(Lander, WY) – Senator John Barrasso is in Wyoming this week and attended the Lander Kiwanis lunch meeting today, February 18th.
Following the organization’s business items, Lander Kiwanis President Jake Hunke turned the meeting over to Senator Barrasso for a Q&A-type session.
The pandemic and oil and gas were at the forefront of today’s discussion.
Since the pandemic struck, I’ve done everything legislatively possible to get everyone back to work and school and the pandemic behind us, Senator Barrasso noted. Currently, we are trying to get vaccines out.
“I’ve been vaccinated. I am really encouraging people to do this so we can get back to normal life.”
Senator Barrasso also shared his concerns about the economic relief package in Congress right now and it adding $1.9 trillion to the federal debt.
Stimulus checks should go to target people who need them, he explained. There are people who need it and there are those who do not.
Lowering the earning threshold for the $1,400 stimulus checks to those who make under $50,000 instead of $95,000 would save “hundreds of millions of dollars.” Citing those earning $95,000 probably do not need a check from the government.
There is also new legislation for the economic relief package that has money for every state and a formula for disbursement based on unemployment rates, Senator Barrasso continued. States that opened up like Wyoming would have a lower rate than a state that stayed closed down.
The enhanced unemployment, which adds $600 to the regular unemployment payments, is making it difficult for employers as well.
“People are making more by sitting at home. And Wyoming people want to work. If you are paying someone more to stay home and you are trying to provide for a family, why would you not.”
The conversation transitioned to extractive industries when he was asked if there was any hope for the minerals.
“You have market forces, you have the pandemic that dropped the need for the industry and an administration going after any carbon-based energy – coal, oil, and gas,” he said.
“President Biden has signed these executive orders on the first day. I was there for his inaugural speech that talked about unity and then he drove to the White House, and I say he threw the speech out the window. And he put a target on American oil and gas energy.”
Funding education is one of the bigger concerns this will impact. Senator Barrasso put forth an amendment as part of the budget reconciliation that received 98 votes. The amendment is to hold the schools harmless. “They are going to suffer as a result of these executive orders.”
In addition, he along with Governor Gordon are working with New Mexico’s governor and senators to work through this ban. New Mexico is also reliant on the oil and gas industry.
Senator Barrasso is back in D.C. next week and County 10 will keep you updated on the latest updates from his office.