Congressman Liz Cheney's February 9th Newsletter
Early Friday morning the House and Senate passed the 2018 Budget Act. This legislation sets a clear path to finally provide the resources our men and women in uniform need to defend us. I voted in favor of this budget deal because, after nearly five months operating under continuing resolutions, this bill is the only way to immediately provide necessary funds for the defense of the nation. The congressional budget process is fundamentally broken and must be reformed. Because of the Budget Control Act, Democrats have been empowered to demand increases in domestic spending in exchange for providing necessary resources to the Department of Defense. This must end and should be addressed immediately by the bipartisan bicameral budget reform commission created by this bill. We must address the fiscal crisis facing our nation but we cannot do that on the backs of the men and women putting their lives on the line to defend us. During testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Secretary of Defense Mattis said no foe in the field has done more harm to our military than the BCA and sequestration. The Budget Control Act and spending caps strangled the defense budget. This bill removes that stranglehold and ensures that the men and women in uniform -- including those supporting our vital nuclear deterrence mission at F.E. Warren and the members of the Wyoming National Guard who are contributing to critical operations both at home and abroad -- have the resources they need to keep the American people safe.
Natural Resources Committee
The Obama administration's poor management of prairie dogs led to the degradation of land on the Thunder Basin Grassland. We have been working closely with the Forest Service, county commissioners and ranchers to remedy this inexcusable situation. I was pleased this week to meet with Regional Forester Brian Ferebee to discuss next steps and continuing to bring needed reform to this crucial part of our state. We also discussed issues relating to the health of the Medicine Bow Forest.
The Rules Committee reviewed and voted on several pieces of legislation this week, most importantly the 2018 Budget Act. We also, voted on H.R. 772 the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2017, H.R. 1153 the Mortgage Choice Act of 2017, and H.R. 4471 the Small Bank Holding Company Relief Act.
The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act. The bill would allow for retail food establishments, with more than 20 locations to disclose their nutritional information on a remote-access menu, such as a website instead of disclosing the nutritional value information at the restaurant location.
The Mortgage Choice Act amends the Truth in Lending Act to state that escrow charges for insurance or affiliated title charges cannot be considered "points and fees" when determining if a mortgage is high-cost.
Armed Resources Committee
On Tuesday Defense Secretary Mattis and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Selva testified before the House Armed Services Committee on the recently released National Defense Strategy and the Nuclear Posture Review. While the NDS is mostly classified, there is an unclassified summary that provides the American people, our allies, and importantly our adversaries with an assurance that the U.S. military is prepared to defend the nation. Additionally the NPR, which is a supporting document for the NDS, is a critical piece of our nuclear deterrence mission, which the men and women serving at F.E. Warren help carry out every day. The purpose of the NPR is to reassure our allies and let our adversaries know that our nuclear force is ready and capable of responding to any threat with a variety of options and that a nuclear attack on America or our allies would lead to a response so devastating that the threat of an American response has successfully prevented a nuclear attack against our nation. While these strategies are critically important, Secretary Mattis made it very clear that these documents will not be worth the paper they are written on if Congress does not provide the resources necessary to execute them. I couldn't agree more and that is why I voted this week to ensure our military will receive the funding levels requested by President Trump and Secretary Mattis for the next two years.
House Armed Services Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry asked me to join him to speak about the Budget Deal that secured the funds requested by President Trump and Secretary of Defense Mattis.
"There is no more important or sacred obligation the United States Congress has than providing resources for our military. For far too long because of policies of the previous administration, because of the budget control act, and sequestration, we have actually been doing the opposite: increasing the risk to our men and women in uniform. This caps deal is hugely important because it gets the money the military needs, gets the funds appropriated. All of us on this stage know that we have also got to deal with our fiscal crisis. The way to deal to do that is not on the back of the men and women in uniform, not on the backs of the Defense Department. We need to appropriate this money. We need to get this caps deal done. I join my chairman and colleagues on the committee urging our colleagues to vote in favor of this deal. To provide the resources for our men and women in uniform to begin to do what we are asking them to do. We have seen a significant increase in the threats we are facing across the globe while we have seen a diminishment in our military capacity and capability. So, I am very proud to serve with the people in this committee and very proud we have got a caps deal that actually provides resources the military needs. I look forward to being able to vote in favor of it."
Watch here: https://goo.gl/fSYvco
I participated in another press conference on Thursday morning in support of the budget deal with a few of my fellow GOP colleagues in the House.
"It is a very sobering experience as a member of Congress to have the Secretary of Defense say to you that no foe in the field has done more harm to our military than the Budget Control Act, sequestration, the policies of the last administration. Yet that's where we are today. We've come to this place where we all, everybody on this stage I would say everybody in the Republican conference understands we have got to deal with the debt issue. There is no question about it. But we cannot do it on the backs of the men and women who serving us. We don't have time on our side. We have to get these resources to them right away, as quickly as we can. I would also say to my good friends in the freedom caucus that we got these numbers, we got where we are because we were all unified. We stayed together and I would ask them not to quit before we get this across the finish line. We need to stay unified and get the budget deal passed so we can turn to the kinds of reforms that are crucial in terms of the overall budget process. It is fundamentally important and as we are having these debates as Republicans and members of the House I can tell you we all keep very much in mind the moms and the dads out there, some of whom in our own conference whose sons and daughters are deploying and we cannot be in a situation where we're letting our political debates, our political fights, our arguments get in the way of getting them the resources they need in this increasingly dangerous world to protect and defend every one of us. Our most sacred obligation. I'm very proud and honored to stand on this stage. I'm grateful for the hard work of the speaker, of the chairman, of Mike and Martha and all of our colleagues on the armed services committee and I would be very proud to cast my vote in favor of this deal to get the military the resources they need. Thank you"
Watch here: https://youtu.be/GiLIeO8TkE4
I want to thank Cheyenne's Ann Logan and Steven D. Price from the Wyoming Taxpayer Advocate Service for meeting with me this week. We were able to discuss the NTA Annual report that is sent to Congress and the Congressional Affairs Program Informational PAC.
This week Chugwater’s Steve Kelly, Wyoming representative to the National Rural Water Association Board of Directors, Wyoming Association of Rural Water Systems Executive Director Mark Pepper, and Earl McKinney stopped by my office this week. We are proud Steve Kelly will be representing Wyoming at the Great American Taste Test this year.
Thanks to the Wyoming School Boards Association for meeting with me this week. I had the pleasure of speaking with Rawlins President Mike Mann, Jackson President Janine Bay-Teske, Powell Vice President Greg Borcher, former Laramie President Janice Marshall, and Cheyenne Executive Director Brian Farmer.
Retired smsgt Bob Born and Adrienne Gibbs from the Wyoming National Guard Association met with me this week. Our conversation covered important topics such as expanding TRICARE coverage, VA guideline reform, and student veterans.
On Thursday, I met with the Niels Hanson from the Wyoming Stock Growers and Public Lands Council. Tanner Beamer from the PLC and Ethan Lane from the NCBA were also in attendance. We had good discussions about NEPA and ESA reform, trade and infrastructure issues.
Keith Kennedy from the Wyoming Wheat Growers met with me this week. It was a pleasure to speak with Keith about the conservation and commodity titles in the upcoming Farm Bill and trade policies affecting agriculture in Wyoming.
Mary Kay Turner and Jackson Presbyterian Minister Mitri Raheb and I had an important conversation about the crisis situation facing the Christian in the Middle East.
It was great getting a chance to talk to Kathy Vetter and Amy Simpson form the Wyoming Education Association. Thanks for taking time to speak with me.
Jackson's Trout Unlimited Alex Maher, the co-founder of Live Water Properties, LLC met with me this week to talk about upcoming projects in Wyoming.
The domestic production of uranium is not due to a lack of resources. Wyoming is the number one producer of this resource in the country. We are losing a strategic national security asset and economic engine that is vital to our state and local economies. Senator Barrasso highlights America's uranium shortage in this excellent article in the WSJ that I encourage everyone to read.
"The federal government has made the situation worse. Since the 1990s, the Energy Department has maintained a stockpile of uranium from decommissioned nuclear weapons. For the past decade, the agency has actually bartered uranium away in exchange for services from contractors. The contractors then sell the uranium.
If the department sold its uranium directly, the funds would go to the U.S. Treasury, not to the agency's coffers. This bartering scheme effectively circumvents Congress's power of the purse, which is why the Government Accountability Office called it illegal in 2006 and 2011. The department kept doing it anyway."