New chair of Senate Indian Affairs committee backs KXL, By Brandon Ecoffey



WASHINGTON, D.C.—On Thursday of last week, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) was elected chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.  On Friday, he turned around and took a crap on the majority of his Native American constituents.

Barrasso was elected by his colleagues in the senate last Thursday to take the chairman position of the ever important Senate Indian Affairs Committee formerly occupied by Sen. John Tester (D-Mt).  The committee is responsible for reviewing and developing legislation impacting Indian Country and has had its ups and downs. However, the committee has been effective recently in passing bills with strong bipartisan support.

Sen. Tester had been one of the most active chairmen of the committee in recent history but lost the position after Republicans took control of the senate during this fall’s midterm elections. Under Tester’s watch several important pieces of legislation designed to address everything from IRS harassment in Indian Country to those supporting language revitalization efforts were fast tracked for passage.

In a statement Sen. Barrasso said that he looked forward to continuing passing bills on behalf of tribes.

“I’m honored to serve as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. I look forward to working with Vice Chairman Tester and the members on the Committee to pass legislation that helps improve the lives of people across Indian country,” said Sen. Barrasso.

Sen. Barrasso was appointed to the senate in 2007, to fill a seat left vacant by Craig L. Thomas. In 2008 he won a special election for the seat and was reelected to the senate in 2012.

Despite spending nearly a decade serving in Congress, Barrasso, seemingly missed the memo outlining the position of tribes on Keystone XL. While speaking on the Senate floor last Friday, Sen. Barrasso, vowed to pass legislation that would force President Obama’s hand on the highly controversial pipeline.

“Now Republicans are going to show the leadership that the American people have been asking for and that they voted for last November. We’re going to bring a bill to the floor, force the President finally do to do something by putting it on the President’s desk. Democrats have been playing politics with this pipeline bill. The Republican majority will now get it done,” said Sen. Barrasso on the floor of the Senate.

The testimony on the Senate floor comes on the heels of statements clarifying his priorities while head of the Indian Affairs committee.

“As Chairman, I will focus on measures related to jobs, energy and natural resource development, health care, education and tribal self-governance. I will also make it a priority to remove red-tape and bureaucratic barriers to economic growth. Progress on these important issues will go a long way in helping tribal families, communities, and businesses succeed.”

According to Barrasso is likely a sure bet to support legislation reflecting conservative ideas, “Based on analysis of multiple outside rankings, Barrasso is one of the most reliable Republican votes, meaning he can be considered a safe vote for the Republican Party in Congress.”