Cheney strongly advocates for Wyoming ag
Douglas – Wrapping up an informative 2018 Cattlemen’s Conference, Rep. Liz Cheney joined nearly 40 members of Wyoming’s agriculture industry to provide an update on the latest activity in Washington, D.C. and how they affect agriculture in the state.
Cheney explained the House returns to session following Labor Day, which leaves them with 11 legislative days until the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30.
“There is some talk that even though right now the House is scheduled to be in for a couple weeks in October, they may take those weeks back out of concern of getting vulnerable members back home to campaign,” she said. “We could be in a situation where we only have 11 legislative days until the election.”
Additionally, Cheney said she does not necessarily agree with the practice because “We have a lot to get done in a short amount of time.”
With several big issues facing Congress currently, Cheney noted both the House and Senate have passed a farm bill, and conference is occurring this week.
“The big issue will be over reform to the food stamp program, which is known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program),” she commented. “The House had good reforms in the bill, but I think it’s not as easy for them to do what I think is the right thing.”
In the Farm Bill, working with Wyoming Stock Growers Association and Wyoming Wool Growers Association, Cheney put together an amendment that would provide relief for anyone with an allotment on public lands.
“If that allotment somehow comes under litigation or has a natural disaster and producers aren’t able to access it anymore, my amendment would require the government provide an alternative allotment,” she said.
However, Washington, D.C. lobbyists discouraged the amendment, stating it would cause a fight on the floor, which might result in a loss on the bill. Cheney pressed the amendment further, which passed on a voice vote.
“The amendment is in the House version, and I’m hopeful that it will survive conference,” Cheney commented.
The House version of the bill also includes a repeal of the Waters of the U.S. Rule (WOTUS).
Currently, both bodies plan to move the 2018 Farm Bill in September to provide resolution for farmers.
“Hopefully, the Farm Bill is one of the things that gets done in September,” she said. “If not, they’ll do a short-term extension, and it’s one of the things we are able to get done quickly when we get back.”
Because of its importance to our nation, Cheney also noted she has been working with negotiators and others in the administration to understand the impact tariffs can potentially have on the agriculture industry.
“Obviously we have not been hit like some of the states, for example, that have soybeans, but there is a lot of concern out there,” she commented. “The president’s perspective is we don’t have a level playing field right now, and something has to be done.”
Cheney said getting the deal often becomes the end-all be-all, which means trade deals don’t benefit the industry.
“The incentive is right, but we’re watching carefully because we don’t want to get into a trade war. The could be detrimental, and we could see repercussions across the board,” she commented.
Additionally, Cheney hopes to return to tax cut bills in September.
“I’ve been pushing for complete elimination of the death tax,” she explained. “We were able to provide some relief for that in the tax bill that passed, but we need more.”
On the national security front, President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act at Fort Drum, New York, which is an important piece of legislation necessary to rebuild the military and address threats seen from the Chinese and Russians.
“When we get back to Washington, we’ll be dealing with the appropriations to deal with that bill, to not just authorize the programs but also provide funding for them,” Cheney said.
The House continues to address de-regulation, particularly in the energy sector. As one example, Cheney said she has introduced an amendment that protestors on energy leases must put forward money to cover costs for processing those protests.
Recently, Cheney has noted that the Senate has taken a different approach to bills, not adding pieces that the House has included because of the difficulty of passing bills in the body.
“We’re fighting for these things, like WOTUS repeal in the Farm Bill, to make sure they pass,” Cheney said.
Additionally, she explained there has been an ongoing dispute about how the House of Representatives should operate on a broader scale.
“My view is we all got elected to do the things we said we would do,” she explained. “Too often, what happens is the Republican leadership in the House says, we know the Senate won’t do X, Y or Z, so we shouldn’t try to do X, Y or Z.”
She continued, “We only put forward things we think the Senate might agree to, and in most cases, the Senate won’t even agree to those, leaving us in a worse position.”
“I would much rather see us – on a whole range of issues, from Endangered Species Act reform to spending issues – the House of Representatives should say, ‘Here is what we believe. Here is what we think is right. Let’s go out and fight for it’,” Cheney emphasized.
The strategy would force Senators to explain their inaction to their constituents, rather than allowing the Senate to have an influence beyond their numbers.
Into the future
Cheney said progress will continue to be made for de-regulation and removal of red tape, so long as Republicans are able to maintain the majority.
“I’m not worried about Wyoming, but in other places, it’s important to help people understand how important our majority is,” she explained. “If we want to continue to see these policies move forward and see the progress we’ve seen with President Trump in office and Republican majorities in the House and Senate, we have to make sure Nancy Pelosi isn’t the Speaker of the House.”
If the Democrats regain control of either body, Cheney forecasts events like impeachment proceedings against the president and more, which would halt progress made in the last two years.
Cheney emphasized, “We have to make sure we’re continuing to work to get the right people elected.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.