LUSK – U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) visited Niobrara County High School to interact with students and Rawhide Rural Health Clinic to visit with staff members on Wednesday, April 7.
According to Barrasso, he is taking the senate’s Easter recess to travel around the state and talk to people in several communities. Barrasso said he has been enjoying taking this time to meet with students while they are still in school.
“We’re off for Easter and I thought there’s no better time to come to Lusk and visit with you,” he told the students at Niobrara County High School.
He will continue to visit different organizations in communities around Wyoming. After Lusk, Barrasso said his next stop was Gillette.
Barrasso visited with the student council, toured the school and at 11:30 a.m. spoke to students in the auditorium. After a few opening remarks, he gave the students an opportunity to ask him questions. The event lasted about 20 minutes.
Shortly after, Barrasso arrived at Rawhide Rural Health Clinic, where he met with Clinic Manager Heather Stuadenmaier, Medical Director Dr. Joleen Falkenburg, Director of Nursing Marni Siebke and Human Resources Manager Christa Stream.
The group visited while eating pizza and salad from The Pizza Place. Barrasso asked questions about their experiences.
Falkenburg said one of the reasons she enjoys working in rural medicine is getting to see something new every day. The group discussed COVID-19 restrictions, personal injuries, healthcare, the Biden administration’s approach to natural resources and happenings in the community.
After lunch, the senator briefly visited a patient.
Barrasso said though he hasn’t practiced medicine for 13 years, he still remembers some of his past patients from Lusk.
For 24 years, Barrasso practiced orthopedic surgery in Casper. During this time, he served as President of the Wyoming Medical Society and was named Wyoming Physician of the Year, according to barrasso.senate.gov.
At the high school event, one question a student asked the senator prompted him to talk about a lesson in leadership he learned as a doctor. He said he continually had to learn that in a position of leadership, people look to see how you respond to a situation. He said, if you’re in control and confident, they also will be.
“If you show fear or fatigue, you will not be followed,” Barrasso said.
Barrasso said his time as a doctor prepared him well for being a senator.
“There are a lot of people in Washington from bigger states that never really had a real job, and don’t understand how the world works, because they’re not in it,” he said.
Barrasso encouraged students to apply for the Hathaway Scholarship and to gain some career experience other than in law, and run for public office, whether it’s the school board, county commission or the Wyoming State Legislature.
After serving in the Wyoming State Senate from 2003 to 2007, Barrasso was elected to the United States Senate. Currently, he is Chairman of the Senate Republican committee, the third ranking member in the Senate’s Republican leadership and serves on the committees on Energy and Natural Resources, Finance and Foreign Relations, according to www.barrasso.senate.gov.
Barrasso spoke about one of the beauties of his position.
“You get to talk to people as a U.S. senator that I never got to talk to as an orthopedic surgeon,” he said.
He spoke of times he spent visiting with people like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk and enjoying the opportunity to ask questions.
This, according to Barrasso, is one of the reasons he likes to visit schools.
He said he enjoys getting “to answer questions from people who have curious minds and want to know what else is happening in the world.”
Students asked Barrasso about his opinions on President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Barrasso said he served in the senate with Biden and was on the foreign relations committee with him before he became vice president.
“He’s a likeable guy,” Barrasso said, “I just disagree with him on policy, on just about everything he’s done.”
He said the same about Pelosi.
Barrasso explained to students, “she’s elected from a very liberal area of San Francisco, and she actually represents, I think, the mindset of those people from that little area of San Francisco.”
He noted that there are 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and each of them represent people from different parts of the country and with different views.
Once people are in office, Barrasso said their minds are not going to change on issues.
“There’s fundamentally no simple substitute for getting the right people elected in the first place,” he said.
Barrasso said he recently visited the southern border with 17 other Republican senators. He talked about the conditions of the Donna Texas processing facility.
“There were 7,000 kids crammed in there like sardines because of Biden’s policy on immigration,” he said.
It’s a humanitarian crisis for these kids, but it’s a security crisis for us, he said.
The senator referenced two men being arrested after illegally crossing the border because they were on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) terrorism watch list.
“There’s a real threat to a policy that Nancy Pelosi thinks is wonderful and welcoming,” Barrasso said. “Those are the battles that we’re having in Washington right now.”
One of the final questions asked by students was about the possibility of removing the Second Amendment of the Constitution. Barrasso explained that when the Constitution was set up, it was intentionally made difficult to amend.
He said the Second Amendment is more likely to be interpreted differently by the Supreme Court. Many republicans say the amendment protects the individual’s right to own and bear arms, while many democrats say it has to do with a well-regulated militia.
Barrasso concluded with a lesson he learned from his father – to always be grateful for the opportunities that result from living in the United States.
“I just wanted to stop by to encourage you, to let you know, being in Wyoming and from Lusk, you have opportunities like nobody has anyplace else.”