◆ “It is going to be a strong America that emerges from these difficult times.”
Mere weeks after taking office, United States Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming) discussed legislative activities in Washington D.C. with Duke Dance of the SVI Radio Network in an interview Monday, January 25 on the Weekday Wake-Up.
Lummis commented on the unprecedented happenings of her first weeks in office that included being sworn in with none of her family in attendance amid the current health restrictions, and the chaos of public protests surrounding the legislative certification of the 2020 presidential election on January 6.
With the US senate divided evenly, Lummis expressed concern over the filibuster and the fact that Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell had not yet established a plan to share power and authority in the Senate. An agreement between the two leaders was reached within 24 hours after her interview with Dance.
“When there are only seven to nine votes of majority by the Democrats in the House, that’s a very, very narrow margin of majority status. And then, it’s even slimmer, of course, in the Senate at 50/50. So, we are in a very precarious place with regard to what legislation can be passed.”
Considering the articles of impeachment being processed in the legislature and the impending trial of President Donald Trump, Lummis believes that the trial will likely begin around February 8.
“Once the trial begins, no other business can be conducted, and we’ll meet six days a week until the trial is completed,” said Lummis. “Once the articles come over, we are obligated on the Senate side to have a trial and the members act as jurors. It’s hard telling how long it will take.”
With a split Senate, and still some matters to be resolved, ideally before the trial, Lummis and Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) are focusing on the newly signed executive orders from President Biden.
“What we are keeping an eye on a lot lately is the executive orders that are being signed by President Biden, some of which could affect Wyoming in a terribly negative way,” said Lummis. “He has already closed the door on the Keystone Pipeline, which will destroy thousands of jobs and a tremendous amount of income, and he is considering signing an executive order that would prohibit leasing minerals on federal land. That’s the one that Senator John Barrasso and I, and other western senators, are really, really focused in on.”
If all those leases were put on hold, it would have a huge impact on the Wyoming economy. To prevent the orders, Lummis and Barrasso, with other interested senators, are working to create legislation that would require an act of Congress for the President to see those executive orders implemented.
“These are big decisions that should be handled by the congress, not by an executive order, or stroke of a pen, that has that consequential an impact,” said Lummis. “It’s just the wrong way to handle policy. We will file that bill this week. There are going to be many western members of the US Senate on the bill. A companion bill will also be filed in the House. So, while that bill is pending, it weakens the hand of the president to sign an executive order in contravention of a piece of legislation. That’s the strategy of the week.”
Lummis is extremely concerned about the economic stimulus numbers that the Biden Administration is presenting. A group of bipartisan senators has previewed the bill, which looks to suggest $1.9 Trillion in relief funding.
“That is an exorbitant amount of money – nothing that makes sense, given our $27 Trillion of debt,” said Lummis. “In addition, it bails out states that have been far less responsible in their spending than Wyoming has been. I don’t think that bills like this should be used as a bail-out. The people, not the government, is what is suffering with Covid. If they want to talk about unemployment benefits or PPE, so we have adequate vaccine and the ability to distribute is quickly, having adequate supplies for hospitals and other medical providers – those are the things that should be in a bill like this – not a bail-out for state governments that have been financially irresponsible.”
“The way to get past this crisis is to open the economy – have people go back to work, wear masks and be socially distant – be socially irresponsible, but still have an open economy. Paying people because you have taken their jobs and their ability to work away from them because you have extreme restrictions is the problem. We need to get government out of the way once again, trust people to be pragmatic and use common sense with regard to the way they engage in commerce and reopen our economy. Let’s get this thing going again. We can not continue this clamped down effort that is much harder on small business than it is on large businesses, and Heaven knows, small businesses are the heartbeat of Star Valley. It is just critical that we get the economy reopened and not give people handouts. They don’t want handouts. They want to get back to work.”
With President Biden’s executive order to stop building the wall between Mexico and the US, and a comprehensive immigration reform bill coming from the White House, Lummis sees problems ahead.
“I was really disappointed in the executive order to stop building the wall,” said Lummis. “If you talk to [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] agents who actually work right on the border – boots on the ground people – they know that the wall has helped in limiting the flow of drugs and human trafficking in areas where the wall exists. We would be far better off to continue to deploy the materials and the manpower that are available to continue to build the wall. That’s not going to happen and it’s hugely disappointing.”
“Then you see the people coming from Honduras and other Central American countries crossing Mexico once again, because they believe that once they hit the US border, they will be allowed to cross quickly. President Trump was able to stop that. The people who have been in line for five to ten years and more should be the ones who we process and allow to come legally into this country, not the people who just decided in the last few months that they want to come to America to get a job. Mexico was handling it when President Trump was working with the Mexican government to try to keep those seeking asylum on the Mexico side of the border. All indications are that President Biden will now let those people come into the US and is preventing the deportation of people who are here and have been processed as illegally in the country.”
“The Biden administration, from day one, reinstated a completely porous border. Governor Greg Abbot of Texas is suing the federal government, because his state has been so heavily involved in trying to work with ICE to remediate some of the problems that having a porous border creates for his state of Texas. We are in a whole new and very difficult political environment.”
Lummis has a message that she wants heard loud and clear in Wyoming as to her hopes for mending the breach in our political fabric and bringing citizens together in a time when political and economic conditions are very divisive.
“We just need to turn down the rhetoric,” said Lummis. “Everybody needs to take a deep breath. We need to be able to move the country forward and not waste our time throwing stones at each other – being so negative. I think it’s very important that we make efforts to work together as much as possible. And there is going to be broad division among us. We have a three-member [Wyoming] delegation in the US Senate.”
“Each of us wants a different direction. I voted not to accept the Pennsylvania Certification. John [Barrasso] stayed neutral, Liz Cheney has supported impeachment. You, even among one three-member delegation, cannot get more diverse responses.”
“I think that is emblematic of how challenging this is and how reasonable minds can differ on these issues. The important thing for people to remember is we are all grappling with an extremely tense time in our country. We need to be as kind and careful, in the way we discuss these issues, as we have ever been. Having this divisive rhetoric only further exacerbates the problems that we are going to face. We are going to do it responsibly. We are going to work our way through this. America is going to come out stronger. We are just in the very, very bottom of the J curve, so to speak, that is a very challenging time. But it is going to be a strong America that emerges from these difficult times. I am confident that Wyoming people will participate in a healthy discussion, a healthy debate, and help our country become strong again.”