I was pleased to spend the month of August back home in Wyoming. It was a pleasure to speak with folks from across our beautiful state about crucial issues affecting Wyoming. For the past two weeks Congress has been back in session and it has been a busy time working hard for our state. Below is a snapshot of the work I’ve been doing:
I was honored to receive the Friend of Farm Bureau Award from the American Farm Bureau Federation. Ranchers and farmers in Wyoming and across America produce the food we rely on and are crucial to our economy. Recently, I voted for the House Farm Bill, which strengthens several important provisions and programs vital to our ranching and farming communities. The House bill also includes an amendment I offered to protect the ability of our ranchers to graze their livestock. I will continue fighting for these provisions as a final Farm Bill is negotiated with the Senate and on other issues important to our ag industry.
Last week the House passed the Water Resources Development Act. I supported this important bill which includes language from legislation I introduced that protects one of Wyoming’s most important resources by authorizing and expanding the operational capacity of the Fontenelle Reservoir. The provision will help combat the effects of drought, ensure our water infrastructure is properly developed, and provide the potential for new commerce and recreation activity by creating new water supplies to be available for contracting and sale.
Natural Resources Committee
The Natural Resources Committee reviewed several bills introduced by my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Specifically, two of the bills the committee examined were the Migratory Bird Framework and Hunting Opportunities for Veterans Act that establishes duck hunting days for youths, veterans, and members of the military. We also reviewed the 9/11 Memorial Act that ensures the 9/11 memorial is properly maintained, this bill was then considered and passed on the House floor last week.
Last week we considered bills pertaining to our National Parks and the revenue generated from resource development on our federal lands. The first bill, the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, aims to address the deferred maintenance backlog at our National Parks. However, it does this by increasing mandatory, automatic federal spending. For too long we have tried to throw money at this problem only to see the backlog grow. During the markup, I supported several amendments to improve the bill including an amendment to require any additional funds be subject to Congressional appropriations, which would have prevented this bill from creating another mandatory federal spending program. Unfortunately, this and several other good amendments were not adopted. Therefore, despite my support for eliminating the NPS deferred maintenance backlog, I opposed the bill.
We also considered the Domestic Offshore Energy Reinvestment Act, which addresses concerns with the allocation of revenue from offshore drilling. During consideration of this bill I added an amendment to the bill that restores Wyoming’s intended share of mineral revenues derived from onshore drilling. Since 2007 the Federal Government has reduced each state’s required 50% share of mineral revenue by 2% for so-called administrative purposes. There is no public report available for how the Federal Government has been using this money and it has a very significant impact in terms of the amount of resources that are available in Wyoming, particularly for our schools. My amendment, which was adopted by the committee, restores the 50/50 split that was established by the Mineral Leasing Act.
The House Rules committee reviewed many of the bills considered on the House floor over the past two weeks. We reviewed and debated the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act, which provides financial counseling for federal student loan and grant recipients to help them understand the requirements of federal loans and ensure they are not taking on unnecessary debt. We also reviewed the Ensuring Small Scale LNG Certainty and Access Act, which removes restrictions on small-scale exports of liquefied natural gas, strengthening access to additional markets for natural gas producers. I managed debate of the rule for consideration of these bills on the House floor last week. During this debate, I was able to highlight our great students throughout Wyoming and the improvements our oil and gas industry has seen as a result of President Trump’s efforts to eliminate the burdensome and unnecessary regulations implemented by the Obama Administration.
Last, we will also considered the Community Safety and Security Act. This critical bill addresses an ambiguity in current law by clarifying the term ‘a crime of violence.’ The ambiguity has prevented some criminal aliens from being deported after committing crimes of violence. This bill will provide needed clarity.
Last week we worked on a Rule for House consideration of the Save America Workers Act. The Save America Workers Act is a comprehensive bill that reverses several of Obamacare’s burdensome regulations. The bill, redefines a full-time employee as working at least 40 hours a week, delays the Cadillac tax until 2023, repeals the tanning tax, and provides retroactive relief from the employer mandate. While this bill was not considered on the House floor last week I expect that we will pass this important bill soon.
The Rules Committee also adopted a rule to consider three of the twelve annual funding bills necessary to avoid a government shutdown at the end of this month. These bills provided necessary funding for our nation’s veterans and included funding for the improvements to VA health care programs that were signed into law earlier this year. It also funds critical updates for our nation’s nuclear triad, a critical mission that is carried out by the men and women service at F.E. Warren Air Force Base. This package of bills was adopted by the House last week and are expected to be signed into law by President Trump.
Armed Services Committee
I attended a Strategic Forces Subcommittee briefing on the development of Chinese and Russian hypersonic weapons.
It was a pleasure to meet with Sublette County Commissioner Joel Bousman. We had the opportunity to discuss WSAs in Wyoming and the PILT program.
I want to thank Dennis Miller from the Wyoming VFW for meeting with me. It was a pleasure discussing Veteran’s healthcare issues and what Congress can do to help.
It was an honor to meet with Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. We had an important discussion about the modernization of ICMB’s, a critical leg of the nuclear triad, a mission carried out by our servicemen and women at F.E. Warren.
I enjoyed breakfast at the Pentagon with Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, a Wyoming constituent, and we discussed a range of issues crucial to the modernization of our Navy.
I met with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to discuss issues impacting Wyoming. Specifically, we had the opportunity to speak about oil and gas operations on split estates in Wyoming.
Thanks to Serve Wyoming’s Executive Director Shelly McAlpin and board member Jessica Stanbury for taking the time to discuss the community and volunteerism Serve Wyoming has accomplished.
I had a great time tailgating at the UW game with Senator Barrasso and Mark Gordon. Go Cowboys!
I had a great meeting with members of the Mountain West Credit Union Association, including Gaira Cussins from Meridian Trust Federal Credit Union, Brandon Smith from Reliant Federal Credit Union. We had an important discussion about negative impacts of Dodd-Frank and the important improvements made by the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, which I supported and was signed into law by President Trump earlier this year.
It is always a pleasure to be with members of the National Mining Association at their annual conference. NMA has been a leader in the fight to undo job-killing regulations that threaten our coal and fossil fuel industries and workers. The mining industry in Wyoming provides the power our nation needs and creates jobs and economic growth for our state. I look forward continuing to work with the NMA and the Wyoming Mining Association to fight on behalf of hardworking miners and energy producers in Wyoming and across the nation.
Great to meet three generations of the Sessums and Eldridge family, franchise owners of the Grease Monkey from Sheridan. It was a pleasure hearing how their business has benefited and grown as a result of the GOP tax plan.
It was great to meet with Hana Fancher and Rod Morrison from the Rocky Mountain Farmer Union to discuss the important legislative issues that affect our nation’s farmers and ranchers.
I had the privilege of being interviewed by Casper’s Brian Barksdale — a Marine stationed at the Pentagon and graduate student at Liberty University — for his public policy class. He asked excellent questions about geopolitics and international relations. Thank you for doing a great job representing our state and spreading Wyoming values.
I would encourage everyone to check out this article from the Powell Tribune about the U.S. International Trade Commission’s decision to reverse the tariffs on uncoated groundwood paper.
“Thanks in part to the work of our Congressional delegation, the U.S International Trade Commission voted unanimously last week to scrap some proposed new tariffs on “uncoated groundwood paper” from Canada. That’s the kind of paper used by the Tribune and many other newspapers all across the country. The proposed tariffs, or taxes, would have cost publishers millions of dollars or, in the case of this paper, upwards of $10,000 a year.”