CHEYENNE — A few hours before President Joe Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., gave a strong rebuke to the president’s policies and approach in his first 100 days in office, stating he had laid out the most liberal agenda of any commander-in-chief since Lyndon B. Johnson.
Cheney, the third-ranking member of House GOP leadership, spoke on a call with Wyoming reporters ahead of the joint session, which she planned to attend, despite a more limited setup than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The congresswoman hit on a wide range of issues during the half-hour call, criticizing the president’s approach on everything from immigration to national security to federal spending.
“I anticipate even though (the joint session) will look different, the message that we’ll be hearing from President Biden will be the same that we’ve been hearing since his first days in office,” Cheney said, adding the president’s policies have been particularly damaging to Wyoming.
Cheney began the discussion by criticizing Biden’s policies on immigration, especially at the U.S. southern border, where Biden has halted construction of the border wall, a well-known point of emphasis for former President Donald Trump.
“That (decision) means that there are supplies that have already been purchased, that we’ve already appropriated, that contractors have, that are sitting that could easily be used to complete construction of the wall, including in places where we know people are coming across illegally,” Cheney said. “But because the Biden administration has said there will be no more wall construction, those materials are just sitting, and taxpayers are paying for that and paying for the contractors to undertake the wall construction.”
Cheney added the pause came during a moment at the border that she called both “a humanitarian crisis” and “a national security crisis.” In March, the U.S. took nearly 175,000 migrants into custody, one of the highest monthly levels seen in a couple decades, according to Washington Post reports. Biden officials have pledged to address the issue by identifying “root causes,” working with Mexican officials to stiffen enforcement along Mexico’s southern border, as well.
With regards to national security overseas, the congresswoman also bashed Biden’s approach in Afghanistan, where the president has pledged to withdraw all U.S. forces by Sept. 11. Cheney said the decision to withdraw would have “devastating consequences,” noting that countries such as China, Russia and Iran are testing the administration in various ways.
“The necessity of maintaining forces on the ground at sufficient levels to ensure that the terrorists can’t establish safe havens is something that the administration seems to be willing to willfully ignore,” she said.
During his speech Wednesday night, Biden was also expected to unveil his third gargantuan spending measure, known as the American Families Plan, which would deploy roughly $1.8 trillion focused on education, child care and family leave programs. The president’s proposal is to cover the spending by raising income taxes on the top 1% of individual earners, but Cheney cautioned more tax increases would follow.
“The administration will try to convey to people that these new programs are going to be paid for by taxing corporations or taxing the upper income earners in the country, and I think every American has got to be aware that those taxes are not going to stop there,” Cheney said. “The cost will be passed on to consumers, and we’re going to see middle class tax increases, given the extent of this spending.”
Repeating a point she and Wyoming’s two senators have raised previously in recent weeks, Cheney also criticized the president’s pause on new oil and gas leasing on federal lands, arguing the policy has been “devastating” in Wyoming, although the oil and gas industry continues to produce from existing permits, as Bureau of Land Management Deputy Director Nada Culver testified in a Senate committee meeting Tuesday.
“I would anticipate tonight you’ll hear more about the Green New Deal, more about the extent to which the administration has prioritized so-called climate programs, which don’t have any impact at the end of the day on temperatures, but which do have the impact of destroying American jobs, destroying economies, putting families in Wyoming out of work and at risk, and making it impossible for us to be able to continue down the path certainly of access to the resources we need to fund our schools and other things in our communities,” Cheney said.
“It’s been about 100 days now of the Biden administration, and … I know, we will hear more tonight about the direction in which they want to take the nation, and I think it’s a very dangerous one,” she added. “I think that it’s been so radical that it will, in fact, put us in a position where we’re able to successfully take back the majority in 2022.
Regarding her own 2022 reelection campaign, Cheney also struck a confident tone, despite a statement issued Tuesday by former President Trump, who has repeatedly criticized her following her vote to impeach him after the Jan. 6 mob attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“Liz Cheney is polling sooo low in Wyoming, and has sooo little support, even from the Wyoming Republican Party, that she is looking for a way out of her Congressional race. Based on all polling, there is no way she can win,” Trump said in the statement. “She’ll either be yet another lobbyist or maybe embarrass her family by running for President, in order to save face. This warmongering fool wants to stay in the Middle East and Afghanistan for another 19 years, but doesn’t consider the big picture – Russia and China!”
Asked about the statement by a WTE reporter, Cheney said the statement clearly was “all wishful thinking by Donald Trump.”
“I am absolutely dedicated and committed to winning my primary race and earning the votes of the people of Wyoming, both in the primary and in the general election,” Cheney said. “I think that it’s a critical time for Wyoming. It’s a critical time to make sure that that we have the strongest person in Washington, fighting on behalf of our values, fighting on behalf of our energy industry, our ag industry, our families.”
“We’ll not take anything for granted, and look forward to and welcome spirited and robust debate,” she added. “I’m confident that I’ll be successful at being able to seek the support and gain the support again of Wyoming voters for my reelection.”
During the call, Cheney later emphasized the GOP has to “return to being a party of ideas and substance and policy.”
“I think it’s very important for us to look at what happened in 2020, to look at why we lost votes, to look at how we ended up in a situation we’re in, where we lost the majority in the House and the Senate (and) we lost the White House, and focus on the substance and the policy that we need going forward to make sure that we can turn all of this around,” she said.