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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…
SERIOUSLY, THERE WILL BE NON-CORONAVIRUS NEWS MOMENTARILY…
► Hydroxychloroquine is hard to spell. It’s hard to pronounce. And you really just shouldn’t be taking it unless you have an underlying problem not related to COVID-19. From The Washington Post:
A study of 96,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients on six continents found that those who received an antimalarial drug promoted by President Trump as a “game changer” in the fight against the virus had a significantly higher risk of death compared with those who did not.
People treated with hydroxychloroquine, or the closely related drug chloroquine, were also more likely to develop a type of irregular heart rhythm, or arrhythmia, that can lead to sudden cardiac death, it concluded.
► Two people at an ICE detention facility in Aurora have tested positive for COVID-19.
► Churches are starting to rebel in greater numbers against social distancing recommendations, as The Washington Post reports:
President Trump announced Thursday that his administration will soon release guidelines to help churches safely reopen, an apparent reversal after senior White House officials blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from doing so.
The decision comes as a growing number of faith leaders have announced plans to reopen in the absence of federal guidance and, in many cases, in direct violation of state orders aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus…
…Social conservatives in Vice President Pence’s circle, as well as officials at the Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council, objected to the propriety of government telling religious institutions what to do. Public health experts responded that they were not requirements – but best practices. After weeks of back-and-forth, the White House made the decision not to release any guidance for houses of worship as the CDC put out road maps earlier this week for safely reopening schools, child-care facilities, restaurants, colleges, summer camps and mass transit systems.
The absence of advice from the prestigious health agency has added to confusion, fueled a patchwork of approaches and laid the groundwork for clashes between religious leaders and local officials. Trump’s order to put out the guidance appears to be a belated effort to address this fallout.
► Governor Jared Polis is anxious for the Colorado Rockies to start the 2020 season.
► The Colorado legislature may consider a bill to extend exemptions allowing take-out alcohol and alcohol delivery.
► Nearly 500,000 Coloradans have filed claims for unemployment benefits since the end of March, but the number of weekly filings has dropped in each of the last five weeks.
► A COVID-19 outbreak is causing problems at a major USPS processing facility in Denver.
► Spring skiing won’t happen in Breckenridge this year, but Arapahoe Basin is hoping to reopen soon.
► 9News follows up on Weld County’s complicated handling of the coronavirus outbreak:
The director of the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment warned county commissioners the county had not met many of the federal and state guidelines for reopening, just days before commissioners made the decision to allow all businesses to reopen if they wanted to.
Emails obtained by 9NEWS through a public records request show Dr. Mark Wallace told commissioners in an April 22 email about the risks of easing restrictions too quickly…
…On April 27, five days after Wallace sent the email, Weld County commissioners released a set of guidelines allowing all businesses to reopen whenever they chose to do so. It was the first county in Colorado to defy orders issued by Governor Jared Polis to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Wallace announced his “retirement” earlier this month.
► As The New York Times reports, COVID-19 is causing a cascading problem in how the federal government responds to disasters.
The Mayor of Baltimore, meanwhile, would prefer that President Trump not visit his city this weekend.
► Michael Cohen got out of prison early because of coronavirus concerns.
► The Southern United States could be in for a big spike in COVID-19 cases.
AT LAST: POLITICAL NEWS THAT IS (MOSTLY) NOT ABOUT CORONAVIRUS…
► Justin Wingerter of The Denver Post reports on another CORA war in state government:
To recap: PTI, run by Republicans, used open records in 2018 to compile an ethics complaint against Hickenlooper and uses them today to further investigate him. Now CEI, run by Democrats, is using open records to investigate PTI.
Their first findings involve the legislature.
“If we haven’t already,” wrote state Sen. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, in an email Dec. 11, “we might make a CORA request of the treasurer’s office to see who certified the payments; see if we can force (Treasurer) Dave Young to tell us what the authority is for this; make the AG get involved in the matter — just get everyone’s fingerprints all over it.”
The email, obtained by CEI, is about payments from a federal fund to Hickenlooper’s ethics attorney, as reported in The Post three weeks before. Gardner sent the email to Frank McNulty, the founder of PTI, and Sen. Paul Lundeen, a Monument Republican on the Legislative Audit Committee, as the three discussed how to track Hickenlooper’s spending from the fund.
Hubbard sees the email as proof that Republicans wanted to taint Democrats — “get everyone’s fingerprints all over it” — rather than uncover the truth or track government spending. Both the treasurer and the attorney general mentioned in the Gardner email are elected Democrats.
► Colorado House Speaker K.C. Becker hit back on Sen. Cory Gardner for his piety to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
► As POLITICO reports, Florida Republicans are already elbowing each other over the 2024 Presidential race.
► China has apparently decided to put the squeeze on Hong Kong.
► Former Republican Rep. Darrell Issa is part of a lawsuit in California to block efforts to expand voting by mail. Republicans are nervous that they will be routed in November — throughout the country — if it is easier for more people to vote.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► The actual President of the United States of America:
The President says the founder of Ford has good bloodlines.. If you’re not familiar with Henry Ford, I would encourage you to read more about him and specifically his actions during WW2 pic.twitter.com/vniaOSR2sX
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) May 21, 2020
We’ll save you the trouble of Googling Henry Ford, who was a noted anti-semite.
► Florida has found absolutely no evidence to support President Trump’s claims of voter fraud in 2018.
► Senator Cory Gardner is refusing to participate in a U.S. Senate debate with 9News and the Ft. Collins Coloradoan, among others. Ten years ago, Gardner attacked his General Election opponent for skipping the same debate.
Have a nice weekend, everyone, and keep wearing those masks.
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