Jason Crow Helps Tip Balance On Impeachment

Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora).

As the Aurora Sentinel’s Kara Mason reported yesterday, freshman Democratic Rep. Jason Crow has joined Reps. Diana DeGette and Joe Neguse in calling for impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump to commence in the U.S. House–a belated conversion that appears to be part of a surge of support among House Democrats to go there:

Citing the investigation from former special counsel Robert Mueller, Aurora Congressman Jason Crow said Tuesday that Congress should now look into impeaching President Donald Trump.

“Trump and his administration have engaged in repeated abuses of power and disregarded our institutions, while flaunting Congress and the judiciary,” Crow said in an op-ed published first to Medium on Tuesday. “To this day the President prevents key witnesses from testifying before Congress, wrongly asserts executive privilege to dodge subpoenas, and attempts to skirt court rulings. If Congress doesn’t stand up to these abuses, then our system of checks and balances will have failed. It’s clear that we must respond with the full weight of Congress.”

…Crow, who has said he’s made a point to work with Republicans in Congress, joins a growing number of Democrats leaning toward beginning impeachment proceedings. Nearly half of the 235 House Democrats have endorsed impeachment proceedings, and a dozen Democratic senators have done so.

Politico is reporting today that with Rep. Crow and several other Democrats coming on board this week, a majority of House Democrats are now ready to begin impeachment hearings:

The number of House Democrats who support impeachment proceedings passed the halfway mark — 118 out of 235 voting members now support the effort — on Thursday when Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida announced his support. Deutch was also the 23rd Democratic lawmaker to support impeachment proceedings in the days after former special counsel Robert Mueller testified to Congress, affirming publicly his damning evidence suggesting Trump attempted to obstruct justice…

Perhaps more significant than the number of Democrats backing an inquiry are the identities of the members themselves. The latest additions include Reps. Mike Levin of California, Jennifer Wexton of Virginia and Jason Crow of Colorado, three freshmen who flipped Republican-held districts in November. Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, a member of Pelosi’s leadership team, added her name to the list on Friday.

The biggest roadblock up until now in commencing impeachment hearings in the House has been the view of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that even though Trump is committing impeachable offenses “every day,” without a realistic shot at not just impeaching Trump in the House but convicting him in a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate the effort would be a net political liability for Democrats in the 2020 elections. That position could be in the process of giving way to the alternative view that the House doing its constitutional duty and, if the facts warrant, delivering a case for impeachment into Mitch McConnell’s lap is the better course both morally and politically.

What say you, readers? Has the time come to impeach Donald Trump, or is letting the voters decide Trump’s fate next November the better choice? A poll follows.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (August 1)

Welcome to August, friends. 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 Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The U.S. Senate passed a broad new spending agreement that completely ignores Republican claims to be “fiscally conservative.” As the Washington Post reports:

The Senate passed a broad, two-year budget deal Thursday that boosts spending and eliminates the threat of a debt default until past the 2020 election, while reducing chances for another government shutdown. The legislation now goes to President Trump, who is expected to sign it despite conservative complaints that it will fuel the nation’s runaway debt…

…Republican leaders including Trump himself had been working to round up GOP support ahead of Thursday’s vote, trying to avoid a repeat of the outcome in the House last week, when a majority of Republican lawmakers ignored Trump’s pleas and voted against the deal. It passed the House anyway, on the strength of Democratic votes. The lobbying effort paid off in the Senate as more Republicans voted in favor of the deal than against it.

The agreement heads off several looming fiscal threats, most immediately the possibility that the Treasury Department could have run out of money to pay its bills as early as September if Congress didn’t act, resulting in a market-shattering default on U.S. obligations.

The deal passed Thursday suspends the debt ceiling through July 31, 2021, removing the threat of default and the accompanying risk of political brinkmanship that typically accompanies debt limit negotiations. It lifts strict Obama-era spending caps that would otherwise slash indiscriminately into agency and military budgets, and sets overall spending levels that will make it easier for lawmakers to write the individual appropriations bills needed to keep the government open past Oct. 1, when current agency budgets expire.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was among the Republicans who had been waffling on a new spending agreement, expressing half-hearted concern about deficits while conveniently ignoring the budgetary peril they inflicted with massive tax cuts for the wealthy in late 2017.

 

► We could be just days away from Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) claiming credit for free full-day kindergarten in Colorado. On Wednesday, Gardner made the ballsy and completely baseless boast that he helped Colorado secure approval for a “reinsurance” program that could cut healthcare costs for Coloradans by as much as 18% in 2020. Credit for this program actually goes to Gov. Jared Polis and Democrats in the state legislature, who have worked for years to implement this cost-saving measure.

Colorado journalists, including Kyle Clark of 9News, saw right through Gardner’s nonsense:

► We’ve made it through the second round of debates for candidates seeking the Democratic Presidential nomination. Chris Cillizza of CNN lists his “winners and losers” from Wednesday night, while Ed Rogers of the Washington Post doesn’t give high marks to either Colorado-based contender, former Gov. John Hickenlooper or Sen. Michael Bennet. Hickenlooper and Bennet had brief moments in Detroit, but neither did well enough to likely keep them in the race for much longer. As Nic Garcia writes for the Denver Post, it is Hickenlooper who might be the first to depart:

John Hickenlooper’s campaign for the presidency was always a longshot. Now, after another lusterless debate performance, national political observers and some of his closest allies are wondering when — not if — the former Colorado governor will end his quixotic bid for the White House.

At best, Hickenlooper’s friends are split on whether he should persist in seeking the Democratic nomination or bow out. State party insiders are annoyed with Hickenlooper — some openly pushing him to run for the U.S. Senate instead. Others merely dismiss him as a relic of a political era gone by.

“I think he’s done,” a former Hickenlooper aide told The Denver Post.

Like many former gubernatorial and campaign staff members interviewed for this article, he spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect his relationship with Hickenlooper.

“I think his team will know in the next two days after they see the numbers and analyze other data,” the former aide said. “But my sense is he’s not going to see that.”

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Bennet Competent In Prez Debate Swan Song

Sen. Michael Bennet (D).

Colorado Public Radio reports on how Colorado’s other Democratic presidential contender Sen. Michael Bennet did in last night’s debate–like former Gov. John Hickenlooper the night before, doing what he could with the limited face time he was bound to get on a stage full of big names. And while there weren’t any flubs from Bennet, his last chance to break out of the depths of the presidential pack with a dramatic showing seems to have eluded him:

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet focused much of his ire during the second presidential debate on the current occupant of the office he’s seeking.

“I believe we have a moral obligation to beat Donald Trump. He has to be a single term president. And we can’t do anything that plays into his hands,” he said…

Bennet’s loudest applause of the night came for his answer on how he would heal the nation’s racial divide. Drawing on his background as superintendent of the Denver Public Schools, Bennet said segregation in education remains a significant problem.

“Our schools are as segregated today as they were 50 years ago. We need a conversation about what’s happening now,” he said.

Bennet did spend some time attacking Sen. Kamala Harris’ health care plan, which was an odd choice given that her plan isn’t even as progressive as that of frontrunners not on last night’s stage like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. But the exchange was collegial, and you got the sense that Bennet was making a point to not say anything overly injurious to other candidates while triangulating from their right.

Both Bennet and Hickenlooper took a similar tack in their respective campaigns for president, generally arguing that other candidates were too far left to beat Donald Trump in 2020. In both cases this campaign message failed to gain traction, mostly because it was out of touch with a Democratic base that is much more supportive of an unapologetic progressive agenda than most of its leadership. Hickenlooper in particular pigeonholed himself early on as the “anti-socialism” candidate, when smart Democrats realized that message played directly into the hands of conservatives–especially coming from such a longshot campaign.

At the same time, none of this was bad enough to rule either out of future contests, and the experience undeniably raised their name ID both in and outside Colorado. The political dynamic in Colorado, driven by a decisive unaffiliated plurality and a state still only tentatively considered blue after 15 years of Democratic electoral wins, is much better suited to the moderate image and message of both men–which helps explain why they both been successful in repeated statewide Colorado elections.

So…we’ll see what comes next.

Colorado Celebrates Healthcare Savings; Gardner Shamelessly Claims Credit

Gov. Jared Polis outlines his healthcare savings plan in April. Note the absence of anyone who looks anything like Sen. Cory Gardner.

As Anna Staver reports for the Denver Post, healthcare costs will decrease significantly next year thanks to legislation passed by the Colorado legislature earlier this year:

Colorado has received federal approval for a new program that is expected to save families who buy health insurance through the individual marketplace thousands of dollars a year, Gov. Jared Polis is announcing Wednesday.

The program, known as reinsurance, is expected to drop premiums by an average of 18.2% when it gets under way in January, state officials estimate…

…The reinsurance program is expected to pool $260 million in state and federal money and use it to cover the costliest medical bills among the 250,000 Coloradans who buy their health insurance on the exchange. Taking that burden off of insurance providers will enable them to lower premiums overall.

Colorado is the ninth state to secure a federal waiver for a reinsurance program. Minnesota’s reinsurance program brought down its 2018 premiums by about 11.3%, and Alaska’s dropped by a statewide average of 26%, according to a Georgetown University Health Policy Institute report.

We noted this impressive 18% savings when figures were first projected by the Colorado Division of Insurance earlier this month. The reinsurance program is part of a broader healthcare savings plan promoted by Gov. Jared Polis and passed by Democrats in the state legislature. This reinsurance program is such a good idea, in fact, that Republican Sen. Cory Gardner is now TRYING TO TAKE CREDIT FOR IT:

This did not go over well with Colorado lawmakers such as State Sen. Kerry Donovan (D-Vail):

Likewise, Sen. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) was not amused:

 

But wait, it gets even more ridiculous. Not only did Gardner have nothing to do with this proposal — his support for getting rid of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would ultimately kill off the reinsurance deal entirely. As the Colorado Sun reports:

That’s because the Trump Administration — the same one that is expected to sign off on the program — is also backing a lawsuit to strike down the entire Affordable Care Act, the health law that makes a lot of the funding for the reinsurance program possible…

…Earlier this month, a panel of judges at the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard a lawsuit brought by the state of Texas and others — with the Trump Administration’s backing — arguing that the whole Affordable Care Act should be thrown out. The argument requires its own explainer (like this one), but the upshot from the hearing was that it didn’t gowell for defenders of the health care law. A challenge to the law also known as Obamacare appears headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.

If that lawsuit ultimately succeeds, then Colorado’s reinsurance program in its current form is basically doomed. The subsidies that provide money for the program — and the entire section of federal law that the program lives under — would be gone. Lawmakers would need to do some significant tinkering just to preserve any vestige of it.

This is not the first time that Gardner has been so blatantly duplicitous on the issue of healthcare. In March 2017, Gardner was one of four Republican Senators who signed onto a letter defending the expansion of Medicaid in states like Colorado. A few months later, Gardner voted in favor of a proposal to gut the ACA that quite literally would have ended Medicaid coverage for millions of Americans.

To recap, Coloradans are going to see a major decrease in healthcare costs in 2020 thanks to Gov. Polis and Democrats in the state legislature. Senator Gardner had nothing to do with this and is supportive of federal policies that would destroy this reinsurance plan, but he’s raising his hand like a conquering hero in the meantime.

Please, don’t clap.

Voters “Walk Away” From GOP Nationally, Locally

TFW Republicans realize it’s not getting better.

The Hill reports on new nationwide generic ballot numbers that show Democrats pulling away strongly from Republicans once again on the question to voters of which party should control Congress after the 2020 elections:

Democrats extended their lead over Republicans in a generic 2020 congressional ballot, according to a new poll.

The Economist/YouGov survey of registered voters found that 48 percent of respondents said they would vote Democratic next year, 37 percent would vote Republican and 11 percent were not sure.

The 11 point lead is up from an Economist/YouGov poll conducted July 21-23, when Democrats held a 7 point advantage over Republicans.

In their much-discussed survey of 500 likely voters in Colorado earlier in July (15-17), local Republican pollster Magellan Strategies found a similar wide margin of preference for Democrats to control Congress, in addition to President Donald Trump trailing the generic Democratic candidate by 12 points:

That is, a net 10-point Democratic preference in Colorado, right in line with the new YouGov numbers nationally and from several weeks ago. Historically speaking, these are very favorable numbers for Democrats even early in the election cycle. In June of 2017, national generic polling showed a seven point lead for Democrats, and was broadly interpreted as an early ominous sign for Republicans which proved accurate in the 2018 “Democratic wave.” Generic numbers have also accurately forecast losses for Democrats, both in 2010 and in 2014–years when Colorado Democrats lost their congressional delegation majority and state senate majority respectively.

Given that Republicans in 2018 were confidently predicting a “red wave” up until the historic “blue wave” crashed, don’t expect them to admit it. But if you’re thinking another Democratic landslide in 2020 is in the offing, maybe even bigger than 2018…these numbers back you up.

Cory Gardner Waffles His Way To Budget Deal Vote

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

CNN reports on ongoing process in the U.S. Senate ahead of a crucial vote on a two-year budget deal already passed by the House after a hard-won bipartisan agreement last week–an agreement that would take a number of thorny fiscal issues off the table ahead of the 2020 elections, but angering “down government in the bathtub” Republicans who object to anything other than cuts:

Bipartisan Senate leaders have agreed to limit debate on a long-sought budget deal — setting up a vote on the package, though as of Wednesday morning it’s not clear when they would vote…

GOP leaders are not giving passes for “no” votes and the goal is still to convince half or more of the conference to vote for the budget deal. Leaders want to avoid a show like the one in the House where there was a massive Republican uprising against the package negotiated by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and blessed by the President. Again, this bill is expected to pass (mostly with Democratic votes), but leaders want to stave off any surprises and want to make sure the President knows that his party is behind a top priority to raise the debt ceiling and stop automatic spending cuts on the defense budget.

And it’s not just congressional leaders. A GOP source close to the process told CNN that the President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper have made a small handful of calls to GOP senators to talk about the budget deal.

The situation is politically a little unusual, with the White House and leadership from both parties in the House and Senate trying to win over hard-line Republicans. The objections from dissenters are not new, and generally consist of the same talking points about “living within our means” that characterize any fight over spending regardless of the individual circumstances. The breakdown between ideological conviction and economic/political reality has repeatedly stymied effective GOP engagement on fiscal issues in recent years, going back to the government shutdowns under President Barack Obama and the fake fight over automatic “sequestration” budget cuts.

It’s a confusing situation, but you know who’s not leading? Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado.

Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado up for reelection, said he is concerned “it’s just a lot of money and at some point, things become so free, we can’t afford it.” [Pols emphasis]

Once again, at a moment when Gardner could offer a clarifying vision in a fractious debate, he cops out with meaningless pablum. Yes, it’s “a lot of money”–but so were the huge tax cuts Gardner voted for that have contributed directly to this year’s trillion-dollar deficit.  If Gardner votes against the bipartisan budget deal today, the only people he’s pleasing are a relatively small faction of hardcore “starve the beast” conservatives–not the MAGA hordes loyal to Trump, and certainly not the independent voters Gardner needs desperately and would rather see Gardner with the majority.

Gardner’s habit of equivocating until the last possible moment on votes may afford him some maneuvering space, but it deprives him of the opportunity to show leadership that could distinguish him in a state which has been rejecting Gardner’s party brand at the polls ever since he narrowly won his seat in 2014. If Gardner’s goal is to show “independence” from Trump after cementing a reputation as a Trump toady, this hard-won bipartisan budget deal is the worst possible way to do that.

We’ll update when Gardner decides which course is best for his career.

Hickenlooper Has a Minor Moment, But Not Enough in Detroit

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper had what may be his last chance to make a big impression on Democratic Primary voters on Tuesday in the first round of Democratic debates from Detroit. Hickenlooper probably didn’t do enough to give his Presidential campaign the boost it needed, but at least this happened:

As the Denver Post explains:

In a rare charged exchange with Sanders, he said, “You just can’t spring a plan on the world and expect it to succeed.”

Hickenlooper suggested Sanders was throwing his hands up. Sanders responded, “I will,” and did just that. The moment quickly bounced around social media.

Later, he attempted to highlight his successes in Colorado and pushed back against the idea that he is too moderate.

“I’m as progressive as anyone up here on this stage, but I’m also pragmatic,” Hickenlooper said. “I know I can get results.”

Hickenlooper is at the back of the Democratic pack in terms of both fundraising and polling averages, and neither marker is likely to change much after Tuesday. Hickenlooper spoke for about 9 minutes of the two-hour debate, giving him the least amount of stage time of the 10 candidates present.

As Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren made clear in one of the most memorable lines of the night, candidates running on platform of cautious moderation may just be in the wrong place at the wrong time. “I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for,” said Warren.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet will be on stage tonight for the second half of the Detroit debates.

Wednesday Open Thread

“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely.”

–Franklin D. Roosevelt

Neville: “Establishment Republicans” Oppose Recalls Because They’re Not Profiting from Them

(You’re not supposed to say that part out loud — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado House Republican leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock thinks “establishment Republicans” don’t support efforts to recall Democrats from office because the establishment Republicans aren’t “profiting from it.”

While Neville said his organization, RecallColorado.com, is “willing to work with anyone and spend money on any of these recalls” in Colorado, “there’s a lot of different establishment Republicans out there trying to discourage that, because they’re not profiting on it.”

Neville made the comments during an interview on KLZ AM-560’s Rush to Reason show Thursday.

It’s not news that Colorado Republican Party leaders are bitterly divided on whether Democrats, including state legislators and Gov. Jared Polis, should be recalled from office.

What’s new is Neville’s accusation that opposition from establishment Republicans stems from their not making money from the recalls.

So-called establishment Republicans who’ve come out against the recalls include Ryan Call, who’s a former leader of the Republican Party; Cole Wist, a former state lawmaker; State Sen. Bob Rankin (R-Carbondale); and Tyler Sandberg, a prominent GOP political operative.

Sandberg did not immediately return a call seeking to know whether he opposed the recall efforts because he was not profiting on them.

But some folks who could arguably be called “establishment Republicans,” such as state GOP vice Chair Kristi Burton Brown and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, appear to support recalls, so the division between establishment and grassroots Republicans on the recall question may not be so stark.

In addition to Neville, recall campaigns have been supported by non-establishment Republicans such as pro-gun activist Dudley Brown.

Journalists have raised questions about whether Neville’s family members and their allies are themselves profiting from the recall campaigns.

9News’ Marshall Zelinger questioned GOP state leader Ken Buck on the topic in April:

Zelinger: House Minority Leader Patrick Neville has come out supporting recalls. His family could benefit from recalls because that’s their business. Should it be appropriate for elected officials and their families to profit off of recalls and elections? By being hired for election purposes–this is an added election outside of a cycle–perhaps this is being done in a way that benefits the family business?

Buck understood the logic behind the question but didn’t answer it.

Buck: So, Patrick’s brother is a consultant in the business and certainly there were some resources from the House fund that were used in the last cycle and his brother ran some of that political operation. I think that is something that Patrick and the elected Republicans in the state House will have to decide. It’s not something the state party will intervene in in any way

9News anchor Kyle Clark raised the profit issue after Brown and allied Republicans, like Burton, dropped their plans to recall Aurora Democratic lawmaker Tom Sullivan in July.

KYLE CLARK: The failed attempt to recall Democratic State Rep. Tom Sullivan did not raise one dollar and it did not spend a dollar. We learned that from some financial filings. Now that sounds funny unless you heard us saying weeks ago that this recall was really about a gun rights group called Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. The head of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners says, they funded the entire recall and guess what? They don’t have to disclose their donors. So we are left to take that special interest group at its word that this was not just a fundraiser designed as a recall that was never going to succeed. We are left to take them at their word that they took in $30,000 and spent more than that $45,000 on a failed signature-gathering effort. If those happen to be your dollars, and your trust, my condolences.

Who Will Be the Democratic Nominee for President?


Who fills this spot in 2020?

With the second round of Democratic Presidential candidate debates kicking off tonight in Detroit, we thought it would be a good time to ask this question one more time before the field inevitably starts to shrink. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and California Sen. Kamala Harris were running neck-and-neck in our last poll, but do Colorado Pols readers still think these two women are at the top of the list?

As always, we want to know what you think will happen here — not what you want to happen or who you personally might support. If you had to place a bet on the outcome TODAY, who do you predict will be the Democratic nominee for President in 2020?

We don’t want to take up the entire screen with this one poll, so you’ll have to cast your vote after the jump…

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Treasurer Dave Young: Cleaning Up Walker Stapleton’s Mess


Former Treasurer Walker Stapleton (R).

As the Denver Post’s Anna Staver reports:

The Great Colorado Payback started in 1987 as a way to tell Coloradans about all the unclaimed property the state is legally required to keep, such as forgotten bank account balances, deposits to utility companies and even unused gift cards. Most people didn’t know the state held onto all this stuff until the treasurer’s office starting running television ads in the early 2000s and the number of annual claims tripled. The backlog of unprocessed claims grew to more than 12,000 — almost as many as the division receives in a calendar year.

“We agreed with all the recommendations in the report,” said Dave Young, the Democratic treasurer who took office in January. “We have been moving rapidly to change the course of the work in the office.”

For example, he said the unclaimed property team has essentially worked double time to knock down the backlog down to 2,200 claims — a success noted by the auditor’s office in its report.

Colorado Public Radio recaps how the audit of the Great Colorado Payback was initiated during the term of the predecessor to the current Democratic state treasurer, GOP Treasurer and failed 2018 gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton:

The results were released to the Legislative Audit Committee on Monday. Committee Chair Sen. Nancy Todd gave a nod to the work that the new administration has done over the past year but said there are still plenty of improvements to be made.

“There has been some remedy, but obviously still very concerned about the backlog,” said Todd, a Democrat from Arapahoe County. “And there was also a real genuine concern of, just the process, of how long and how cumbersome it is for people to get their property back.”

Bianca Gardelli has been the director of the division for just over a year and in that time she has taken the backlog of claims from more than 12,000 to less than 2,000 claims — a reduction of over 80 percent.

According to State Treasurer Dave Young, this was all done while processing the more than 16,000 new claims — within the required 90 days — that came in this year. [Pols emphasis]

During last year’s Republican gubernatorial primary, runner-up Vic Mitchell slammed Walker Stapleton over his handling of the Great Colorado Payback program, which provided the Treasurer with literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in free positive television advertising even while the program essentially ground to a halt due to mismanagement. Stapleton admitted the situation was “a big problem,” but didn’t offer any ideas for solving it other than welcoming an audit. Former Rep. Dave Young of the number-crunching Joint Budget Committee, on the other hand, has worked diligently since taking office in January to pull the Great Colorado Payback off the scandal sheets.

The moral of the story? What a difference a little competence at the top makes.

Public Lands Shenanigans: Why Play These Games At All?


Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

The Aspen Daily News’ Todd Hartley follows up on a story we’ve been watching for some days now, growing controversy over a “public lands” bill from Republican Rep. Scott Tipton and backed by Sen. Cory Gardner introduced in direct competition with the CORE Act–legislation Colorado Democrats are hoping to get bipartisan consensus on in order to move any kind of public lands protection bill forward in the current divided Congress.

As Hartley reports, Tipton is responding to the blowback with vague promises to revisit a major difference in the two bills pertaining to the Thompson Divide area, additional protections for which was “left out” of the Republican version:

“The congressman is interested and plans to have those conversations regarding Thompson Divide,” said Matt Atwood, Tipton’s communications director. “That’s part of the reason we left it out, because it is a ‘discussion draft,’ and we want to get all sides of the story before we introduce the full bill.”

That’s better than nothing, we guess, but it sidesteps the larger problem: why run two bills at all?

The prospect of having Thompson Divide protections included in an amended draft of the bill is welcomed by leaders of local conservation groups, but they still expressed skepticism about the underlying motivation behind the REC Act and the exclusion of the divide in the first place…

“We believe that the CORE Act is a well-crafted, well-vetted compromise that is the result of a decade of consensus and stakeholder engagement, and it has really broad community support,” said Julia Morton, interim executive director of the Thompson Divide Coalition. “We believe the solution that has been crafted in the CORE Act is a really fair and good one, and so I think our preference is, obviously, for Tipton to support the CORE Act.” [Pols emphasis]

Not surprisingly, it’s a sentiment echoed by Bennet and his staff.

“The CORE Act is the result of Coloradans working together to hammer out compromises and develop proposals that have widespread local support, including in places such as the Thompson Divide,” said Courtney Gidner, a spokesperson for Bennet. “Our focus is on advancing each of the four components of the CORE Act together. Any contribution that leads us to accomplish these goals is welcome, and we hope Congressman Tipton will join this effort.”

The problem, as we’ve outlined in previous posts, is straightforward. In a divided Congress, the only public lands protection bills that have any realistic chance of passage are bills that enjoy enough bipartisan support to survive the Democratic-controlled House and GOP-controlled Senate to arrive on the President’s desk. If Democrats have a bill and Republicans introduce competing legislation instead of working out their differences with Democrats, the most likely outcome is that no legislation at all passes. That’s why supporters of the CORE Act, the product of years of study and negotiation, were blindsided by Tipton’s introduction of the “REC Act” to accomplish many of the same goals but with certain key differences–in the case of Thompson Divide, taking a side by omission in a long-running fight over protecting a vast natural area from oil and gas drilling.

What happens next? We’ll have to wait. There’s always a chance of a resolution that’s acceptable to all parties, which would take this issue off the table politically ahead of a pivotal general election next year. But if the more likely outcome of no bill at all prevails, Scott Tipton’s bad faith is going to be plain for all CD-3 voters to see.