The news last week that millions of dollars slated to fund construction of an important new Space Command facility in Colorado Springs would be diverted instead to fund President Donald Trump’s controversial border wall despite Congress’ refusal to appropriate funds for the purpose has been widely interpreted as a bad development for vulnerable incumbent Republicans in affected states.
In Colorado, every discussion of national political trends and vulnerable politicians this year begins with Sen. Cory Gardner, taking over the status of “most endangered Republican” from ex-Rep. Mike Coffman who wore this badge to defeat in 2018. The battle over funding Trump’s border wall has severely damaged Gardner’s credibility on the entire issue of immigration. Gardner at first opposed construction of a wall, then voted to defend Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to allow Trump to bypass Congress’ appropriations power, and now blames Democrats for refusing to fund the wall Gardner originally claimed he didn’t support either to excuse the diversion of funds from Colorado projects.
The Denver Post editorial board, whose original endorsement of Gardner in 2014 is both credited and condemned with helping him eke out his narrow sub-2% victory, rescinded their endorsement of Gardner in March over his vote to uphold Trump’s national emergency. This weekend, the Post struck again with another blistering editorial slamming Gardner for disingenuously blaming Democrats over a situation he helped engineer:
Instead of expressing anger at the news last week that Trump is diverting $8 million from construction at Peterson Air Force Base to fund his border wall project, Gardner lashed out at Democrats in a pitiful attempt to rewrite history in his favor…
Trump took the unprecedented step of declaring an emergency at the border allowing him to divert funds from things Congress had funded to build the wall. Gardner had his opportunity to oppose this clear effort to undermine congressional authority. He had a chance to stand up for the Constitution and send a message to future presidents that they are not dictators with ultimate authority over spending and legislation. Gardner did none of those things. He voted against the resolution of disapproval of the president’s emergency declaration — the resolution passed with the support of 12 Republicans who saw the danger Trump’s actions posed to our legislative branch of government, but Trump vetoed it. Gardner’s support would have been one step closer to a veto-proof majority. It mattered, as did the message it would have sent.
Republicans at the time defended Gardner saying that the senator had secured a promise to protect Colorado’s military institutions from the cuts needed to fund the wall. This was a senator who prioritized protecting his constituents, Gardner’s supporters said. Yes, who cares about scruples and convictions when local funding is at risk? Gardner’s office even boasted that Colorado would be spared from any fiscal year 2019 cuts … failing to mention or not being aware that the fiscal year 2018 project at Peterson Air Force base was on the chopping block.
For all the Democrats who have complained that the local media runs cover for Cory Gardner, whether in the Post’s 2014 endorsement or since then by pulling punches that should have landed on Gardner and Trump at least equally, we submit to you that those days are over. Whatever the motivation for giving Gardner a pass over the direction of his party, his president, or the effects of legislation Gardner has himself supported like repeal of the Affordable Care Act with no protection for pre-existing conditions or the millions who would lose coverage, he’s not getting that pass anymore.
This is nothing more than what a Senator who doesn’t represent the majority in his state should be reading.