must hurdle before 2014 is the change in the ranking member of that subcommittee.
“We once again have to work with minority party staffers on the House Judiciary Committee to get them comfortable with the bill,” she noted. “It is our highest priority piece of legislation in my office for 2014.”
Lummis also added that a Farm Bill extension was passed on Dec. 13, but she sees rough roads ahead for the legislation.
“The conference committee completed their work, but there wasn’t time in the last week of the session to give the Farm Bill a score from the Congressional Budget Office or to get it into statutory language to present the bill to both houses to adopt,” Lummis explained. “So, they just did an extension.”
The conference committee report, she added, didn’t reach the agreements she was hoping for, specifically in nutrition spending.
“I was more hopeful that the committee would just split the different between the House and Senate bill, in terms of nutrition spending, but rumors are that the report went more toward the Senate position,” she continued. “While that is unsubstantiated, if it is true, that position will be problematic in the House.”
The root of the issue, however, is that 80 percent of the funding in the “farm” bill covers non-farm programs.
“That is part of the reason the House separated the nutrition bill from the Farm Bill – to show people that the Farm Bill is not a farm bill anymore,” Lummis said.
Lummis also continues her work with endangered species, noting that the Endangered Species Working Group is nearing completion on its work.
“The working group has now completed all of its hearings,” she commented. “We might have a few more mini-hearings, but then we are going to start working on a bill.”
The bill will focus on making small, incremental changes to make it more palatable.
“This will not be a comprehensive bill,” Lummis noted. “There is no sense throwing out red meat to shoot at.”
The focus of the bill will be on transparency in the science being used by the Endangered Species Act.
“Right now, some decisions on listings are being made based on hidden science,” Lummis said.
She also noted that several other incremental advances that are “so common sense everyone should agree on them” are planned to be implemented.
“I’m going to continue my efforts to try to advance the notion that the manner in which environmental legislation is implemented is a 20th century model,” Lummis commented. “It is time to advance to a 21st century implementation model, so we actually do conservation instead of litigation.”
Her focus on improving the implementation of laws aimed at environmental conservation extends from the federal land management policy act (FLMPA) to the national environmental policy act (NEPA) to the ESA.
“All Americans now have an environmental ethic and understanding embedded in their DNA,” Lummis explained, “but we are implementing these laws in such a way that I compare it to driving an Edsel when we should be driving a Tesla.”
Rather than continuing to implement laws in an out-of-date fashion, as if it is still 1973 when the laws were passed, she said we need to move forward.
“We have gone so far beyond those days in terms of understanding species management and how to truly balance responsible, shared use of land, water and air in a way that conserves it for future generations,” Lummis commented.
Lummis also marked a host of other bills she has been working on.
“I’m still trying to find a way to the help the state, so we are compensated for those Teton land sections that are owned by the state, but the federal government is using without compensation to the state,” she commented.
Another bill sponsored by Lummis is also aimed to help kayakers gain access to Yellowstone National Park’s rivers.
“In terms of the larger umbrella, I want to start moving people to think about things in a 21st century way,” Lummis emphasized. “The people who are going to be more resistant are those who are financing their organizations through litigation and who benefit by staying in this 20th century manner of implementation.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at email@example.com.