So, About that New Congressional Redistricting Map…

If you were paying attention to Colorado politics over the weekend, you might have noticed a lot of people running around like they were on fire.

On Friday, Colorado’s Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission released a new proposed map of Colorado’s eight Congressional districts (officially called “First Staff Plan”). As Thy Vo and Sandra Fish report for The Colorado Sun today, there is much wringing of hands and discussions of viewpoints considering some pretty significant new district lines being proposed:

The dozen members of Colorado’s Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission questioned nonpartisan staff Monday about the latest draft map of the state’s U.S. House districts as they prepare to hear from the public about the plan this week.

The map, introduced Friday based on 2020 census data and which has thrown Colorado’s political world into a tizzy, is markedly different from an initial proposal based on 2019 population estimates.

Before we go any further, we should point out that the map introduced on Friday is not necessarily the map that will determine Congressional boundaries for 2022. The Redistricting Commission will hold four public hearings this week for comment on the First Staff Plan (FSP) Map, which can be confirmed with a ‘YES’ vote from 8 of the 12 Commission members. If this map is NOT approved, the nonpartisan redistricting staff can present as many as two additional proposals before the Sept. 28 deadline to finalize redistricting boundaries.

But if the “FSP Map” ends up being close to a final version of what we can expect for the next decade, then there is plenty to talk about. Here’s what that map looks like (CLICK HERE for a bigger version):

 

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Colorado Democrats Push to Lower Medicare Age to 60

(Clockwise from top left): Diana DeGette, Joe Neguse, Ed Perlmutter, and Jason Crow

All four of Colorado’s Democratic Members of Congress — Reps. Diana DeGette, Joe Neguse, Jason Crow, and Ed Perlmutter — have signed onto legislation seeking to lower the age for Medicare eligibility from 65 to 60.

As CNN reports:

This legislation comes as Democrats are working to expand Medicare benefits through their multi-trillion-dollar spending proposal being used to fulfill much of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda. The lawmakers are introducing this legislation with the hopes of it being included in the final reconciliation package

…Lowering the eligibility age from 65 to 60 is widely popular across the Democratic caucus, with 70% pledging to support the measure earlier this year. It is even a priority that Biden himself has called for. Lowering the eligibility age by five years would expand Medicare to at least 23 million people, according to the cosponsors of the legislation.

In addition to trying to include a lower Medicare eligibility age in the reconciliation package, Democrats also want to use the voting maneuver, which allows them to pass legislation without relying on Republican votes, to also include a historic of expansion of Medicare to cover hearing, dental and vision care for the first time.

Polling data shows that reducing the age for Medicare qualification and expanding the program to cover hearing, dental, and vision care are both broadly popular ideas.

Rep. Crow: “Our Combat Mission In Afghanistan Is Over”

The domestic news cycle has pretty much come to a halt this afternoon after suicide bombings attributed to the terrorist group ISIS killed dozens of people including at least 12 American service members outside the gate to Kabul Airport in Afghanistan, where the U.S. military continues a massive effort to airlift tens of thousands of refugees and American citizens out of the country.

There’s not much we can add to the reporting going on right now from the scene and from Washington, but do take a moment to watch this interview with Colorado’s Rep. Jason Crow, an Afghanistan war veteran, a short while ago on MSNBC–in which Crow re-affirms his support for the withdrawal from the country, saying “our combat mission in Afghanistan is over.” But our obligation to our Afghan allies is not:

 

The “new mission” Rep. Crow says is incumbent on the nation is to ensure that no one who collaborated with the United States during the occupation of Afghanistan and is now at risk of reprisal is left behind, even if that means continuing to hold the airport after the August 31st deadline:

We do not leave American citizens behind in a war zone. We do not leave our friends and partners behind in a war zone. We are the United States of America. We stand by our people. We stand by our citizens. We have the strongest military in the world. Over 2,400 of our troops have been killed over the last 20 years, including when I was doing combat missions as an Army Ranger, and never once did we allow terrorists or people attacking us to stop one of our missions. We decide when we stop one of our missions, and we stop when we get the job done.

Whether you agree or disagree with Rep. Crow on the deadline to withdraw, he is defending the integrity of our country before the whole world and that to us is above reproach. Everyone including the two Presidents before Joe Biden agreed this war had to end. Now it’s a question of ending it with promises kept or broken by America on the way out.

The headlines are difficult today, but we’re proud of Rep. Jason Crow.

D’oh! Buck Deletes His Own Gibberish Tweet on Spending

The non-official Twitter account for Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) Tweeted out a spectacular bit of nonsense this afternoon before somebody apparently came to their senses and hit the ‘DELETE’ button. But, alas, nothing ever REALLY gets erased from the Internet, so we can show you exactly what Team Buck hoped to delete:

Since-deleted Tweet from @BuckForColorado

 

The screenshot above is taken from this video, which shows a Colorado State Chamber of Commerce event from last week that featured Buck and fellow Colorado Reps. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish), Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs), Jason Crow (D-Aurora), and Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County). In the clip that was Tweeted (and deleted), Buck is yammering some nonsense about why the State Government should pay for things instead of the Federal Government (jump ahead to the 40:25 mark HERE).

Buck seems to be upset that the Colorado legislature would use COVID-19 relief funds — as requested by many Colorado business leaders — to help backfill the coffers that support unemployment benefits. But his point is rather in-artfully articulated:

BUCK: Nobody, nobody in either party wants to deny someone daycare services. For those that can’t afford daycare services, there absolutely should be daycare services. And there should absolutely be services available for those who can’t afford that. And there absolutely should be services available for those who can afford that and want to pay for it. The question really is, which level of government writes the check? And we’re faced with the issue now — if there are daycare services that are necessary, state government should write that check. State government has to balance its budget. The federal government doesn’t balance its budget. So to take federal money in an unbalanced way, in a deficit-spending way, to pay for those expenses is wrong. [Pols emphasis] Again, the governors are the group that decided how to shut down their economy, how to manage the situation on the ground in each individual state.

And by the way, when my friend Ed [gestures toward Perlmutter] says that Colorado had less deaths than Florida, Florida has always been a magnet for seniors. [This is seemingly meant to be a joke] Seniors are the most vulnerable, they went to Florida, and Colorado is one of the youngest, healthiest states in the country, and so to compare those two is kind of apples and oranges. But when you’re talking about this unemployment benefit, I think it’s really important to understand that Colorado has to step up in some way and accept some of the responsibility for that. I haven’t seen the bill yet — I’m not going to pass a judgment on the bill at this point — but in my mind, I think we have to make sure that we are putting the burden on the right level of government.

You can see what that’s probably not the best bit of public speaking for Team Buck to promote. We’d encourage you to watch the video yourself, if nothing else to catch the priceless reaction from Rep. Perlmutter as Buck rambles along.

One Twitter follower quickly noticed a different problem with Buck’s rambling:

Buck spent the early part of his career as a prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice before serving two terms as the Weld County District Attorney. He was elected to Congress in 2014.

In a separate segment, Buck also decried the existence of extended unemployment benefits, repeating the oft-used GOP talking point that extended UI benefits are preventing the American workforce from fully recovering after the pandemic. Actual research, in fact, has shown that THERE IS NO EVIDENCE to support the idea that extended UI benefits were encouraging some Americans not to seek employment.

It’s well-known that Ken Buck will take every position on every subject at some point. Occasionally he even tries to make a logical argument, but most of the time — as in the segment above — Buck just spouts out words in an order that might make sense in his head but dies a quick death when exposed to outside air.

Boebert Votes To Let Afghan Allies Die For The Lulz

Rep. Jason Crow (D).

Stars and Stripes’ Sarah Cammarata reports on the passage in the U.S. House today of the Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs Act, also known as the ALLIES Act, a major legislative priority for Colorado’s Rep. Jason Crow to help get interpreters who served with American forces during the two-decade war in Afghanistan out of the country before the final withdrawal of American troops:

The House on Thursday approved legislation that would increase the number of visas for Afghan interpreters who worked with U.S. personnel, a potential lifeline for thousands waiting for application approvals as Taliban fighters continue to seize more territory in Afghanistan.

The bill from Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., would streamline the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program by boosting the number of visa slots by an additional 8,000. It would also speed up the process by removing the requirement that applicants must prove they are under threat as a result of their work with the U.S. government during the nearly 20-year war in Afghanistan.

The measure passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 407-16.

“The phrase life and death gets tossed around a lot in this chamber. But this bill is truly that for thousands of our Afghan friends. The Taliban is intent on hunting down and killing Afghans who have served alongside Americans the past 20 years,” Crow said on the House floor ahead of the vote.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R).

However you feel about the war in Afghanistan, there’s no question that Afghan citizens who assisted American forces in battling Al-Qaeda and the Taliban deserve to be protected from almost certain death at the hands of the resurgent Taliban after Americans troops are gone. To fail to honor this basic obligation would put all future attempts to obtain cooperation from local populations in a military action in jeopardy.

That’s the polite way of saying it would make us look like complete assholes in the eyes of the entire world.

And yes, you guessed it–that’s Rep. Lauren Boebert’s cue:

Why was Lauren Boebert one of only 16 votes in Congress to let Afghan interpreters die at the hands of the Taliban? We haven’t seen a statement yet. But much like voting against preventing senior scams, carbon monoxide prevention, and bone marrow transplants, this is Boebert at her inexplicable worst. We honestly have no idea who this vote is supposed to appeal to–voters who want America to not be trusted by allies who risk their lives to help us? Even Ken Buck and Doug Lamborn agree we’re better than that.

How many bipartisanly indefensible votes does Boebert get before even her beet-red district has had enough?

What Does Blue Do For You?

Back in May, we wrote in this space about reporting from The Colorado Sun related to how Members of Colorado’s Congressional Delegation were going about trying to secure federal funding for important local infrastructure and community projects in the wake of relaxed rules on “earmarks” in the new Congress.

Colorado Republicans in the House of Representatives have insisted that they will NOT participate in “member designated projects” or “community project funding requests” as part of some sort of narrow-minded protest against the earmark process in general. In March, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) even penned an Op-Ed for Newsweek in which he stated that “earmarks go hand-in-hand with corruption.”

Perhaps realizing that not supporting local projects is a bad look, Buck has since “Buckpedaled” on his opposition to earmarks with mealy-mouthed language about how he “supports” efforts by the City of Greeley to obtain funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the Greeley Regional Interchange Project. Of course, Buck could have just made the funding request himself, but that would have conflicted with his efforts to pretend that he is ethically superior to other Members of Congress.

The point here is that while Colorado Republicans are shaking their fists at some mythical “Earmark Goblin,” Democrats in the House of Representatives are doing a LOT of work to move along important infrastructure and community projects in their home districts.

 

Perlmutter

Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County), for example, helped to push through federal funding that will assist in making roadway and bike lane improvements on Federal Parkway; removing and replacing the I-70 Eastbound and Westbound bridges over 32nd Avenue; widening State Highway 72 (Indiana Street); and improvements to Wadsworth Blvd. and Colfax Ave. If you live in Arvada, Golden, Wheat Ridge, or Lakewood, you know how significant these improvements will be for your daily commute. Perlmutter also secured funding for 10 community projects (CPF) in CO-07, including body cameras for the Thornton Police Department; improvements to Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport; multimodal improvements to State Highway 93; and renovations for a new pediatric health clinic in Commerce City.

Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-Denver) promoted infrastructure projects that will revitalize the 16th Street Mall in Downtown Denver and replace miles of decades-old light-rail track, switches, and concrete flatwork throughout Denver’s light-rail system. DeGette’s CPF requests includes money to help the City of Denver convert an old hotel into lodging for homeless residents; the creation of more affordable housing in Montbello; and assistance for Urban Peak in building a homeless shelter for children.

Crow

Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) secured money to improve the Interchange at I-25 and Belleview; the intersection at Easter and Havana in Centennial; and the expansion of Gun Club Road in Aurora. His CPF requests include expanding services to domestic violence victims in Adams County; renovating the Village Exchange Center Facility;  funding for at-risk intervention and mentoring projects; and money for the Aurora Comprehensive Community Mental Health Center.

Congressman Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) helped push through funding for improvements to the Frisco Transit Center; State Highway 119; State Highway 52; State Highway 14; US 36; and the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel on I-70 that a good number of Coloradans will travel through at least once this year. His CPF requests include funding for domestic violence services in Adams County; support for a mechanical engineering partnership between Colorado State University and Adams State University; emergency operations in Gilpin County; wildfire risk reduction throughout CO-02; and a rural outreach partnership program run by the University of Colorado.

By comparison, Republican Members of Colorado’s Congressional Delegation made sure that local communities in their districts RECEIVED ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Reps. Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn, and Lauren Boebert have brought $0 federal dollars back to their districts and local communities in 2021.

 

Guess who loses when Reps. Ken Buck, Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle), and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) refuse to participate in the process of procuring federal funding for local and community projects? The people who live in their district, that’s who.

(In Lamborn’s case, we’re not including any money that was spent on allowing his adult son to live in a storage room in the basement of the U.S. Capitol).

And who benefits from this refusal? Nobody, really, other than a couple of conservative grouches who work for anti-spending think tanks somewhere. Certainly nobody in Colorado is gaining anything from the inaction of these three Republicans. The constituents of CO-03, CO-04, and CO-05 should just be glad that Colorado has two Democratic U.S. Senators who are endeavoring to help fund other projects around the state.

If you want your elected officials to Tweet and gripe about social issues while ignoring their responsibilities to constituents, then you’re probably thrilled with Buck, Boebert, and Lamborn.

For everyone else, we’ll say it again: Elections matter.

Crow Calls Out Republicans Blocking January 6 Commission

FRIDAY UPDATE: Politico reporting the expected, accountability for January 6th has been kicked down the road despite six Republican Senators who broke ranks and voted to get the facts:

The 54-35 vote, with six Republicans breaking ranks to join every Democrat in favor, came after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell lobbied his members forcefully against the House-passed commission measure. The vote was delayed through the night by a handful of Senate Republicans who obstructed China competitiveness legislation, though Democrats decided to punt that bill until after the Memorial Day recess week in order to push forward on the commission bill…

The six Republican senators who voted to advance the commission proposal were Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mitt Romney of Utah and Rob Portman of Ohio. All but one of them also voted to convict former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial earlier this year. All six received public thanks from Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), evicted from her party’s House leadership 16 days ago after vocal criticism of Trump and his role in the riot.

A seventh GOP senator who also voted to convict Trump this year, retiring Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, would have supported advancing the House-passed commission bill had he not been called away from Washington for a family commitment, a spokesperson said.

Both Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper were present and voted yes today, and spoke to NBC News’ Chuck Todd on the way to the airport about getting rid of the filibuster after today’s vote:

—–

Rep. Jason Crow (D).

CNN reports after an appearance by Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado on Don Lemon Tonight last night, blasting Republicans for their attempts to obstruct a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6th, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that attempted to thwart the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory by Congress:

Rep. Jason Crow, a Colorado Democrat and veteran who helped comfort other lawmakers during the US Capitol insurrection, said Wednesday evening there’s a “domestic terror movement” in the US as he sought to highlight the risk of not investigating the January 6 riot.

“We have a domestic terror movement in America. It has been enabled, it has been furthered, it has been legitimized by leaders at the highest levels of our country, starting with Donald Trump,” Crow told CNN’s Don Lemon on “Don Lemon Tonight.”

“That’s the sad reality. If we are not honest about what it is we’re dealing with, if we’re not honest about the dangers of that movement, we will not address it in a way that we need to and we will be at risk. This is not just an exercise in history and making sure that the history books accurately reflect on January 6. We have a current problem we have to address and we have to be honest about that and we have to do what is necessary to keep ourselves safe.”

Rep. Jason Crow comforts a fellow House Member during the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.

Since the violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, Rep. Crow has been at the forefront of lawmakers demanding accountability for what happened all the way to the top. Crow has compared the assault on the Capitol by supporters of now ex-President Donald Trump to his own experiences in combat as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan, and a photo of Crow trying to comfort a fellow representative as rioters stormed through the building has become one of the iconic images of this terrible day in American history.

The vote in the U.S. Senate on the January 6th commission bill passed by the House is by all accounts a foregone conclusion, with Republicans led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell having locked down around a demand for false equivalence between the events of that day and unrelated recent protests such as the Black Lives Matter movement as their pretext to vote against. Despite the fact that McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and some other Republican leaders were in the immediate aftermath willing to assign blame for the January 6th insurrection where it belongs, with Trump personally, their courage in this regard has since evaporated. Which restores their complicity, assuming it was ever lost:

No matter what Republicans said in shock following the attack on the Capitol, covering it up now is all that matters in terms of their legacy. Trump, who once boasted he could shoot a man in the street and not lose support, has proven himself correct beyond what even most of his critics could have anticipated. The normalization of what happened on January 6th by Republicans refusing to hold Trump accountable, perhaps more than any other factor, is setting the stage for the next round of political violence.

And that, readers, is why Rep. Crow is angry. You should be too.

At the end of the day, it may simply be too much to ask the guilty to convict themselves.

Crow, Neguse, Perlmutter Tell Schumer To Ditch Filibuster

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Sen. Michael Bennet.

Colorado Public Radio’s D.C. correspondent Caitlyn Kim reports, 100 House Democrats sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pleading for Senate Democrats to take action on ending the legislative filibuster–the logjam now threatening the bulk of the ambitious agenda passed by the House and awaiting their fate in the Senate:

“My constituents do not care about arcane Senate rules or procedures,” said Democratic Rep. Jason Crow of Aurora. “What they care about is ending gun violence. What they care about is providing quality affordable health care to their children. What they care about is the climate crisis.”

Crow admitted he’s not an expected champion for ending the filibuster, given the purple congressional district that he represents, but the second term lawmaker said he has had enough of seeing “bill after bill after bill” pass the Democratic-controlled House, only to die in the Senate…

Colorado Reps. Joe Neguse and Ed Perlmutter also signed onto the letter. Neguse highlighted bills around voting rights and gun safety that the House passed, but went nowhere in the Republican-controlled Senate last session and look to be stalled this year because the Democratic-controlled Senate cannot get past that 60-vote barrier.

“Our constituents are tired of excuses. They are tired of inaction. They expect the Senate to do its job,” Neguse said. “It’s time for the Senate to get it together and take action and start legislating for the benefit of the American people.”

In the U.S. Senate, of course, the so-far intractable opposition of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia to eliminating the legislative filibuster is a problem for which no solution has yet emerged. Among Colorado’s two Democratic Senators, Michael Bennet is by far the most vocal proponent of changing the rules to get legislation passed, citing his decade of experience in the Senate watching good bills die on the vine.

The situation will come to a head, and Senate Democrats who are standing in the way of the Democratic agenda arriving on President Joe Biden’s desk will have to make a choice. That choice will have a major impact–materially, and also politically on Democratic performance in the 2022 midterms.

Local Democrats should be thankful for Bennet, encouraging John Hickenlooper to do the right thing when the time comes, and reciting the Alcoholics Anomymous serenity prayer for the Joe Manchins they cannot change.

Biden Announces Complete Withdrawal From Afghanistan

UPDATE: Statement from Rep. Jason Crow of Aurora:

“My own service in Afghanistan made it abundantly clear to me that if there was a military solution to the war in Afghanistan, we would have found one years ago. I support the Biden Administration’s decision to finally bring our longest war to an end, but we must do so in a way that keeps our promises to our allies, protects the women and children of Afghanistan, and ensures a safer and more secure world.

“In the coming days and weeks, I look forward to engaging with the Administration to learn more about their plans for a safe and responsible withdrawal of troops, as required under federal law.”

—–

Big enough foreign policy news to merit a mention in this provincial space, as the Washington Post reports:

President Biden will withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan over the coming months, people familiar with the plans said, completing the military exit by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that first drew the United States into its longest war.

The decision, which Biden is expected to announce on Wednesday, will keep thousands of U.S. forces in the country beyond the May 1 exit deadline that the Trump administration negotiated last year with the Taliban, according to one person familiar with the matter, who like others spoke on condition of anonymity to describe plans that are not yet public…

“This is the immediate, practical reality that our policy review discovered,” the person familiar with the deliberations said. “If we break the May 1st deadline negotiated by the previous administration with no clear plan to exit, we will be back at war with the Taliban, and that was not something President Biden believed was in the national interest.”

“We’re going to zero troops by September.”

We’re waiting for a statement from Rep. Jason Crow, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who expressed hope in February that the Biden administration was moving to a swift and responsible end to the conflict:

“I look forward to working with the Biden Administration to responsibly end the war in Afghanistan. My service in Afghanistan showed me what makes the U.S military the strongest in the world, but also revealed the limitations of military power. If there was a military solution to the war in Afghanistan, we would have found one years ago. Our longest war must come to an end, but we must do so in a way that keeps our promises to our allies, protects vulnerable populations, including the women and children of Afghanistan, and ensures a safer and more secure world.”

Once considered the only justified military action after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in stark contrast to the misguided invasion of Iraq in 2003, the war in Afghanistan ground on for years after the death of Osama bin Laden in neighboring Pakistan even as Afghanistan has faded in relative geopolitical importance. President Donald Trump had negotiated an arbitrary deadline to withdrawal, and hopefully the slightly longer period Biden plans to take to get the troops out in an organized fashion will not result in additional lives lost.

We’ll update with statements as they arrive, in the meantime less war is always a good thing.

Lora Thomas Plotting Run Against Jason Crow in CO-06

Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas

Douglas County Republican Lora Thomas apparently has her sights set on a new job in 2022. From what we hear, Thomas is committed to running for Congress in CO-06, where Democrat Jason Crow was just re-elected by a 17 point margin.

Thomas is a former dispatcher for the Colorado State Patrol who was elected Douglas County Coroner in 2010 despite having no medical background whatsoever (in Colorado, pretty much anyone with a pulse can run for coroner). Thomas’ time as DougCo Coroner included a weird internal battle with then-Douglas County Sheriff Dave Weaver that resulted in someone filing an ethics complaint against her office.

Thomas ran for Douglas County Sheriff in 2014 but failed to make the Primary ballot at the GOP county assembly in a race eventually won by Republican Tony Spurlock. Two years later, Thomas narrowly got her name on the ballot for Douglas County Commissioner and went on to win the GOP Primary, which was enough to get her elected in November in a solid-red county. Democrats had hoped to beat Thomas in 2020, but early favorable poll numbers never materialized and Thomas easily won re-election to a second and final term.

Thomas is the epitome of the modern far-right Republican in Colorado. She is a supporter of the asinine crusade to detach Douglas County from the Tri County Board of Health. In 2019, she joined with her fellow Republican Commissioners in approving a pre-emptive declaration that DougCo would refuse to enforce new “Red Flag” gun safety laws passed by the state legislature (a move that drew the ire of her old foe Spurlock).

Unless redistricting makes significant changes to the boundaries of CO-06, there is little chance that Thomas can pose much of a threat to Crow in 2022 (Crow even carried Thomas’ home area of Highland Ranch en route to his blowout victory over Republican Steve House last November). But Thomas is term-limited in 2024, so there’s no great political risk for her personally.

TRANSCRIPT: Rep. Jason Crow on The Get More Smarter Podcast

Earlier this week we noted an interview for The Get More Smarter Podcast with Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora).

In the interview with hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii, Crow discussed the events of January 6; his confrontation with a fellow House Member the morning before the attack; how Crow explains last week’s events to his children; and why impeaching President Trump was unavoidable after he incited an insurrection.

You can listen to the full 15-minute interview below. After the jump, we have included a transcription of Crow’s comments.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (January 14)

Happy “Feast of the Ass.” Please celebrate responsibly. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► We witnessed history on Wednesday when Donald Trump became the first President in American history to be impeached TWICE — thereby cementing his place as the worst President we’ve ever had.

Congress has voted to impeach three different Presidents, but none with as bipartisan a vote as occurred on Wednesday. Chris Cillizza of CNN looks at one of the more surprising YES votes from the GOP caucus:

When Tom Rice voted “yes” on the impeachment of Donald Trump over the President’s role in inciting the riot that led to the storming of the US Capitol, most close congressional watchers assumed he had made a mistake.

After all, there was little to indicate that the reliably conservative South Carolina Republican would join nine other colleagues in breaking with the President (and the party) to back impeaching Trump. Unlike Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyoming) and Adam Kinzinger (Illinois), Rice hadn’t been an outspoken critic of Trump. And unlike Reps. John Katko (New York) and David Valadao (California), Rice doesn’t represent a swing district.

“Compared to the often raucous members of the state’s congressional delegation, Rice has been more low-profile and focused on his legislative work,” wrote the Almanac of American Politics of Rice, who has represented eastern South Carolina’s 7th district since 2012.

But Rice hadn’t made a mistake or accidentally pressed the wrong button. His vote to impeach was real — and without question, the most surprising of the 10 Republicans who bucked the President.

Dana Milbank of The Washington Post ponders the thought process of the 10 Republicans who voted in favor of impeachment.

You probably don’t need us to tell you how Colorado’s Congressional delegation voted on impeachment. The four Democrats voted YES, while the three Republicans voted NO. We double-checked that Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) voted NO, since he seems to change his mind on a topic at least once every 24 hours.

 

► Trump’s impeachment trial now moves to the U.S. Senate, where it won’t likely be taken up until late next week at the earliest. As The Washington Post and others have reported, outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has signaled that he might support impeachment, if only to expedite the process of removing Trump’s presence from the Republican Party.

 

9News reports on local law enforcement efforts to secure the area around the State Capitol building in advance of planned “protests” in the next week.

 

► If you thought Colorado Republicans might have learned a lesson from their second consecutive drubbing at the polls in 2020…well, they didn’t. Led by new House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, House Republicans tried a bunch of pointless shenanigans on Wednesday as the state legislature briefly gaveled into session before a recess until Feb. 16 for coronavirus safety precautions.

As Alex Burness of The Denver Post notes:

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

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EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Jason Crow on The Get More Smarter Podcast

Rep. Jason Crow comforts a fellow House Member during last Wednesday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Our first podcast episode of 2021 is a big one: We have an EXCLUSIVE interview with Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora), detailing the harrowing moments surrounding last week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol.

Hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with Rep. Crow about the events of January 6; his confrontation with a fellow House Member the morning before the attack; how Crow explains last week’s events to his children; and why impeaching President Trump was unavoidable after he incited an insurrection.

Catch up on previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

Get More Smarter on Friday (January 8)

Happy “Typing Day.” Please celebrate responsibly. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

► As POLITICO reports, momentum continues to build for impeaching President Trump:

House Democrats are moving quickly toward impeaching President Donald Trump as early next week, a reflection of the seething outrage that remains over his incitement of deadly riots inside the U.S. Capitol.

Timing remains in flux and Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to make a decision on exactly how to proceed, including whether to pursue a constitutional process that could remove Trump without impeachment. Top Democrats are still in talks with all their members and will hold a caucus-wide call at noon. But they are expected to decide today on their next steps, according to several lawmakers and aides.

Whether or not Trump could officially be impeached before his time in office expires at noon on January 20 is less important than holding Trump accountable for this week’s assault on the U.S. Capitol:

If Democrats pass articles early next week — and Pelosi immediately sent them to the Senate — the Senate would be required to begin a trial immediately under congressional rules. Trump’s first impeachment trial, on charges he abused his power and obstructed a congressional investigation, ultimately lasted four weeks before the Senate delivered its verdict.

That timetable suggests the goal of any impeachment is unlikely to be Trump’s removal and is much more focused on the option to prevent him from holding federal office in the future. Some Democrats believe that possibility could woo Senate Republicans, some of whom are eyeing a 2024 bid themselves.

 

CNN reports on another tragic loss resulting from the Trump mob’s attack on the Capitol building:

Prosecutors in the US Attorney’s office plan to open a federal murder investigation into the death of Brian D. Sicknick, a US Capitol Police officer who died Thursday night, a law enforcement official tells CNN.

Sicknick was injured Wednesday when a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol. He died at approximately 9:30 p.m. ET Thursday “due to injuries sustained while on-duty,” Capitol Police officials said in a statement.
The death is being investigated by the DC Metropolitan Police Department’s homicide branch, the US Capitol Police and their federal partners.

Sicknick was many Capitol Police officers who were attacked with lead pipes and other blunt instruments.

 

 As Marianne Goodland reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, there is a growing list of high-profile names and organizations calling on the resignation of Rep. Lauren Boebert and Rep. Doug Lamborn for taking part in trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election:

The letter said the two lawmakers “have betrayed the trust of Colorado voters by helping incite violence against the body you were elected to, a body designed to serve us. By endorsing the president’s unsubstantiated and repeatedly debunked, discredited, and false claims of voter fraud, you encouraged and tacitly endorsed the actions of these terrorists and threatened the basic foundation of our democracy.”…

…Signatories to the letter include seven Democratic members of the Colorado General Assembly, city council members in Aurora, Broomfield, Denver and Edgewater; former Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Trish Zornio and Lorena Garcia, and two dozen progressive organizations, including unions, Planned Parenthood and ProgressNow Colorado.

Meanwhile, Boebert appears to have no concept of the harm she and fellow Trumpians have caused. In a video released today, Boebert sounds absolutely looney:

Boebert says that she wants people to view her floor speech on Wednesday. We agree. Here it is.

#ResignBoebert.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

LIVE: Colorado Election Night 2020

UPDATE: Colorado called for Joe Biden and John Hickenlooper by national outlets at 7:01pm.

Welcome to blue statehood.

—–

Wondering where to watch tonight’s election returns? Well, wonder no more!

Your friends from “The Get More Smarter Podcast” will be LIVE tonight for an Election Night Extravaganza. Special guests will be dropping by throughout the evening to discuss 2020 election results in real time. We’ll kick things off at 6:30 pm on Facebook and Periscope. Check us out on YouTube or CLICK HERE FOR THE FACEBOOK LINK.

Oh, Right, There’s Still an Election in CO-06

The #Crowmentum continues.

Two years ago, we were talking a lot in this space about #Crowmentum. The race for Colorado’s 6th Congressional District was looking better for Democrats in 2018 after a couple of near-misses (and “not-so-near” misses) in previous election cycles in which CO-06 was a top battleground in the state. Democrats were cautiously optimistic that first-time candidate Jason Crow could knock off longtime Republican politician Mike Coffman after some encouraging poll numbers and strong fundraising reports.

As it turned out, Crow didn’t just win — he annihilated Coffman by 11 points. Crow’s decisive victory was a surprisingly-strong repudiation of both Coffman and Trump, but there was still an outstanding question about how much CO-6 itself might have really changed. After all, this was a a district that had been represented by a Republican in every year since it was first created — including 5 terms from conservative firebrand Tom Tancredo.

That question will be answered definitively in a little more than one week, but it’s telling in itself that we are barely even discussing CO-06 in 2020. As Justin Wingerter writes for The Denver Post, the CO-06 battleground of the past decade is a much different place today:

For the first time in several election cycles, there has not been an influx of outside money into the 6th District this year. There has been no public polling and no debate. All is quiet in what was once a well-trodden political battleground…

…Crow has run only positive television ads — a common tactic among incumbents who expect to win easily — that have highlighted his work on health care, the environment and coronavirus relief. Over the summer, he took his volunteers off the campaign trail and put them to work sending 67,000 text messages with COVID-19 resources and information to 6th District residents.

So what happened in CO-06? A couple of things: 1) Crow’s margin of victory in 2018 diluted enthusiasm for a 2020 challenge, and 2) Crow had a very successful and high-profile first term in Congress.

We’ll start with the second point first. Crow proved in his freshman term in Congress to be a hard-working, accessible, and likable Representative whose voice was being heard in Washington D.C. For example, an Op-Ed signed by Crow and several other Members of Congress with military/national security backgrounds ultimately might have convinced House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to move forward with impeachment hearings against President Trump. Crow was later selected as one of seven Democrats to serve as “impeachment managers” in Trump’s Senate trial. Whether you liked him or not, you couldn’t accuse Crow of not being fully engaged in the job.

House for House? Not so much.

But even before Crow proved himself in Congress, his 11-point victory over Coffman in 2018 complicated Republican thinking about 2020. If there was a Republican bench of up-and-comers in CO-06, nobody wanted to sit there anymore.

Thus, Republicans were left with former State GOP Chairman and “CEO” Steve House as their nominee — though only after House convinced professional candidate/grifter Casper Stockham to make a hopeless bid for CO-07 instead. House pushed ahead with a completely forgettable campaign that we — and everybody else — barely noticed, aside from his silly attempts at matching Crow’s military record by pretending that he had the support of people with the word “veteran” in their title.

As Wingerter notes in his story for the Post, House doesn’t appear to be giving himself much of a chance next week, either:

Win or lose, House plans to keep his campaign office on Colfax through the rest of the year. He has bought decks of Scrummy, a vocabulary game developed in Denver, and plans to host tournaments there for local kids after the election.

That sounds nice.

Colorado will likely gain an eighth congressional seat after the 2020 Census numbers are counted, which could significantly alter the makeup of CO-06 in 2022. Redistricting might make Republicans more enthusiastic about challenging Crow in two years — though by that point Crow will be an even stronger candidate than he is already.

Reps. Crow, Omar Squad Up For Police Accountability

Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora).

As the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul reports:

A Democratic congressman from Colorado introduced a bill Thursday that seeks to gather racial policing data from across the nation, create a federal task force to investigate local law enforcement misconduct and provide financial incentives to agencies that implement pilot programs to reduce wrongdoing.

“This should have happened a long time ago,” said U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, who has teamed up with House Democratic colleagues Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, of Texas, and Rep. Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota, on the measure. “A lot of people have died and been seriously hurt because we haven’t made the change we have to make.”

The bill comes as congressional Democrats seek to introduce a wave of legislation aimed at police accountability in the wake of last week’s death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. Floyd’s death has prompted protests across the nation, including seven straight days of demonstrations in Denver.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

Rep. Ilhan Omar  of Minnesota, who represents the location where George Floyd was allegedly murdered by Minneapolis police, goes into more detail about the proposed bill in a release yesterday:

This bill will establish a federal agency responsible for investigating all nationwide deaths occurring in police custody, officer-involved shootings and uses of force that result in severe bodily injury. The agency will conduct unbiased, independent investigations and issue determinations of responsibility and recommendations for reform that will prevent future violence. Those findings will be admissible in court and federal funding for law enforcement activities and equipment will be curtailed if a police department fails to take meaningful action on the Board’s policy and reform recommendations.

“The systemic targeting and use of deadly and brutal force against Black people stems from the long legacy of slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow laws in the U.S.,” said Rep. Omar. “If we are to change this pattern of violent racism, we need to fundamentally restructure our criminal justice system. We need an independent agency—outside law enforcement—to investigate misuse of force in an unbiased manner.”

Politically, this is an issue that plays very well for Rep. Jason Crow. Crow’s diverse district centered on Aurora is no stranger to police violence against people of color. Republicans might not agree, however, particularly with an energetic campaign underway to demonize four women freshman colleagues of Rep. Crow’s known as “The Squad”–which includes Rep. Omar, Crow’s partner on this bill. With respect to the GOP’s vituperative attacks on those four freshman members of Congress in particular, there’s a sharp cultural divide between audiences who chuckle along at derogatory attacks on women of color in leadership, and those who find such attacks to be racist and repellent.

In that event, Republicans may find out the hard way that Aurora is on the wrong side of that divide.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 18)

Welcome to the Coronavirus outbreak, Fox News viewers; we’ve been busy. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate is moving “at warp speed” (which is about “half-speed” in regular person parlance) on producing a massive stimulus bill in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. As CNN reports:

Two GOP sources told CNN’s Manu Raju that Republican senators are close to reaching an agreement among themselves on the details of Mnuchin’s plan. The conference plans to meet later on Wednesday to discuss where they stand, with one of the sources expecting an agreement by lunchtime.

The idea is to cut a deal among themselves, and then try to hammer out a bipartisan agreement with Democrats on a massive package that could pass Congress in a matter of days. But Democrats have their own plans, so there are hard-fought negotiations ahead.

The bill McConnell is talking about would be the third major piece of federal legislation to move through Congress this month:

BILL ONE
The first bill, which started in the House, passed the Senate, and was quickly signed by President Trump, dealt primarily with medical and emergency response needs. This was the bill that was opposed by only two House Members, one of who was Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). In the Senate, only Kentucky Republican Rand Paul voted “NO.”

BILL TWO
The second bill, which also started in the House, deals with issues like paid family leave and Coronavirus testing and health care regulations (Rep. Buck also voted against this bill). McConnell is pushing the Senate to vote on the legislation this week — though Sen. Rand Paul is again throwing wrenches — and it will almost certainly be signed by President Trump shortly thereafter. Outside groups have been pressuring Republican Senators to quickly support this legislation.

BILL THREE
This is the trillion-dollar “bailout” bill that will likely include sending money directly to Americans within the next couple of weeks. Politico has more on this third major piece of legislation:

Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said Tuesday there is a “high level of interest” among Republicans for a Trump administration proposal to send as many as two $1,000 checks directly to individual Americans to help respond to the economic slowdown, a move that could cost an estimated $500 billion, according to GOP sources.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made a pitch for the initiative at a lunch with Senate Republicans on Tuesday, part of an $800 billion-plus package being floated by the White House that also includes as much as $250 billion in emergency loans for smalls businesses being hit by the economic slowdown.

Under the Mnuchin plan, direct payments — on a means-tested basis — could be sent to American via the IRS as early as next month, although even that may not be as fast as some in Congress want.

For more on these bills and a host of other Coronavirus-related questions, check out this interview from Tuesday with Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) on The Get More Smarter Podcast:

Two members of Colorado’s congressional delegation are in self-quarantine after being alerted that they may have had contact with an infected person. From The Denver Post:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and U.S. Rep. Jason Crow both announced Tuesday that they’re self-quarantining after coming into contact last week with a constituent who subsequently was found to have the coronavirus.

It’s not clear if it was the same constituent, but the contact was on the same day — March 11 — and both men were notified of the contact by the same health department.

“I was alerted today by the Tri-County Health Department that a Coloradan who visited my Washington office for a constituent meeting has tested positive for coronavirus,” Gardner, a Yuma Republican, said in a press release.

“While I am not showing any symptoms at this time, I have made the decision to self-quarantine out of an abundance of caution,” he added.

Crow is also not reporting showing any symptoms but is self-quarantining for precautionary reasons.

 

► President Trump is finally getting his border shutdown…with Canada. The United States and Canada have agreed to close the border to all non-essential travel.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

A Coward and a Liar: Poor Reviews for Gardner on Impeachment

“Coloradans deserve better than Cory Gardner.”

The Denver Post (2/6/20)

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) did what everyone expected him to do yesterday when the Senate voted on two articles of impeachment against President Trump: He covered up for Trump and voted to acquit the President.

What Gardner did not do, however, was find a way to explain his rationale for acquittal in any sort of manner that would make it appear as though he was not just participating in a cover-up. Gardner’s asinine speech on the floor of the Senate was notable mostly for his misinterpretation of Alexander HamiltonGardner’s media interviews on impeachment were, frankly, insulting to Coloradans.

In response to a question from Joe St. George of Fox 31 News about whether the Senate vote set a new precedent for election interference, Gardner had the temerity to exclaim that “foreign interference in our elections is absolutely wrong.”

In an interview with Colorado Public Radio, Gardner argued that the impeachment of Trump was really just a policy kerfuffle. “This is a policy question,” he said. “Does the United States have the ability to investigate how its taxpayer dollars are being spent?”

Gardner’s bullshit was swiftly condemned by lawmakers and media outlets alike. Here’s Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora), who served as one of the House impeachment managers in the Senate trial, speaking to Colorado Public Radio in response to Gardner’s “policy disagreement” explanation:

“The trial showed unequivocally that that’s just not true. Cory Gardner is not telling the truth there.’’

Crow said further that he believed Gardner was “doing what he feels is politically in his own best interest instead of doing what is right and upholding his oath,” and it’s impossible to argue otherwise. Kyle Clark of 9News had this to say on Wednesday evening:

Hundreds of Democrats and Republicans in Congress faced that central question of whether President Trump did something wrong, and they showed the basic courage to directly answer that question for voters…

But the whole impeachment trial has now come and gone without Senator Cory Gardner ever coming up with the basic courage to directly answer that question. [Pols emphasis]

But the unkindest cut was reserved for the editorial board of The Denver Post, which absolutely lit into Colorado’s Junior Senator on Thursday:

Sen. Cory Gardner either thinks it’s OK for a president to pressure a foreign government to investigate a U.S. citizen for personal and political gain or he’s too afraid to criticize this president for doing just that.

We’re not sure which is worse.

Gardner failed to address the issue on the floor of Congress while he was explaining to the public his decision to acquit the president on that very question. In subsequent media interviews where he was asked the question directly, he did the trademark Gardner dodge and weave.

That was just the beginning. Here’s the knockout blow:

Gardner once said he would stand up to his own party. Turns out he won’t even be critical of the actions of a member of his own party. He must believe what Trump did was fine. Why won’t he just say that?

Coloradans deserve a senator who will be straightforward and honest with them. Coloradans deserve a senator with a track record of bipartisanship. Coloradans deserve a senator who will call out things that are wrong and work to correct them. Coloradans deserve better than Cory Gardner. [Pols emphasis]

Ooof. Make sure to take a moment to read the entire Post editorial.

There’s a good reason that even staunch Republicans are sick of Gardner’s crap. He might have helped save Trump’s skin on Wednesday…but nobody will be bailing Gardner out in November.

Crow Impresses on First Day of Impeachment Trial

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who sits dutifully behind President Trump’s legal team on the floor of the U.S. Senate, has been getting hammered in national news outlets for his blind obedience to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Team Trump despite an oath to be an “impartial juror” in the President’s impeachment trial.

Colorado Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora), meanwhile, is earning rave reviews for his performance as one of seven House “impeachment managers” prosecuting the case against Trump. Here’s NBC News Capitol Hill Correspondent Kasie Hunt on Tuesday:

In Gardner and Crow, Colorado has two high-profile connections to the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump. The contrast couldn’t be more stark.

From The Daily Caller:

Tuesday’s session lasted almost 13 hours, according to CNBC. Crow, a former Army Ranger, spoke late into the evening and noted that despite the late hour, it was morning in Ukraine, where soldiers were fighting Russia and depending on U.S. aid. He previously served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The American people deserve answers,” Crow said Tuesday. “I remember what it feels like to not have the equipment you need when you need it. Real people’s lives are at stake. That’s why this matters. We need this information so we can ensure that this never happens again. Eventually, this will all come out.”

“We will have answers to these questions. The question now is whether we will have them in time, and who here will be on the right side of history.”

— Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora)

Justin Wingerter of The Denver Post has more on Crow’s performance from Tuesday:

Crow took to the Senate floor in the evening to argue for a subpoena of documents from OMB, where testimony and media reports suggest officials were concerned by Trump’s withholding of military aid to Ukraine.

“We know these documents exist and we know the only reason we do not have them is because the president directed OMB not to release them,” Crow said, referring to what he claims are key documents that reveal how the president’s controversial order was enacted. “Because he knows what they would show.”

Crow went through a timeline of events related to the withholding of aid to Ukraine in the summer of 2019, punctuating his remarks on several occasions by saying, “The American people deserve answers.” Crow talked about his own combat service in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the importance of military aid to soldiers in wartime.

“Who knew what, and when? OMB documents would shed light on OMB’s actions as the president’s scheme unraveled,” the congressman said.

Crow’s background as an Army Ranger who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan allows him to frame the withholding of military aid from Ukraine in a very personal manner; there aren’t many Members of Congress who could have the same impact, as you can see from this CNN clip below:

One member of Colorado’s Congressional delegation is standing up for what he believes and making a passionate case for his colleagues to follow. The other is Cory Gardner.

Kudos to Jason Crow.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (January 15)

Happy “Korean Alphabet Day.” Please celebrate responsibly, or whatever. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The House of Representatives will vote today to send articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made the announcement today and introduced the seven House Members who will serve as “impeachment managers.” One of them is Colorado’s own Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora).

The Washington Post breaks down how Crow ended up being among Pelosi’s chosen few:

The Democrat from Colorado is in his first term as Congress. Before Congress, he served as an Army Ranger, leading combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was also partner in a law firm in Colorado. According to the Almanac of American Politics, he wasn’t a prosecutor, but he “conducted internal investigations nationwide, responded to emergency events and handled a wide-range of government inquiries.” He also represents the kind of district — a suburban one in a swing state — that Democrats will need to hold onto in November to keep their majorities.

He is the only manager who does not sit on any of the impeachment inquiry committees, but he had a role in swaying Pelosi to authorize the impeachment inquiry. He was one of seven House freshmen with national security backgrounds who co-authored a Washington Post op-ed calling Trump’s actions on Ukraine impeachable, a move that signaled a significant momentum shift within the Democratic caucus. Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry a day after that published.

Crow’s selection provides a stark contrast to the impeachment involvement of another key Colorado elected official: Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). As Justin Wingerter writes for The Denver Post, Gardner just keeps ducking questions about President Trump:

Gardner’s office declined again Tuesday to answer questions from The Denver Post about whether he would support a motion to dismiss the two charges against Trump or vote to allow witnesses in a Senate trial that’s expected to begin next week. Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah have said they want to keep open the option of hearing from witnesses after opening arguments.

CBS reported Monday that the White House expects at least four Republicans will vote to call witnesses in the Senate trial. That “possibly” includes Gardner, according to the report, though he has said nothing to indicate that he will. There are 53 Senate Republicans, and a simple majority of 51 votes will be needed to pass trial rules.

Silence has become the norm for Gardner on the topic of impeachment. His office previously declined to say whether witnesses should be called and whether he agrees with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “total coordination” with the White House.

The New York Times apparently wasn’t able to corner the squirrelly Senator, either:

In the Capitol on Tuesday, Mr. Gardner was making himself scarce. When Republicans wrapped up a luncheon featuring a discussion of trial procedure, he zipped out a back door and headed for a little-used elevator, avoiding a throng of waiting reporters.

“I’m sorry, he’s got to get going,” an aide to Mr. Gardner told a reporter who followed him, as the elevator doors opened and the senator slipped inside. Then Mr. Gardner jumped in, begging off any discussion of whether he could be the elusive fourth vote who could upend hopes of a quick acquittal of Mr. Trump.

 

► Evidence continues to mount against President Trump ahead of a Senate impeachment trial. As Jennifer Rubin writes for The Washington Post:

One can only imagine what evidence we have yet to see during the impeachment proceedings against President Trump. With each new tranche of evidence — including emails regarding the hold on military aid to Ukraine and now documents from Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani’s — the conclusion that Trump abused power and obstructed the investigation becomes incontrovertible…

…Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe tells me the new evidence is ” jaw-dropping” and “highly incriminating of both Giuliani and Trump.”

 

► Candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination met for another debate on Tuesday in Des Moines, Iowa — just three weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses. Who won and who lost the big debate? Here are a few takes from The Washington Post, CNN, Politico, The New York Times, and The Des Moines Register.

 

► Today is the deadline for open enrollment for health care coverage through Connect for Health Colorado.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Jason Crow Among House Impeachment Managers

Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced this morning the names of seven Democrats who will help prosecute the House impeachment case in a U.S. Senate trial as soon as next week. Colorado Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora) was among the names selected.

As Politico reports:

The seven lawmakers will be tasked with prosecuting the case against President Donald Trump in the Senate’s trial, giving them a high-profile role and a chance to be at least a footnote in history.

The long-awaited announcement comes as the House is scheduled to vote later Wednesday to send the managers and the two impeachment articles over to the Senate — a formality that triggers the start of the trial.

Pelosi’s list reflects her desire for geographic, racial and gender diversity among the impeachment managers, and it draws from the Democratic Caucus’ wide swath of legal and national security-related experience.

Here’s Politico’s rundown of Crow’s selection:

Crow, 40, was a surprise choice, but Pelosi has leaned heavily on the so-called “national security freshmen” in the Democratic Caucus during her deliberations for the impeachment process. [Pols emphasis] Crow, serving in his first term, doesn’t sit on any of the committees charged with investigating Trump. But he is a former Army captain who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he received his law degree at the University of Denver. He was one of seven national security-oriented freshman lawmakers who wrote an op-ed in September calling for an impeachment inquiry after the Ukraine scandal came to light. He serves on the House Armed Services Committee.

This is a very big deal for Crow and for Colorado in general.

The Get More Smarter Podcast: Bold Predictions for 2020

This is it: The final episode of 2019 for The Get More Smarter Podcast. To close out the year, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss the most important Colorado political stories of 2019 and look ahead to 2020 with some bold predictions. Will Democrats take control of the U.S. Senate in 2020? Can Sen. Cory Gardner win re-election? Which one of Colorado’s seven Congressional seats could flip next year? 

And for the first time, Jason plays America’s worst favorite game, “Duke or Donald.” Ian is the current record-holder in the game that nobody really wins, but can Jason take the title in the last episode of 2019?

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. If you have a question or comment, hit us up at AngryRants@GetMoreSmarter.com.

Republicans Flummoxed on Prescription Drug Pricing

Image via AARP

While you were reading about impeachment news last week, you may have missed a significant vote in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives addressing an issue that is of utmost concern to American voters in 2020: Reducing the outrageous costs of prescription drugs.

The “Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act” (HR-3) passed out of the House on Thursday on a largely party line vote (Colorado’s four Democratic House Members voted “YES,” while all three Republicans voted “NO”) and will now head to the place where all good pieces of legislation go to die: The desk of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. As CBS News explains:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill would cap Medicare recipients’ out-of-pocket costs for medicines at $2,000 a year. It would use about $360 billion of its projected 10-year savings from lower drug costs to establish Medicare coverage for dental care, hearing, and vision, filling major gaps for seniors.

But the legislation has no chance of passing the Republican-controlled Senate, and the White House has issued a veto threat. Still, Democrats saw a victory in the message their bill sends to voters…[Pols emphasis]

…Pelosi is claiming bragging rights because her bill would deliver on the promise that President Trump made as a candidate in 2016, when he said he would “negotiate like crazy” to lower prescription drug prices for Medicare recipients. It’s a pledge that Mr. Trump has backed away from as president.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner don’t know where to go from here.

Polling data continually shows that health care and prescription drugs top the list of voter concerns in 2020…much like they did in the Democratic wave year of 2018. A recent survey from Healthier Colorado found that 82% of Colorado voters believe that prescription drugs are too costly; nearly half of voters say that health care in general is unaffordable. The bill passed last week in the House of Representatives has the support of groups such as AARP, but McConnell won’t touch it in part because it is fiercely opposed by the pharmaceutical industry. As Politico reports today, the issue has put Republicans in a bind:

Yet with an election year cresting and massive divisions among his members, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is staying put. Associates say the Kentucky Republican is not eager to make a move that splits his caucus and could incur the wrath of the well-financed pharmaceutical industry.

A final decision will wait until after the Senate’s impeachment trial. Many Senate Republicans, however, know they need to do something to satisfy Trump and avoid the awful optics of doing nothing at all.

Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) this summer advanced a bill that would fine drugmakers that hike prices above inflation rates, but from the start it had more Democratic support than Republican backing. Even though a significant number of GOP members say it’s a bold stroke with crucial presidential support, many Republicans liken the move to price controls that would kill innovation.

This quote from Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy sums up the absurdity of the GOP’s position: “Thank goodness Republicans control the Senate. That said, we still need something to make medicines affordable.” Ya think?

Republicans have lambasted impeachment investigations against President Trump as a distraction from the key issues facing average Americans, but Democrats snatched that stool right out from under them last week by multitasking on important topics. As The Hill explains:

Vulnerable Democrats in swing districts can point to the legislation as keeping a long-held promise to let Medicare negotiate drug prices. Members can show they are focused on kitchen table issues despite the chaos over impeachment.

The bill also gives moderate Democrats in Congress a chance to tout a health care issue that’s separate from the “Medicare for All” debate consuming the Democratic presidential primary.

“If a Democrat wins the White House and the party takes control of the Senate, a bill to allow the government to negotiate drug prices seems much more likely to pass than Medicare for All or even a public option,” said Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health care policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Congressional Republicans are now in the unenviable position of arguing against the substance of legislation that would reduce health care costs for millions of Americans. Republican leaders can shake their fists at the idea of “price controls” for prescription drugs, but that language only makes a dent with pharmaceutical lobbyists; controlling prices is exactly what average voters want to see from Congress on the issue of prescription drug costs.