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Wyoming’s congressional delegation outlines its priorities for the year

Gage Skidmore
Flickr Creative Commons

A few dozen people filed into the Albany County Library on a blustery February night for a town hall with Wyoming’s U.S. Congresswoman Harriet Hageman. She’s Wyoming’s freshest face in Washington, D.C., and said her time there has been a whirlwind so far.

“It doesn't seem like it's been five weeks, it seems like it's been five years,” she said to the crowd. “When I come back here a year from now, you're not going to recognize me, probably.”

Hageman has vowed to visit every county in Wyoming at least once a year. Before Laramie, she was in Lander, Casper, Jackson and other towns. Meeting people face to face is something Hageman prioritized during her campaign.

“What I'm finding is that people have felt a bit disenfranchised. That they have not been able to have access to our representative,” she said. “If there's any place that we should have access to our representative, it's in the state of Wyoming.”

That message clearly worked in Hageman’s defeat of political powerhouse Liz Cheney, who recently took a job at the University of Virginia.

Hageman is one of 75 freshman House members. She said she got her two top choices for committees: judiciary and natural resources. She also sits on a Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.

One of the biggest fights in Washington this year will be over the nation’s budget and debt ceiling. Her position on that is clear.

“I am going to be very blunt about one thing, and that is that the federal government is broke,” Hageman said.

She said cuts to popular and expensive programs like Social Security and Medicare should be off the table, but almost everything else deserves consideration. That’s a similar position as Wyoming’s senators, like Cynthia Lummis.

“COVID was an anomaly, we should never continue to spend at the rate we did during COVID,” she said during a recent press conference.

Unlike the House, the Senate looks pretty similar to last year, with Democrats flipping one seat in the midterms. So, Lummis’ priorities are similar to what they were previously. She’s working on addressing western drought, growing energy production on public lands, and regulating cryptocurrency – which she said is especially important due to last year’s collapse of a massive crypto exchange and hedge fund.

“The need for it was assured during last year's implosions of FTX,” Lummis said. “And a number of other companies that were not adhering to the same rigorous criteria for governance of non-cryptocurrency assets – traditional assets.”

Lummis also chairs the Senate Western Caucus and sits on committees on housing, commerce and the environment.

Her other Cowboy State colleague, John Barrasso, is now likely the state’s highest profile politician. He ranks third among Senate Republicans and is a ranking member on the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

“Democrats have to choose between their green energy fairytales and upholding basic human rights,” he said at a recent hearing.

Barrasso has also focused on finance and national security.

For the next couple of years, Republicans will have less power than Democrats in Washington and will try to flip seats in Congress and the presidency. Hageman has already endorsed Donald Trump in the GOP primary, while the two senators declined to make a choice.

Barrasso and Hageman will also both be up for reelection if they choose to run in 2024. They’ll need to convince Wyomingites that they’re still fighting for their state’s values.

Will Walkey is a contributing journalist and former reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. Through 2023, Will was WPR's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. He first arrived in Wyoming in 2020, where he covered Teton County for KHOL 89.1 FM in Jackson. His work has aired on NPR and numerous member stations throughout the Rockies, and his story on elk feedgrounds in Western Wyoming won a regional Murrow award in 2021.
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