CODY — U.S. Sen. John Barrasso spoke at the Cody Rotary Club on April 8, discussing his concerns with President Joe Biden’s plans for infrastructure, management of the border wall, the national debt, election security and coronavirus relief.
“I just have a lot of concerns with what’s going on in the country right now,” he said. “Joe Biden gave a speech calling for unity on the Inauguration Day. Then he went down to the White House, threw the speech out the window.”
Barrasso described Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package passed in mid-March and sends up to $1,400 in payments to each qualified citizen, as “unilateral” and “one-sided” because of other agendas packaged into the bill such as $350 billion for state, local and tribal relief and $25 billion for rental and utility assistance.
Critics have described Biden’s $2 trillion-plus infrastructure plan as bloated and a progressive wish list. On Thursday, Barasso said less than 6 percent of funding will go to actual roads and bridges and there is more money dedicated to the electric car industry than there is for roads, bridges, airports, ports and waterways combined. He said he crafted an infrastructure bill with Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, that has been piecemealed away.
“This is an effort to force-feed the American people the Green New Deal,” he said. “Their party is headed way to the left on so many of these issues.
“You have a 50-50 Senate, that to me should be a mandate to move to the middle.”
Barrasso said electric vehicles should not be given loopholes and subsidies as they cause the same amount of damage to the roads as do other automobiles.
Biden proposed a corporate tax hike to pay for this plan but Barrasso said these increases would still get passed down to the everyday citizen through increased prices in services and fewer salary increases.
Barrasso said when he recently paid a visit to the southern border he saw hundreds of unaccompanied minors being held in cramped quarters.
He said he would like a return to former President Donald Trump’s border policies. Although Biden has kept some of Trump’s border policies, others, such as the “Remain in Mexico” policy” for asylum seekers, were removed through five executive orders. In recent months there has been a surge of undocumented children attempting to make a crossing into the United States.
Barrasso said although Wyoming may not see a large influx of illegal immigrants, this is a topic of great concern to Wyoming citizens and has been asked about it “everyday” when touring the state over the Easter holiday.
The national debt now sits around $30 trillion with many questions unanswered about the future and longevity of Medicare and Social Security.
“How do you pass that on to your kids?” he questioned. “I think it’s a threat to us as a nation, our national security, as well as the long term security of our people who are on Medicare or Social Security.”
Barrasso said the government needs to make budget cuts so this deficit can be addressed.
When it comes to H.R. 1, a bill to expand voting access, Barrasso said he is not in favor. If passed the bill would enable automatic voter registration; 15 days of early voting; independent commissions to end gerrymandering; restore voting rights to felons who completed their sentence; public financing for elections; requiring corporate political action committees to disclose all donors; and create an ethics code that applies to all branches of government including the Supreme Court. The bill would also eliminate voter identification nationally and would allow volunteers to go door-to-door collecting ballots.
“We want elections that are fair and free of voter fraud,” he said. “So you want it to be easy to vote and hard to cheat. When I read this, No. 1 priority of the Democrats is it makes it easier to cheat.”
Barrasso also criticized the 60-day moratorium Biden placed on new oil and gas leasing and drilling permits for federal land and water immediately once taking office, to consider the impacts of current leasing practices and whether to adjust royalties associated with the federal oil and gas leasing program or take other actions. Although this moratorium is now over on an official basis as of March 20, Barrasso said he is not aware of any new permits being approved.
“Day No. 1, he drew a target on energy in the Rocky Mountain West, not just in Wyoming, but public lands across the board,” he said. “The fact we don’t have personal income tax is because we have revenue coming in from other sources.”
Barrasso said this executive order will lead to decreased revenue in the state.