With Congress out of session, I enjoyed spending August at home in our state, meeting with constituents, local government officials, and business leaders alike. Below is a rundown of some of the events and meetings I participated in during August as well as some of the results of my ongoing work with the Trump Administration to help strengthen our economy and improve the lives of families in Wyoming.
I am pleased to report that last week U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $1.46 million grant to the Campbell County Economic Development Corporation of Gillette, Wyoming, to help build an Advanced Carbon Products Innovation Center that will spur new business growth in the Powder River Basin region. This EDA grant will be matched with $1.46 million in state and local funds, and is expected to help create 40 jobs and generate $15 million in private investment.
I applaud the Trump administration for taking this critical step in reversing President Obama’s War on Coal by further investing in Wyoming’s coal industry. This announcement, particularly on the heels of the devastating news out of Campbell County, brings welcome news to our state. As the nation’s leading coal-producing state, Wyoming has experienced first-hand the harmful impacts of Democrat attempts to kill the industry. Thankfully, President Trump recognizes that coal is a crucial form of predictable base-load power in this nation and a form of power generation that we cannot do without. There is still much work to do and I will continue to work alongside President Trump to fight for Wyoming’s coal industry and help get our miners back to work.
Last week, I also joined the delegation in commending the Trump Administration for eliminating the unnecessary and overreaching Obama-Era Methane Rule that imperiled crucial sectors of our state’s economy. This Obama-era rule represented a threat to both America’s energy industry – which employs thousands of workers in Wyoming – and to the affordable and reliable fossil fuels that families across the country rely on. The amendments put forward by the EPA will allow the private sector to create more jobs and produce more energy at home. I will continue to work with the President and Administrator Wheeler to further increase domestic energy production, while reducing unnecessary and burdensome regulations.
I am also actively engaged with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the other federal agencies involved in responding to the irrigation tunnel collapse along the Fort Laramie Canal. This disaster has impacted roughly 107,000 acres of corn, sugar beets, dry edible beans, and alfalfa crops grown in Wyoming and Nebraska, threatening the livelihoods of the families in the region working every day to farm these crops. To help the families impacted, I joined my colleagues from the Wyoming and Nebraska delegations in sending a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue requesting that the USDA Risk Management Agency review the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the irrigation tunnel collapse and calling on them to determine this irrigation disruption to be an insurable event qualifying for crop insurance protection. In response to the letter, Secretary Perdue announced that USDA had determined the tunnel collapse is indeed an insurable event and farmers with crop losses resulting from the tunnel collapse will be covered for those loses through the crop insurance program. You can read a copy of the letter the delegation sent here.
In Wyoming last month, I proudly welcomed Scott Turner, the Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, Evelyn Lim, the Regional Administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rocky Mountain Region, and Dan Nordberg, the Small Business Administration Region VIII Administrator, to Casper to discuss Opportunity Zones. Wyoming has 25 Opportunity Zones across the state, four of which are in Natrona County.
It has been a pleasure to work with the Casper Area Economic Development Alliance (CAEDA), local elected officials and community leaders to bring more investment to Wyoming. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) created Opportunity Zones, which are areas throughout the country that have become economically-distressed. Tax incentives for investment in Opportunity Zones included in the TCJA will help revitalize these communities and spur further economic development within Opportunity Zones and their surrounding communities. The White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council has been tasked by President Trump to streamline government agency efforts within Opportunity Zones. It was great to welcome Director Scott Turner and his team to Casper to talk about plans for investments in the Opportunity Zones located within Casper and Mills. He had the opportunity to tour these areas and hear from our tremendous local officials and business leaders. I look forward to welcoming the CAEDA delegation to Washington, DC in September as we continue to make progress in this important area and shine a national spotlight on the work being done in Wyoming.
I also had the opportunity to join the Petroleum Association of Wyoming at their annual meeting in Cheyenne to discuss the value of oil and gas. Fossil fuels are treasures on which our national security and economy depend. I will continue working with President Trump to reduce unnecessary regulations so the industry can thrive and strengthen our economy in Wyoming.
While in Douglas last month, I participated in several State Fair events honoring the rich culture and traditions of Wyoming.
Wyoming has a proud State Fair tradition of honoring the men and women who have devoted their lives to our state’s thriving agriculture industry. A huge congrats to this year’s inductees into the Wyoming Ag Hall of Fame, Jim Wilson and Dick Hiser!
I also had a great time celebrating this year’s Centennial Farm & Ranch Awards, which take place every summer at the Wyoming State Fair to honor family farms or ranches that have been in operation for 100+ years. It’s one of my favorite events of the year. Congratulations to this year’s honorees!
I’d also like to extend a congratulations to Ashlee Seidel, who was selected by Wyoming Agriculture in the Classroom (WAIC) as the 2019 Educator of the Year. Ashlee currently teaches fifth grade at Big Horn Elementary in Sheridan County. Ashlee is active in her school, community, and WAIC programs and has been involved with the writing and teaching unit for the Wyoming Stewardship Project.
Additionally, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie was in Cheyenne last month to tour the Cheyenne VA Medical Center. During his time in Wyoming I was able to visit with him to discuss the ongoing reforms at the VA and ways to better assist our veterans, including the changes called for by the VA MISSION Act that was passed last Congress.
On the national security front, I reiterated calls for any potential agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban to be made public and detailing elements required for a legitimate agreement, including that Taliban leaders must explicitly renounce al Qaeda.
Throughout ongoing talks between the U.S. and the Taliban, the Taliban has waged daily attacks that resulted in the deaths of American soldiers and their allies, as well as innocent civilians. The Taliban deliberately terrorizes schools, profits from drug trafficking, and dispatches its suicide bombers throughout the country. The Taliban continues to fight alongside al Qaeda — an alliance the two groups have maintained for over two decades. Just recently, the Taliban released a video justifying al Qaeda’s attacks on the U.S. on 9/11.
Given the Taliban’s sordid history and ongoing violence, it is vital that the full text of any agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban, including supposed counterterrorism assurances, be released to the public. Any legitimate agreement will include a public, explicit renunciation of al Qaeda from top Taliban leaders, as well as commitments from the Taliban to protect the hard-won rights of women and girls, support the legitimacy of the Afghan Constitution, stop receiving funds or military support from malign sources, and actively participate in future counter-terror operations. Without these elements and corresponding verification mechanisms, we will not be ending the war—we will be retreating and ceding the battlefield to our enemies, including the organization that harbored the terrorists responsible for killing nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11. Without these elements, Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations will have the ability to once again establish safe-havens from which they can plot, plan, train for and launch attacks against the United States and our allies.
President Trump has led the way in freeing America from one-sided agreements that undermine our national security. He has demonstrated his refusal to accept bad deals that put America and our interests at risk. The same crystal clear judgment must apply with the al Qaeda-allied Taliban.
Finally, I had a great time cheering on the University of Wyoming last weekend during their victorious home opener against Mizzou. Way to start the season right!
I hope everyone is enjoying their summer and please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me or my office if we can do anything to assist you.
Congresswoman Liz Cheney
Thank you to Jackie Montgomery and the Teton County Board of Realtors for hosting me to discuss issues facing Wyoming and our nation.
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