Barrasso: After Years of Stalemate, Senate is Working Again

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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator John Barrasso (WY) appeared before a breakfast meeting of The Ripon Society yesterday morning, delivering a speech in which he discussed some of the key issues on the Senate agenda and stated that the biggest difference in the Senate is that the institution is working again for the first time in several years.

“The people want the country to head in a different direction,” Barrasso stated, noting the results of last November’s election. “They said, ‘We’re tired of this, we’re not happy the direction the President has taken us over the last six years and we need a real change.’ Regrettably, the President said he was going to double-down and ignore what the electorate said and he was going to use his pen and his phone to try and do things that many of us don’t feel is right or legal.

“In spite of all of that, we are actually moving ahead. Even Tom Daschle, the former Democratic Leader, has come out and said the Senate is actually moving again and working and there is a spark of energy that they hadn’t expected.”

“We want to continue to bring to the floor bipartisan bills that come out of the committees through the regular committee process. Now we’re seeing the headlines that the stagnation in the Senate really was all about Harry Reid and was an obstructive effort to basically stop the Senate from acting. We’re getting lots of comments from Democrat Senators who like it better this way, to the point that one of the leaders the other night said to me: ‘Look, whatever happens, don’t go down the mistake-track we took where we blocked votes so that we could protect our Members. And this was a pretty liberal member of the Democrat Party who saw what a mistake it was to not even make their Members take votes.”

Barrasso has been in the Senate since 2007. Reelected to a second term in 2012, he serves as Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, where he is working to address some of the key issues facing America. One of those issues is energy and how to make America more energy secure.

“We’re trying to get the country to act more like the energy power that it is,” the Wyoming lawmaker declared. “We’re an energy super power. Energy should be an instrument internationally, and we should use that power as an instrument for force and change. We’re trying to work on bipartisan bills to export liquefied natural gas and get the export ban lifted so that we can use our energy to help us with trade, jobs, and to undermine Vladimir Putin.

“Energy has changed dramatically the last few years. Through horizontal drilling and different directional drilling, we are now producing more energy than ever, to the point that we were once going to import liquefied natural gas and now we have an abundance. There is a huge demand for what we have to sell. But the thing that is slowing it all down is getting the permits to do it, and the permission to build the infrastructure to do it. We want to be able to explore on federal land, and the feds have the greatest opportunity to benefit tax wise if we go explore for energy. But we’re held hostage by environmental extremists who are stopping that.”

Barrasso also discussed the importance of trade. “Trade to me is very important,” he said. “We ought to be supportive of more trade because that is something that builds the economy. The President has mentioned it in the last five State of the Union Addresses. I talked to the U.S. Trade Representative yesterday about that and they’re pushing it. But the opposition is coming from the President’s own party. We’re hoping that he’s able to convince his own party to vote for something I think would be of the long-term nature. It’s interesting to watch Hillary Clinton because Bill did a lot of trade activity, and now she’s trying to back-step from that.”

With an upcoming reauthorization deadline in June, the Senator was asked his thoughts on the future of the Export-Import Bank.

“I’m not sure how that’s going to play out,” he observed. “But five or eight years from now, it’s not going to be there. I’m not sure if it’s this time or when it’s going to happen, and it’s not something you expect to hear at home. But I was at an Arby’s getting a roast beef sandwich for lunch in Riverton, Wyoming. George Will had just written a column about it and it was very critical. These people had read George Will in the local paper and made negative comments about it. So when you start hearing about it at home, I don’t expect it’s going to be there in the long run.”

In response to a question, the Senator also spent considerable time discussing the Iran nuclear deal where he warned against lifting current sanctions.

“I think we all agree that Iran with a nuclear weapon makes the world less safe, less secure, and less stable,” he stated. “It’s the sanctions that really drove Iran to the negotiating table and these were the sanctions that the House and Senate put on them. We did it with the President opposed and he kept kicking and screaming all the way through and it passed with a hundred votes in the Senate — and he had to enforce and sign it. So, they go to the table and start negotiating and they want to lift the sanctions. They will do anything they can to get the money because you’re talking over $100 billion that Iran gets if the sanctions are lifted. I don’t believe they are going to use that money to build hospitals, schools or roads. I believe they are going to use it for more terrorism and continue to allow it to expand.

“If Iran gets a nuclear weapon and this deal goes through, I think you’re looking at Iran ten years from now that is a military power, an industrial power, and a nuclear power. I just think they can’t be trusted in any kind of deal.”

Barrasso, who worked for over 25 years as an orthopedic surgeon before coming to the Senate, was also asked about recent Medicare reimbursement reforms. In his response, he outlined the impact that the Affordable Care Act is having on the healthcare of all Americans, particularly those who live in rural communities.

“There are 43 hospitals in the U.S. that have closed since the healthcare law has passed,” he stated. “They’re all rural hospitals, and there’s a huge impact on rural communities because of the healthcare law. And Zeke Emanuel, Rahm’s brother, who was the so called ‘Architect’ of the healthcare law, has said that we have too many hospitals in America, about 1,000 too many, and there will be about 1,000 closing in the next six or eight years. Those are hospitals in small communities. That’s rural America. If you lose a hospital in a small community, it’s harder to get a teacher to move to town, harder to get a doctor to move to town, and harder to get a business to move to town. But, that’s their model. The people who wrote the regulations and the law behind closed doors really don’t understand what rural America is all about.”

“The next focus is going to be the King v. Burwell decision, and we are expecting a Supreme Court ruling coming out in June. We’ll see what the results are of that and the impact it has on people and how we protect them and get them transitioned away from Obamacare and to the freedom they deserve – which is patient-focused care rather than one-size-fits all that really doesn’t work for a lot of places in our communities.”

To view the complete remarks of Senator Barrasso before The Ripon Society’s breakfast discussion yesterday morning, please click on the link below:

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.