Democrats Will Filibuster Gorsuch–All Eyes on Michael Bennet

UPDATE: 9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman:

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) hasn’t responded to the growing calls within his party to try to block President Donald Trump’s first pick for the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Thursday morning, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer promised a filibuster of Judge Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation vote, which sets the stage for Republicans to use the so-called “nuclear option” to confirm Gorsuch with a simple majority…

“Michael has not decided on how he will vote on the nomination or a potential filibuster,” Bennet spokeswoman Laurie Cipriano told 9NEWS. “He is closely watching this week’s hearings and carefully reviewing Gorsuch’s record before he makes a decision.”

—–

Sen. Michael Bennet (D).

Washington Post via Denver Post:

As the Senate Judiciary Committee was hearing from witnesses for and against Judge Neil Gorsuch, his Supreme Court nomination was delivered a critical blow: Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., announced he would oppose Gorsuch and join other Democrats in filibustering the nomination, making it likely that the judge will struggle to find the support needed to clear a 60-vote procedural hurdle.

Gorsuch “was unable to sufficiently convince me that he’d be an independent check” on President Donald Trump, Schumer said in a Senate floor speech.

Gorsuch is “not a neutral legal mind but someone with a deep-seated conservative ideology,” Schumer added. “He was groomed by the Federalist Society and has shown not one inch of difference between his views and theirs.”

The resolve by Senate Democrats to proceed with a filibuster of Neil Gorsuch’s nomination sets off a battle that may end in the long-feared “nuclear option,” short-circuiting Senate rules to eliminate the 60-vote requirement to end debate on a Supreme Court nomination. Or, it’s possible that Republicans could blink–the “nuclear option” is already a fact of life for Senate-approved nominations other than the Supreme Court, but to take this step for the nation’s singularly important lifetime appointment would be a radical step with portentous consequences.

And the one question that Colorado needs answered, right now: will Sen. Michael Bennet join his fellow Democrats? This is the question that will drive the news in our state today (well, aside from that healthcare thing).

And depending on what Bennet does next, maybe across the nation. Stay tuned…

Colorado Christian U: Gorsuch Our Kind of Hater

Neil Gorsuch.

A fundraising email from Jeff Hunt, vice president of Colorado Christian University, extolls Judge Neil Gorsuch’s “conservative values”–and makes predictions about Gorsuch’s values on the U.S. Supreme Court that Gorsuch probably won’t want to validate during confirmation hearings:

Judge Gorsuch has proven he’s pro-life, pro-family, and pro-religious liberty, which is exactly why the radical Left is rallying against him.

His rulings are very promising from a conservative perspective, which is why it’s critical we rush to his aid immediately and ensure he’s confirmed…

As a native of Colorado and a devoted follower of Christ, we couldn’t be more excited about what Judge Gorsuch will do to help overturn Roe v. Wade, uphold traditional marriage, and protect our religious freedom. [Pols emphasis]

When our past president, Bill Armstrong, was serving in the U.S. Senate, a young Neil Gorsuch even interned for him.

The late Senator Bill Armstrong helped mentor this brilliant conservative legal mind, and now he has the chance to ascend to the nation’s highest court where he will defend our values for decades to come.

We wouldn’t say that any of this is a surprise, although traditionally Supreme Court nominees don’t give specific answers on how they might rule on specific cases. What this message does do, however, is give some perspective on the origins of Gorsuch’s political views.

And if CCU is to be believed, that would be Gorsuch’s anti-choice, anti-gay, pro-bigotry political views (no word on how Gorsuch feels about the new Beauty and the Beast movie).

Bennet Introduces Gorsuch With Praise For Merrick Garland

TUESDAY UPDATE: Sen. Michael Bennet’s introduction of Neil Gorsuch appears to impressed somebody notable:

—–

Word spread late last week that Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet would join GOP Sen. Cory Gardner in introducing U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch of Colorado to the Senate Judiciary Committee today. This afternoon that took place–with Gardner giving his widely-expected glowing endorsement of Gorsuch, and as for Bennet…well?

 

In short, Bennet warmly praises Gorsuch, saying he “exemplifies some of the finest qualities of Colorado.” That and several other statements by Bennet praising Gorsuch in terms that seem to gloss over very serious policy differences between these two men will be enough to make Colorado Democrats quite nervous.

Niceties aside, Bennet did speak out strongly against the treatment of Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee who was denied a hearing by Republicans for almost a year. Bennet makes it clear that he considers “Judge Gorsuch a nominee to fill the Garland seat on the Supreme Court.” With that said, Bennet says that “two wrongs don’t make a right,” and that Gorsuch should receive a fair hearing.

Sen. Bennet didn’t give any definitive indication on how he intends to vote on Gorsuch, and it’s a longstanding tradition for a nominee’s home-state Senators to introduce them. But the first blush of reactions we’ve heard from Democrats are lukewarm at best. Bennet’s vote for or against Gorsuch represents what may be the greatest test of his values since his appointment in 2009, and it will be remembered.

Stay tuned, this drama is just warming up.

Bipartisan Resolve To Defend Marijuana Proves Sessions’ Folly

Molon labe.

As Brian Heuberger reported for the Colorado Statesman this week, there may be Republicans in Colorado willing to publicly support parts of the new administration’s agenda–but on the subject of Colorado’s legal marijuana industry, which is under direct threat from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, there is no daylight between Colorado Republicans and Democrats:

With U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions hinting that the Trump administration might intensify the enforcement of federal marijuana laws, Colorado leaders from both sides of the aisle have come to the defense of the state’s legal marijuana industry in an uncommon show of solidarity in what many consider to be divisive political times of unmatched proportion.

High-level Colorado politicians like Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper have both publicly defended what has become a lucrative recreational marijuana industry for the state. And many other state officials have joined them in contending that Colorado has a constitutional right to legalize marijuana and that the regulations established by the state have been statistically proven to have been effective so far.

Supporters are quick to emphasize the positive economic impact the industry has had in Colorado and the likely downward economic spiral that would occur should that now-bustling industry be tampered with by the federal government.

Likewise, both Rep. Mike Coffman and Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman are promising to fight any move by Sessions to clamp down on marijuana in Colorado:

Rep. Mike Coffman is suggesting he might use the power of the purse to protect Colorado’s legal marijuana industry…

If Sessions does take action Coffman said he’d “have to fight the Attorney General on this.” He suggested he’d do so through congress’ power to appropriate money for the administration’s budget.

Colorado’s Republican attorney general, Cynthia Coffman—a legalization opponent who says she would defend state law against Sessions—speculated, “It sounds like there is room for states to have legalization … But what it seems to portend is the federal government will be at the borders to stop marijuana from crossing state lines.”

The reason why you have all of these public officials in both parties standing shoulder-to-shoulder on marijuana, despite the fact that most of them opposed legalization to begin with, is that the experience of legalized marijuana in Colorado has rendered the issue moot here. Public support has grown, not declined, since Colorado led the way into a legalization trend that has now grown to numerous states–including all-important California, the most populous state in the nation.

In short, on this issue, our local Republicans and Democrats are responding to the clear wishes of their constituents. They know that to join Sessions on a crusade against legal pot would be politically disastrous for Colorado Republicans at this point. And the fact is, if Sessions does decide to shut down Colorado’s billion-dollar legal marijuana industry and in the other legalized states, Republicans could pay dearly at the polls in the next election all over the country including Colorado–regardless of what local Republicans do to oppose it.

So be at least a bit reassured, stoners. For the moment, both parties have got your back.

Gorsuch/Anschutz Exposé Puts Bennet on Hot Seat

Phil Anschutz.

The New York Times put out a story late yesterday that’s driving a lot of discussion in Colorado–detailing very close ties between U.S Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and Colorado billionaire Phil Anschutz that raise a number of previously unasked questions:

Mr. Anschutz’s influence is especially felt in his home state of Colorado, where years ago Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, a Denver native, the son of a well-known Colorado Republican and now President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, was drawn into his orbit.

As a lawyer at a Washington law firm in the early 2000s, Judge Gorsuch represented Mr. Anschutz, his companies and lower-ranking business executives as an outside counsel. In 2006, Mr. Anschutz successfully lobbied Colorado’s lone Republican senator and the Bush administration to nominate Judge Gorsuch to the federal appeals court. And since joining the court, Judge Gorsuch has been a semiregular speaker at the mogul’s annual dove-hunting retreats for the wealthy and politically prominent at his 60-square-mile Eagles Nest Ranch.

“They say a country’s prosperity depends on three things: sound money, private property and the rule of law,” Judge Gorsuch said at the 2010 retreat, according to his speaker notes from that year. “This crowd hardly needs to hear from me about the first two of the problems we face on those scores.”

As an outside counsel for Anschutz’s business empire, Gorsuch reportedly worked on a number of high-profile cases. But the big news in this story, something we and we’re pretty sure most Coloradans were not aware of, was Anschutz’s apparent heavy lobbying for Gorsuch’s appointment as a federal judge in 2006. Since his appointment, Gorsuch has apparently recused himself from some–but not all–cases that came before his court with a relationship to Phil Anschutz.

A surprising omission from this New York Times story is the fact that Gorsuch’s service as counsel to Anschutz overlaps with Sen. Michael Bennet’s tenure as Managing Director of the Anschutz Investment Company. Bennet’s employment by Anschutz is of course a matter of record, but obviously disclosure of these ties between Neil Gorsuch and Phil Anschutz invite new questions about how that association might affect Bennet’s vote to confirm Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Sen. Bennet has been very reserved about Gorsuch’s nomination, and is publicly undecided on whether to support him.

With Democrats generally hardening in opposition to Gorsuch as confirmation hearings prepare to begin, this could be a big moment for Sen. Bennet to refute some of the persistent criticism he gets on his left. A vote against Gorsuch–and especially against cloture to proceed to the simple majority confirmation vote itself–is an opportunity for Bennet to prove he’s his own man, at a moment it would really count.

Whether he likes it or not, Bennet is now front-and-center in the Gorsuch confirmation battle. Stay tuned.

Tell Colorado’s U.S. Senators to reject Neil Gorsuch

The time has come for Coloradans to speak out against Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Because Gorsuch is from Colorado, the spotlight is on our state, and it is absolutely critical that Coloradans make our voices heard at this moment.

Tell Colorado’s U.S. Senators to oppose Neil Gorsuch’s nomination.

Neil Gorsuch is just the latest in a series of horrible choices by Donald Trump. Gorsuch’s fringe views on health care and contraception make him an enemy of Colorado women. On the Supreme Court, Gorsuch would be a vote to roll back women’s rights, environmental protections, and hard-won protections against discrimination in the workplace. Gorsuch has even been endorsed by the founder of the National Organization for Marriage, an anti-LGBT extremist group. Gorsuch may hail from Colorado, but his record stands in opposition to Colorado values.

The simple fact is that this Supreme Court appointment was stolen from President Obama last year in a shameful act of political treachery. No Democrat should in any way cooperate with or otherwise enable Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination, including Colorado Democrats. To do so would only hand Donald Trump another undeserved victory.

We will not stand by and allow Donald Trump to steal this Supreme Court seat, and install a Justice who would skew our law toward injustice for generations. We will not be silent while a judge who has a proven disregard for the rights of women, working people, and even the terminally ill–who Colorado voters overwhelmingly voted last year to give compassionate options to ease their suffering at the end of life.

Sign our petition calling on both of Colorado’s U.S. Senators to reject Gorsuch. We will deliver this petition to both Sen. Cory Gardner and Sen. Michael Bennet before they vote.

Thank you. We’ll update with more ways to take action as Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings get underway.

Get More Smarter on Friday (March 3)

Oh, we thought you were asking if we spoke Russian… Let’s go ahead and see if we can Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Russia, Russia, Russia! Questions about Russian ties to the Trump administration look like they will be dogging the President for months — if not years — despite President Trump’s repeated claims that this is nothing more than a partisan “witch hunt.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday recused himself from any investigations about Russia and the Trump administration in a weird press conference late Thursday  that included a difficult-to-swallow explanation of why Sessions lied during his Senate confirmation hearings about his past dealings with Russia. Also on Thursday came news of another unreported meeting with Russian officials and the Trump administration, including Trump’s on-in-law Jared Kushner.

As for Colorado’s elected officials, the Denver Post reports that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is taking a much softer position on Sessions than his colleagues. Gardner declined to call on Sessions to recuse himself on investigations about Russia — just hours before Sessions recused himself:

The issue is even splitting Republicans in Colorado’s delegation. U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, said Sessions “made a grave omission” by not disclosing his meetings during his confirmation hearings.

He said it “would be more than prudent for him to recuse himself from any Russian inquiry, and I would encourage him to fully disclose any and all foreign contacts he had during the course of the campaign.”

Colorado’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet issued a statement shortly after Gardner’s interview aired that called on Sessions to recuse himself and appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate Russia’s actions.

The next big debate on this issue involves whether or not a special prosecutor should take over an investigation of Russian ties to the Trump administration. The New York Times has compiled a handy timeline of Sessions and his talks with Russian officials if you need a quick refresher course.

 

► Embattled Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee is out of a job after agreeing to any early departure from the school district as it became clear his contract would not be renewed.

 

► Congressional Republicans are all over the map on the issue of a potential repeal and/or replacement of Obamacare. As the Washington Post explains, we may not know what is in a Republican healthcare plan unless it gets approved first. On Thursday, several Congressional Republicans — including Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky — made a show of running around the Capitol trying to get a glimpse of a secret draft healthcare proposal. Hypocrisy on line one!

Senator Cory Gardner, meanwhile, is talking up cuts to Medicaid as a major piece of any healthcare legislation.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (February 15)

Welcome, comrades! It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► National Security Advisor Michael Flynn may be gone, but the Russian cloud enveloping the White House isn’t dissipating one bit. As the New York Times reports today in its lead story:

Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election…

…The call logs and intercepted communications are part of a larger trove of information that the F.B.I. is sifting through as it investigates the links between Mr. Trump’s associates and the Russian government, as well as the hacking of the D.N.C., according to federal law enforcement officials. As part of its inquiry, the F.B.I. has obtained banking and travel records and conducted interviews, the officials said.

Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

As the Washington Post writes this morning:

The credibility gap – maybe chasm is a better word at this point – keeps widening for Donald Trump and his White House.

And what does President Trump have to say about all of this? As Chris Cillizza writes for “The Fix”:

Trump’s response to these serious allegations, which have already cost him his national security adviser and now threaten the foundations of his presidency, has been decidedly flippant.  In a tweetstorm Wednesday morning, Trump blamed the “fake news” media and Hillary Clinton for the stories and sought to pivot the conversation to how the information regarding the contacts between his campaign and the Russians leaked out…

…Given the seriousness of those allegations, tweets about the Clinton campaign or the “fake news” aren’t going to cut it.  Congressional Republicans are getting more and more worried that this situation is spinning out of control and has the possibility to do serious damage to the entire party less than a month into the Trump presidency.

Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) — a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — has been rather quiet about the White House Russia scandal. In an interview with Denver7 on Tuesday, Gardner said…well, nothing, really. Gardner seems to be falling apart in general under the strain of his 100% voting record with Trump.

Meanwhile, Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) is pushing for a full investigation into the Trump administration’s ties with Russia. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is also pushing for an official inquiry.

 

► Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is suing Boulder County for its unwillingness to open up its lands for oil and gas drilling.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (February 14)

Happy Valentine’s Day! (unless you are in PakistanIt’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The word of the day week month year is “Russia.” Washington D.C. and the rest of the country are in a tizzy after last night’s resignation from Michael Flynn, who had served as Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor for about three whole weeks. Flynn resigned amid growing concern over his conversation(s) with Russia back in December — which would appear to be a violation of the “Logan Act” that prohibits Americans from working to undermine foreign policy goals.

President Trump’s sort-of-official response is that Trump himself asked for Flynn’s resignation (though this has been contradicted by White House sources, including Kellyanne Conway). This story is now so far out of the bag that calls for a full investigation into the Trump administration’s ties with Russia will grow louder with each passing hour. From the Washington Post:

A top Senate Republican said Tuesday that Congress should probe the circumstances leading up to the resignation of President Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn.

“I think in all likelihood it should be part of the intel committee’s review of what’s happened with Russia, yes,” said Senate GOP Conference Vice Chair Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Here in Colorado, Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is also calling for a full Congressional investigation (as House Republicans dawdle). Meanwhile, all eyes and ears are on Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who has thus far remained silent on Flynn and the Russian controversy. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Gardner should have direct access to information about this growing scandal.

 

► Check out the latest episode of the “Get More Smarter Show” to learn more about the nomination of Colorado judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

 

► Former one-term Republican lawmaker Victor “Dracula” Mitchell has officially entered his name in the 2018 governor’s race. Mitchell tells the Colorado Springs Gazette that he plans to roll out his campaign with a $3 million contribution from his own wallet. The registered agent on Mitchell’s campaign finance report is former Secretary of State Scott Gessler.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Sen. Bennet Calls on Michael Flynn to Resign

Shit, meet fan.

The rumor mill has been churning heavily about the potential fate of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who is accused of potentially violating the “Logan Act” in holding discussions with Russia about potential U.S. sanctions back in December. Bennet’s statement notes that there may be transcripts of Flynn’s conversations, which would certainly change the dynamic of any attempts by the Trump administration to defend the high-ranking advisor.

As the Associated Press reported earlier today:

It’s illegal for private citizens to conduct U.S. diplomacy. Flynn’s conversations also raise questions about Trump’s friendly posture toward Russia after U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Moscow hacked Democratic emails during the election.

Stephen Miller, Trump’s top policy adviser, skirted the issue on several Sunday news shows, saying it was not his place to weigh in on the “sensitive matter” or to say whether the president retains confidence in Flynn.

Several other White House officials did not respond Sunday to questions about whether Trump had confidence in his national security adviser. Their silence appeared to reflect some uncertainty about the views of the president, who is known to quickly change his mind.

 

Get More Smarter on Thursday (February 2)

You dirty son of a groundhog! Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter after emerging from his palace this morning and seeing his shadow. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► There are growing concerns about President Trump’s mental and emotional fitness, and it’s becoming a problem in international relations. On Wednesday, President Trump hung up the phone during a conversation with the Australian Prime Minister. From the Washington Post:

It should have been one of the most congenial calls for the new commander in chief — a conversation with the leader of Australia, one of America’s staunchest allies, at the end of a triumphant week.

Instead, President Trump blasted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refu­gee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of his electoral college win, according to senior U.S. officials briefed on the Saturday exchange. Then, 25 minutes into what was expected to be an hour-long call, Trump abruptly ended it.

At one point, Trump informed Turnbull that he had spoken with four other world leaders that day — including Russian President Vladi­mir Putin — and that “this was the worst call by far.”

Also on Wednesday, Trump may or may not have threatened to send U.S. troops into Mexico.

Trump has a position on a topic, and everything else is wrong. If you are concerned about any of this, President Trump says, “Just don’t worry about it.

 

► President Trump’s over-the-top rhetoric may be fun for campaigns and television shows, but it may actually backfire in International diplomacy. From the Washington Post:

President Trump and Iran traded sharp statements Thursday, with Trump amplifying warnings over Tehran’s missile tests and a top adviser to Iran’s leader saying it was not the first time an “inexperienced person has threatened” his country.

The exchanges reflect the Trump administration’s toughening stance on Iran, but also point to wider changes in the White House as it advances a combative and iconoclastic ­foreign policy. The shifts appear to ­sideline traditional diplomacy and concentrate decision-making among a small group of aides who are quickly projecting their new “America first” approach to the world.

Just before the Senate confirmed Trump’s new secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, on Wednesday, national security adviser ­Michael Flynn made a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room to deliver a stern warning to Iran over its most recent ballistic missile test.

Trump bangs his fists, and Iran shrugs.

 

► It’s an icy day in Metro Denver, which is something Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos is growing quite accustomed to feeling. After a series of shaky performances during the confirmation process, DeVos may need a tie-breaking Senate vote from Vice President Mike Pence to make it into the Department of Education. As we noted in this space yesterday, DeVos has lost the support of two Republican Senators after demonstrating during the last few weeks that she has very little understanding of what her proposed job entails.

As the Colorado Statesman reports, a growing number of state lawmakers are also voicing their opposition to DeVos.

 

The fight is on over the Supreme Court now that Donald Trump’s nominee has been announced. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) wasted no time in sitting down for a meeting with Judge Neil Gorsuchwhich is more than Gardner would even consider for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee in 2016.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

DeVos Confirmation Hangs By a Thread

Betsy DeVos.

The Hill reporting–bad news for charterizers, voucherfyers, and Amway:

GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski in back-to-back speeches on the Senate floor announced Wednesday that they would oppose Betsy DeVos’s nomination to be Education secretary.

They are the first two Republicans to break with Trump on any of his Cabinet picks, and the votes could make it difficult for DeVos to win confirmation.

If all of the Senate’s Democrats vote against DeVos, she would have 50 votes if the remaining Republicans backed her — with Vice President Mike Pence potentially breaking the tie. No Democrats have backed DeVos…

That includes Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, who despite his reputation as a reform-friendly education policy guy has little use for Betsy DeVos’ brand of “reform.”

“There is nothing in the conversations I’ve had with this nominee, or in her experience in Michigan or Detroit, that gives me confidence that she can lead us in the direction we need, which is to ensure that every kid in America has access to high-quality education, whether or not they are born into wealth,” Bennet said. “That is why I will vote against this nomination.”

In remarks during the Senate committee’s vote on Devos, Bennet, a former superintendent of the Denver Public Schools, discussed the inequalities in the American public education system.

“While we have these partisan squabbles in the Senate, there are millions of American kids who are attending schools that are foreclosing on their future from the start,” Bennet said. “There are millions of people teaching today in America who have a job that is much harder than anyone on this panel, who are not being adequately supported in their work.”

“I was a school superintendent of an urban school district,” he added. “The last thing I wanted was the federal government telling me what to do. But I believe we have a profound national interest to ensure that more than 9 out of 100 kids born into poverty in this country are able to obtain a college degree. We also have a profound national interest to attract the next 1.5 million teachers to teach, especially in our high poverty schools in our cities and rural communities.”

It should be noted that even former state Sen. Michael Johnston, who is well right of most Democrats on education policy, is vocally opposing DeVos as well:

Our children deserve someone who understands the complexity of the challenges we face and is committed to the transparency, accountability and high standards families deserve. Being divisive is no substitute for being diligent, and being partisan is no proxy for being prepared.

At this point, it looks as though DeVos might become Trump’s first Cabinet confirmation casualty–which would cheer public school supporters, but also leave uncertainty as to who might be nominated next for this important job. There’s an argument that if you have to put an unqualified candidate in an important position, maybe they should be so unqualified that the amount of damage they can do is self-limiting.

You’re right, that’s no way to run the government. Stay tuned.

NO JUSTICE, NO SEAT: rally tomorrow to stop Trump and Neil Gorsuch

Last night, Donald Trump made another horrible mistake in nominating far-right Judge Neil Gorsuch to serve on the United States Supreme Court.

Join us tomorrow at noon at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in downtown Denver as we stand together as Coloradans to reject Neil Gorsuch. Click here to RSVP via Facebook.

Gorsuch’s fringe views on health care and contraception make him an enemy of Colorado women. On the Supreme Court, Gorsuch would be a vote to roll back abortion rights, environmental protections, and hard-won protections against discrimination in the workplace. Gorsuch has even been endorsed by the founder of the National Organization for Marriage, an anti-LGBT extremist group.

We can’t forget that this Supreme Court seat was stolen from President Obama last year. No Democrat should in any way cooperate with or otherwise enable Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination, including Colorado Democrats. To do so would only hand Trump another undeserved victory.

Gorsuch may hail from Colorado, but his record stands in opposition to Colorado values. Now the eyes of the whole nation are on Colorado to see if we have the courage to stand up for what’s right. We can’t let them down.

Join us at noon tomorrow to say NO to Donald Trump and Neil Gorsuch. And forward this alert to everyone you know who can make it. We have to speak out right now before the Trump administration can ram this nomination through.

Ken Buck Only Member of Colo. Delegation to Back Travel Ban

Rep. Ken Buck presses whatever button President Trump prefers.

Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) has generally refused to answer reporter questions about his position on Donald Trump’s travel ban for immigrants, leaving local news outlets such as Denver7 and the Denver Post to guess about his position on one of the more pressing issues in the country. But Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman will not be denied; as Luning reports, Rep. Buck on Monday offered his unqualified support for the Muslim travel ban:

“Our country has always offered hope for the oppressed and homeless, but hope also requires safety and security,” Buck said. We should not let people into this country unless we can thoroughly vet them. America welcomes Muslims from 190 countries and temporarily bans all individuals from 7 countries. The President’s executive order is a temporary effort that addresses a serious issue with terrorist hot spots.”

Congressman Buck is the only member of Colorado’s Congressional delegation to offer his full support for Trump’s travel ban. Even Colorado Springs Rep. Doug Lamborn made it clear that he opposes Trump’s Executive Order creating the travel ban.

Get More Smarter on Monday (January 30)

Forget travel bans; if Donald Trump continues on this same path in the White House, soon nobody will want to come to America anyway. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► President Donald Trump says he will unveil his choice to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court at 6:00 pm on Tuesday in the season premiere of “The Apprentice: White House.” Senate Democrats, meanwhile, are uniting in opposition to Trump’s potential nominee. From Politico:

Senate Democrats are going to try to bring down Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick no matter who the president chooses to fill the current vacancy.

With Trump prepared to announce his nominee on Tuesday evening, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said in an interview on Monday morning that he will filibuster any pick that is not Merrick Garland and that the vast majority of his caucus will oppose Trump’s nomination. That means Trump’s nominee will need 60 votes to be confirmed by the Senate.

“This is a stolen seat. This is the first time a Senate majority has stolen a seat,” Merkley said in an interview. “We will use every lever in our power to stop this.”

It’s a move that will prompt a massive partisan battle over Trump’s nominee and could lead to an unraveling of the Senate rules if Merkley is able to get 41 Democrats to join him in a filibuster. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) also reminded her Twitter followers on Sunday night that Supreme Court nominees can still be blocked by the Senate minority, unlike all other executive and judicial nominees.

Any senator can object to swift approval of a nominee and require a supermajority. Asked directly whether he would do that, Merkley replied: “I will definitely object to a simple majority” vote.

Senate Republicans are already crying foul here, but it’s hard for the GOP to generate much sympathy after the Senate refused to even hold a hearing on President Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court in 2016.

It is still unclear just who might be Trump’s choice for the Supreme Court, though a handful of names seem to be emerging as finalists. Depending on who you ask, Trump could be leaning toward Thomas HardimanWilliam H. Pryor, or Colorado Judge Neil Gorsuch.

 

► Backlash continues to grow around President Trump’s weekend Executive Order banning immigrants to the U.S. from several largely-Muslim countries. Donald Trump’s  Twitter Account, which may or may not be making autonomous decisions about the fate of the free world, has been busy trying to defend his poorly-received travel ban.

Meanwhile, Republicans are breaking ranks and openly criticizing Trump’s travel ban, as Politico reports. The list of outspoken GOP lawmakers includes Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who said that “a blanket travel ban goes too far.” Colorado Reps. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) and Ken Buck (R-Greeley) are still not commenting on Trump’s travel ban.

And as the New York Times reports, the Trump administration left several key officials in the dark in its weekend rush to enforce the “don’t-call-it-a-travel-ban” travel ban.

 

► Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) says he is adamantly opposed to the nomination of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Said Bennet on Friday:

“The U.S. Attorney General must ensure equal justice under the law, regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Jeff Sessions has repeatedly opposed efforts to protect the rights and liberties of all Americans. I cannot support his nomination.”

 

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