By David Peck
U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney addressed both local and national issues as the keynote speaker at the 2018 Lincoln Day Dinner hosted by the Big Horn County Republican Party last Thursday night at the Lovell Community Center.
Cheney was the primary guest, but with a major election coming up this year, 10 other candidates and/or office holders gave shorter addresses after Cheney (see related story).
In introducing Cheney, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso mentioned the many times he has come to Big Horn County for the health fair and other events.
He thanked longtime Republican Party leaders like Kay Mattis and the organizers of the dinner, noting that he served with Elaine Harvey and Ray Peterson in the Wyoming Legislature. “They’re wonderful people,” he said.
“This is such a great community in terms of the history and in terms of the values. There’s no place better,” he said to the assembled GOP faithful. “I just feel I’ve been a part of the community for a long time.”
He said the Wyoming delegation works closely together on issues that affect Wyoming, meeting often and working as a team to address issues and the impact they would have on Wyoming. Asked what the message is from Wyoming to Washington, Barrasso said it’s three simple words: “Leave us alone.”
Asked following her speech about the effect on American agriculture of threatened tariffs against China and a possible trade war, Cheney said free trade is very important and markets should be open for all goods. She said the first announced tariffs were “very broad” tariffs on steel and aluminum, then became more specific.
“I think it’s good that he (President Trump) narrowed those, but I view it as one of the most important things that I’m doing right now is making sure the White House understands the potential blowback on our ag community,” she said. “Even though the tariffs haven’t gone in effect, just the concept of the tariffs being out there, the prospect of them, is having an impact on prices.
“Even though I know the president at the end of the day looks very favorably on ag and looks very favorably on making sure he not doing something that will hurt us, it’s not always the first thing that folks in the White House think about. That’s where we’ve got to make sure we don’t end up in a situation where there are those repercussions.”
Cheney said if the steel and aluminum tariffs go into effect, “we’re all going to be paying higher prices for a lot of things.” She said the president is trying to deal with a “very real problem,” adding that, it’s not just that the Chinese are cheating, it’s that they are stealing trade secrets, committing cyber attacks and moving their military into the South China Sea.
“The president is looking for a way to hold them accountable,” she said. “It could be that this will get us to the negotiating table. I give you my absolute commitment that every day I’m talking to people in the White House and talking to the House leadership, as are many members who represent states where ag is such a huge part of the economy, to make sure they understand this is a really dangerous road we’re heading down here, and we can’t be in a situation where our ag industry is hurt anymore, particularly given the market conditions that we’re facing today. I think the president is hearing that message from a lot of people.
“The other place we’ve got a real tariff problem is newsprint, and it’s an issue that the senators and I have been working on with the Secretary of Commerce on, hoping that we won’t be in a situation with papers going out of business.”
She said a trade war is not the right approach when the United States needs allies and a strong global economy.
Support for Big Horn Lake
Cheney said she has been working on the issue of maintaining the water level in Big Horn Lake, stating that she had “a good phone call” in recent days with Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman, and because of the work of the efforts of Keith Grant, Elaine Harvey and others in briefing her on the specifics of the issue, Cheney said she was “able to raise with her (Burman) concerns I would say she hadn’t heard about before.”
She called a video produced by the supporters of the trout fishery below Yellowtail Dam “a real piece of propaganda” that is full of lies and inaccuracies about the river, the lake levels and related issues.
“I made it clear to her, number one, that we are watching, that we in Wyoming are very focused on this, that it is a huge economic issue for our communities, that the lake levels matter tremendously to us and that, even though they haven’t seen a glossy video with a lot of propaganda and mistruths in it, what we’re delivering are the facts,” Cheney said. “She said she had become aware of the PR campaign on the other side. I asked for her assurance that it wouldn’t have an effect on water level management. She gave me that assurance. She promised a transparent and balanced approach.”
With that being said, Cheney noted, lake supporters must be vigilant and keep up the pressure.
“I think she (Burman) was saying the right things,” Cheney said. “We talked about the standard operating procedures in Chapter 4 (of the standard operations plan) that had been changed. She initially said it hadn’t been changed but then indicated that the changes were just minor ones. She committed that she would come back to me with the specific changes and explain how it was that changes were made without any sort of review process, any sort of public input or NEPA review and that she would share the language in that crucial article with everybody here when these next meetings happen.”
In other points made during Rep. Cheney’s speech:
- She listed a number of accomplishments in Congress during the presidency of Donald Trump including regulatory reform, noting that, while President Trump is not a Westerner, he has “absolutely the right instincts” when it comes to overregulation. She also noted the impact of the recent tax cuts and quoted a recent statement from Rep. Nancy Pelosi that, if the Democratic Party returns to the majority, “we’re rolling back the tax cuts” and will “put the regulations back in place.”
She also said that, if the Democrats regain majority status, they would launch impeachment proceedings against President Trump, which would then totally occupy all of Congress’s time “fighting that political battle.”
- Cheney said that it is important to continue health care reform, noting that while the House voted to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the Senate did not follow suit, adding, “We’ve got to get it done in the Senate.”
- As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, she said one of the things that surprised her the most after taking office is “how dire the situation is” with America’s state of readiness in the area of national security and military preparedness. The said cuts in funding in recent years have led to a dangerous and tragic situation, adding, “In the last 48 hours we’ve had three military aircraft crash in training accidents, and five service members died. We’ve lost more service members in training accidents in the last year than we have in combat, and that is directly a result of the fact that we’re not providing the resources our men and women in uniform need.”
She said there are adversaries today, including China, that are developing weapons that “we can’t defend against.” It is imperative, she said, to give the military “absolutely everything they need to do the job” in defending the country, which will require maintaining a Republican majority in the Senate and the House.
- Cheney called the investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians an effort to divert attention and focus from important areas, noting, “There’s a lot to be worried about with respect to Russia, but that’s not it.” She said she is among those urging the Justice Dept. to investigate corruption in the FBI.
- As Wyoming’s lone member of the House of Representatives, she said she is honored to represent her home state and the people of Wyoming, noting that every time she votes she remembers and thinks about “every one of you and the fact that I’m representing the people of this great state.”
- In answer to a question, Cheney said she has spoken with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke about the militarization of federal land agencies like the BLM and Forest Service, calling it an issue “he is very focused on” and adding, “There is a place for law enforcement and that’s not it.”