Republicans set up for success in 2025, Hageman says

Posted 4/2/24

Speaking to a crowd of Powell area residents on Thursday, U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.) tamped down hopes for many legislative victories this year. With Democrats controlling the Senate and …

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Republicans set up for success in 2025, Hageman says


Speaking to a crowd of Powell area residents on Thursday, U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.) tamped down hopes for many legislative victories this year. With Democrats controlling the Senate and White House, Hageman indicated that she and the GOP face an uphill battle on everything from boosting American energy production to ousting Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to delisting the Yellowstone region’s grizzly bears.

However, if Republicans make gains in the upcoming election, “what we have done is we have set ourselves up for success starting very, very quickly in January of 2025,” she said.

Much of Hageman’s focus is on pushing back against the so-called administrative state, contending the executive branch has been given too much rule-making authority.

“We have stockpiled so much power within the executive branch and administrative agencies that people like me [members of Congress] are no longer held accountable for the decisions we’re making, because we're not making the decisions,” she said.

Hageman told the crowd at The Commons that the power should be returned to the legislative branch, in part because “we’re the ones who have to come back here to talk to you about the decisions that we make.”

Despite the town hall convening at an unusually early hour — 7 a.m. — the freshman congresswoman drew a big, supportive crowd.

Hageman’s remarks ranged from denouncing the “absolutely abhorrent” possibility of transgender women competing against women in the upcoming Olympics to criticizing the State of Wyoming’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic to arguing President Joe Biden’s foreign policy decisions have been compromised by the private work performed by his son, Hunter.

“That’s why we have to get to the bottom of what Hunter Biden has done,” she said, “because we need to trace that … and make sure that it never happens again.”

“We have got to come up with some ethics legislation that prevents people … that are related to someone in this kind of power from being able to trade on their family name,” Hageman added, “because it is compromising the very foundation of who we are.”


Punishment versus accountability

The event featured a lengthy question-and-answer period, in which Powell resident Pat Slater called for action.

“Until there’s actual punishment on somebody that has committed a crime, it will continue,” Slater said. “They get away with it year after year after year, and until we start hanging bastards on the White House lawn and have the deterrent to this, it will continue.”

He added that, “It sounds brutal, and it is, but what they’re doing is killing the rest of us. And we’ve got to fight back somehow, and there’s got to be punishment.”

In response to Slater’s remarks, Hageman offered that, “I’m not quite there yet — and I wouldn’t announce it publicly if I was — but I am trying to do some things to hold people accountable.”

She specifically cited her Censorship Accountability Act, which would subject federal employees to civil liability if they violate a person’s First Amendment rights. Under the legislation, Americans who prevail in court can recoup their attorney’s fees from the government, which Hageman said could motivate lawyers to file suits and “stop this nonsense.”

“It’s a bit short of the remedy you’re advocating for,” she told Slater, “but hopefully, it [the bill] will give these folks pause when they’re sitting there and deciding, ‘Do I start tapping Harriet Hageman’s phone?’”

The lawmaker suggested a similar approach to the immigration issue, saying she wants to bring a bill that would hold non-governmental organizations (NGOs) liable if they help a person illegally enter the country and the person commits a crime like murder.

Hageman described the situation at the southern border as an “invasion” and a “catastrophe.”

“What this president has done, I think it’s absolutely criminal,” she said.


Cattle tags

Hageman also criticized the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ongoing push to require RFID ear tags on cattle — a new regulation she said will primarily impact producers in rural areas like Wyoming.

While the USDA says the microchips are intended to track disease, Hageman is suspicious of what the government will do with the data. 

“They’re being dishonest about how much it’s going to cost and what the real intent is,” Hageman said.

She’s attempting to convince the Office of Management and Budget to scrap the USDA’s rule, but it appears to be headed for approval; Congress’ recent $1.2 trillion funding bill included $50 million to launch the RFID program, Hageman said.


Natural asset companies

Things “may be a little bit difficult” on the legislative front, she told the Powell audience. However, the lawmaker said there are other ways to win battles, referencing a recent fight over an obscure new type of company.

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) put forward a proposal last year to allow the creation of “natural asset companies” aimed at enabling people and corporations to “invest in nature.”

According to a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) summary, natural asset companies (NACs) would “manage, maintain, restore (as applicable) and grow the value of natural assets and their production of ecosystem services” — with “services” including things like clean air, water, productive soil, climate stability and wildlife habitat; the SEC summary says those resources are currently “being degraded at alarming rates.”

As part of an effort to shift away from “extractive” use, NACs would be prohibited from doing anything that has a “material adverse impact” on the land, air or other natural assets under its control. Boosters see it as a way to put a value on the environment, but critics like Hageman see the potential for investors to effectively lock up public or private lands.

“You could have … the natural assets of Shoshone National Forest, sold to Bill Gates, or Venezuela, or the Chinese Communist Party,” she said. “You could have the Rock Springs district of the [Bureau of Land Management] sold to Bloomberg or Iran.”

Groups like the American Steward of Liberty helped organize opposition to the proposal and the SEC received nearly 4,000 comments — mostly form letters opposing natural asset companies. The NYSE withdrew its proposal on Jan. 17 and Hageman cheered it as an example of the importance of citizens remaining engaged. But she warned that the idea could return in the future, telling the crowd that, “We need to stay vigilant.”