Colorado Republicans are apoplectic after Democrats finally got tired of the GOP’s pointless stall tactics over common sense gun safety legislation – just a week after another school shooting in Colorado – and enacted a rule to limit discussion so that the process of legislating could resume. This was the second House Republican “filibluster” of the month, which took place just weeks after House Republicans held a press conference lambasting Democrats for moving too slowly in discussing a variety of legislative matters.
None of these narrative pieces fit together with any logical consistency, but that’s never the point for this generation of Colorado Republicans.
As Seth Klamann reports for The Denver Post:
Colorado lawmakers passed two gun reform bills Sunday after three days of Republican filibustering that only ended after House Democrats dusted off a rarely used rule to accelerate votes and end what they described as stall tactics…
…The weekend widened the chasm between the Democratic supermajority and the historically small Republican minority in the chamber. The House worked late into Friday evening having made little progress on SB23-168 — the lawsuit bill — despite attempts to reach a deal on amendments to end a Republican filibuster. Lawmakers returned Saturday morning and pivoted to the red-flag law, hoping to simultaneously negotiate a deal to pass the lawsuit measure.
Republican protests over their inability to stall gun violence prevention legislation looks particularly bad after another horrible school shooting today in Nashville, Tennessee, that killed at least three children and three adults. But even before today’s tragic events, the Colorado GOP struggled to make a coherent argument in their own defense.
The latest Republicans “filibluster” came after two days of pleas from students and parents who came to the State Capitol from across the Metro Denver area to beg lawmakers to act quickly on enacting more gun safety measures. Republicans tried to avoid those discussions; those who could not – including State Sen. Larry Liston – complained bitterly about the experience.
Last weekend’s “filibluster” also took place just days after State Rep. Scott “There is No” Bottoms told a church congregation in Colorado Springs that Republicans were unmoved by personal stories of being impacted by gun violence:
“[Democrats] will say, ‘You’ve got your side of the argument and it’s the Constitution, but we’ve got real, live people on our side.’” said Bottoms. “And we’re like, ‘We don’t care.’”
In other words, Republicans spent the last week making it VERY clear that they had no interest in even discussing gun violence prevention proposals. Democrats nevertheless gave Republicans plenty of time to talk about their opposition. Republicans were not interested in negotiating a compromise, so eventually the adults needed to move along with the business that Colorado voters elected them to pursue.
As Klamann explained further in the Post:
By Saturday night, Republicans showed no sign of slowing their filibuster. Several Democratic lawmakers, including Rep. Javier Mabrey, a co-sponsor of the lawsuit bill, said their side had reached repeated deals with Republican leaders to end debate and pass the bills. But those deals were broken, Mabrey and others said, prompting the majority to enact rule 14 and hasten the bills’ passages… [Pols emphasis]
…“I think that voters expect the people they elect to accomplish what they tell them they’re going to accomplish,” Mabrey said. “I don’t think that obstruction is popular. And this is democracy. Elections have consequences.”
Indeed they do. Colorado voters have rejected Republican candidates by wide margins in each of the past three election cycles. In 2022, Democrats won every statewide race by double-digit margins and expanded their majorities in the state legislature. In the State House, a 46-19 Democratic majority has relegated Republicans to the smallest minority in a century.
FASCISM, MARXISM, AND OTHER -ISMS
Republicans tried to flip the script over the weekend in an attempt to turn their own filibuster stunt into a greater grievance related to their own ineptitude. Again, from the Post:
The move drew howls from Republicans. Several already had stickers ready to protest the limitation. Rep. Scott Bottoms, a Colorado Springs Republican, would later call it “fascism” and likened it to a biblical stoning. Dave Williams, the GOP’s newly elected state chair, called Democratic leaders “vile tyrants” in a late Saturday statement. Minority Leader Mike Lynch said Democratic leaders had given in to the “radical fringes” of their caucus.
The language from Republicans was as Trumpian as it gets. New State GOP Chair Dave Williams took time out from forwarding information about the extremist gun group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) to send two separate FUNDRAISING EMAILS blasting Democrats with absurd rhetoric. Here’s a sample from Williams’ second email:
As you may have heard, the reprehensible Democrats manipulated House Rules, twice, to silence your elected Republican lawmakers from debating against them on their anti-gun bills because Democrats got triggered and wanted to go home early to try and salvage the rest of their weekend…
…Christian Pastor, Rep. Scott Bottoms, fought back and called out the Democrats for being fascists while reading scripture to them.
It was a powerful rebuke and the marxist Democrats know it…
…Rep. Scott Bottoms is a true America-First Patriot who faithfully serves others, even if it costs him personally. All Republicans should rally around him as he fights to protect Colorado from extreme Democrats who are attacking his Christian faith.
We probably don’t need to tell you that nobody was “attacking” Bottoms for his “Christian faith.”
As to the first sentence above – where Williams asserts that Democrats just wanted to go home for the weekend – Republican Rep. Ryan Armagost messed that one up. The freshman Republican from northern Colorado took to Twitter to complain about Democrats enacting a rule to limit discussion despite the fact that ARMAGOST WASN’T EVEN THERE.
Did you really want to debate more because we’re still here working. You’re not. pic.twitter.com/IQR0vSfrfH
— Rep Meg Froelich (@RepMegFroe) March 26, 2023
PICK ONE NARRATIVE
Earlier this month, House Minority “Leader” Mike Lynch presided over a press conference that generated the following headline from the political website of the Colorado Springs Gazette:
Literally one day later, House Republicans started their first attempted filibuster of gun violence prevention legislation.
Step One: Accuse Democrats of moving too slow in a legislative session limited by law to 120 days.
Step Two: Slow down that same legislative session with pointless filibusters.
Step Three: Yell and scream after Democrats get tired of listening to your time-wasting antics.
Step Four: Send fundraising emails about your new victimhood.
That March 9 story from reporter Marianne Goodland includes a rather embarrassing quote from Rep. Gabe Evans (R-Fort Lupton) that did not age well:
“What conversations are we not having while we’re arguing about firearms?”
Republicans have long suspected that Democrats might eventually limit their filibuster attempts when it became obvious that the GOP had no intention of actually negotiating on proposed legislation. As Jesse Paul wrote for The Colorado Sun on March 16:
House Minority Leader Mike Lynch said his caucus would “fight that with all we’ve got” if Democrats were to limit debate.“I think that’s an issue that deserves national coverage,” he said. “For a state legislature to be a bully and shut down what tools we’ve got, I think that’s a big deal.”
In the House and Senate, the chamber could limit second-reading debate to as little as an hour through a simple majority vote.
Wasting time and forcing Democrats to put a stop to it was ALWAYS a pre-planned stunt by Republicans, though they have had a hell of a time trying to keep their rhetoric straight. In response to a question from The Denver Post, Lynch even acknowledged that he is at the mercy of the nutballs:
Asked about his own caucus’s right wing, whom Democrats said had scuttled negotiations, Lynch acknowledged that “we suffer from the fringes.”
Nevertheless, Lynch told the Post that the Republican response to being called out for their own stupid delay tactics will be…to initiate more stupid delay tactics:
He indicated Republicans will now ask for more bills to be read at length over the remaining six weeks of the session — meaning their entire text read aloud, eating up more valuable time — as a response.
Remember: This is the same guy who stood in front of a podium a few weeks ago blaming Democrats for moving too slowly in conducting legislative business:
This is all nonsense. All of it.
These are the actions of a small minority of Republicans who cater exclusively to the right-wing MAGA fringe of the GOP and have no ideas about anything. What happened over the weekend has nothing to do with fascism, marxism, antidisestablishmentarianism or any other rhetorical “-ism.” It is political theater and nothing more.
The story here isn’t that House Democrats enacted a rule that limits Republicans from wasting everyone’s time for no policy-related purpose. The real story is that House Republicans rendered such a rule to be necessary.