WASHINGTON – The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a $17 billion emergency spending bill on veterans’ health care to hire additional medical workers throughout the federal system that has been plagued by scandals.
The legislation passed on a 420-5 vote with rare bipartisan support from the Colorado delegation, and is expected to pass the Senate this week before Congress adjourns for the August recess.
The measure comes on the heels of investigations into 26 veteran health facilities nationwide including Colorado, where excessive delays in receiving health care has been linked to at least 40 deaths.
The legislation primarily allows veterans to bypass hospitals and clinics operated by the Veterans Affairs Department including the Fort Collins clinic to seek care at private facilities.
“The reform would allow veterans to vote with their feet if they received substandard treatment at a VA facility,” said Colorado Republican Rep. Mike Coffman, a veteran of the Gulf and Iraq wars. Read more »
WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders are putting the final touches on legislation set for a vote Thursday to stem the flow of unaccompanied juveniles flooding the Texas-Mexico border.
The measure would spend nearly $660 million on border security measures, including video conferencing capability at more than 300 detention facilities for judges to rule on whether the illegal immigrants should be sent home to Central America or allowed to stay with family members in the U.S.
“That would really speed up the process. It’s innovative,” said Kentucky Republican Rep. Hal Rogers, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
President Obama has asked for nearly $4 billion to deal with the crisis, while signaling he would scale back deportations and issue more work permits to those who crossed the border illegally.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are threatening to attach their amnesty measure to the GOP House bill. Read more »
Rep. Cory Gardner
WASHINGTON — Rep. Cory Gardner during a speech here Thursday said legislation he authored to increase the exportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) has vital domestic and foreign policy implications.
“To not pass this bill would be the equivalent of hanging up a 911 call from our friends and allies,” the Colorado Republican told an audience at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
“The opportunity is real, and the time is now,” Gardner said.
Gardner said that his bill, the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act, would create 45,000 jobs in the U.S. and empower European allies such as Ukraine, which depends on natural gas from Russia for electricity.
Promoting his legislation at a Heritage Foundation event would “help make sure its message gets a hearing far and wide,” said Gardner. Read more »
WASHINGTON — Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Barbra Streisand topped the list of liberal Hollywood legends donating money to Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in the last reporting period.
Spielberg, who has directed such classics as “Jaws” and “E.T.,” and his wife each gave the maximum contribution of $2,600. Katzenberg, who founded DreamWorks with Spielberg, also gave the maximum donation.
Streisand, the darling of the liberal left, limited her contribution to $1,000, according to the latest finance reports of campaign fundraising activity from April 1 to June 30.
Udall’s success at raising money from Hollywood luminaries helped give him a fundraising advantage over his Republican challenger Rep. Cory Gardner. Udall has raised more than $13 million for the closely contested race with just under $6 million left in the bank. Read more »
WASHINGTON — Denver Human Services asked the federal government to pay for illegal immigrant children to be housed at a facility in downtown Denver, according to multiple media reports.
The child migrants would stay at the Family Crisis Center near 10th Avenue and Federal Boulevard, according to KUSA, which broke the story after KLZ radio host Ken Clark aired a leaked memo Wednesday.
“It would be perfect,” Ana Mostaccero, a spokeswoman for the Denver Human Services Department, told KUSA reportedly. Separately, the Associated Press reported that the grant would be for three years.
Mostaccero did not return two messages for comment. Read more »
Rep. Jared Polis
WASHINGTON — Rep. Jared Polis used the arguments of a fiscal conservative to oppose the Republican House Speaker’s pursuit of litigation against President Obama. But the Colorado Democrat’s remarks were rebuffed by a powerful House Republican as disingenuous.
Aides to Speaker John Boehner have drafted a resolution that names Obama as a defendant in court for delaying a key provision of the Affordable Care Act. Last July, Obama announced that large companies could wait until 2015 to provide workers with a health insurance plan. Congressional Republicans accused the Obama administration of picking and choosing the parts of the law it wants to enforce.
At a hearing of the House Rules Committee, Polis seized on the irony of Republicans criticizing Obama for failing to implement the controversial law as evidence that Republicans supported a tax hike. “I’m not an attorney, but I don’t like this because Republicans will be raising taxes on businesses. I don’t like it. I’m not supportive of raising taxes,” Polis said, half in jest.
Polis’ remarks drew a sly rebuke from the Republican committee chairman seconds later. “It’s a good thing because I’ve never heard of a Republican who wanted to raise taxes,” Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas said. Read more »
Sen. Mark Udall
WASHINGTON — Sen. Mark Udall’s highly publicized attempt to overturn the Supreme Court ruling on the Obamacare contraception mandate and appeal to women voters was defeated in the Senate Wednesday.
The entire Democratic caucus and three Republicans supported the bill, but could not muster the 60 votes necessary to cut off debate and the vote failed 56 to 43.
Sen. Patty Murray of Washington authored the legislation, which was cosponsored by Udall and more than 40 Democrats.
“The actions of a minority of lawmakers today … show some of my colleagues are not serious about addressing the devastating effect the Supreme Court decision will have. That’s disconcerting, but I am far from finished,” Udall said in a statement.
The Colorado Democrat participated in Capitol Hill events with Democratic leaders and spoke in favor of the bill numerous times since its introduction last week. Udall even skipped his own fundraising event hosted by President Barack Obama in Denver to attend a press conference introducing the bill. Read more »
WASHINGTON – Democratic Sen. Mark Udall’s last-minute plea to donors might have helped him outraise his Republican opponent Rep. Cory Gardner in the second quarter of this year.
Udall raised $1.4 million in the last two weeks of June compared to a total of $1.74 million in the previous 11 weeks. Udall’s total donations were $3.1 million from April 1 to June 30, according to Udall campaign officials.
“NEW POLL: We’re trailing Gardner,” Udall wrote to potential donors and supporters in a June 13 email. “With the ever important June 30 FEC deadline approaching, Congressman Gardner will use this poll to show his supporters he can win this U.S. Senate race.”
Udall’s message referred to a poll from the National Mining Association that showed Gardner ahead by two percentage points. Udall’s campaign staff seized on the poll numbers to underscore the urgency of donating to the state’s senior senator.
Adam Dunstone, Udall’s campaign manager, continued to emphasize the campaign’s theme that Udall is facing a mortal threat to his 15-year career in Washington. “We’re seeing daily attacks from Congressman Gardner’s campaign with state and national Republican Party organizations,” Dunstone wrote in a memo released to the media. Read more »
WASHINGTON – The candidates for Colorado’s Senate seat have portrayed each other as having political positions that put them at odds with moderate voters, but a look at their voting records shows each has been a reliable partisan for their party.
Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall was the 33rd most liberal senator in the 100-member body, according to National Journal’s 2013 congressional scorecard.
Udall’s ranking put him to the political left of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who refers to his ideological affiliation as a Democratic Socialist. Also, it put him to the left of fellow Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, who ranked as the 40th most liberal senator. Udall was just two clicks to the right of progressive stalwart Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who was rated the 31st most liberal senator.
Udall has not strayed far ideologically in his first Senate term. He was ranked as the 30th most liberal senator in 2011 and the 35th in his first year in the upper chamber in 2009. His ranking dropped to 43rd in 2010 and 39th in 2012. Read more »
Majority Leader Reid, Udall, and Sen. Patty Murray at Thursday’s press conference.
WASHINGTON – Sen. Mark Udall unveiled legislation Thursday to reverse the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Obamacare contraception mandate, a move openly acknowledged by the Democratic Senate leader as an election-year ploy.
“It would be political malpractice not to deal with this,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said during a press conference, when asked by a New York Times reporter the extent to which politics influenced the bill now cosponsored by 41 Democrats.
“On Hobby Lobby, Mark Udall has an exemplary record on issues dealing with women,” Reid added. Read more »