Report: BLM HQ Will Move West

As Erin Prater writes for the Colorado Springs Gazette:

U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is prepared to move ahead on moving the Bureau of Land Management headquarters to the West, according to reports.

Grand Junction is expected to be a prime possibility for the new national headquarters, partly because of the work of Colorado’s two U.S. senators, Republican Cory Gardner of Yuma and Michael Bennet of Denver…

…Rep. Scott Tipton’s office said Thursday that the department will conduct an analysis to help choose a location in the next six to eight months, Interior Department senior adviser Susan Combs told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, according to the release Thursday. “Ninety-nine percent of the land that the BLM manages is located in the West, and the decisions made by the Bureau have daily impacts on those who live there, so it only makes sense to move the headquarters to a Western state. This would ensure that decisions would be made by those who understand the land best, resulting in more effective land management programs and policies.

Moving the headquarters of the BLM to the American West has been a long-running project that has the support of Colorado’s entire Congressional delegation, as well as the backing of local officials and Gov. John Hickenlooper. Colorado isn’t guaranteed to be the new home of the BLM, but Grand Junction is at least among the frontrunners.

It’s too soon to tell if this pending move will have a significant effect on BLM policies in the West or is more of a publicity stunt, though a new HQ would almost certainly create some new jobs in Colorado.

At Least You Weren’t In Charge of this Media Event

Clean Drinking Water Ceremony

Residents of Fountain, Colorado are being told that they can once again use groundwater that was contaminated by firefighting chemicals two years ago, though the safety of the water from the Widefield Aquifer is still under debate.

Congressman Doug Lamborn’s office was promoting a “Safe Drinking Water Ceremony” on Wednesday to mark this event, and we couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of the effort. Just try to imagine being the person in charge of trying to attract media outlets to this “ceremony”:

Today, June 20, 2018 at 2:00pm MT, City of Fountain Mayor Gabriel Ortega; Colonel Eric Dorminey, Vice Commander of the 21st Space Wing, Peterson Air Force Base; congressional delegation from the offices of Congressman Doug Lamborn, Senator Michael Bennet and Senator Cory Gardner; Curtis Mitchell, P.E., City of Fountain Utilities Director; and other City Officials will participate in a ceremony to commemorate the delivery of safe, filtered groundwater from the Widefield Aquifer to Fountain residents.

INFORMATION: Congressman Lamborn was pleased to facilitate meetings at the Pentagon between Air Force leadership and local officials in order to ensure a timely response to the PFOS/PFOA issue. In 2017, the United States Air Force installed Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) treatment units at two city-owned wells in downtown Fountain. GAC is a proven, effective treatment method that removes the Perfluorinated Compound (PFC) contamination discovered in Fountain’s groundwater supply in October 2015. The City of Fountain recently received positive results from one of seventeen laboratories nationwide authorized by the Environmental Protection Agency to test for PFCs. Tests confirm that PFCs have been removed to non-detectable levels in Fountain’s GAC filtered groundwater supply. Non-detectable levels are less than 2.5 parts per trillion, well below the Environmental Protection Agency’s current Health Advisory Limit of 70 parts per trillion.

Somebody should get a raise for this.

Owen Hill Enters Hail Mary Phase

Sen. Owen Hill (R).

The Colorado Springs Independent reports on the latest jabs from state Sen. Owen Hill in the CD-5 primary–with polls showing Hill third in the race and Rep. Doug Lamborn cruising to another victory over his split opposition, Hill is throwing the kitchen sink at both of his primary opponents:

The race for the Republican nomination in the 5th Congressional District June 26 primary is heating up with State Sen. Owen Hill sending out fliers that needle two of his opponents as “counterfeit conservatives” and “swamp things.”

Those labels, the fliers say, apply to El Paso County Commission President Darryl Glenn and U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, who’s seeking his seventh term in office…

We haven’t heard from Lamborn, but Glenn tells us via email, “Here’s my official and only statement: As a brother in Christ, I would encourage Owen to seek wisdom from the Holy Spirit before he designs his marketing materials.”

Meanwhile, a story in the Phil Anschutz-owned Colorado Springs Gazette smacks of a Hill-inspired hit job, though the subject matter is most certainly fair game:

Darryl Glenn, one of four Republicans challenging U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn in the June 26 primary, has been paying himself a salary out of campaign funds equal to what he makes as an El Paso County commissioner, according to campaign finance documents filed Thursday…

Glenn tried something similar two years ago when he paid himself $70,815 after losing a run for the U.S. Senate, but the FEC made him return the money to his campaign fund.

Meanwhile, Glenn’s campaign paid more than $20,000 to family members for consulting work during the 10-week reporting period, something he’s been doing since he launched his congressional run last summer with the $232,545 left over from his Senate bid.

It’s not a good story for Darryl Glenn, but at this point it’s difficult to see anything meaningfully altering the trajectory of this race. Sen. Hill’s once-promising political career appears to have hit a wall when he opted to challenge Rep. Lamborn in 2018. If the polls showing Hill distantly trailing Glenn are accurate, it means Lamborn has once again managed to split the perennial dissatisfaction with his lackluster representation of this conservative stronghold and secure himself another two years in office.

If you’re one of the military contractors and other vested local interests who purchases Lamborn’s rubber-stamp support, this is fine. If you’re a thoughtful conservative living in a district crying out for a thoughtful–or at least noticeable–conservative voice in Congress to represent them, this is the perpetuation of a demoralizing status quo. Either Hill or Glenn would be a representative more in line with the ideological stridency of CD-5 than Lamborn. And either would also be…well, just plain smarter. It’s a low bar, but they would meet it and the whole state would arguably be better off for it.

But alas, also-rans, it was not to be. Not this year.

Trump’s EPA, Colorado Springs’ Pollution: Dirty Deeds Afoot?

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

A story published Friday by the Colorado Springs Independent, a frequent source for the straight dope on happenings along the Ronald Reagan Highway when the Phil Anschutz-owned newspaper of record for that city turns a blind eye, is causing considerable concern among Colorado Springs’ neighbors to the south along the city’s principal drainage Fountain Creek. It’s a situation we’re discussed a number of times as Pueblo has sought to hold the Springs accountable for unchecked stormwater and sewage pollution surging into Fountain Creek–but under Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency, the story may be taking a sinister turn:

Despite protests from fellow plaintiffs, the Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to revisit a possible settlement with the city Colorado Springs over alleged Clean Water Act violations caused by the city’s longterm neglect of stormwater management, according to documents obtained by the Independent.

The renewed negotiations come as U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch scheduled an August trial in the lawsuit on May 22, the day after the state’s lead attorney in the case was reportedly fired for a reason the Colorado Attorney General’s Office won’t discuss.

Margaret “Meg” Parish, first assistant attorney general in the Natural Resources & Environment Section, wrote several scathing letters to the EPA in recent months, calling the EPA’s action “shocking and extraordinary” and expressing “deep concern and disappointment” that the agency would unilaterally reopen settlement discussion without consulting co-plaintiffs. Besides the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), those include Pueblo County and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.

The move was particularly alarming, she noted, because the state and EPA had signed an agreement in which both agreed not to communicate with the city without the presence of the other.

The EPA is a lead plaintiff in the long-running litigation over Colorado Springs’ pollution of Fountain Creek, obviously possessing resources local municipalities do not have–especially smaller, poorer communities like Pueblo versus Colorado Springs–to force polluters to work in good faith to clean themselves up. What’s happening here could be interpreted as an end run around the upcoming trial, allowing Colorado Springs to settle on terms vastly more favorable to the city than the trial would likely produce. It follows a request last year by GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn for the EPA to drop the lawsuit entirely.

What changed between the EPA working in good faith with Pueblo and other downstream communities to hold Colorado Springs accountable for stormwater and sewage pollution? Donald Trump became President, appointing the most controversially permissive EPA administrator in the agency’s history in Scott Pruitt. The recent completion of the Southern Delivery System, which pipes Arkansas River water north to Colorado Springs, facilitates future growth in Colorado Springs while increasing the treated sewage flows into Fountain Creek. And now you have the Republican city administration of Colorado Springs cozying up with this new EPA, seemingly in opposition to the parties the EPA was charged with assisting.

When Lamborn’s request to the EPA to terminate its involvement in the lawsuit agaist Colorado Springs was reported, Lamborn’s fellow Republican Rep. Scott Tipton who represents Pueblo stood up for his constituents–reminding Lamborn that “the lawsuit was filed by both the EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for a reason.”

Now that it appears the treachery is moving from the planning to the operational stages, it’s definitely time for Pueblo’s representative in Congress to throw down! If Tipton’s split loyalties between his constituents in Pueblo and his party allow Colorado Springs to escape accountability for polluting Fountain Creek, it’s a very serious problem for Tipton’s re-election.

However this situation resolves, it’s a hard lesson in how times have changed–and how elections matter.

Little Love For Owen Hill In Poll That’s Great For Lamborn

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

Ernest Luning at the former Colorado Statesman reports:

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn holds a 10-point lead over Darryl Glenn in the crowded 5th Congressional District’s Republican primary race just two weeks before mail ballots go out, according to a new survey released Wednesday by GOP polling firm Magellan Strategies.

Lamborn, seeking his seventh term, tops the field of five Republicans, with 37 percent of likely primary voters picking the incumbent if the election in the Colorado Springs-focused district were held today. Glenn, an El Paso County commissioner who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2016, follows with 27 percent, and state Sen. Owen Hill comes in third with 10 percent support.

Tyler Stevens, a former mayor of Green Mountain Falls, and Bill Rhea, a former Texas state judge, bring up the rear at 3 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

With two relatively well-known GOP primary challengers this year in the form of El Paso County commish and 2016 U.S. Senate nominee Darryl Glenn alongside state Sen. Owen Hill, this poll reflects what’s setting up once again as a best-case scenario for incumbent Rep. Doug Lamborn. Lamborn’s undistinguished record in Congress leads to discontent just about every election from CD-5’s conservative Republican base, but the challengers never seem to quite have it together.

This year looks to be no different. Lamborn’s 10-point lead over Glenn, who is turn in a surprising 17 points ahead of Owen Hill, means that once again the opposition to Lamborn is fatally split between multiple primary challengers. Because most voters in this overwhelmingly Republican congressional district would write-in Donald Duck before voting for any Democratic candidate, the net result is another two years of rubber-stamp mediocrity in a district that would support far more inspiring Republican representation.

We don’t mind admitting we’re a little surprised by Sen. Hill’s weakness in this race, since those who know him from his service in the state senate would consider him to be the more formidable challenger to Lamborn. That’s credit you have to give to Glenn, just like we did in 2016 when he won the GOP Senate primary–even if it doesn’t change the end result.

Better luck in 2020 is all we can wish to Colorado’s foremost conservative stronghold.

This is Really Not a Good Year for Incumbent Republicans

Clockwise from top left: Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley), Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo. Springs).

Four states held Primary elections on Tuesday (Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia), and perhaps the biggest takeaway from those results is this: 2018 is a terrible year to be an incumbent Republican.

As the Washington Post reports:

Republican members of the House fared especially poorly Tuesday in primaries across four states, offering fresh evidence that this fall will bring another change election and a new batch of outsiders promising to shake up Washington.

North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger was felled by former Baptist pastor Mark Harris despite a massive spending advantage, an outcome that caught D.C. Republicans off guard. Harris portrayed the third-term lawmaker as a creature of “the swamp” and relentlessly hammered him over his March vote for the $1.3 trillion spending bill. Pittenger is the first incumbent of either party to be forced out of Congress this year.

In the primary to take on Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly (D), wealthy businessman Mike Braun won an upset over two GOP congressmen, Todd Rokita and Luke Messer, who have been rivals since college and spent months beating the tar out of each other.

In West Virginia, Rep. Evan Jenkins (R) lost to state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the primary to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D).

The fifth Republican Member of Congress (from Tuesday alone) who will not be returning to the House in 2019 is Ohio Rep. Jim Renacci, who won the GOP Primary for U.S. Senate in unspectacular fashion; Renacci managed just 47% of the vote against four unknown candidates despite plenty of campaign support from President Trump.

CNN’s Chris Cillizza includes all Members of Congress in his list of “Losers” from Tuesday, though we’re really only talking about Republicans here:

There was a time when being a sitting member of Congress was a major advantage when running statewide. You had a political base and a fundraising base. Those days are done — at least for now.

Here in Colorado, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is regularly fighting for his political life, but 2018 may be his toughest challenge yet should Jason Crow emerge from the Democratic Primary (which is likely). Polling results released in February showed Crow with a 5-point lead over Coffman, marking the first time a public poll showed Coffman trailing anyone since he was first elected in CD-6 in 2008.

Recent polling also shows Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) to be in serious trouble this fall, thanks in large part to his support for the Great Republican Tax Cut for Rich People and his regular enthusiasm for gutting health care benefits.

In CD-5, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) almost failed to make the June Primary ballot altogether, though he’ll still have a tough fight for his seat against three four Republican challengers. Our final incumbent Republican is Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who is probably safe because of a combination of relatively-weak Democratic challengers and a sustained effort to build a more “independent” image; still, it’s worth pointing out that Buck seriously considered abandoning his seat in CD-4 last fall in order to run for Attorney General.

We’re still six months out from the General Election, but disdain for GOP incumbents partnered with a growing blue wave should make the rest of 2018 very uncomfortable for at least two long-tenured Republican Members of Congress in Colorado.

Lamborn Makes The Ballot Because Election Law Means Squat

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

That’s the word from Denver7’s busy political reporter Blair Miller:

Six-term U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn will get the chance to try for a seventh term, as a federal judge on Tuesday ruled that Lamborn should be on the Republican primary ballot in Colorado’s 5th congressional district.

U.S. District Court of Colorado Judge Philip A. Brimmer made the ruling Tuesday afternoon, a day after Lamborn’s attorney argued that Colorado’s residency requirement for signature gatherers violated the U.S. Constitution…

The group that had originally petitioned to get Lamborn off the ballot will appeal to the 10th Circuit and hope that ballot certification will be postponed further, a spokesman for the group, Kyle Fisk, told Denver7.

“We are disappointed that a federal chose to overrule the unanimous decision of the Colorado Supreme Court as well as overturn the will of the people of Colorado as expressed by their elected representatives,” Fisk said in a statement sent to Denver7. “We have filed an immediate appeal to the 10th Circuit. We have also requested that Secretary Williams not be allowed to certify the ballot until the 10th Circuit hears the appeal.”

It’s a decision that effectively upends Colorado law on petition signature gathering, and there will be fallout from this decision that could seriously weaken the ability of not just Colorado, but other states to regulate their own election processes. At the same time, there’s the argument, apparently successful in federal court, that a six-term incumbent member of Congress should not be forced off the ballot by a technicality.

For the record, we don’t buy that argument for a minute. And the can of worms opened today, just so Colorado’s least beloved member of Congress can get another two years of uninspired representation of Colorado’s foremost conservative bastion, will in all probability not be worth the trouble.

Why Lamborn? Because Petitions Suck And So Does Lamborn

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R).

The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews offers a revealing look at the backstory behind what appears to be a serious effort to do away with Colorado’s least inspiring member of Congress–Rep. Doug Lamborn, who has plodded along as conservative Colorado Springs’ undistinguished representative for over a decade mostly by dividing his opposition into manageable factions:

If U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn loses his seat in Congress because of a courtroom fight, the Colorado Springs lawmaker can point a finger at a few supporters of Republican rival Owen Hill…

Hill, a state senator who worked with [attorney Michael] Francisco in 2016 to challenge rules against “ballot selfies,” took a similar tact.

Asked whether he had a connection to the lawsuit, Hill said, “I’m not touching anything” to do with it.

Interest in these players has spiked in the aftermath of Monday’s major decision by the Colorado Supreme Court that found Lamborn broke the rules when he tried to qualify for the June 26 primary.

Matthews explains a number of pertinent facts in the story of Lamborn’s imperiled re-election. Yes, there are individuals connected to the lawsuit challenging Lamborn’s petitions who support Lamborn’s primary challenger Sen. Owen Hill. But more importantly, Matthews explains the longer history of Lamborn’s perennially dicey re-election in his safe Republican district as lingering bad blood among fellow Republicans combines with Lamborn’s uninspiring small-ball record in Congress. Lamborn’s record contains more many more embarrassments than highlights, and Lamborn’s automaton partisan voting has not been enough to shield him from criticism that he’s just not a good leader in a district that would support charismatic conservative leadership.

As a result, Lamborn has had to fight hard in Republican primaries in most elections since 2006, surviving more than once only because opponents split their votes between multiple primary challengers. Although Lamborn’s seat is safe for the GOP, Lamborn has been the member of Colorado’s delegation most personally vulnerable in every election year.

So, there’s that. Combine that weakness with the continuing scandal over petition signature gathering in Colorado, which exploded in 2016 with the flameout of Jon Keyser’s Senate campaign and has safe to say has not been resolved despite being addressed legislatively in 2017, and what you have here is a perfect storm lining up to take out an incumbent member of Congress. When gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton requested that his petitions collected by the same contractor as Lamborn’s be invalidated due to fraud, Stapleton pulled the rug out from under the Lamborn’s re-election campaign. Nobody forced Lamborn to ditch the caucus process and petition on to the ballot–he did that because he knew from experience the caucuses wouldn’t go well.

In short, Colorado has a petition problem. But in addition, Colorado Springs has a Doug Lamborn problem, and the two storylines are distinct even as they intertwine to make Lamborn’s re-election suddenly less likely. That the ballot in Colorado can be accessed via fraud as a substitute for popular support allows weak politicians like Doug Lamborn to thrive to the detriment of everyone.

Don’t weep for Doug Lamborn. From either angle, his is a bed long in the making.

Rep. Doug Lamborn Appears to be Finished

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) is hosed.

As the Denver Post reports, incumbent Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) is about to get retired:

Six-term U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs should not be on the Republican primary ballot this year, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The ruling finds in favor of a lawsuit that contended Lamborn didn’t properly petition his way onto the ballot…

…A lower court earlier this month largely sided with Lamborn that he had enough signatures to be on the ballot, but the opposition appealed, leading to the Colorado Supreme Court ruling.

The Supreme Court ruled a circulator for Lamborn’s campaign did not meet the state’s residency test and the signatures he collected from voters are “invalid and may not be considered.” Without the signatures, Lamborn fell short of the 1,000 needed to make the ballot, the court ruled.

This is a surprising turn of events for Lamborn, if only because recent history has shown that Colorado courts tend to rule on the side of ballot access in disputes over petition signatures. We would imagine that Lamborn’s campaign will do whatever it can to appeal this decision, but he may be out of luck. Marshall Zelinger of 9News happened to catch this reaction from state Sen. Owen Hill, one of two Republican candidates challenging for Lamborn’s seat:

State Assemblies End; The Big Line Updates

With both the Democratic and Republican state assemblies/conventions now behind us, we’ve made a multitude of updates to The Big Line. If you’re looking for information on who made the ballot and who didn’t, you’ll find those updates in The Big Line. If you’re looking for a good restaurant in Colorado, you will not find that information in The Big Line. If you’re looking for an analysis of the 2018 races for Governor, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, and Congress…it’s in The Big Line.

You may now commence with your complaints…

(P.S.: The Big Line)

Wait, What? (Doug Lamborn Edition)

(Not) Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, there is a legal challenge underway that could knock incumbent Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn off of the June Primary ballot if successful:

A lawsuit filed Tuesday by five Republican voters is asking a judge to remove U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn from the 5th Congressional District’s GOP primary ballot, alleging petition circulators hired by Lamborn didn’t meet legal requirements to gather signatures for his campaign.

The lawsuit, filed in Denver District Court, claims Lamborn fell more than 400 signatures short of the 1,000 needed to qualify for the June primary. Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams said last week that Lamborn had submitted 1,269 valid signatures.

The highlight of this story, however, might just be this completely weird response from Lamborn’s campaign:

In a statement, Lamborn’s campaign dismissed the lawsuit’s argument.

“The campaign for Lamborn for Congress stands by the determination of the Secretary of State’s office that the signatures are sufficient,” a campaign spokesperson who refused to give his or her name wrote in a text message to Colorado Politics. [Pols emphasis]

Well, okay then.

The Big Budget Deal, Guns, and Gardner

Trump sign bill, but Trump still mad!

After briefly threatening a veto — and randomly asking Congress to give him line item veto powers (and eliminating the filibuster) — President Trump today signed a massive $1.3 trillion spending deal that includes changes to background checks for gun purchases that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) opposed to the very end. If that sentence seems complicated…well, it is. There’s no easy way to unpack the giant omnibus spending bill rammed through by Congress early this morning.

Let’s start things off with the Washington Post reporting from the White House:

Just hours after threatening a veto, President Trump said Friday afternoon that he had signed a “ridiculous” $1.3 trillion spending bill passed by Congress early Friday and averted a government shutdown…

…But speaking to reporters at the White House about four hours later, Trump said he had decided to sign the bill despite his reservations, arguing that it provides much-needed funding for the military, including a pay increase for troops and new equipment.

In his remarks to the media today, Trump was in full angry old man mode. From the New York Times:

In a rambling and disjointed 20-minute statement from the Diplomatic Reception Room, Mr. Trump denigrated the bill, which was rushed through the House and the Senate by members of his own Republican Party, as “crazy” and vowed to never “sign another bill like this again.”

“Nobody read it,” Mr. Trump said of the sweeping funding measure drawn up by Republican leaders in the House and the Senate. Echoing criticism from those who voted against the measure, Mr. Trump added, “It’s only hours old.”

Trump specifically addressed his anger about the 2,322-page spending bill that lawmakers could not have possibly even begun to have read before voting on the measure. The House version of the bill made it to the floor on Thursday after just 16 hours of debate; all four Colorado Republican members of Congress voted to end discussion, moving things along with a narrow 211-207 result. Colorado Reps. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) and Ken Buck (R-Greeley) were ultimately able to vote “YES” and “NO” on the proposal (Coffman and Buck voted YES on the procedural move before pressing the “NO” button on the final vote).

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

Over in the Senate, the spending bill passed with 62 votes; Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) voted “YES” and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was a “NO.” Gardner’s vote is particularly interesting because the bill included the “Fix NICS” background check provision that Gardner had been blocking for weeks. The next time Gardner pretends to be concerned about gun violence, remember that he prevented the popular background fix measure from being debated in the Senate and ultimately voted against its final approval.

What else do we know about the giant omnibus spending bill? As CNN’s Gregory Krieg explains, it’s important to consider everything that was NOT bundled into the legislation, such as: 1) DACA and immigration reform, 2) Billions of dollars for Trump’s border wall, and 3) Serious attempts at preventing gun violence, including no new limits on gun purchases.

How did this all happen so quickly? As Sarah Binder writes for the Washington Post, this was Republican strategerie at work:

One of the reasons GOP leaders were keen to rush the bill to a vote is that they didn’t want their partisan base to notice that it both funds innumerable Democratic priorities and blocks the Trump administration from doing such things as expanding detention of immigrants, defunding sanctuary cities, and ending federal funding for the arts, to name a few. [Pols emphasis] The Trump White House and many conservatives wanted deep cuts to domestic programs. Party leaders ignored that. The more quickly the two chambers vote, the less time potential opponents have to unearth details that could outrage the GOP base, who might pressure their representatives to vote against the deal.

To summarize, Congressional Republicans rammed through a humongous spending bill that they didn’t read and didn’t really like that does very little to address their political vulnerabilities on gun violence and immigration reform…and will also likely anger their base of supporters.

House Passes Final GOP Tax Bill

UPDATE: The star-crossed story continues:

The House is expected to have to vote again Wednesday on Republicans’ sweeping tax legislation after several provisions were ruled out of order in the Senate.

However, it is not likely to stop the momentum for long, with the legislation still on track to be delivered to President Donald Trump this week. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill Tuesday night after striking the provisions, which relate to expanding tax-advantaged college savings accounts and taxing college endowments.

The stumble is an embarrassment for Republicans, who just hours before were celebrating on the House floor and getting kudos from Trump for passing the landmark bill and sending it to the Senate. It also plays into the hands of Democrats who have been saying the speed with which Republicans are pushing the plan through is a recipe for chaos.

—–

Just in time for Christmas, as the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports:

“While distractors will spell every myth and scare tactic under the sun, at the end of the day, this bill will help working and middle-class families by doubling both the child tax credit and the standard deduction,” said [Rep. Mike] Coffman in a statement prior to the vote.

“This pro-growth and pro-family bill will put more money into the pockets of hard-working Coloradans,” he added.

The tax measure, which has flown through both houses of Congress in recent weeks, has attracted widespread opposition for the tax breaks it provides to corporations and the wealthy, as well as the $1 trillion it’s expected to add to the federal deficit.

No  taking it back now–apparently none of the changes to the bill, including those that undid key defenses Rep. Mike Coffman himself had offered for voting yes, were enough to persuade Coffman to stand in the way of paying back the donors. With this vote the U.S. House in 2017 can finally lay claim to something resembling an accomplishment. So there’s that.

Now the voters will judge Coffman’s actions, and based on the polling that doesn’t look promising.

Coffman, Tipton, Buck, Lamborn Give Wind Power The Shaft

From top left: Rep. Ken Buck, Rep. Mike Coffman, Rep. Doug Lamborn, Rep. Scott Tipton.

A press release before the holiday break from American Wind Energy Association condemns passage of the GOP-controlled House version of the so-called “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”–which contains a provision that won’t be good for jobs in one important industry to Colorado:

The U.S. House of Representatives missed an opportunity to stand up for 60,000 American workers and preserve $50 billion in private infrastructure investment. The tax reform bill passed by the House retroactively changes how businesses can qualify for wind energy’s primary investment tools, the wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which are already on a path to phase out by 2019.

“The House tax bill, far from being pro-business, would kill over half of new wind farms planned in the U.S. and undermine one of the country’s fastest growing jobs,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “The wind industry tax reformed ourselves with bipartisan agreement in 2015. The Senate tax proposal gets it right by respecting those terms. Congress must act immediately in conference to drop the House provisions on the PTC and ITC, to restore the confidence of businesses ready to pour billions of dollars into job-creating American infrastructure.”

The House bill undermines wind development by implementing a retroactive change to qualification rules for wind energy tax credits. Because businesses can’t go back in time to requalify for the credits after ordering wind turbines and inking construction contracts, tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investment could be lost, and new business has stalled. The House bill would also terminate an inflation adjustment, significantly cutting the value of the PTC.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R), with wind power turbines in a 2014 campaign ad.

In an op-ed in the Pueblo ChieftainJohn Purcell of Houston-based Leeco Steel calls out Republicans who voted to kill the wind energy production tax credit:

By breaking its promise to the wind industry, Congress wouldn’t just hurt the investors, manufacturers and developers whose deals are undermined. The harmful effects of the House bill would have a ripple effect across the wind energy supply chain, ultimately harming thousands of American workers and families.

No American job is safe if Congress can change the terms of business contracts years after agreements are signed and billions of dollars are spent. That’s not pro-growth tax reform, that’s bad business.

The people who benefit from wind energy in this country are not strangers. They are the backbone of our communities, our returning veterans, our teachers, nurses, neighbors and family members.

Voting to hurt the wind power industry is a particularly toxic vote for Colorado Republicans. Rep. Scott Tipton’s district includes the Vestas wind tower manufacturing plant, and Rep. Ken Buck’s hometown of Windsor is home to a Vestas blade factory. Numerous smaller companies in Colorado support the wind power industry, from manufacturing to installation to operations.

And yet all four Colorado Republicans in the House voted to kill the wind power production tax credit. Don’t you think somebody should ask them why they voted directly, transactionally to kill Colorado jobs for the sake of tax cuts for the richest Americans?

In the Senate, the current tax “reform” legislation under debate does not include cuts to the wind power production tax credit. Although there are Republicans in that chamber who have paid lip service to supporting wind power including Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, it’s anybody’s guess whether Senators beholden to the fossil fuel industry will try to reinsert this provision–or if it does get out of the Senate with the wind power production credit intact, when the next attempt to slow down renewable energy will be made.

But we do know four Colorado Republicans who voted against this industry with a crucial role in Colorado’s economy one week ago. And they can’t take it back.

Just How Safe Is Colorado’s Most Worthless Congressman?

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R).

As the Denver Post’s John Frank reports–Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, who has weathered numerous primary challenges ever since winning his own cut-throat Republican contest to succeed now-long retired (and fondly remembered) Rep. Joel Hefley, has stepped into scandal just as he prepares to face a whole pack of fresh Republican faces in 2018:

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs bought shares of stock in a company at the center of a recent congressional ethics investigation into possible insider trading involving one of his House colleagues…

Lamborn and his wife bought stock in the company in 2016 and again in 2017. Financial disclosures show the couple currently owns between $30,000 and $102,000 of Innate stock.

But the six-term congressman is refusing to answer questions from The Denver Post about his stock purchases, declining multiple interview requests through a spokesman.

An inauspicious development for sure, as Frank points out the trouble:

The ethics investigation comes at a precipitous time for Lamborn. Four fellow Republicans are now challenging him in the party’s 2018 primary, including state Sen. Owen Hill and El Paso County Commissioner and unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn.

For readers who haven’t followed the primary machinations in what is traditionally considered Colorado’s safest Republican congressional district, Lamborn won his congressional seat in 2006 in that year’s GOP primary. Two years later, Lamborn survived a narrow and contentious victory over activist Jeff Crank that was largely the result of opposition to Lamborn being split between Crank and a third candidate, former Gen. Bentley Rayburn. Since that time Lamborn has used the power of incumbency and rubber-stamp support for anything the military-industrial backbone of his district’s economy wants to ward off primary challengers. And naturally, whatever Focus on the Family wants too.

The problem for Lamborn is that he has failed to distinguish himself in any meaningful way after over a decade in Congress–much like his service in the Colorado legislature, where he was best known for his campaign to swap the names of Mount Democrat and Republican Mountain so the latter would be taller. He has not significantly advanced in House leadership, and has essentially no legislative accomplishments to point to. With an ideologically strident electorate in El Paso County, this is a seat that could support a far more vocal and agenda-driven conservative leader.

Instead, they’ve had the opposite. And the big pack of comparatively big names coming after Lamborn in 2018 is strong evidence of dissatisfaction. Lamborn’s insipid and uninspiring brand of leadership is just not what today’s energized conservative base wants and everybody knows it–including Lamborn’s own handlers.

Add in a little scandal, and Lamborn could easily be shown the door.

The biggest obstacle for CD-5 conservatives looking to rid themselves of their milquetoast congressman, just as in 2006, is that Lamborn’s opposition is splitting behind too many (meaning more than one) qualified opponents. As of now, the most likely outcome of the battle for second place emerging between Sen. Owen Hill and 2016 U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn is another term for Doug Lamborn. It’s not like anybody can dictate to these ambitious politicians what’s best for the district, but if they could flip a coin or something and the winner gets to go head-to-head against Lamborn they’d be doing their overall cause a favor.

We would suggest arm-wrestling, but Hill is going to lose.