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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) announced on Tuesday that he would not seek re-election in 2018, a decision he revealed in a stunning speech on the Senate floor while hammering President Trump for his divisive politics. Flake’s speech drew a standing ovation from his colleagues, as CNN reports:
Flake denounced the “complicity” of his own party in what he called an “alarming and dangerous state of affairs” under Trump, blaming the President for setting the tone. In his speech, Flake assailed a “flagrant disregard for truth or decency” and attacked a “regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms.”
“When such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else: It is dangerous to a democracy,” Flake said.
Flake said he did not enjoy sparring with Trump. “If I have been critical, it’s not because I relish criticizing the behavior of the President of the United States,” Flake said. “If I have been critical, it is because I believe that it is my obligation to do so, as a matter of duty and conscience.”Flake went on to say that history would judge those who did not speak up.
Flake is the fourth prominent Republican to call out Trump in recent days, and Carl Hulse of the New York Times wonders if more in the GOP will follow:
Well aware of the mercurial nature of the president, most congressional Republicans are loath to do or say anything that could upset Mr. Trump and risk provoking an early-morning Twitter tirade from the White House when they are trying to delicately piece together a complex tax agreement. One can practically sense Republicans tiptoeing around the Capitol, taking extra care not to awaken the president to their presence in a way that could draw a scolding or rebuke.
They are equally wary of raising the ire of hard-right activists who already had Mr. Flake in their sights, contributing to his decision. Those activists celebrated Mr. Flake’s decision, claiming a Republican scalp…
…Mr. Flake is popular with his colleagues, and his fellow Republicans quickly noted how sorry they were to hear of his decision. But none joined him publicly in urging Republicans to stand up more defiantly to the president.
Chris Cillizza of CNN points to Idaho Sen. Jim Risch as an example of a Republican official who doesn’t think they should have to say anything at all about President Trump.
► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) and Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) are facing questions about their sponsorship of legislation that critics say has made it harder for authorities to crack down on opioid abuse. As Blair Miller writes for Denver7:
Some of Colorado’s federal lawmakers say they are reviewing the ramifications of a 2016 law, of which two of the state’s congressmen cosponsored early versions, that some say has handcuffed the Drug Enforcement Administration in its fight against drug companies—something that was uncovered in a joint Washington Post-60 Minutes investigation published last week.
The two Republican members of Congress – Rep. Mike Coffman and Sen. Cory Gardner, who was in the House of Representatives when he cosponsored the bills – did not, however, put their names on the bill that contained the final language now being blamed by some for neutering the DEA’s diversion program, which aims to stop the flow of pharmaceuticals and scheduled drugs to non-official sources.
And they and other members of Congress from Colorado, who were present when the bill passed both the Senate and House unanimously, say the law may have created “unintended consequences” for the DEA’s power over the opioid manufacturers that might need to be fixed.
► State Sen. Vicki Marble (R-Fort Collins) has apparently decided that she wants the story of her bizarre Cub Scout talk to get even more media attention than it has already attracted. This is really not going well for her.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► Donald Trump promised that 401(k) and other retirement plans would not be changed by tax reform legislation. Congressional Republicans may make a liar out of the President, as the Washington Post reports:
Economists and financial advisers often urge people to begin saving for retirement as soon as possible because investment savings grows much faster when people can begin setting aside money at a younger age. But House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady wouldn’t go into any details about how he planned to change incentives to encourage more savings. Rather, he suggested that the current construct of 401(k) accounts and Individual Retirement Accounts was not working well.
Democrats quickly pounced.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D – Ore.) said Wednesday that this was an example of the middle-class tax benefits that GOP lawmakers were working to eliminate so they can cut tax rates for the wealthy.
► State Rep. Patrick Neville (R-Douglas County) thinks that people who complain that he promotes “fake news” should “grow up.”
► Could Jeff Flake’s retirement announcement actually make it easier for Republicans to keep that seat in Arizona? And while we’re asking questions, could Flake challenge Donald Trump for the Presidency in 2020?
► Congress has approved another round of disaster relief funding, this time to help rebuild in the aftermath of devastating wildfires in the Western U.S.
► John Aguilar of the Denver Post reports on the outcome of a big fight over oil and gas drilling in Broomfield:
Broomfield leaders said yes to a controversial oil and gas drilling operation involving 84 wells planned for northern Broomfield, but only after 7-1/2 hours of testimony and discussion at a meeting that went into the early morning hours of Wednesday.
The close 6-4 vote, giant crowd and marathon meeting were illustrative of what has become a festering issue in this northern suburb.
Specifically, city leaders approved an agreement — formally known as a memorandum of understanding — with Extraction Oil & Gas Inc. that places limits and conditions on company operations at several proposed drilling sites along the Northwest Parkway.
► The Bureau of Land Management has pulled a tract of land near Durango from a listing for oil and gas leasing on public lands.
► If you’ve long that that drinking water could use higher levels of molybdenum, this story is for you.
► Low ridership levels are being blamed by RTD for a decision to reduce service on the “R-Line” and “W-Line” light rail lines.
► According to a new poll, a majority of white people in the United States believe that they are discriminated against for being…white people. No, seriously, this is a real poll.
► Support for legal marijuana in the United States has reached a new peak, according to another new poll (kudos to us for not writing “all-time high”).
► HUD Chief Ben Carson visited Colorado on Monday. On Tuesday, he refused to answer Congressional questions about budget cuts in his department.
► It’s good to be the
King President of China.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► President Trump seems to measure success based on whether or not he receives a standing ovation in a room full of people.
► Ed Gillespie, the Republican nominee for Governor in Virginia, is raising (or is it lowering?) the bar on hypocrisy.
► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is not very good at this NRSC Chair thing.