The Next Abortion Ban: Telemedicine

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R).

A report from medical industry publication mHealth Intelligence discusses a new monkeywrench being thrown by Republicans into the gears of women’s reproductive rights–a ban on “telemedicine” physician appointments to prescribe abortion medications:

A Congressman from Texas is seeking to make telemedicine abortions all but illegal in the US.

Rep. Ron Wright’s new bill, HR 4395, would prohibit care providers from using telehealth to prescribe abortion drugs unless they have physically examined the patient, are physically present when the patient takes the medications, and schedule a follow-up visit…

Roughly 25 percent of the abortions performed in the U.S. are non-surgical, or medical abortions. The process can be paired with a telemedicine platform in two ways: a physician can examine a patient via telemedicine, then issue a prescription for mifepristone and misoprostol to the patient to terminate the pregnancy; or a remote physician can examine a patient who’s at a clinic, then issue instructions to clinic personnel to dispense the drugs from a locked cabinet that is remotely opened by the doctor.

As states have moved in recent to impose all manner of incremental restrictions and medically dubious regulations on access to abortion, telemedicine has emerged as a novel way for women to circumvent so-called “TRAP” legislation and get the care they need. It’s only natural that a ban on the practice would emerge as soon as anti-abortion Republicans became aware of it, and we fully expect to see a state-level version of this ban introduced in the Colorado legislature next January–where it will die, of course, after giving the issue’s diehards another chance to sound off in futility. This federal version was filed in the Democratic-controlled U.S. House for similar reasons.

The bill, which was filed on October 30, has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for further action. It has 12 co-sponsors: Reps. John Joyce (R-PA), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Randy Weber Sr. (R-TX), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), John Rutherford (R-FL), Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), [Pols emphasis] Mark Meadows (R-NC), Jody Hice (R-GA), Jim Banks (R-IN), Andy Harris (R-MD) and Bob Gibbs (R-OH).

And no surprise, Colorado’s Rep. Doug Lamborn is an original cosponsor! One of the ways Colorado’s least inspiring member of Congress defends his safe GOP seat from perennial primary challengers is by never missing the chance to jump all over sticky wedge issues the base can’t resist. Opposition to telemedicine appointments for reproductive care is difficult to oppose on the merits–if you oppose it, it’s probably because you oppose all abortion and recognize telemedicine as a way of circumventing other arbitrary restrictions.

Par for the course for Doug Lamborn, Colorado’s premiere “gynotician.”

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Colorado Republicans Stand at Historical Crossroads

Via CNN

On Thursday the House of Representatives voted along party lines to formalize the process for impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

For weeks Republicans have railed against Democrats for not opening a “formal” impeachment inquiry — it was easier for Republicans to attack the process than to defend Trump on the merits of his actions — but on Thursday the GOP demonstrated that this argument was more style than substance. If Republicans can’t assail the process or defend the President’s decisions, then what’s left?

The only obvious step forward is to actually consider the case against President Trump and to vote accordingly. As the editorial board of the Aurora Sentinel wrote on Wednesday:

Credible, compelling, consistent and growing allegations against Trump extorting Ukraine for his own political gain have reached a tipping point…

…Trump himself has now offered honest Republicans a way out of having to defend an indefensible, lying, untrustworthy and incompetent president. Trump has admitted his “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Democrats are documenting them and making the unequivocal case for impeachment. Gardner and others can now finally step out from under the pressure to appease Trump’s misguided base of supporters. But to do that, they must commit to representing the voters in their district, not the delusional, fear-driven scheme of Republican Party leaders.

This is the way out for Gardner and other Republicans of becoming complicit with a duplicitous president. The nation is about to see Trump’s malevolent scandal exposed, and all voters will see which Republicans have the temerity to spurn or defend it.

The nation and history are watching what happens next.

Clockwise from top left: Cory Gardner, Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton.

History does not yet appear to motivate Republican members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation. Instead, they appear more concerned about the present and how they will be perceived by Trump in 2020. Congressmen Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) are the co-chairs of Trump’s re-election campaign in Colorado; even if you could figure out a simple way to explain this to Lamborn, there’s little chance that he would bother to listen to the arguments. Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley)? He moonlights as the Chairman of the State Republican Party (or vice-versa) and has been clear about his loyalty to Trump.

As for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)…well, Quid Pro Cory gave up any pretense of a conscience long ago. Gardner may not have a breaking point when it comes to Trump.

It seems clear that Colorado Republicans aren’t going to be moved by the present, but surely they can comprehend the impact impeachment proceedings may have on their own legacies. David Greenberg, a history professor at Rutgers University, examined this subject for The Washington Post:

Still, people return to this notion for a reason: It acknowledges the potentially high stakes of any political action — how a single vote or decision can loom large in someone’s legacy when the day of reckoning finally comes. It appeals to transcendent ideals that may be obscured by the fervor of the moment; sometimes these coalesce crisply over time, making right and wrong seem obvious and incontestable in retrospect. When, for example, a dying Sen. John McCain went to the well of the Senate to give his thumbs-down on the gutting of Obamacare, he knew this was an act he’d be remembered for…

But the Watergate saga does tell us this much: Those loyalists who abandoned Nixon early, when it mattered — who stood up for principle over party, for integrity over professional advancement, before Nixon was politically doomed — are remembered and praised for their courage. [Pols emphasis]

And what of those who chose to stand with Nixon?

None of these men has been well remembered. All of their obituaries led with the fact that they defended Nixon. That decision became the headline of their entire lives. [Pols emphasis]

Wherever the impeachment inquiry leads, Tipton, Buck, Lamborn, and Gardner have shown no indication that they will do anything but march alongside Trump.

But there is never a wrong time to do the right thing.

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Blame Trump, But Don’t Forget His Republican Enablers

Republicans don’t seem to sweat President Trump’s dangerous behavior.

According to the website VeryWell Family, these are the top warning signs for children with a “serious behavior problem”: 1) Difficulty managing emotional outbursts, 2) Difficulty managing impulses, and 3) Behavior that does not respond to discipline.

You don’t need to be an expert or a parent to recognize reckless behavior in children. We’ve all seen out-of-control children at grocery stores, shopping malls, and airplanes. Our first reaction in this situation is usually to glance around in search of a parent or guardian, shaking our head in bewilderment that such behavior could go unchecked. We might be dismayed at the child’s actions, but our ire is generally reserved for the oblivious or indifferent parent nearby.

President Trump is the man-child in this analogy, and the Republican Party — particularly top GOP elected officials such as Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) — are the parental guardians. While the world collectively shakes its head at Trump’s ridiculous behavior, it is Trump’s Republican enablers who deserve an equal amount of scorn. When Trump throws a tantrum, he doesn’t get rebuked by fellow Republicans; instead, he gets a cookie. Trump can all but beg to be impeached, as he did on Thursday, and Republicans like Gardner will still headline a big fundraiser for him days later.

Chris Cillizza of CNN has a great outline today of this phenomenon, which he calls “the real issue” regarding President Trump’s scandalous behavior:

And yet, even as his actions in office grow more and more erratic and without historical precedent, the party stays united behind him.

Why? Simple! Fear.

“What is surprising, or shocking might be the better word for it, is the fact that Republican elected officials seem willing to not just condone this sort of behavior but even defend it.”

Every GOP elected official lives in fear of becoming the next Jeff Flake or Justin Amash — conservative Republicans in good standing with the party until they decided to publicly criticize Trump for something or other. The President pounced, his base attacked and both men found themselves in deeply precarious political predicaments.

Fear of being “Flaked” explains, for example, Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-South Carolina) absolute and total about-face on Trump. Ditto Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. And dozens and dozens of other Republican elected officials who voiced deep concern about the idea of Trump even being their party’s nominee in 2016 — much less the President of the United States.

If political survival is your only goal, then what Republicans are doing vis a vis Trump is not only fine, but right. Of course, leadership is a very different thing than what we are seeing out of Republican elected officials at the moment.

And there is the very real possibility that the damage Trump is doing to the party (let alone the country) will have impacts that last well after he is gone from office — and come back to haunt those Republicans who stood silently by. [Pols emphasis]

Republicans like Gardner have always valued political survival above the interests of anything else, but it’s still hard to fathom the idea that there is no line Trump can cross that will be a line too far for the GOP.

Sen. Cory Gardner always stands behind President Trump

Gardner has made it abundantly clear, in fact, that he won’t be backing away from Trump for any reason. As Ian Silverii writes today in the Denver Post:

That Gardner would participate in this fundraiser with the full knowledge of the whistleblower scandal probably tells us that he understands that there will be no political exit for him. If new facts emerge from the impeachment inquiry or if public opinion continues to move against him, calling for Trump’s resignation will also be an indictment against Gardner for supporting him this far. Afterward, if Gardner tries to pull the ripcord, Trump-brand forks and knives will come out of the bag instead of his parachute.

The 2020 election will be a referendum on President Trump. It should also be a referendum on his Republican enablers. History will not be kind to the likes of Gardner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but Americans won’t have to wait for those books to be written in order to take action.

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“Doug Lamborn Sided With Abusers”

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R).

A press release from the Animal Wellness Foundation last week celebrates the recent passage in the U.S. House of the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, a measure designed to prevent a particularly cruel practice against certain show horses:

The PAST Act seeks to strengthen the Horse Protection Act and end the torturous, painful practice of soring Tennessee Walking, Racking, and Spotted Saddle Horses. Soring, the intentional infliction of pain to horses’ front limbs by applying caustic chemicals such as mustard oil or kerosene or inserting sharp objects into the horses’ hooves to create an exaggerated gait known as the “Big Lick,” has plagued the equine world for six decades.

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined as a cosponsor of the Senate companion bill on July 30th, S. 1007, led by the senior U.S. Senator from Idaho, Republican Mike Crapo, that mirrors the House passed legislation. Senator Cory Gardner has not cosponsored the Senate PAST Act but was formerly a cosponsor of the House bill when he served in the Lower Chamber in the 113th Congress. Colorado Governor Jared Polis was also a longtime supporter of the PAST Act during his time in the U.S. House as well.

“Soring involves cruel and intentional infliction of pain on a horse’s legs and hooves purely for sport,” said Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO-02). “No horse should be made to suffer for competition. Though laws have been on the books for decades banning this inhumane practice, horse soring still runs rampant. The PAST Act would strengthen and improve current regulations and ensure that this practice finally comes to an end. I am proud to be a cosponsor of and advocate for this legislation because it is time for Congress to step-in and halt this brutal and unnecessary practice.”

The PAST Act passed by an overwhelming 333-96 margin. In the Colorado House delegation, the only member voting no was Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, who has never in his career allowed distasteful optics to get in his benefactors’ way:

“We applaud the Members of the Colorado Delegation who voted to end this barbaric and indefensible practice that has marred the horse show world for decades,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action and past president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association. “We’re disappointed that Doug Lamborn sided with abusers, [Pols emphasis] but the landslide support for the bill is a powerful signal to the U.S. Senate that it should pony up and end this cruelty to horses once and for all.”

Folks, we’ll concede that we are not experts in the field of animal husbandry in general or horsekeeping in particular. But even a brief look at the practice of “soring” horses to produce this trademark showy gait suggests that it is extremely cruel, with only an anachronistic “benefit” to a class of people who are somehow able to enjoy watching an animal prance about oddly without an attack of conscience from the realization that the animal is prancing like that because it is in severe pain. Realizing that, “soring” lumps in with cockfighting and other such practices that are unambiguous animal cruelty and should most certainly be outlawed.

But apparently Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs is down with animal cruelty? Perhaps a horse was mean to him as a child? Being on the losing end of such a lopsided vote to outlaw this barbaric practice makes it a question worth asking–even of El Paso County’s infamously uncouth but perennially safe dullard of a congressman.

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Cory Gardner is Too Darn Busy to Condemn Racism

UPDATE: Gardner was on KOA radio this morning to talk about the BLM move to Colorado, but he couldn’t get away without being asked about Trump’s racist remarks. His answer was pretty awful:

HOST: What’s your take on that, and is it defensible to say things like that?

GARDNER: Well, I disagree with the President. I wouldn’t have sent this Tweet. I think he shouldn’t have done it, and I think we oughta be focused on things that are bringing this country together and moving this country forward…I wouldn’t have sent that Tweet. I just disagree with it.

“I wouldn’t have sent that Tweet.” Unreal.

—–

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

The House of Representatives is preparing to hold a vote today to rebuke President Trump for his racist comments over the weekend about four Democratic Members of Congress. In the meantime, as the Washington Post reports, Trump is really digging in on his disgusting remarks:

Trump lashed out at the freshman Democrats again on Tuesday and questioned why Congress was not rebuking them instead.

“The Democrat Congresswomen have been spewing some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate, & yet they get a free pass and a big embrace from the Democrat Party,” Trump wrote on Twitter, listing several grievances about the lawmakers. “Why isn’t the House voting to rebuke the filthy and hate laced things they have said? Because they are the Radical Left, and the Democrats are afraid to take them on. Sad!”

His tweets marked the third day in a row of attacks on the lawmakers — a series that began Sunday with tweets in which the president said the four Democrats should “go back” to “the crime infested places from which they came.” Three of the lawmakers were born in the United States, and the fourth is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Somalia.

As we wrote yesterday, Colorado Republicans have been reluctant to speak out about Trump’s remarks. The Washington Post has been keeping track of Republican responses (and non-responses) to Trump’s comments; as of this morning, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) is the only member of Colorado’s congressional delegation to offer an opinion, expressing (very) mild disagreement in an interview with Fox News.

Still silent on the matter are Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs), and Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). As Justin Wingerter of the Denver Post reports, Gardner has just been too darn busy to speak out about racism:

Gardner obviously does not want to talk about any of this, either because he doesn’t disagree with President Trump or because he doesn’t want Trump to think that he disagrees. Gardner’s excuse that he has been solely focused on “the BLM move” is as silly as Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli repeatedly insisting that he didn’t have a response to Trump’s remarks because he hadn’t logged onto Twitter recently.

Gardner’s silence on Trump’s racism nevertheless speaks volumes, particularly considering that other endangered Republican Senators up for re-election in 2020 have still managed to find their voice.

Here’s Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa):

“Yeah I do [find Trump’s comments racist]. They’re American citizens. I personally think the GOP has a stronger platform to talk about. That’s what we should be focusing on.”

And Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine):

“I disagree strongly with many of the views and comments of some of the far-left members of the House Democratic Caucus – especially when it comes to their views on socialism, their anti-Semitic rhetoric, and their negative comments about law enforcement – but the President’s tweet that some Members of Congress should go back to the ‘places from which they came’ was way over the line, and he should take that down.”

Gardner’s refusal to discuss Trump’s comments reminds us of something that then-House Speaker Paul Ryan told CBS News after he was elevated to the top job: “I think you can walk and chew gum at the same time. I think you can oppose the president on some issue that you fundamentally disagree with, but also work with the other party on issues you do agree with.”

Maybe now that the BLM’s move to Colorado has been announced, Gardner can manage to turn his attention to another issue…not that we’re holding our breath or anything.

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Doug Lamborn Finally Admits Why He Hates Big Bird

As the Washington Free Beacon reports, GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs is back on his high horse for another attempt to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting–and this time Lamborn is going straight for the wedge-issue jugular instead of pussy-footing around with dry lectures about fiscal responsibility:

Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn (Colo.) has introduced a bill to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which includes National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)…

“The Constitution does not grant the federal government the authority to subsidize media programming. Not only is this funding unconstitutional and wasteful, but it has also violated the conscience rights of many conservative and religious Americans,” [Pols emphasis] Lamborn said, “American taxpayers subsidized the CPB, the parent organization to PBS and NPR, to the tune of $445 million annually for the last two fiscal years.”

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

In an op-ed yesterday published by the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal blog, Rep. Lamborn lambastes the popular PBS children’s show Arthur, in which a recurring character in the show recently came out as gay and participated in a same-sex wedding:

A case in point is PBS—the Public Broadcasting Service—which recently aired a surprising episode of the children’s show “Arthur” titled “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone.” In this episode, PBS writers deemed it appropriate to preach their liberal views on same-sex marriage to America’s young children: The episode featured—and celebrated—a same-sex wedding.

After the episode, many conservatives, including Rev. Franklin Graham and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, came out in opposition. Even the state of Alabama opted against airing the program and instead barred the episode from Alabama Public Television.

When confronted with criticism, Marc Brown, the creator of “Arthur,” explained: “That’s not the kind of world we want to live in, and we want children educated so they can see there’s not just one type of family.”

Taxpayers now know with complete certainty that the goal of the PBS cartoon is to impart social liberalism to children… [Pols emphasis]

Although Lamborn has an ally in President Donald Trump, who has similarly proposed the defunding of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in his dead-on-arrival budgets, it’s a safe bet that Lamborn’s bill is headed directly for the circular file in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. Of course it’s not really about passing a bill like this so much as it is, you know, talking about it–much like Lamborn’s campaign as a state lawmaker to swap the names of Mt. Democrat and Republican Mountain so the latter would be taller.

But what’s newsworthy in the age of Trump is that Lamborn seems to be much more open about his desire to defund PBS because PBS offends his homophobic sensibilities. That’s an “evolution” from his much less overtly prejudicial past statements on the issue, and not in a good way.

No doubt it’s how he always felt, but apparently it’s okay to come out and say it now.

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Colorado GOP Chair Voted ‘NO’ on Disaster Relief Bill

No disaster relief for you, says Congressman and State GOP Chair Ken Buck.

The House of Representatives has approved $19 billion in disaster relief funds for hurricane and flood-ravaged areas such as the Florida panhandle, Arkansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Puerto Rico. The legislation advanced by a vote of 354-58, with all ‘NO’ votes coming from Republicans (more on that in a moment).

The Senate had already overwhelmingly passed the disaster relief measure, and President Trump — who has repeatedly expressed his support — is expected to sign the bill once it reaches his desk. Yet as the Associated Press reports, this seemingly-popular bill took quite a long time to actually get through the sausage-making process in Washington D.C.:

…conservative Republicans in the House held up the bill last week, objecting on three occasions to efforts by Democratic leaders to pass the bill by a voice vote requiring unanimity. They said the legislation — which reflects an increasingly permissive attitude in Washington on spending to address disasters that sooner or later hit every region of the country — shouldn’t be rushed through without a recorded vote…

…As the measure languished, disasters kept coming — with failed levees in Arkansas, Iowa and Missouri and tornadoes across Ohio just the most recent examples. The measure is supported by the bipartisan party leadership in both House and Senate.

The legislation is also being driven by Florida and Georgia lawmakers steaming with frustration over delays in delivering help to farmers, towns and military bases slammed by hurricanes last fall. Flooding in Iowa and Nebraska this spring added to the coalition behind the measure, which delivers much of its help to regions where Trump supporters dominate. [Pols emphasis]

Panama City, Florida in the wake of Hurricane Michael

Colorado’s Congressional delegation did not vote strictly along party lines; Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) joined all four Democrats in voting ‘YES’ on Monday. The two ‘NO’ votes from Colorado’s delegation were from Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs). While Lamborn’s vote is as unsurprising as it is unimportant, Buck’s vote is a different story because of his other job as Chairman of the State Republican Party in Colorado.

When Buck decided to run for the vacant State GOP Chair position earlier this year, he made it clear that he had no plans to give up his Congressional seat. Buck now does both jobs, though the day-to-day operations of the State Party have been handed off to former Chairman and new “CEO” Steve House.

Buck and his spokespeople will say that his votes in Congress are made strictly as a representative of CO-4, where a solidly right-wing base of supporters might actually approve of their Congressman acting like a heartless dickhead. While this may be technically accurate, it doesn’t change the fact that the man who is also the leader of the Colorado GOP was among a small contingent of Congressional Republicans who opposed providing disaster relief for suffering communities across the country.

Buck can claim that what he does in Congress is unrelated to his work as State Party Chairman, but it’s just not possible to cleanly separate the two roles on policy issues. Would Buck have voted differently on the disaster relief measure if he were casting a vote on behalf of all Colorado Republicans? If so, then what does that say about the residents of CO-4? There was always going to be an obvious conflict of interest for Buck to do both jobs at the same time; these are the type of votes that turn a small discomfort into a festering wound.

Buck can be the symbol of the Colorado Republican Party or he can represent his Congressional district…but he can’t do both. Republicans who don’t think this is going to be a problem in 2020 are kidding themselves.

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Rep. Doug Lamborn Scoffs At You Meddling Kids

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

The Colorado Independent’s Robin Bravender reports on freshly quotable remarks from Colorado’s least inspiring Congressman, Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs–who has a thing or two to say about these whipper-snapper first-year Democrats, and their high-falutin’ idears for green energy and other such pies in the sky:

The Democrats’ sweeping plan sounds “too much like a Soviet five-year plan or something like that,” Lamborn told his colleagues Wednesday at a U.S. House hearing about climate change. The 5th District Republican, who represents Colorado Springs, said of the Green New Deal: It’s “simply not going to work.”

…Lamborn, 64, told the Natural Resources Committee he can understand how some of his younger colleagues have bought into the idea.

“You only have to be 25 years old to be a member of Congress, and we have young people that bring a lot of great qualities, but maybe they don’t bring a lot of life experience,” he said. “I guess I can understand if someone has not a lot of life experience and they’re proposing something that’s extremely unrealistic, well, impossible.”

He can’t understand how “adults and grownups, who are more mature,” would also be advocating for the plan, he said. [Pols emphasis]

Ouch, grandpa! Of course, there are plenty of “grownups” well over the age of 25 who argue a swift and determined migration to renewable energy is an urgent priority–and if Lamborn speaks for the rest of the Republican Party in declaring 25-year-old Americans are not “adults and grownups,” well, that’s a big problem for Republicans in…every future election? It’s tough to imagine the 18-25 bloc of voters ever taking that kindly.

It’s not really a surprise to see Rep. Lamborn put off by bold initiatives from the new Democratic majority in the House, with basically no legislative accomplishments of his own to celebrate after over a decade in Congress. When Lamborn does make the press, it’s usually for embarrassing self-injury like referring to President Barack Obama as a “tar baby.” In the Colorado legislature, Lamborn was best known for his quest to swap the names of Colorado’s Mount Democrat and Republican Mountain so that Republicans would have the taller mountain (this is not a joke).

So no, like that special baby boomer in your life who talks about “kids today” with a disapproving sneer, it’s a safe bet that Rep. Lamborn is never going to be a supporter of the Green New Deal. It may unfortunately be necessary for another election to pass before anything like this plan has a realistic chance of becoming law, serving until then as a point of contrast between the two parties for voters.

And though his own seat may be safe, Lamborn is a good contrast for voters everywhere too.

Especially the younger ones.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Greatest Tax Reform Proposal in the History of Never

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) was the only Colorado Republican to press the ‘NO’ button on the budget today.

The House of Representatives today passed its 2018 budget resolution in a party-line vote, the first step for Congressional Republicans are they endeavor to mold some sort of amazing tax “reform” policy. Reps. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), Doug Lamborn (R-Imbecile), and Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) voted in favor of the budget; Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) was the only Colorado Republican to vote ‘NO,’ where he was joined by all three Democrats from the state’s delegation.

As The Hill reports:

In a 219-206 vote, lawmakers approved a budget resolution for 2018 that sets up a process for shielding the GOP tax bill from a filibuster in the Senate…

…The budget reconciliation rules would allow Republicans in the Senate to pass tax reform without any Democratic votes, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can only afford two defections.

Republicans used the same strategy for ObamaCare repeal but failed, and are hoping for a better outcome on taxes.

Yet there are already signs of trouble, with some Republicans questioning whether the tax proposal would add too much to the deficit, and others balking at plans to eliminate a deduction for state and local taxes. The tax plan is now estimated to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over a decade, but that figure would grow if the state and local tax deduction is not eliminated. [Pols emphasis]

Trouble? Wait…you mean to say that Congressional Republicans aren’t unified about how to overhaul the nation’s tax laws?

The problem Republicans are facing with tax reform legislation is strangely similar to what they ran into with repeated attempts at repealing Obamacare: Lawmakers are starting to understand that what they’re being sold by GOP leadership is vastly different than what the tax proposal would actually accomplish. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and President Trump are in general agreement on a set of talking points that are about as authentic as a Rex Tillerson press conference. Trump and friends are trying to sell a 1988 Ford Taurus with talking points from a Ferrari dealership, and Republicans aren’t buying it:

Senator Paul is far from the only Republican confused by this new tax proposal. As NPR reports:

President Trump and congressional Republicans have pitched their tax plan as a boost for the middle class.

“The rich will not be gaining at all with this plan,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with lawmakers in mid-September.

But analysts at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center who studied the proposal reached a very different conclusion. They predict that nearly three-quarters of the savings from the tax overhaul would go to the top 20 percent of earners — those making more than $149,000. More than half the savings would go to the top 1 percent — people who earn more than $732,800. [Pols emphasis] The tax breaks are even more tilted to the wealthy by the 10th year of the overhaul, when the Tax Policy Center projects nearly 80 percent of the savings would go to the top 1 percent of earners.

Republican leaders want to sell this proposal as a huge — YUGE! — benefit to the American middle class, but the math doesn’t add up. It’s no wonder that Senate Republicans are trying to get rid of a rule that requires a CBO score of legislation to be made public for at least 28 hours before a vote. Again, from NPR:

The tax benefits for the rich in the GOP plan are direct, obvious and easily quantified. Many of the promised benefits for the middle class, on the other hand, are indirect, speculative and uncertain…

So how do the tax plan’s supporters claim that it’s focused on the middle class? By highlighting speculative, indirect gains that are supposed to result from economic growth…

…Rather than simply promise that the government will cut the tax bill for working families — many of whom pay little income tax already — the GOP is arguing that its tax plan will promote growth, which in turn will boost employment, and over time result in higher wages. Break any link of that chain and the middle-class “winnings” end up in someone else’s pocket. [Pols emphasis]…

And so on, and so forth, until the middle class becomes so obscenely wealthy that they have to start lobbying for another round of tax cuts for rich people like them. This theory of “supply side economics,” or as it came to be known in the Reagan era, “trickle-down economics” does not work. We don’t have to speculate about whether or not it could work. It doesn’t. There is plenty of data to prove this. It is (again) no wonder why President Trump’s administration recently suppressed a 2012 report from the Office of Tax Analysis (OTA) that essentially lays bare the fact that this tax proposal would do the exact opposite of what Trump claims would happen.

The NPR story we cited above is an excellent resource for understanding the ins and outs of the Republican tax plan, but it’s a bit of a long read. For an even more briefer-er look, we put together this graphic to help you understand Republican math on healthcare and tax reform. If any of this makes sense to you, then you might be a Member of Congress:

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (August 17)

On this day 11 years ago, it was 2006. 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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) isn’t up for re-election until 2020, but he has a LOT of work to do just to win back his Republican base. Conservative writer Jennifer Rubin absolutely dismantled Gardner in a column yesterday in the Washington Post titled “Cory Gardner Has a Choice: Voters or Trump.” Here’s an excerpt:

Gardner has sacrificed his integrity and betrayed the confidence voters place in him to be an independent-minded voice. And for what? His reputation has suffered, his profile has fallen…

…It’s Gardner’s moral absenteeism that reminds all voters how unworthy of office are Trump and his go-along Republicans. Anti-Trump Republicans and Democrats should get ready for 2020 — they can and should have the chance to knock him out of office.

Yikes! It has not been a good week for Sen. Gardner. Maybe he’ll feel better tomorrow after he hosts a fundraiser tonight in Denver along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

 

President Trump is on a mission to burn every bridge imaginable, and it may only be a matter of time before he is forced to answer his own phones in the White House. As Politico reports, Trump is essentially just an orang-er version of that angry old man down the street who shakes his fist at kids for running on his lawn:

President Donald Trump’s decision to double down on his argument that “both sides” were to blame for the violent clashes at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was driven in part by his own anger — and his disdain for being told what to do…

…The controversy over his response to the Charlottesville violence was no different. Agitated about being pressured by aides to clarify his first public statement, Trump unexpectedly unwound the damage control of the prior two days by assigning blame to the “alt-left” and calling some of the white supremacist protesters “very fine people.”

“In some ways, Trump would rather have people calling him racist than say he backed down the minute he was wrong,” one adviser to the White House said on Wednesday about Charlottesville. “This may turn into the biggest mess of his presidency because he is stubborn and doesn’t realize how bad this is getting.”

That thing about the old guy down the street? We take that back. Trump is 9-years-old. You’re not the boss of me!!!

Never content to let a divisive issue settle, Trump is now raging about the removal of statues that celebrate the Confederate Army. From the Washington Post:

President Trump on Thursday mourned the loss of “beautiful statues and monuments” in the wake of the violent clashes in Charlottesville during a white supremacist demonstration protesting the planned removal of a statue depicting Confederate military commander Robert E. Lee.

Trump’s string of morning tweets made clear the president was not willing to back down over his claims Tuesday that some of the demonstrators had legitimate grievances over the loss of Southern “history,” and that “both sides” were to blame in the mayhem that left a woman dead and at least 19 more injured. Trump made those claims a day after he had belatedly condemned the neo-Nazi and Klux Klan groups that organized the Unite the Right rally. Politicians from both parties have criticized the president for inflaming racial tensions and failing to provide clear moral leadership for the nation.

History may well show that Trump’s Presidency truly did collapse this week. Hell, even Brick Tamland Rep. Doug Lamborn is condemning Trump’s comments about white supremacists in no uncertain terms.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

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