The Durango Herald’s Joe Hanel reports at long last:
President Barack Obama will declare Chimney Rock Archaeological Area a national monument Friday, ending an effort that was three years – and a millennium – in the making…
[Sen. Michael] Bennet, Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, and Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., wrote a letter to Obama this summer, urging him to consider declaring the monument after their bills stalled amid partisan squabbling in Congress.
Tipton sponsored and passed a bill in the House to establish the monument. It differs from Bennet’s by forbidding extra money to be spent on the monument.
Tipton’s spokesman, Josh Green, said the congressman would have preferred that Congress acted.
…Tipton’s main opponent, Democrat Sal Pace, said the Republican has been a stumbling block for Chimney Rock because he backed a bill that would have taken away the president’s sole authority to declare national monuments.
“If it was left in Congressman Tipton’s hands, this designation would never occur,” Pace said in an email. [Pols emphasis]
Let’s be clear about a few things. Rep. Scott Tipton’s decision to sign on with Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet in support of an executive declaration for Chimney Rock was important, and helped clear allegations of partisanship from President Barack Obama’s path to issuing it. Had the area’s representative in Congress not been on board with this declaration, it would have looked much worse politically, a la Bill Clinton and Utah’s Escalante National Monument in 1996. Tipton’s support has effectively defanged this as an electoral issue against Obama.
However, Tipton’s concurrent decision to sponsor legislation stripping the President of the very power he is using to declare Chimney Rock a national monument is pure double-dealing political imbecility. Tipton’s not fooling ideological opponents of monument declaration by sponsoring that bill after signing a letter asking Obama for an executive order, and to boosters of Chimney Rock, this legislation insultingly undermines his claims to support them.
In short, this could have been a great opportunity for Tipton to show some real bipartisanship only a few weeks out from the election, but he has at least partly squandered it.