UPDATE: Ernest Luning at the Colorado Springs Gazette:
[Sen. Cory] Gardner hasn’t signed on to a bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, both Colorado Democrats, dubbed the Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy Act, or the CORE Act — but he hasn’t said he’s opposed to the legislation, either…
“Coloradans need a senator who will stand up for public lands and listen to local communities,” [former Gov. John] Hickenlooper said in a statement. “I am calling on Sen. Gardner to join me and Coloradans from across our state in supporting the CORE Act.”
Rep. Joe Neguse:
A diverse group of stakeholders were included in crafting the #COREAct.
Ranchers, anglers, outdoor businesses, conservation groups and county commissioners.
We can all agree that preservation of our public lands is good for Colorado, good for our economy and our future. https://t.co/CIrE74rMuz
— Rep. Joe Neguse (@RepJoeNeguse) October 29, 2019
As the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul reports, the unexpectedly “partisan partisanized” standoff over what should have been bipartisan legislation to extend new protections to some 400,000 acres of Colorado land, the CORE Act, escalated dramatically today after President Donald Trump threatened a veto of the bill:
President Donald Trump’s administration on Tuesday threatened to veto the CORE Act in a statement that said the massive Colorado public lands bill puts the Western Slope economy at risk.
The White House also said that not enough local input has been addressed when it comes to the legislation, which is expected to get a vote this week in the U.S. House.
If the act — which aims to protect about 400,000 acres of public land, including around the historic Camp Hale and along the Thompson Divide — were “presented to the president in its current form, his advisers would recommend that he veto it,” the White House statement said.
As our readers know the shell game over the CORE Act has been going on for some time now, with Colorado Democrats united with local stakeholders in support of the bill attempting to persuade Rep. Scott Tipton and Sen. Cory Gardner to join them. Republicans have alternated between delaying while they slowly “consider” changes to the CORE Act, and competing legislation introduced last summer by Tipton and backed by Gardner that significantly dimmed prospects of a bipartisan CORE Act at all–and with a divided Congress and a Republican President, a bipartisan bill is the only bill with a prayer.
Politically, this further partisan isolation on an issue that voters on all sides care about isn’t going to help either Tipton or Gardner going into next year’s elections. Just yesterday a new poll was released showing strong public support for the goals of the CORE Act on the Western Slope–voters who are about to be bitterly disappointed by the evening news, as the Colorado Springs Gazette reports:
Of 400 voters surveyed in Congressional District 3 and Chaffee and Fremont counties, two-thirds endorsed the designation of more public lands as wilderness areas, which is one of the aims of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy Act… [Pols emphasis]
Another finding of the poll, conducted by New Bridge Strategy, is that support for wilderness areas increases among people who participate in more than one outdoor recreational activity. Majorities of both Republicans and Democrats agreed with greater wilderness designations.
At this point, CORE Act supporters need to stake out clearly what they are willing to live with in terms of compromise to get a bipartisan CORE Act back on track. And if the current administration, Republican-controlled Senate, and the incumbent representative of most of the affected lands are determined to forestall the bill Colorado needs, it may be necessary to solve the political problem first.
It looks like in that event, the voters will have Democrats’ back.