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► In what is increasingly beginning to resemble a trend, this was not a good week for Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). Gardner picked a needless fight with the most-watched news outlet in town, then followed up that performance with a downright embarrassing flop on a threat to prevent the U.S. Senate from going into recess without passing another coronavirus relief bill. Click here for more on Gardner’s big clumsy fold.
Gardner is claiming that he backed off of his threat to hold up the Senate recess because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised a vote on full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF); this is silly, since the LWCF pledge was already made months ago. Former Governor John Hickenlooper, Gardner’s likely opponent in the General Election, clapped back in a statement to POLITICO…followed by a pretty sad reply from Gardner himself:
“Cory Gardner made a big stink about keeping the Senate in Washington, but less than a day later, he’s given up and seems happy to do whatever Mitch McConnell says,” former Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statement.
Asked about Hickenlooper’s comments, Gardner said the former governor is “under a lot of pressure” for his ethics issues.
“So I understand why he has to act out irrationally,” Gardner responded. “John Hickenlooper’s a kneejerk partisan and has no desire for Washington to succeed. His hope is Washington fails … shame on Gov. Hickenlooper.”
Gardner can’t call ANYONE a kneejerk partisan with a straight face.
As for Congress and coronavirus, NBC News has more on what might come next:
In the House, Democrats last week passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act, which includes state and local aid, another round of $1,200 direct payments, pay raises for front-line workers, an extension until January of the $600-per-week unemployment compensation and a raft of other measures that Republicans have derided as a “liberal wish list” unrelated to the suffering of Americans because of the pandemic.
President Donald Trump has dismissed the bill as “dead on arrival.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has replaced his suggestion to let cash-squeezed states go bankrupt with a call for a “pause” in new relief funding.
The Senate left town for a 10-day recess Thursday without taking up any coronavirus relief legislation, but while McConnell is urging patience, he hasn’t shut the door to another bill, indicating that discussions could begin next month.
McConnell has said repeatedly that he wants the next round of legislation to focus on liability protections for employers and a cut in unemployment benefits for all of those freeloading Americans without jobs.
► Colorado has surpassed the 5,000 COVID-19 tests per day mark. Governor Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced a testing partnership on Thursday that will allow anyone in Colorado to get tested for the virus.
► The 2019-20 school year is coming to a close. Today is the last day of “classes” for school districts in big counties such as Jefferson and Douglas. Denver Public Schools won’t wrap up until next Friday. Jefferson County Public Schools plans to release a plan for the 2020-21 school year today, as Denver7 reports:
On Friday, JeffCo Public Schools will release a draft of its reopening plan to the public. It will include a plan for in-person learning, but also some continuation of remote learning.
“We know we will have families who are afraid, or they have medical conditions, or a student is medically fragile or someone in-home has a medical condition — so we’re going to have to create remote learning options for them,” said Jason Glass, superintendent of JeffCo Public Schools.
Glass said remote learning will also remain an option in case schools has to shut down again.
As for the plan to get students back in the classroom, Glass said it will include screenings, hygiene procedures, and changes to the structure of the school day and scheduling to allow for increased social distancing. Parents, students, teachers, and administrators will be able to review the plan and provide feedback. The plan could also change throughout the summer as conditions with the novel coronavirus pandemic change.
Meanwhile, public education looks likely to take a 15% cut in the state budget because of the $3.3 billion hole created by COVID-19. As The Denver Post reports, the Joint Budget Committee did a good job limiting the education funding pain.
► Governor Jared Polis is encouraging Coloradans to remain vigilant and stick to social-distancing practices. over the Memorial Day weekend. Polis says that restaurants in Colorado may begin to start opening early next week.
If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…