Colorado D.C. Roundup: Town Hall Tally And The ‘Death’ Of The Republican Party

Aug 4, 2017

Congress is out for its August recess, yet Colorado’s delegation is staying busy. Here’s KUNC’s roundup of what your senators and representatives have been up to.

Town halls on the up-tick

Many members of Congress are taking advantage of the recess to conduct town hall meetings. Some have done something a little more nuanced, like holding meetings with the public on call-in conference lines. Here’s the current tally of how many meetings each member of the Colorado delegation has conducted, current through Aug. 6:

Data up-to-date through Aug. 6. Notes: The "other" category includes events that do not neatly fit into the other categories. Perlmutter held two one-on-one events that were turned into town halls. Coffman participated in two listening tours on health care. DeGette held a rally at the beginning of the year.
Credit Ashley Jefcoat and R. Teal Witter / KUNC

Mike Coffman, the Republican who represents the 6th District in the cities and suburbs east of Denver, held a town hall on Tuesday, Aug. 1, in the small town of Henderson. He took questions on a number of topics, including health care, where he talked about a bipartisan effort in the House to find a compromise in the wake of failed efforts in the Senate to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“A group of Republicans and Democrats have come together in Washington, and we worked last week -- about 40 of us in the House -- on fine principals we can agree on to help stabilize the individual market,” Coffman said. “The individuals who have to buy their own health insurance that don’t have government [subsidies], that don’t have an employer based plan, those are the ones that I think are paying the toughest price right now.”

Republican Sen. Cory Gardner hosted a tele-town hall on Aug. 2. On Twitter, he received flack for not holding the event in person.

However, in the afternoon on Aug. 4, Gardner was in person at a town hall, appearing with Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, Rep. Scott Tipton, a Western Slope Republican, and Gov. John Hickenlooper in Durango. The main topic was the ongoing cleanup of the Gold King Mine.

Earlier in the day, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Pruitt visited the mine. While he didn’t stay for the town hall, representatives from the EPA were present for questions from the public.

Rep. Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat  now running for governor, has several town hall meetings scheduled throughout August, the first two of which are on Sunday, Aug. 6, in Broomfield and Louisville.

Rep. Ken Buck held several town halls in the last week, with more scheduled over the weekend. 

“I learn so much by meeting with constituents around my district, which is why I find town halls so valuable," he said in a statement to KUNC. "I encourage everyone to attend one of these discussions. They give us a chance to find common ground and build consensus as a country on key issues.”

Bennet announced on Friday more town halls as well -- one in Greeley and one in Sterling.

Buck declares Republican party “dead”

Ken Buck, a Republican representative from the 4th District, which spans the Eastern Plains, declared his own party “dead” in a Denver Post op-ed this week.

In the piece, Buck criticized fellow Republicans for failing to accomplish much, despite having control of both houses and the presidency. 

“After eight years of assuring that unified Republican government would allow for conservative policy, our Republican Congress has accomplished little,” Buck wrote.

The piece touches on a number of high-publicity Republican initiatives that he says remain unaddressed, including health care, immigration and the national debt.

Gardner focuses on North Korea

In an opinion piece for CNN, Gardner took up the issue of North Korea. The last week of July saw the country test an intercontinental missile with the potential to reach the mainland United States, hitting targets as far away as Denver and Chicago.

Gardner said President Trump and the U.N. Security Council must act and reevaluate the U.S.’s relationship with China.

“China holds the most effective keys to stopping this madman [Kim Jong Un],” Gardner wrote. “The Trump administration must employ a wide range of both coercive and noncoercive diplomatic tools to make clear to Beijing that any further coddling of Pyongyang means that business as usual with the United States will end.”

Polis celebrates five years of Startup Day Across America

Aug. 1 marks the fifth anniversary of Startup Day, an initiative spearheaded by Polis and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

“Combining our business backgrounds and our duty as lawmakers, we figured it was time for members of Congress to open a dialogue with our nation’s entrepreneurs, small businesses and startups,” the representatives wrote in a joint piece for The Hill.

Polis is co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Before politics, Polis co-founded internet service provider American Information Systems (AIS), as well as several popular websites, such as Bluemountain.com and ProFlowers.

DeGette celebrates the Denver Press Club’s 150th anniversary

The first club for journalists in the nation -- the Denver Press Club -- celebrated its 150th birthday on Thursday. Diana DeGette, the Democratic representative for Denver, spoke to the Denver Press Club to mark the occasion by helping place a plaque on the club to highlight its designation on the National Register of Historic Places.

"Through the years, the membership has included renowned reporters, editors, cartoonists, and authors, several of them Pulitzer Prize winners, who made their mark in the pursuit that has long been the watchword of many journalists: comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable," said DeGette in remarks made for the Congressional Record on Thursday.

R. Teal Witter contributed reporting to this story.