POWELL — While some Wyomingites and Republican officials have been hesitant to endorse the COVID-19 vaccines, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso has no such qualms.
“As a doctor, I believe in vaccines. Vaccines work,” Barrasso said in a Thursday interview in Powell.
The senator, who is a medical doctor, praised the work that was done to develop the COVID vaccines quickly and said they have his support.
“If you have questions, check with your own doctor,” Barrasso said, encouraging people to talk with healthcare providers they trust. “But I’ve been vaccinated, I’ve had the booster, my wife’s been vaccinated, my kids have all been vaccinated.”
However, Barrasso also described himself as anti-mandate.
“I just think it’s important for people to make their own decisions and not be told that they have to do something,” he said. “That doesn’t work with people in Wyoming. I think it just hardens folks when Washington tries to tell us to do anything.”
Wyoming lawmakers are set to hold a special session later this month to address the Biden administration’s plans to require many Americans to receive vaccinations.
In general, Barrasso complained that Democrats are not involving Republicans in decisions at a time when the 100-member Senate is evenly split between the two parties.
“.... They’re trying to cram things down the throats of the American people — whether it has to do with taxes, spending, borrowing, American energy, all of those things that are to the far left,” he said, “things that I believe of as being radical and extreme and dangerous and scary.”
He described the Republicans as trying to derail “a freight train to socialism that the Democrats are trying to drive down the tracks.”
Earlier, Barrasso fielded a series of questions from Powell Middle School students, including on the hardest parts of being a senator.
He said one difficulty is that just about every bill features some sections that are good for Wyoming and others that are not.
“That’s really the challenge,” Barrasso said. “Because you can’t make everybody happy when you can’t get the bill perfect for what you’d like. … Ultimately, they call your name, and you have to vote.”
The senator also said it’s difficult when a good idea fails to work out as legislation, noting that it took a couple tries to pass the popular Hathaway Scholarship program when he served in the Wyoming Legislature.
He also encouraged the students to be positive, confident and optimistic during hard times.
Barrasso opened his talk with a couple questions of his own, including asking if any of the Powell students wanted to be president of the United States. A few put up their hands and explained their goals; one student said she would seek to make the news media tell the truth and another potential presidential candidate drew a big ovation after saying he would “make America great again.”
Barrasso told the students that “we are a great nation,” recalling that his late father, a World War II veteran, frequently told him “you don’t know how fortunate you are.”
“... Every day as a senator,” he said, “I thank God for the incredible blessings we have and try to work to make it better.”