Democrats – Knox Democrats Mon, 21 Jun 2021 13:47:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Democrats – Knox Democrats 32 32 Democrats see window of opportunity to expand Medicare and Medicaid Mon, 21 Jun 2021 12:50:54 +0000

In the wake of last week’s Supreme Court offering more security to the Affordable Care Act, Congressional Democrats are passing measures that could expand Medicare, Medicaid and other federal health programs.

The Hill: Schumer now backs Sanders plan to add dental, vision and hearing coverage to Medicare

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.) on Sunday lent his support to a push, led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), To add dental, visual and hearing coverage to Medicare. “There is a gaping hole in medicare that leaves out dental, vision and hearing coverage. This is a serious problem, ”Schumer wrote on Twitter. “I am working with @SenSanders to lobby to include dental, vision and hearing health coverage in US employment and family plans,” he added. (Schnell, June 21)

Modern healthcare: Congressional Democrats hope to expand Medicaid and Medicare coverage this year

Congressional Democrats hope to adopt a series of healthcare priorities later this year aimed at expanding access to coverage and making it more affordable for patients. There appears to be broad agreement on the types of health care policies that should be in the package, such as closing the Medicaid coverage gap and adding dental and visual benefits to Medicare, but the details are still being worked out. be resolved by committee staff and congressional offices and nothing is certain. The stakes are high for Democrats who see this as their last chance to accomplish major health care reform before midterm, in which their majorities in the House and Senate are at stake (Hellmann, 6/18 )

AP: Democrats see health care springboard in High Court victory

With the Affordable Care Act now secure as part of the nation’s health care programs, Democrats are eager to leap forward. They want to expand insurance coverage for working-age people and their families, add new Medicare benefits for the elderly, and lower prescription drug costs for patients and taxpayers. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 6/19)

The Hill: Democrats Seek New Ways To Expand Medicaid In Landlocked States

Democrats in Congress are pushing legislation that would expand Medicaid in states that have so far refused to do so, seeking to fill one of the major remaining holes in the affordable care law. There are currently 12 states where Republicans have refused to accept the extension of Medicaid eligibility provided under ObamaCare, meaning that 2.2 million low-income people are left without coverage that they would otherwise, according to the estimates of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Sullivan, 6/20)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of coverage of health policies by major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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Kansas Democratic governor ready to fight for re-election Sun, 20 Jun 2021 12:00:14 +0000

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly (R) embarks on a political knife battle next year as Republicans state and nationwide seek to make her seat a prime midterm opportunity .

Kelly caught lightning in a bottle to win her first term in 2018, a good year for Democrats against a deeply flawed GOP opponent to replace a Republican governor with basement approval ratings. But Republicans say they expect ruby-red Kansas to return to form next year, and even Democrats admit the stars are unlikely to line up for Kelly a second time as well.

“Of course she’s vulnerable, she’s a Democrat in Kansas,” said Burdett Loomis, professor emeritus at the University of Kansas who is in touch with the best Democrats in the state. “By definition, it’s no better than 50-50. Maybe you could see her favored a bit if things go really well, but you could also see her reduced to almost any Republican who isn’t Kris Kobach.

Kelly, a 14-year former state senator, won her 2018 race by beating former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (right), a nationally polarizing figure who has focused her campaign on the fight against immigration and electoral fraud and embracing then-President TrumpDonald Trump, the business leader who pushed the theory out of Italy, falsely claimed the VA mansion was his home: report centrists gaining a foothold in infrastructure talks; Cyber ​​attacks at center of Biden-Putin VA meeting set to cover gender-affirming surgery through departmental health care.

The Kansas Democrat is not expected to be so lucky in 2022. She will likely face former Governor Jeff Colyer (R) or Kansas Secretary of State Derek Schmidt (R), neither of whom has as much baggage as Kobach. .

While Kelly’s allies maintain she has a path to a second term, Republicans are bent on making her first term her last now that she doesn’t have such an easy foil and faces an election cycle which should favor the GOP.

“I think she’s incredibly vulnerable as a sitting governor right now,” said Robert Blizzard, a GOP pollster who worked on Kansas Sen. Roger marshallRoger W. Marshall Republicans toast Biden’s public lands agency choice over finances, Senate passes resolution urging investigation into origins of COVID-19 Republicans seek justification amid reemergence of the Wuhan laboratory theory PLUS‘s (R) 2020 campaign. “She’s one of the few Democratic governors in a red state, and in fact, I can’t even think of another Democratic governor coming out as red from a state at all, to be honest with you.”

Kansas’ deep conservative tilt was fully visible in 2020 when Trump beat now –President BidenJoe Biden 64% of Iowans say it’s ‘time for someone else’ to take Grassley’s Senate seat of about 15 points in the state. Marshall also beat State Senator Barbara Bollier (D) in a race for an open Senate seat by more than 11 points, even after Bollier raised about four times as much money as her Republican opponent.

Adding to the state’s already red slant is the fact that the national environment should favor the GOP.

The White House party has traditionally suffered major setbacks in a new administration’s first term, making next year’s atmosphere a 180-degree turn from whoever helped Kelly take power. .

Republicans are confident that a mid-term GOP wave will be more than enough to sink Kelly, especially given his narrow 2018 victory. On top of that, as the governor’s mansion has flipped between parties, no Democrat has won the governor’s mansion in a same party administration since 1978.

“I’m just emphasizing how incredible it was for Laura Kelly to have this opponent,” veteran Kansas GOP quarterback David Kensinger said, referring to Kobach. “And with all that, and a good national environment for Democrats, she won by 5 points.”

“If you look at the history of the midterm elections in the United States, in this century the last four presidential midterm elections have been ripple elections,” he added. “So they can discuss whatever they like. Overall, the empirical evidence does not support this argument.

Beyond the structural headwinds Kelly faces, she is also expected to face a message from Republicans seeking to make her No.1 public enemy in the state.

Kelly has engaged in a series of battles with Republican lawmakers over a range of issues, including abortion and his executive branch of ordering schools and businesses to close during the pandemic. She also vetoed several GOP messaging bills, including a ban on transgender sports and voting restrictions.

The legislature overturned its vote on the bill but was unable to do so on the ban on transgender sports.

Colyer planned attacks on Kelly on a list of problems, including portraying her as the spark for an increase in abortions in Kansas. He also said he intended to hammer her particularly hard on decisions to shut down businesses and schools during the pandemic.

“People were upset about it. And so there is definitely going to be a lingering hangover from shutdowns across the state, ”he told The Hill. “People are upset, but they also want to move on.”

Despite the obstacles in his way, Democrats who spoke to The Hill insisted that Kelly maintains the path to re-election by using a textbook highlighting his role as manager during a difficult time in the state.

Kelly’s campaign did not respond to requests for an interview with the governor, but Democrats suggested that his re-election message could focus on his support for the expansion of Medicaid, which has worked well in Kansas, and its managing the economy during the coronavirus as employment climbs above pre-pandemic levels.

“It will be a bit of an uphill battle. But I think his record is solid. She has done our state remarkably well through this pandemic. Economically, the state is doing pretty well, ”said Vicki Hiatt, president of the Kansas Democratic Party. “So if people pay attention to the performance she has put in there is no way to criticize her work.”

Kelly is expected to attempt to link the GOP nominee to former Gov. Sam Brownback (R), who stepped down in 2018 to join the Trump administration after his approval rating rose to dismal levels due to a controversial tax reduction program.

Democrats have said that despite leaving office four years before midterm, the former governor remains toxic in the state and could weigh on either Colyer, Brownback’s lieutenant governor, or Schmidt, who was his attorney general.

“We have seen a tremendous amount of damage done during the Brownback years. Now that we see this recovering, it will be helpful to just remind people that these policies, ”Hiatt said.

Colyer eliminated those attack lines, claiming the broadside would fall on deaf ears.

“Some people say it’s a bit of a problem, but people moved on and it didn’t work the last time around,” he said, referring to the Republican successes in the races of 2020. “They are going to try to tie Derek or tie me to Sam. That’s fine. But I have a record that is pretty solid, and I would compare my personal best. “

Other Republicans agreed that attacks on Colyer or Schmidt would not succeed and that while the race would still be competitive, the GOP would have an advantage in avoiding any major slippage.

“Laura Kelly needs Republicans to make mistakes to win. It’s not enough to say that if she has the best campaign she can win, she said. “No, she could run the best campaign she’s capable of and still lose.”

Democrats said a mistake they hoped for was a messy primary between Colyer and Schmidt. But Kensinger said he’s not too worried about the nominating competition getting ugly enough to bloody the ultimate nominee.

“It’s always possible,” he said. “It doesn’t stop me from sleeping at night.”

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Campaigners fight back as Juneteenth milestone undermined by discriminatory GOP voting bills Sat, 19 Jun 2021 16:34:00 +0000

“We are always trying to make Juneteenth’s promise a reality, especially when it comes to voting rights,” said Cliff Albright, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, a community rights group, which launches on Saturday. a new Freedom Rides bus tour from Mississippi to Washington, DC, to highlight restrictive election laws that disproportionately target black voters.

“The holidays indicate what a country values. The symbolism of having that vacation – I don’t want to underestimate that,” Albright said. But he added on CNN’s “New Day” Saturday: “We cannot let the holidays replace the advancement of calls for freedom, including the right to vote.”

The bus tour is just one of many Florida Texas voting campaigns designed to channel alarm and anger over new Republican state laws as Democratic activists call for an aggressive response from leaders national. They redouble their efforts to register voters, educate them on the new regulations so that they understand the new rules on requesting ballots, and have time to verify their registration and acquire acceptable identification documents. – as some GOP-led legislatures push these measures under the guise of making elections safer.

Nick Rathod, former special assistant and deputy director of intergovernmental affairs to President Barack Obama, said the Democratic Party and its donors must now launch an aggressive voter education effort to explain the new requirements for voting, especially in states the red ones who did make it harder to do so and don’t wait until right before the election when most people start thinking about voting.

“In places like Florida and others where this is happening, I think it should be expanded and continue,” said Rathod, who called on top party leaders to get involved.

The new sense of urgency on the ground and within the Biden administration – where Vice President Kamala Harris has made the issue a key part of her portfolio – reflects Democrats’ concern that they are likely to be too late to counter restrictions and attempts to vote by the GOP. politicize non-partisan electoral rules ahead of the 2022 midterm and the 2024 presidential election.

The effort to galvanize Democratic voters around the issue will come to a head next week when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to hold a key test vote on legislation that would protect voting rights.

Democrats have been working all week to address West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin’s concerns over the party’s election overhaul bill, known as the For the People Act, as reported by Alex Rogers and Manu Raju from CNN. Democrats want to make sure their 50 senators present a united front on voting rights legislation next week, even if they stand no chance of winning the 60 votes needed to break an obstruction. Republicans argue that the Constitution gives states, not the federal government, the responsibility of conducting their own elections. But the party also has little incentive to support legislation it says would benefit Democrats in many states.
Democrats’ quest to arm voting rights in next year’s midterm elections would be complicated by Manchin’s defection on the bill due next week, allowing Republicans to argue it there was bipartisan opposition to the legislation. Manchin has long said he hoped to convince GOP members to support a compromise proposal and he circulated a list of his ideas earlier in the week, but GOP leaders quickly hushed up the idea that they could find a bipartite consensus. After Georgia voting rights defender Stacey Abrams expressed support for the West Virginia senator’s compromise proposals, Senate Republicans quickly rushed to Abrams’ opening not to support her.

Local activists face new restrictions

With the slim majority of Democrats in the Senate giving them limited options in Congress, some local groups are stepping up efforts to register voters and educate them on how to overcome the hurdles that state-level Republicans are putting in place. place for the next electoral cycle.

In Florida, the non-partisan, predominantly black-run Equal Ground Education Fund marks June 15 by targeting voters affected by new state laws in four counties. The group is concerned about the new requirements for obtaining a mail-in ballot, among other things. Floridians must now produce a driver’s license, state ID or the last four digits of their social security numbers to get a mail-in ballot. For in-person voting at polling stations, voters in Florida do not need state ID and can use a debit card or library card, for example, to establish their identity.

Studies have shown that black and Hispanic voters are more likely to have difficulty producing official ID than white voters. In Florida previously, people had to register for a mail-in ballot every two election cycles, but now they have to do so in every election – a step Democrats say could kick out some of their voters in their mid-term. .

Equal Ground’s board director Jasmine Burney-Clark hopes strong education efforts can help motivate Floridians to challenge these new barriers to voting in the state’s new law, which also restricts the supply of water. voters in traditionally long queues often seen in minority areas. The law was signed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, a close ally of former President Donald Trump and a possible candidate for the White House in 2024.

“Our hope is that (the new law) will not deter people from participating, but it will increase their energy around the elections and motivate them to keep voting by whatever means necessary, because elections really do have consequences,” said Burney-Clark. The group hopes to reach at least 1,000 voters this weekend at the start of a growing campaign until the mid-term.

Florida is just one of many Republican-led states that have acted swiftly, using the foundation of Trump’s lies about voter fraud to pass new laws to restrict access to mail and in-person voting. – many of which disproportionately affect voters in towns and regions where minority voters live.

Between the 2020 election and mid-May, at least 14 states enacted 22 new laws that restrict access to the vote, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. As of mid-May, at least 61 bills containing restrictive measures were passing through 18 state legislatures.

Pressure on Washington

President Joe Biden has repeatedly called such state laws “un-American,” and while Harris has added the effort to protect voting rights to his portfolio, some Democrats want to see more engagement from Washington in the fight against Republican restrictions.

“The president, vice president should use their chair of intimidation to shed light on what’s going on in these places and help motivate and galvanize people in states across the country to organize themselves to better understand and find out what’s going on, “said Rathod, Obama’s former special assistant and deputy director of intergovernmental affairs.

Some Democratic activists believe the Biden administration’s Justice Department should have done more to prevent the Republican maneuvers in Arizona that led to a partisan audit of the ballots.

Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed last week to aggressively tackle restrictive voting measures.

“There are a lot of things that are open for debate in America. But the right of all eligible citizens to vote is not one of them,” Garland said in a speech in the Great Hall of the Department of Justice, outlining a 30 day plan. doubling the number of staff in the Civil Rights Divisions’ Votes Execution Unit.

Frustration with Congress remains.

“I have the impression that our national representatives are not operating as aggressively as the state legislatures,” said Burney-Clark. “The think tanks that make the law and hand it over to these lawmakers – they move fast, they go state by state. They are strategic about how they operate.”

The inaction of Congress has led others to intervene. A wave of lawsuits have been filed in Georgia, for example, against a list of new voting-restricting measures that were hastily passed shortly after Democrats won tight control of the US Senate in two run-offs in January. . A nationwide campaign featuring prominent black leaders has targeted Atlanta giants like Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines. Both companies backed off after trying to stay out of the controversy and issued statements criticizing election laws passed by Republicans.

In Texas, Democratic lawmakers left the State House floor to temporarily block a restrictive voting bill before the end-of-session deadline last month, depriving the Republican majority of the quorum it needed to pass the bill. of law. (Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has vowed to bring back the legislation at a scheduled special session).

Seeking national Democratic support, some of the state’s lawmakers traveled to Washington this week, hoping to push for a federal response.

In a meeting with more than a dozen Texas lawmakers on Wednesday, Harris described her take on what’s at stake – although she has yet to define exactly what her role will be on the issue: “We know that we have a great challenge ahead of us, and therefore a fight, which is the fight for the right of all Americans, a meaningful right, to vote,” she said.

Senior administration officials said Harris would try to build coalitions of Americans concerned about the right to vote and help publicize the damage that would result if state legislatures were successful in passing more restrictive election laws. Harris met behind closed doors with four voting rights advocates in Atlanta on Friday and was joined by Georgia Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.

Beto O’Rourke, a former congressman from Texas and Democratic presidential candidate who has advocated for expanded voting rights, told CNN on Friday that he and other activists were staging a “massive rally” on Sunday night in the Texas Capitol, and he echoed Abrams’ urging of Americans nationwide to call their senators and demand action.

“It’s the kind of pressure that will help get something moving,” O’Rourke said. “It is not enough to have a show or a token vote.”

This story and title have been updated.

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Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed funding for Texas legislature following Democrats walkout Fri, 18 Jun 2021 22:46:03 +0000

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Lawyers, Democrats Respond to Governor’s Signing of Bill to Increase Police Protections, Protest Sanctions Fri, 18 Jun 2021 00:23:22 +0000

WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) – Gov. Kim Reynolds enacted the “Back the Blue” bill Thursday morning, increasing penalties for illegal protesters and increasing qualified immunity for Iowa police officers.

Senate File 342 makes it a crime to be involved in a “riot” and makes it an aggravated offense to be involved in an “illegal assembly”. It also raises the protection of police officers to appear in court.

“This prevents courts in Iowa, especially the Iowa Supreme Court, from saying that the Iowa Constitution offers less protections than the United States Constitution,” civil rights lawyer said of Waterloo, Tom Frerichs. “I don’t think that for a practical aspect it changes much in terms of the ease or difficulty of bringing a lawsuit alleging a violation of your rights by the police.”

Qualified immunity protects individual police officers when prosecuted.

Officers will now be protected unless the claimant can prove that “any reasonable agent” would have known he was violating a clearly defined section of the law.

“There has to be more than carelessness and has to be something that comes out of the wards core,” Frerichs said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be intentional, but it has to be recklessly indifferent to the rights of people before it reaches the level of being something someone can pursue.”

The new law makes riots a felony instead of a mere misdemeanor and increases the penalty for blocking streets and highways.

“Last summer, when lawless crowds across the country co-opted for peaceful protests for riots and looting, Iowa experienced its share of unrest,” the WHO said, Reynolds said. “So if you riot, if you loot, if you attack our police officers, then you have been punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Reynolds said the bill is about public safety and sends the message that Iowa supports its law enforcement officers.

Critics, including the Iowa Black Legislative Caucus and social justice advocates, said it would put more Iowans at risk. Last year, state lawmakers passed a law on police reform, outlawing police strangling and tackling officer misconduct.

Dereka Williams, who founded the Switching Places Foundation in Dubuque after George Floyd’s death, said the new law is a step backwards for police reform efforts.

“They just pushed us back three or four, maybe five steps back now, from where we were when we were trying to make a change,” said Williams. “When the momentum was taken, everyone was for changing the laws. But now that it’s gone now. It’s like, okay, that’s what really, that’s what it is. is really, like, this is the real real government, this is the real governor.

After signing the bill, the WHO reports that Reynolds said there was room to reform the police and support the police in the state.

“There is no reason the two cannot work together, that we do not continually seek ways to improve policing while supporting the men and women who, every day, selflessly and tirelessly walk through that door not knowing whether they’re going to come back or not, “Reynolds said.

At a press conference Thursday morning, members of the Iowa black legislative caucus expressed disappointment that Reynolds did not build on the momentum of last summer. Governor Reynolds originally promised to include a ban on racial profiling in legislation, but Republican lawmakers withdrew it from the bill.

“A year ago, the governor signed a law banning most strangulations and promised the people of Iowan that ‘this is not the end of our work, this is only the beginning’, said State Representative Ross Wilburn, who is also president. for the Iowa Democratic Party said. “We now know that this statement was a lie.”

Reynolds told reporters Thursday that she plans to introduce a bill to tackle racial profiling next year, but several Democrats are skeptical.

“This session, every opportunity existed for us to come together. We were not invited to the table,” said parliamentary minority leader Jennifer Konfrst, of D-Windsor Heights. “I don’t know why a promise she made now would be kept more than the promise she made last summer.”

Increased sanctions for riots and illegal gatherings will disproportionately affect black people in Iowa, according to an estimate from the non-partisan Iowa Legislative Services agency. When asked about the estimate after the bill was signed, Reynolds told reporters “don’t break the law, and it won’t apply to you.”

“We know it’s a long process,” said Williams. “We need to take the necessary steps to make sure we treat people equally, we don’t target communities and just like not pass those laws that we know full well target a certain community.”

Representative Ruth Ann Gaines, D-Des Moines, said she saw a noticeable change in tone and priority from Republicans on racial justice during the last legislative session.

“The attitude of trying to deliberately stop actions around the state that would promote racial rapprochement has been stopped,” she said. “It’s just a really negative and terrible tone of ‘we don’t want change’.”

Wilburn said he felt the governor added insult to injury by signing the bill days before June 17.

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With Democrats in charge, CORE law is heard by Senate subcommittee – The Durango Herald Thu, 17 Jun 2021 03:57:26 +0000

Legislation would protect 400,000 acres, establish wilderness areas

A US Senate subcommittee held a hearing on the CORE Act, which seeks to protect 400,000 acres of public land in Colorado, including 52,000 acres in the San Juan Mountains. (Courtesy of Mason Cummings / The Wilderness Society)

Courtesy of Mason Cummings, The Wilderness Society

The Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act, a multi-part bill that seeks to protect more than 400,000 acres of public land in Colorado, led by Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet, was considered by the subcommittee on Wednesday. senatorial public land energy and natural resources.

The legislation would establish new wilderness areas, protect existing recreation options, and expand methane capture and rental programs in Colorado.

The legislation, known as the CORE Act, was first introduced in 2019 by Bennet and Representative Joe Neguse, D-Colo. The bill was passed twice in the House in the last session of Congress, but stagnated in the Senate. The law was passed a third time in the House in February. The bill was also approved by President Joe Biden this year.

The CORE Act is made up of previously introduced and refined bills, including the Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness and Camp Hale Legacy Act; the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act; the Thompson Division Protection and Removal Act; and the Law on the Establishment of the Boundaries of the Curecanti National Recreation Area.

Much of the legislation contained in the package has been developed over the past decade. Bennet began working with local landowners, athletes, and federal agencies to develop the Curecanti National Recreation Area Boundary Law in 2011.

In his opening statement, Bennet highlighted Coloradans’ contribution to the drafting of the CORE Act. When developing the legislation, Bennet sought input from hunters, ranchers, anglers, environmentalists and small business owners.

“The most important thing to know about the CORE Act is that it was not written in Washington, DC,” Bennet told Senators. “It was written by Coloradans – on the field, in boardrooms, on kitchen tables, and at the start of trails across our state… over the past decade.”

Hickenlooper, a member of the Natural Resources Committee and co-author of the bill, said he felt “good” to join Bennet in the legislation.

“The way Michael and the teams of people he’s helped come together – the way they built CORE law – is a model for how we should do public land legislation going forward.” , Hickenlooper said in an interview with The Herald of Durango.

What the bill means for Colorado

The package will address increasing the use of outdoor recreation during the COVID-19 pandemic, tackle climate change, and protect public lands and the Colorado wilderness.

“These places can be loved to death, and COVID shows it,” Hickenlooper said. “COVID has pushed all of these people to go out and enjoy nature. We have to make sure that we have enough nature to supply them. We cannot recreate the wilderness.

The CORE Act would also support and maintain outdoor recreation jobs in Colorado. The Bureau of Economic Analysis found that outdoor recreation accounted for more than $ 12.2 billion in economic impact in Colorado in 2019, or about 3% of the state’s total economy.

The Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness and Camp Hale Legacy Act would establish permanent protection in approximately 100,000 acres of wilderness, recreation and conservation areas in the White River National Forest.

The bill designates 28,000 acres surrounding Camp Hale as a National Historic Landscape to honor the US Army training center built in 1942. Later known as the 10th Mountain Division, Camp Hale is where the staff were trained in rock climbing and skiing during WWII.

“Protecting Camp Hale would not only honor this incredible story, but also the veterans who continue to find peace and solace in our outdoor spaces,” Bennet told the committee.

The San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act would establish permanent protections for approximately 60,000 acres of land in the San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado. The law would also protect 6,590 acres from the withdrawal of minerals outside of Norwood in Naturita Canyon, prohibiting future mining development in the area.

The Thompson Division Protection and Removal Act would protect the area by permanently banning 200,000 acres from any future oil and gas development. Existing property rights will be preserved under the bill. The bill also creates a pilot program to lease excess methane from coal mines in the North Fork Valley.

“When I was governor, we worked a lot on methane. We were the first state to adopt tough methane regulations, ”Hickenlooper told Herald. “I think these are all facets of what really needs to be an integrated approach to dealing with climate change. And I think these efforts on public lands and the outdoor recreation industry are also a key point in tackling fugitive (methane) emissions.

The Law on the Establishment of the Boundaries of the National Recreation Area of ​​Curecanti would establish a limit recognized by Congress of the National Recreation Area of ​​Curecanti. Management of public lands would be improved through a series of changes in administrative jurisdiction and the Bureau of Reclamation would be given jurisdiction over the three dams in the region. The bill would also ensure that public access to fishing in the basin is maintained.

Local and federal reactions

The CORE Act has received 39 letters of support since its inception, including from Governor Jared Polis; several county commissions, including San Juan County; non-profit environmental associations; and the Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

As the House Representative for the 2nd District of Colorado, Polis advocated for passage of the Continental Divide Recreation, Wilderness and Camp Hale Legacy Act with Bennet.

“This legislation would be great for Colorado and has been carefully crafted to protect existing uses, respect valid and existing rights to water and mineral development, and balance different demands for outdoor recreation,” Polis wrote in a letter of support. “It recognizes the critical voice of local communities and counties in shaping final decisions on which areas are appropriate for what type of use, including areas appropriate for commercial wood and energy protection.”

Conservation Colorado public lands advocate Beau Kiklis said Bennet and Hickenlooper “made the Coloradians proud” by getting the legislation heard in the Senate.

“Passing the CORE Act would be a significant victory for the countless local voices who worked hard to design it and it would align with the 30×30 scientific vision to conserve 30% of our land and water by 2030,” Kiklis wrote in an email. declaration to the Herald.

House Representative Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., Called CORE a “land grab”.

“The CORE Act is partisan land grabbing promoted by big city Democrats who are unaffected by the land use bureaucracy they are driving down the gorge of rural Colorado,” she said in A press release. “Although approximately 65% ​​of the land affected by this bill is in my district, I was never consulted on this bill, and the common sense changes proposed by Senator Gardner at the last Congress n have not been integrated either. While locking down land might sound good for the swamp, it doesn’t work for the people who actually live there. “

Former Senator Cory Gardner refused to approve the CORE Act in the last session of Congress. But he pushed for the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, which he reintroduced in March 2020. The bill was passed by Congress and signed by former President Donald Trump.

The Great American Outdoors Act funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund to the tune of $ 900 million per year in perpetuity and provides $ 9.5 billion over five years to address the backlog of maintenance in National parks.

At the hearing, witnesses, including deputy head of the National Forest System Chris French, expressed support for the legislation. Deputy Director of Policy and Programs, Nada Culver at the Bureau of Land Management, said the BLM supports the CORE Act but would like to work with the sponsors “on a number of changes to facilitate the implementation of the bill.” . No specific changes were made.

Kaela Roeder is an intern for The Durango Herald and The Journal in Cortez and graduated in 2021 from American University in Washington, DC

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The GOP doesn’t care that Trump planned a coup. Democrats? Wed, 16 Jun 2021 02:58:04 +0000

TThanks to the explosive documents released by the House Oversight and Reform Committee just ahead of Tuesday’s January 6 insurgency hearing, Americans have a clear and unequivocal view of how far former President Donald Trump has gone to attempt to corrupt our democratic institutions, engage in a violent coup and overthrow our free and fair elections.

“These documents show that President Trump attempted to bribe our nation’s main law enforcement agency in a brazen attempt to overturn an election he lost,” Democratic Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney said. She is absolutely right. I would add a simple modification: it’s Trump and the GOP. He attempted a coup – and, yes, we should all use the word – and he still tries with the help of the Republicans.

If you consider that hyperbole, I refer you to those explosive documents revealing how the Trump administration, including Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, attempted to pressure the Justice Department to advance dangerous conspiracy theories. on electoral fraud and influence courts to overturn election results. Trump could stay in power.

An hour before announcing that his attorney general Bill Barr would step down, presumably because he refused to promote “the big lie,” Trump’s aide emailed Jeffrey Rosen, his new attorney general, showing evidence of an alleged “voter fraud” in northern Michigan and “talking points” to further the obvious lie. Two weeks later, Trump’s White House sent Rosen a draft brief for the DOJ to take to the Supreme Court with the goal of effectively quashing the 2020 election and helping Trump usurp power. Transcribed interviews with former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows reveal he directly pressured DOJ officials at least five times to investigate batshit conspiracy theories , including one suggesting that European satellite technology was used to tamper with US voting materials.

It appears Rosen and other senior DOJ members were unwilling to pledge allegiance to Trump over the United States. “Sheer madness,” is how Rosen and Richard Donoghue, who was the acting deputy attorney general, described Meadows’ emails. Trump then considered replacing Rosen with a sympathetic sycophant, Jeffrey Clark, who was then acting head of the Civilian Division, to continue to influence the DOJ to help it pull off its criminal and authoritarian coup.

These revelations, which are shocking and should be fully investigated, come on the heels of equally mind-boggling but completely unsurprising news that the Justice Department, acting as Trump’s Luca Brasi, has decided to fight back against Democrats and the media. Specifically, prosecutors have subpoenaed Apple for telephone tapes of Democratic Representatives Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, their assistants, and family members, including a minor. The Justice Department also sought to retaliate against journalists and the media for “leaks” and attempted to seize thousands of emails and phone records from media reporters.

If this sounds like the rogue tactics used by strong men and corrupt leaders in authoritarian regimes, well, it is. Let’s not forget that Trump continues to praise Putin and was friends with Hungarian Orban, who was “Trump before Trump”, Brazilian Bolsonaro, Turkish Erdogan, Saudi Arabia Muhammad bin Salman, Israeli Netanyahu , who desperately copies Trump’s tactics to stay relevant, the Egyptian Sisi and Dutarte of the Philippines. None of them are particularly celebrated as champions of human rights, the free press, independent justice or the small inconvenience of democracy by and for the people.

Fortunately, Trump lost and his efforts to erase his loss failed, but his corrupt presence contaminated not only the GOP but the Department of Justice and law enforcement as well. We still don’t know to what extent Trump and his allies have pressured, corrupted, and manipulated our democratic institutions from within to advance their perverse plans for power and profit. What I know after watching this hearing is that January 6 was just a taste. The GOP and its right-wing allies in Congress, law enforcement and the conservative media will attempt another coup when they lose another election.

At Tuesday’s hearing, the committee wanted to investigate why it took the National Guard nearly four hours to respond to the U.S. Capitol violation, even though senior Defense Department officials received 12 urgent requests for help from the police chief and the mayor of the Capitol. Meanwhile, army chiefs called on the National Guard to “stand aside” five times even as the violence escalated, which ultimately claimed the lives of five people. Homemade bombs were also found near the United States Capitol and some of the protesters came with weapons intending to assassinate Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. We also know that officers are under investigation for their alleged role in the insurgency and that white supremacist groups sympathetic to Trump and the GOP have attempted to infiltrate law enforcement through the country.

The committee had the opportunity to interview FBI Director Christopher Wray, General Charles Flynn – the brother of Michael Flynn, who was Trump’s disgraced national security adviser and a prominent promoter of both the QAnon plot. and the “Big Lie” – and the lieutenant. General Walter Piatt, director of the army staff. It has been revealed that General Charles Flynn and General Piatt were both involved in a phone call in which military officials were concerned about the “optics” of the National Guard dispatch. This is the same National Guard that quickly responded with massive force to the peaceful BLM protesters and expelled others from Lafayette Square with tear gas and violence last summer. None of these “optics” concerns were present at the time.

One would assume that the Republicans, who are said to be so committed to public order and national security that they have held hearings on Benghazi and Clinton emails for years and focused on the antifa as a bogus terrorist threat, would seize the opportunity to dig deep into this massive failure. intelligence and law enforcement that allowed hundreds of armed and violent insurgencies to take over the United States Capitol for the first time in 200 years. Or, they could ask FBI Director Wray to do more to investigate and prosecute members of armed militias and white supremacist groups, some of whom participated in the violent insurgency, and are also America’s main national terrorist threat.


Instead, they used their time to whine, deflect, and obstruct. They played for their base and said the House should devote its time and powers to investigating Dr Fauci’s emails, the Wuhan lab theory, the border crisis, the threat of inflation and economic policies. by Biden. They also found time to complain about the hiding policies on the United States Capitol and to urge Americans to move away from the insurgency that Republican Representative Clyde recently called a “normal tourist visit.”

It’s time for them to act like Republicans and finally bring a bazooka to this knife fight.

If you were the party that actively aided and encouraged a violent insurgency, you would also want to “move on”. It was a grotesque sight to see Rep. Paul Gosar grilling Wray on who “executed Ashli ​​Babbitt” and suggesting, without evidence, that the officer who shot her was hiding and waiting to kill her. Gosar spent no time worrying about Officer Sicknick, who died trying to protect his colleagues from Babbitt and the violent mob. No more than 21 House Republicans who just opposed a bill to award Congressional gold medals to Capitol Hill police officers who defended them against a violent mob during the Uprising of the United States. January 6.

Like some other House Republicans, Gosar actively supports white supremacist conspiracy theories, has ties to armed militia movements, and has applauded many events on January 6. Wray said the FBI has so far arrested 500 people and is currently overseeing hundreds of investigations. . They could start by talking to some Republicans like Gosar, as members of his party blocked a bipartisan commission to investigate the insurgency and acquitted Trump twice, with the majority of them even voting for it. cancellation of elections. Their conservative media ecosystem is actively enlightening America and their grassroots with dangerous conspiracy theories, as a majority of Republicans believe in the “big lie” that Biden lost the 2020 election.

Fortunately, the Democrats are in power. However, they retain a slim majority ahead of the 2022 mid-terms opposed to them due to GOP gerrymandering and voter suppression. The question is whether this latest revelation from Trump and the GOP’s attempt to subvert democracy will force enough Democrats to finally let go of the dangerous illusion of “two-party politics” and use their power to fight for accountability and justice. Good news is that Pelosi said on Tuesday that House committees would continue their inquiries after Republicans blocked the Senate committee. Additionally, the House Oversight Committee has said it will ask Rosen, Meadows and senior Trump officials to come forward for talks in light of the latest revelations. Judging from what we’ve seen, Republicans won’t be open.

If they don’t comply, will the Democrats finally relax their subpoena power, mount a media blitz, and come together to make it known that Republicans are actively helping and encouraging the destruction of our democracy? One can only hope. It is time for Democrats to unleash hell, as I have already discussed here and here.

Our democracy is worth it. It’s time for them to act like Republicans and finally bring a bazooka to this knife fight. If they give up their power and their principle of “two-party” rule, they might as well recognize that they are actively complicit in a counter-majority and extremist GOP which is actively trying to subvert democracy in front of our eyes.

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Biparty group’s infrastructure plan unlikely to come true – big Democratic package looks more likely, analysts say Mon, 14 Jun 2021 18:58:00 +0000

As a bipartisan group of 10 U.S. senators scramble to strike an infrastructure deal with President Joe Biden’s administration, analysts say investors shouldn’t expect a breakthrough.

“It’s hard to see a real way forward at this time,” said Ben Koltun, director of research at Beacon Policy Advisors, weighing the odds of the group’s proposal, which is priced at around $ 1,000 billion. dollars, including $ 579 billion in new spending. .

“They have 10 votes, and that’s 50 votes less than the 60 votes needed to bypass the obstruction,” Koltun also said, noting that the group includes members of the Senate base, rather than senior leaders from the Senate. the room who are able to rely on their colleagues.

By letting the ongoing talks unfold, the Beacon analyst added, Democratic leaders show a willingness to engage in bipartisan negotiations, and then when a deal doesn’t come through, they can pursue a bigger package through the process. of reconciliation with the support of moderate Democrats who wanted to see a bipartisan effort.

Related: A guide to budget reconciliation, which Democrats could use to advance Biden’s agenda

Koltun’s main forecast for this bigger package is that it will be enacted in the fourth quarter of this year and will cost $ 3 trillion to $ 4 trillion over 10 years, offset by tax increases of $ 1,000 to $ 2,000 billion. of dollars. Biden initially offered to spend $ 2.3 trillion on his US Jobs Plan and $ 1.8 trillion on his US Family Plan.

Ed Mills, Washington political analyst for Raymond James, also said that an infrastructure package that is done through reconciliation without the support of Republicans is more likely. It forecasts spending of $ 2,000 billion to $ 3 trillion, with enactment in the fall and about half paid for through tax hikes or increased enforcement of existing rules.

On the issue of Biden’s proposal to have a retroactive increase in capital gains taxes, Mills said he expects “there will be some level of retroactivity.” But analyst Raymond James said it could be positive for the entire SPX market,
+ 0.18%,
as it could prevent a massive sell off, although it would be negative for individual investors who wish to sell before higher rates.

“There is a perverse incentive in the market for this to be retroactive – a sort of general advantage over an individual advantage,” he said.

Meanwhile, Stifel’s Brian Gardner said in a recent memo that the bipartisan group’s infrastructure efforts “face long chances.”

10 Senators’ talks with the Biden administration “are likely to slow down the legislative process and the longer the process lasts, the greater the risk Democrats will not be able to push through a tax hike,” Gardner added , responsible for Stifel’s policy in Washington. strategist. “I still see a tax hike as likely, but the odds have gone down slightly.”

Cold water on VE charge

The bipartisan group’s fundraising plan includes recourse to unused COVID-19 aid and charges for electric vehicle drivers.

Koltun is not impressed with the potential charges for electric vehicles, noting that the Congressional Budget Office estimated that an annual levy of $ 100 – which is roughly what drivers of conventional vehicles pay in taxes on gasoline – would only bring in $ 1.1 billion over five years. He also points out that the White House has already expressed its opposition.

“It’s a good Republican talking point,” he said, as electric vehicle owners are seen as “wealthy progressives on the shores who sort of bypass a traditional gasoline tax.”

Mills of Raymond James said the proposed fee for electric vehicles also had to do with increasing the number of people being asked to pay for things, while not changing the Republican tax cuts of 2017.

“We are witnessing an electrification of our fleet of vehicles, and so I think it is a recognition that as soon as possible, we will need another source of funding for our surface transport,” he said. declared.

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Nevada Democrats Feel Frustration and Hope | STEVE SEBELIUS Sun, 13 Jun 2021 04:00:00 +0000

Frustration and hope.

These are the currents that rock Democrats in Nevada these days, as longtime professional organizers come to terms with a state party taken over by progressive activists.

Although the former party leader – former Senator Harry Reid – told the Nevada Newsmakers interview program that there was no dissent in the ranks, the signs are everywhere.

Most visible: The Washoe County Democratic Party will host the state’s coordinated 2022 campaign, a joint effort to elect top-down Democrats on the ticket that until now was the state party’s province .

News of this development was denounced by the newly elected leaders of the state and parties in Clark County.

The tension dates back over 20 years, to a prosciutto-thin election that spawned the machine named for Reid.

It was 1998, and the state party was run by committed Democratic supporters, not professional organizers. Reid was running against the Rep at the time. John Ensign, and it was a close race. On election night, the two were separated by only 428 votes.

Reid’s narrow victory led him to make changes, seeking professional staff to transform the State Party. The revamped party developed better voter data, a more aggressive field platform, and a top-notch poll exit device. Separately, Reid tried to keep potential rivals off the field.

It worked: Reid went from a barely won victory in 1998 to losing his 2004 opponent, Conservative activist Richard Ziser, by more than 210,000 votes, his largest margin in the Senate to date. In fact, Reid never had another competitive election after 1998.

Not only that, the party apparatus he built won statehood for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and for Joe Biden in 2020. He helped Catherine Cortez Masto replace Reid in the Senate. in 2016 and helped Steve Sisolak become governor. and Jacky Rosen became a United States Senator in 2018. Democrats hold all but one constitutional office, both houses of the Legislative Assembly, and three of the four seats in Congress.

With a few exceptions – including the unnatural “red tide” of 2014 – Democrats have dominated the election in Nevada since Reid and his people reformed the party.

This is why these professionals were frustrated with the takeover. To them, the new list of progressives seems more interested in upholding progressive orthodoxy and issuing policy statements than in continuing the work that has brought two decades of Democratic victories. It was, as has been said, a descent into “debate clubs” rather than a constant concern to make the electoral machine work. Housing the coordinated campaign in the Washoe party is one way to ensure that the mechanism continues, no matter what happens with the state party.

Certainly progressives have their own frustrations. They think the party supports any Democrat, regardless of their commitment to the platform or progressive ideals. They were offended in 2016 when they thought party leaders had put the package for Clinton on Bernie Sanders, an insult that led to the organizational effort that ultimately took control of the state party. last year.

This is nothing new in Nevada politics. In 2008, the state’s Republican Party convention was abruptly cut short in part because of a dispute over delegates wanted by a faction supporting former Texas Rep. Ron Paul. Paul’s supporters organized and took over the state GOP in 2012.

Rather than risk losing, the Republicans formed an organization outside of their state party to do the work of fundraising, recruiting candidates, voter identification and participation, the bread and butter of politics. parties.

Now the Democrats have done the same.

Which gives us hope.

Despite their frustrations, professionals who once lived in the State party believe that this institution still has a role to play in next year’s elections. He will not be leading the coordinated campaign; it’s off the table. But there is still a lot the state party could do, from attacking Republicans to supporting incumbent candidates running for re-election with voter data files and other tools. The passion and commitment of these activists is a powerful force on the election campaign.

The hope is that all Democrats – regardless of their ideology or personal feelings – come together with the goal of winning in a midterm election year that is usually difficult for the incumbent president’s party.

And, if progressives stopped to recognize the hard work and skill that built the incredibly successful Reid machine that has been winning for 20 years, well, that could be a nice bonus.

Contact Steve Sebelius at To pursue @SteveSebelius on Twitter.

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Democrats still looking for a balance to curb drug prices Sat, 12 Jun 2021 12:11:18 +0000

WASHINGTON – Democrats have pledged to pass legislation this year to lower prescription drug prices, but they still disagree on how to cut costs for patients and taxpayers while preserving the profits that drive investors to support potentially promising treatments.

It’s about finding a balance: How big should Medicare be to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies?

With hundreds of billions of dollars in potential savings, the stakes are high. Medicare spends more than $ 200 billion a year on prescription drugs, a category that continues to grow as new, expensive drugs hit the market. An Alzheimer’s drug approved last week is priced at $ 56,000 a year, for example, and user fees could skyrocket for patients who use it.

A successful bill would advance a key part of President Joe Biden’s national agenda even as Democrats struggle to move forward on other fronts. Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices has consistently garnered strong public support in opinion polls.

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In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Is leading legislation that imposes a high tax on drugmakers who refuse to deal with Medicare, while using an average of prices in other economically advanced countries as the point of reference for fair rates here. His bill would limit price increases and allow private health plans to benefit from negotiated Medicare rates.

In the Senate, Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore, is also working on drafting legislation. Its starting point is a less ambitious bipartisan bill from a previous congress. It would have limited the price increases for drugs already on the market, but not the initial prices. It would have capped the reimbursable costs of Medicare beneficiaries for pharmacy drugs, which are included in the Pelosi bill.

Wyden said he is personally convinced that “it is high time that Medicare was empowered to negotiate better prices for prescription drugs.” But cajoling enough votes in the Senate is another matter. It’s unclear whether Wyden can even count on all Democrats in the divided chamber or whether any Republicans would sign.

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Progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Want to use Medicare savings to create new benefits for dental, vision and hearing coverage. This would represent a historic expansion of a program that is under an increasingly long financial shadow, its giant inpatient trust fund is expected to be in the red by 2026.

Democrats talk privately among themselves and organize coalitions around different approaches. In public, they always seem able to overcome their differences.

“Democrats are going to pass Medicare prescription drug reform and I’m going to be a part of it,” Rep. Jake Auchincloss, D-Mass., Told The Associated Press. The first-term lawmaker has voiced concerns that Pelosi’s approach is not a negotiation but a system of price controls. His voice matters because Auchincloss is helping lead a group of like-minded Democrats, and Pelosi can’t afford to lose many votes.

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The powerful and deep-pocketed lobby of the pharmaceutical industry is closely engaged. Already, the advertisements are raising fears that government price controls are slowing down the development of revolutionary treatments.

Stephen Ubl, CEO of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said the industry wants to reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients and believes that insurers and companies that administer prescription benefits also need to be scrutinized.

“We would like to see a balanced drug pricing bill emerge from Congress this year,” Ubl told AP in a recent interview. He later added that “our industry understands that the process is going to be painful.”

But so far, the industry has given no indication that it is ready to agree to Medicare negotiations or significant restrictions on its pricing power.

Health economist Len Nichols, who has advised Democrats in debates over health care policy, said there was logic behind the basic elements of Pelosi’s approach.

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“You have to have this benchmark price which is somewhat objective as a basis for negotiation, and then you have to have a way of getting the drug companies to come to the table,” he said. “It’s directional correct.”

Having said that, finding the right balance would be essential.

“We have just experienced an incredible example of incredibly effective innovation,” said Nichols, referring to the COVID-19 vaccines that have fought back a deadly pandemic in this country. “Innovation is important, and the structure of any negotiating agreement must balance the need for affordability with the need to encourage innovation. “

The industry’s success with COVID-19 vaccines is marked with a big asterisk: Taxpayers have invested roughly $ 20 billion in research and development, manufacturing and supplying vaccine candidates. This is according to the estimates of the Non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which advocates reducing federal deficits. Yet the money went to companies that knew what they were doing and kept their promises.

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Joshua Gordon, director of health policy for the budget group, said there is a clear trade-off between restricting drug prices and reducing incentives for innovation. But that doesn’t mean that a better balance can’t be found.

“Obviously, the government is creating a market for drugs through patents and exclusivity (Food and Drug Administration), and there are clearly areas where companies are profiting,” he said.

Lawmakers are not necessarily tied to the approaches currently on the table, Gordon added. They could follow the lead of Germany, where drug makers set the initial price of a drug, but then a review process determines whether it’s worth continuing to pay for that.

One of Pelosi’s senior lieutenants recently said he was open to discussing different approaches, but they needed to include bargaining power for Medicare.

“We can’t get away from the basic idea that government… should have the right to negotiate prices,” Representative Frank Pallone, DN.J., said on an appeal sponsored by the advocacy group Protect Our Care. “I think Democrats as a whole and some Republicans in the Senate will vote for this.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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