Come January, Republican Lauren Boebert will become Colorado’s newest member of Congress.
Boebert, a relative political newcomer and a gun-rights activist, will represent the state’s vast 3rd Congressional District, including much of the Western Slope and the city of Pueblo in Southern Colorado.
She spoke to Colorado Matters about key issues including energy — she favors nuclear power as an option in an “all-of-the above” energy strategy — and offers her take on the Affordable Care Act, where she says Republicans need to get more creative.
On Colorado’s role in nuclear energy development:
"There certainly is uranium that we could work to extract, and I would love to be a part of that. … This is something that's always frustrated me when we hear about reducing CO2 emissions or being carbonless by 2050. It's just very disingenuous to me, because there's no opportunity to explore using uranium to create nuclear energy, which we know is the cleanest form of energy. It's even hard to get something as simple as hydroelectricity classified as a renewable."
On her support of Jordan Cove:
The proposed project would include a pipeline and a new port in Oregon for the transport of liquified natural gas to overseas markets.
"First of all, it's an instant economic boost here in my district, exporting our LNG globally, selling our liquified natural gas to these countries who are currently dependent on Communist dictators. It not only creates international markets, but it does the right thing of liberating these countries. Here in the district, it creates these high paying jobs, and my favorite part about a good paying job here in the district is that it keeps families together…
My husband works in the natural gas industry. He drills for natural gas. He has for 17 years, and I know that when our industry's bad here, he usually goes somewhere else to work. That is a very hard strain on the family, and there are many families that haven't recovered from that."
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On whether the Affordable Care Act should be eliminated:
"I've never really made a stance, taken a stance, on keeping or eliminating ACA. I think that we need to have a more free-market based solution and create competition in the marketplace...
I think that Republicans need to start presenting ideas that are more free-market based and give ability to people to be in control of their own healthcare decisions rather than having more government intervention. I don't think that we need to look to government to be our savior here."
On carrying a gun at the U.S. Capitol:
Current rules allow guns in the Capitol but ban members from carrying them on the House floor.
"In my office, I can open carry and have my firearm however I want, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's some sort of push for an amendment to the rules to allow members to carry on the House floor."
Ryan Warner: In a state that went big for Joe Biden, Republican and Trump fan Lauren Boebert scored a comfortable victory — to represent Grand Junction and Pueblo and Alamosa in Congress. Soon, she'll be sworn in. The restaurateur, gun rights activist, and avid Twitter user, was in Washington for freshman orientation. She's back home in the 3rd district now, which is where we reached her to talk energy, healthcare, vaccines and unity.
Well, Congresswoman-elect, thank you for being with us.
Representative-elect Lauren Boebert: Thank you so much for having me today, Ryan.
RW: I'd love to just jump into some policy. You campaigned on a pro-energy platform. You described it as an all-of-the-above strategy, that includes everything from drilling to nuclear energy. What kind of activity would you like to see in Colorado to produce nuclear energy?
LB: There certainly is uranium that we could work to extract, and I would love to be a part of that. In fact, I have been having conversations with Alex Epstein, and if you don't know who he is, he wrote the book, “The Moral Case For Fossil Fuels,” and nuclear is something that he discusses a lot.
This is something that's always frustrated me when we hear about reducing CO2 emissions or being carbonless by 2050. It's just very disingenuous to me, because there's no opportunity to explore using uranium to create nuclear energy, which we know is the cleanest form of energy. It's even hard to get something as simple as hydro electricity classified as a renewable.
RW: You see nuclear then as a way to reduce carbon and fight climate change. Do I hear you right?
LB: Absolutely, a way to reduce carbon emissions. Yes.
RW: You call it the safest form of energy. I think some would push back and say, that's maybe solar or wind. What do you base that on?
LB: Well, it's certainly the cleanest form of energy, uranium is. We've come a long way in the production and just learning how to work with uranium and make sure that it is safe. The problem with wind and solar is this is intermittent energy, and so it's really an unreliable energy source, because you have to have the wind blowing. You have to have the sun shining.
We have rare earth minerals right here in America. But because of the regulations that are put on, when it comes to mining these rare earth minerals, it's very difficult to get the permits approved and move forward with that here in the United States. Then our energy is often outsourced to China and Africa, and my biggest problem with that, other than being subject to China for our energy needs, is that child and slave labor is often used there.
That alone should make us reconsider where we are outsourcing our energy needs to. President Trump and his administration have made America energy independent, and I want to continue that and I want to pursue energy dominance. We have natural gas here. We have our coal industry, but our natural gas is really something that I like to focus on.
RW: Speaking of, you support a proposed project called Jordan Cove to build a port in —
LB: Yes, I do.
RW: ... in Oregon,and an associated pipeline, which would get liquified natural gas to overseas markets. What benefit do you see that bringing your district?
LB: So many. First of all, it's an instant economic boost here in my district, exporting our LNG globally, selling our liquified natural gas to these countries who are currently dependent on Communist dictators. It not only creates international markets, but it does the right thing of liberating these countries. Here in the district, it creates these high paying jobs, and my favorite part about a good paying job here in the district is that it keeps families together.
My husband works in the natural gas industry. He drills for natural gas. He has for 17 years, and I know that when our industry's bad here, he usually goes somewhere else to work. That is a very hard strain on the family, and there are many families that haven't recovered from that. Dad had to go to another state. Dad had to go to another country to drill and provide for his family to meet those needs that they had set their standards of living to.
It's really hard to hear the families that don't come back together after that. Not only do we have just those high-paying jobs for families, but the small businesses that are impacted from that, that is very important to me. I know in my restaurant, things are going really well when there are chunks of mud that I have to clean up off of my floor, because that means the guys are coming in after a long, hard day's work in the field and spending their money in my establishment.
If you don't mind, I'd like to just touch on Pueblo really quick. I spent a lot of time in Pueblo.
RW: This is a city, I'll say, that it has committed itself to renewable energy. It's the seat of Vestas, a huge wind power firm.
LB: Yes, absolutely, and we certainly want to support them in all of the above energy needs. We just don't want government choosing the winners and losers with their subsidies and creating a false market. We want free markets. We want the markets to be able to decide.
RW: Would you eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels then, because they too are subsidized?
LB: Yes, I am not for subsidies at all. We are a country of capitalism, and we need to have free markets deciding. When you have government getting involved and creating false markets, that's when you pervert the research and development process. I am not for subsidies whatsoever for our energy industry.
RW: Republican Congressman-elect Lauren Boebert is our guest who, come January, will represent the Third Congressional District in Colorado.
RW: I do want to move on to some healthcare issues. Last month, the U.S.Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a lawsuit that would effectively kill the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. You've said you support keeping coverage for preexisting conditions. What about the rest of the ACA? Do you support doing away with that?
LB: I've never really made a stance, taken a stance, on keeping or eliminating ACA. I think that we need to have a more free-market based solution and create competition in the marketplace. Maybe there's something that comes up that has an option where American citizens get to choose a more free healthcare solution, where patient and doctor relationships are brought together, where there's transparency in prices, and there's a competition in the pricing. That they just kind of step away from the ACA and it dissolves on its own because it's not popular or needed and people have another option.
RW: In other words, moving beyond the ACA is not something you object to.
LB: We need better for the American people. Right now when you talk to Democrats, they want to expand it and ultimately move towards universal healthcare. I think that Republicans need to start presenting ideas that are more free market based and give ability to people to be in control of their own healthcare decisions rather than having more government intervention. I don't think that we need to look to government to be our savior here.
RW: This is a theme for you. I want to read from a recent tweet that you sent, "Stop waiting" —
LB: I say a lot.
RW: You are active on Twitter and you said in the past few days, "Stop waiting for the government to save you. In America, we save ourselves." I wonder if you would put that philosophy into the context of COVID-19. A lot of struggling businesses right now that need government help, a lot of people who need rental assistance, etc. What does it mean to say to someone during a global pandemic, "Stop waiting for the government to save you. In America, we save ourselves."?
LB: Well, why do they need saving right now? Because government stepped in and thought that they knew best on how to run our lives. It's these blue states, where governors have pushed forward their executive orders and have shut down their economies, and now they're expecting handouts from the federal government.
I think the best stimulus package is to reopen America. We need to get back open for business. You cannot keep shutting people down. People are desperate. I get dozens of emails every single day of people wanting to get to work. They want to open their businesses. They are losing everything because government said we know best, shut down your restaurant, shut down your business.
RW: Give me an example of a recent email. Can you think of an example that stands out?
LB: There's a lot of emails that just say, "I'm getting ready to lose everything." I had a woman stop me in the Grand Junction airport,and she just started crying. She said, "We cannot go on living like this." She talked about friends that she knows that they're losing their businesses. People have invested their lives into their business and now government is saying,”you can't operate.”
Now, we have certain unalienable rights here in America and these rights don't come from government. They didn't come from some politician. These are endowed by our creator. These are our God-given rights. These are our natural rights, if you will. We, the governed, give consent to be governed, and there's some things that we aren't consenting to anymore.
That's why you see so many business owners taking a stand and refusing to shut down their doors, because they want to make payroll. That's why I opened my restaurant back in May. I needed to make payroll.
RW: We're talking about a Shooters Grill in Rifle. Now there are rights, and then I think you'd hear from some that there are responsibilities that we have to one another. Congresswoman- elect, I speak to a lot of healthcare professionals, frontline nurses and doctors, who are exhausted, who can't imagine opening the economy even more and seeing the virus spread to an even greater degree.
We know that hospital capacity is stressed, so it's one thing to call for businesses to be open. But what would that mean for the healthcare system on the Western Slope, for instance, or in Pueblo, if the virus has its way with us?
LB: First of all, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who is on the front lines, taking care of this. These —
RW: I don't know if they're going to believe the gratitude when they hear that you want to reopen the economy.
LB: Okay, well, I am grateful for them, and they've definitely signed up for an industry where this is a possibility. They have signed up to be on the front lines, and that's why we call them heroes, but our suicide rates are high. Our depression rates are high. Our children are home. We cannot go on living like this under these shutdowns. I think we'd follow CDC guidelines and we follow them safely and responsibly and we get opened.
RW: Will you take the vaccine?
LB: I have not decided on that. My husband and I, my children, we are all vaccinated and that's our personal choice. Government never mandated us to be vaccinated with anything. At this time, I don't see that we are in a class of people that need the vaccination. We are healthy. We're young. I am against any sort of government-mandated vaccination. That's not the proper role of government to force injections of any kind in anyone.
RW: You've said that President Donald Trump should continue to contest the results of the election. You were recently quoted in Epoch Times as saying, "If it needs to go to the House, then I think we have that authority," that is to challenge electoral college votes. Congressional conservatives are indeed calling for a floor fight to do that, but the courts have repeatedly rejected President Trump's claims that the election was rigged. Why fight in the Congress if so many courts, I mean, we're talking dozens of decisions, are saying that Biden is the legitimate winner?
LB: This is a contested race and when I sat in the Oval Office with the president of the United States for more than an hour, just last week, I encouraged him to keep fighting, continue to fight for the American people, just like you've done every single day that you have been in office. He has put the American people first, and that's what he's going to continue to do.
RW: What is contested?
LB: I believe Trump has every legal right to continue to investigate this election and prove that every legal vote was counted. The Democrats ran the American people through a sham investigation over a witch hunt with a Russian hoax, and then even a quid pro quo in all of this from a second hand whistleblower.
We're going to say that we have hundreds of affidavits from American citizens who are putting their name to it, who are swearing under oath, that this is true. That we have video footage that we know that we have ballots where signatures were not verified. There is all sorts of things that need to be investigated, and there is nothing unreasonable about investigating it until the very last day.
RW: To guns, before we wrap up, you carry one, the employees of your restaurant in Rifle wear them at work, and you've said that you'll carry in the U.S. Capitol. The AP reports there's a rule against carrying on the floor, I think, of the U.S. House. Is that something you'll try to change?
LB: Absolutely. I'm always pushing boundaries. First of all, I did go through the concealed carry permit process in Washington, D.C., and will be receiving my concealed carry permit. I will be walking to and from my home every day that I'm there to go to work and to come home from work. I don't have Capitol Hill Police escorting me everywhere. I am my security.
I need to make sure that I have a way to defend myself. Washington, D.C., like most Democrat-run cities, has a violent crime problem. I definitely would like to have a way to protect myself, and I will have a way to.
Then, there are some fun ways to get around carrying in the Capitol, and there's transportation rules on how you can carry and transporting in various areas. In my office, I can open carry and have my firearm however I want, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's some sort of push for an amendment to the rules to allow members to carry on the House floor.
RW: One more question, just to pick up on something you've said, you talk about, like, Democrat-run states and Democrat-run cities. Is it good for America to talk about this kind of state, this kind of city versus that kind of city in that kind of state? Is that a unifying message? Is that a helpful message to say, "DC's Democrat, they're other. They're not us."?
LB: No, that's what they are. I would be a liar if I said D.C. was a Republican city. If I said that Colorado was Republican ran, I'm saying what it is. This is factual and elections have consequences, and these are the policies that are being put forward in these types of governments.
You don't see Republican-ran states being shut down and the rights of their people taken to the extent that you do in Democrat states, so it's not about unifying. Maybe it's about enlightening somebody that says, "Hey, you have these problems." Look at the Californians who are fleeing. We have Californian refugees fleeing and coming to states like Texas and Colorado.
Unfortunately here in Colorado, those Californians who are fleeing those terrible policies from that blue state, that Democrat state, they're fleeing that state and coming to Colorado and bringing their policies with them. But they're coming to places like Aspen. They're coming to Steamboat Springs, these high mountain ski resort towns, because they can actually afford to live there, but they're bringing these same terrible policies with them and implementing them here. Then they're going to be running from them once again.
RW: I want to thank you for your time, and I hope to check back in with you as you begin to serve, come January.
LB: Absolutely. Thank you so much.