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Wyoming Senators Try To Put Trump's Vision Into Law

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Wyoming lawmakers loved what they heard in President Trump's State of the Union Address—but now the hard part comes of them trying to figure out how to get his vision enacted into law.

For the president to get his long-promised infrastructure package he'll need the assistance of Wyoming senator John Barrasso who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee. And Barrasso says they're on the same page when it comes to roads and bridges.

"I talked with the president. He knows this is an important priority and I agree with him," Barrasso said.

But this is now an election year and the clock is ticking because impeachment hung over Washington for the past few months, which Barrasso says was a waste of time by Democrats.

"The plan was to bring it to the floor in the fall—in the fall, and we weren't able to do that, because we were being obstructed with confirmations of members to the to the government," Barrasso said.

Still, Barrasso says he's optimistic because House Democrats are now moving.

"The House is now started on surface transportation, highways, roads, bridges, tunnels, and that's an area where I think we can find bipartisan support," Barrasso said.

But getting anything bipartisan done in this hyper partisan atmosphere is a struggle, which was evident when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped up the president's address. Though Delaware Democrat Tom Carper says it could have been worse.

"I'm just glad she didn't hit him with it," Carper said.

And New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker says his party left the address more focused on beating Trump in November.

"I think the way he treats our fellow Americans, despite his speech, has been demonstrated through the last three years, not to mention is pre presidential period. So we have a very strong case to make, that this President does not deserve reelection," Booker said.

The president did highlight the need to tackle entitlement reforms, which was music to the ears of Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi.

"We only deal in crises. And unfortunately, crises with no money doesn't have much of a solution," Enzi says.

Enzi chairs the Budget Committee and he says he wants to at least tweak the budget process so lawmakers know when they're racking up massive amounts of debt.

"I am I have a budget reform bill that would set it up to at least make the problem obvious. One thing in America and most of my colleagues probably don't realize is that if it's mandatory spending, nobody votes on it. It's automatically done and usually with the cost of living increase," Enzi says.

Enzi says the nation's more than $23 trillion national debt is unsustainable.

"The problem is we spend it three times as fast as we get it and didn't build that into the formula when we did that. But the revenues are coming in better because people are getting more wages," Enzi says.

Enzi's retiring and is thinking about his legacy, which is why he hopes lawmakers wake up to the debt crisis soon.

"It's not a situation where you can ever feel good. I have written a lengthy statement that I hope people will look at it will be in the journal. So they can see what my deliberations were as we went through the process. And what I hope won't happen in the future," Enzi says.

Based on Capitol Hill, Matt Laslo is a reporter who has been covering campaigns and every aspect of federal policy since 2006. While he has filed stories for NPR and more than 40 of its affiliates, he has also written for Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, The Daily Beast, The Chattanooga Times Free Press, The Guardian, The Omaha World-Herald, VICE News and Washingtonian Magazine.
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