SHERIDAN — U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, spoke at a meeting of the Sheridan Rotary Club Friday afternoon and addressed topics ranging from immigration to the response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, earlier this week.
Barrasso began his talk by highlighting policies Republicans have been able to implement during President Donald Trump’s first year in office that he expects to have a positive impact in Wyoming.
“On election day in 2016, when President Trump won, with all the punishing regulations that were out there, I immediately got a sense of optimism and confidence that things were going to get better from around Wyoming,” Barrasso said. “Fast forward a year, and we’ve passed the largest tax relief bill in the history of this country, and as a result, 90 percent of people in Wyoming are going to see a bigger pay check, because there are fewer deductions, and over 6,000 people have gotten bonuses or raises.”
He added that he is beginning to see regulations on the use of energy resources in Wyoming lifted under President Trump and applauded the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
Barrasso also fielded questions from Rotary Club members.
When asked about controlling spending in Washington, Barrasso predicted that the economic growth created by tax reform will begin to cut into government deficits.
“With more money in our pockets, I believe we are going to see a level of growth that is going to lead to more money in tax revenue,” Barrasso said.
Barrasso admitted, however, that controlling spending would require reforming government programs, which is not always an easy discussion to have.
“Candidates who talked about reforming the spending, who talked about the math of it, didn’t win,” Barrasso said. “You have emotional arguments and economic arguments.”
In response to a question about the ongoing debate over immigration reform in Washington, Barrasso said he believes there is a “compelling case” to be made for granting legal status to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program but felt there were several other aspects of immigration policy that needed to be addressed.
He pointed to increased border security, revising visa programs that allow immigrants to stay after their visa expires and changing lottery and chain migration systems as areas that need to be addressed.
Barrasso called President Trump’s immigration proposal, which was defeated in the Senate Thursday, “very generous,” but said there was still hope for a compromise.
“I think there is still a deal to be had that deals in a fair way with DACA recipients, and at the same time adds border security,” Barrasso said.
Another Rotary member asked Barrasso about Republicans calling for mental health care reform in the wake of the latest school shooting, and why the party has previously rejected legislation that could prevent people with mental illnesses from obtaining weapons.
Barrasso said the bills he had seen would have raised additional concerns and, especially in the most recent case, is not convinced they would have been effective.
“The FBI came out today and said they were informed about [the Parkland school shooter] and dropped the ball,” Barrasso said. “This should have never happened, and government legislation wasn’t going to solve it.”