TORRINGTON – U.S Senator John Barrasso presented a National Law Enforcement Appreciation coin from Washington D.C. to Torrington Police Department (TPD) Chief Matt Johnson and TPD School Resource Officer (SRO) Jeff Rylee during the January Torrington Rotary Club meeting earlier last week where he was a guest speaker. The senator also reiterated his promise to fight for Wyoming interests and to work closely with other lawmakers, like newly sworn-in U.S. Representative Harriet Hageman.
Torrington Rotary Club President Nathaniel Hibben introduced Sen. Barrasso as the guest speaker at Monday’s luncheon. The club will swear in Torrington Rotary President-elect Eric Boyer at a later meeting.
“It is National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day,” Barrasso began with. “So, I have for both of you (Chief Johnson and SRO Rylee) a military challenge coin – it’s a challenge coin which is a sign of honor and recognition and respect for what you do and has the United States Senate engraved in the coin and the Wyoming Cowboy, a broncing bronco.”
As Barrasso extended a hand to both Johnson and Rylee to hand each of them a coin, he said, “It says ‘Cowboys never quit, never complain – and neither will a law enforcement officer.’”
“So, thank you for what you do to keep our community safe,” Barrasso told Johnson and Rylee.
After applauding for Johnson and Rylee, Barrasso refocused his attention to the point of his yearly guest speech before the Torrington Rotary Club.
“Somebody asked me ‘How are things in Washington (D.C.)?’ – I said, ‘It is always better in Wyoming,’ – always,” Barrasso joked with the Torrington Rotarians. “I kind of start every year here at this club and for the last 10 years I have really enjoyed it.”
Barrasso jokingly told the attendees the only issue his wife had with this meeting, “is it always happens on days The Bread Doctor (on Main Street in Downtown Torrington) is not open;” which was met with a booming laughter from Rotarians.
The senator then explained how much his wife enjoys the various treats offered by the Bread Doctor. He also explained his wife was in “high spirits” as she continued to undergo cancer treatments and thanked Torrington for the support of his family during this time.
“This is a tremendous club (Torrington Rotary Club) and a tremendous community,” Barrasso continued. “I was here a couple of weeks ago as some folks got sworn in – just such wonderful, wonderful folks here. And I want to thank you all for sending Harriett Hageman (R-Wyoming) to (U.S.) Congress.”
Adding, “You can see how well she (Hageman) has it all organized. You saw that last week she (Hageman) was directing – she (Hageman) is just going to be a terrific member of the delegation; (U.S. Senator) Cynthia (Lumnis) and I look forward to working with her (Hageman) and the Speaker of the House (Kevin McCarthy, R-California).”
Barrasso said Hageman is not only going to be a great member of the U.S. Congressional team for Wyoming, but also of conservatism and is already aiming for important issues in Wyoming like agriculture, K-12 education and the state’s various high revenue industries, such as the oil and gas industry.
The senator also spoke about how he loves every resident in Goshen County, from the leaders in the county in the various levels of governance to the everyday residents who approach him at McDonald’s. Barasso said he finds value and interesting conversations with all residents he represents and is often pleasantly surprised by the comments, ideas and concerns from residents he encounters daily.
Barrasso briefly recalled a conversation he had with a Goshen County resident at McDonald’s earlier in the day and called that individual “sharp” and intelligent to understand the issues and offer potential solutions.
“I’ve heard about some issues we continue to fight about in Washington (D.C.),” Barrasso replied to a Rotarian who had asked what issues the senator planned on tackling in 2023. “Issues such as inflation, the board crisis, K-12 education, agriculture and gas prices.”
Sen. Barrasso said these are the most pressing topics at hand in which himself and Wyoming’s other U.S. Congressional members are committed to tackling during the 2023 sessions.
“So much of the inflation that we’ve dealt with has a lot to do with energy – at a time we have abundant energy,” Barrasso responded. “I talk about that because we’re (Wyoming) is the energy safe.”
Adding, “Wyoming is the breadbasket of American energy.”
“We have it all – the oil and gas industry, the coal industry, we have the uranium for nuclear power industry – and, we have world class wind and solar industries,” Barrasso continued to explain to Rotarians. “And the fight along the energy or resources (industries) and the reason I raised this as a senior Republican on the (U.S. Congressional) Energy Committee in the (U.S.) Senate as Chairman of the Energy Committee – is because one vote in the Senate makes a difference.”
Further explaining the importance of Wyoming being represented in these various energy committees in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives is because “Wyoming’s economic development is driven by energy – it always has been – but the fight is in Washington (D.C.) for affordable energy as opposed to renewable energy.”
“Solar and wind cannot power our nation exclusively,” Barrasso explained. “We need it all.”
“When I see the president of the United States going to Iran or going to (President of Russia Vladimir) Putin as he just did recently – or going to Saudi Arabia or Venezuela – asking them to produce more oil,” Barrasso said. “They don’t do it with the same kind of respect for the environment as we do here in Wyoming or in the United States – and that’s the fight going on.”
Further adding, “They want renewable energy, regardless of the costs and regardless of the consequences – that’s been a big contributor to the inflation hit and for our economy.”
Another attendee asked the senator what his relationship was like with U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel, R-Kentucky as it relates to former President Donald Trump, the Trump Freedom Caucus members as well as any criticism Barrasso might have regarding McConnell. He also asked about the recent passage of U.S. Congress’s omnibus bill.
Barrasso said, “Well – I mean, it’s an interesting question.”
“I’m an elected leader by all the members of the Senate Republican Conference – it’s number three of the leadership in the Senate – and Mitch (McConnell) is the leader,” Barrasso began to explain. “I got elected unanimously.”
Barrasso explained how the Republican leadership team in the Senate meets every Tuesday for a luncheon before talking to the press regarding on-going issues, concerns and current events.
About a month and a half prior to the passage, Barrasso explained how his good working relationship allowed him to co-write a letter with Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, Mike Lee, R-Utah, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming, in which the senators sought to make their opposition to the Congressional Omnibus bill clear to McConnell. Barrasso explained he was with his wife at appointments with neurosurgeons and cancer specialists and was not present to give his voice regarding the passage of the omnibus bill.
The senator said the Omnibus spending bill included, “massive amounts of spending – adding to the debut – which is, to me, the biggest concern.”
In answering the criticism regarding the Omnibus Bill and of McConnell, Barrasso explained how the bill offered Wyoming money for programs and initiatives the state desperately needed and “has been fighting for since when Craig Thomas (R-Wyoming; 1995-2007: U.S. House Rep. 1989-1995) was in the Senate.”
“There was over a billion dollars to redo the MX missiles in Cheyenne,” Barrasso explained. “The Senate Highway Commission added $360 million in it for roads and highways here in Wyoming; and $60 million for bridges.”
“Is it needed?” Barrasso questioned. “Yeah – but should it be part of this bill?”
The senator explained his solution included at least 12 separate appropriations bills.
In wrapping up with his limited time at the January Rotary club meeting, Barrasso said it was time for Republicans and Democrats to work together for the best interests of the people of Wyoming like former Wyoming governors have done when certain topics, concerns or bills went against the individual’s political stances.
“That’s what I should do,” Barrasso explained. “My job is preserving and protecting Wyoming jobs, economy, environment or people and places around us.”
The senator thanked the Torrington Rotary club for allowing him to speak, give an update of what he is doing in the Senate and that he looks forward to continuing to work for all Wyomingites.