Wyo delegation reflects on 2016, looks forward to coming year
Washington, D.C. – As 2016 comes to a close and President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office, Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso and immediate-past Rep. Cynthia Lummis both notes that the last year has yielded many positives, with a potential for positives in the future.
The House side
As she gets ready to leave Washington, D.C. with the close of her final term as Representative Lummis says, “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve Wyoming for the last eight years in the House of Representatives.”
She notes that her final year has not been without successes.
“My last year in the House has been an eventful one,” Rep. Lummis explains. “In just the past month, I was able to pass into law the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act to improve forest management and deal with beetle kill by improving the use of volunteers in our national forests. I am proud to have ushered this bipartisan, common sense legislation into law despite legislative gridlock in Washington.”
As a priority during her last several years in office, Lummis emphasized the needs of Congress for the future, citing her work as Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on the Interior.
“In the face of gridlock, I also turned to Congress’s oversight powers,” Lummis explains. “As Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on the Interior, I conducted a field hearing in Evanston that revealed how a Department of Labor-proposed rule governing H-2A visa workers would have harmed family ranches in southwest Wyoming.”
The result, she explains, was a positive change by the Department of Labor.
Lummis says, “Together, we were able to convince the Department to make changes to the rule and help keep family ranches financially viable.”
During her work on the committee, they also addressed the Endangered Species Act, the environmental benefits of responsible grazing practices and how to bring all of our nation’s environmental laws into the 21st century.
Lummis also served as chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus. She also helped to lead reforms through the Interior and Enviroment Appropriations Bills.
“That bill sought to use Congress’ power of the purse to stop numerous harmful regulations from the Department of the Interior, Forest Service and Environmental Protection Agency,” she explains.
Lummis continues, “While this bill faced a veto threat from President Obama and failed to clear the Senate, I am hopeful that the Republican majority in Congress will be able to work with the incoming Trump Administration to reign in the eight years of overreach wrought by the Obama Administration.”
In the Senate
U.S. Sen. John Barrasso commented that he has worked diligently to protect Wyoming’s ag community, saying, “Our nation’s farmers and ranchers are the ones who produce the safe, high-quality food and fiber we all rely on.”
He adds, “In Wyoming, the agriculture industry has a long and proud history. We know if agriculture is strong, so are our western communities.”
For example, his work on the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act has helped to improve access to water across the country.
“Wyoming’s farmers and ranchers depend on water for their livestock and growing crops, such as alfalfa to feed their cattle. In 2016, Congress came together to overwhelmingly pass a bipartisan bill that will help improve water infrastructure across the country,” he explains. “The WIIN Act authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve and maintain dams, inland waterways, ports and projects to prevent flooding and ensure that communities have adequate water supplies.”
Barrasso’s work has spanned a number of topics, and his leadership in the Senate will continue to work in Wyoming’s favor as he sets his sights on higher targets moving into 2017.
Many Republicans in Congress are also looking with hope toward the future, and while her seat in the House of Representatives will be filled by Liz Cheney, Lummis still notes positive strides for the future.
“With the election of Donald Trump and a Republican Majority in the House and Senate, I am hopeful that the new Congress will provide opportunities to finish these and other initiatives I began while President Obama was still in the White House,” she comments. “I have on multiple occasions secured House passage of legislation to make public and transparent the attorney fee awards under the Equal Access to Justice Act, awards that subsidize litigation tying up access to our public lands.”
“I have also worked closely with Wyoming’s Senators towards legislatively delisting the gray wolf in Wyoming and returning wolf management to the state, where it belongs,” Lummis adds.
As he looks toward the future, Barrasso cites the overregulation that the West has faced as a result of Washington, D.C. actions over the last eight years, looking for some alleviation of the stress moving forward.
“There’s no question that Wyoming’s ag communities have faced severe overregulation from Washington for the past eight years,” he says. “With the election results, we now have the opportunity to look to the future and develop common-sense policies that recognize that successful management depends on engagement at the local level.”
Barrasso emphasizes, “We’ll also make it a priority to work with the Trump Administration to reverse harmful regulations like the Obama administration’s costly overtime rule and the BLM’s public land planning 2.0 rule.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at email@example.com.