Cory Gardner is at it again. Trying to put a glossy polish on a fake concession and sell it as a hard-earned victory for Coloradans.
First, there were the ventilators. Gardner was thrilled to talk about his hard-fought effort to secure 100 ventilators for Colorado, until we learned he let the Trump administration redirect 400 others that were supposed to come to our state.
This time, it’s the environment. Cory Gardner is on a media tour, from The New York Times to The Denver Post, touting how hard he fought for a promise to get a vote to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) later this summer. Here’s the thing: the Senate had already agreed to vote on it. Gardner got these same headlines about this promise to get a vote soon on March 4!
The only thing Gardner really seems to be working on here is how to rebrand his environmental record in the Senate — and desperately cover up his tight relationship with Mitch McConnell — before November.
This is the same Cory Gardner who previously voted to cut the LWCF by 90%.
It is the same Cory Gardner who still refuses to support the CORE Act, sponsored by Colorado’s own U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse to protect our water, wildlife and natural habitats.
And yes, it is the same Cory Gardner who has taken $ 1.6 million from big oil to fund his campaigns, and voted to allow corporate polluters to drill and develop on Colorado’s public lands.
What Gardner is selling is a hollow victory — he is bragging about a potential future vote on a bill that Trump already said he would sign in early March.
Why does this matter? It’s just optics, right? It matters because of what Gardner gave up on our behalf to get absolutely nothing in return.
Gardner gave up federal relief for our state to make sure we can keep hospital workers going during a pandemic.
He gave up stimulus money for our cities to make sure we can keep teachers and firefighters on the job.
And he gave up expanded unemployment so Coloradans out of work during the coronavirus pandemic can pay their rent and put groceries on the table.
On May 20, Cory Gardner promised to fight for coronavirus funding for Coloradans, calling the idea that anyone in the Senate would go on recess without passing additional relief “unfathomable.”
The very next day — literally May 21 — the Senate did exactly that, adjourning for vacation without passing relief funding and with no real plans to return. Gardner didn’t even stand up on the floor and try to make an impassioned speech. He didn’t use his political leverage to try to force McConnell to change his mind.
Instead, he walked away and immediately started the hunt for a shiny object to distract us from his cowardly retreat to McConnell. What did he find? A promise to pass a bill that he already had for months.
Meanwhile, in the over 30 days since — even as Gardner takes his victory lap — Colorado’s outdoors industry continues to be decimated by the coronavirus pandemic and economic recession. A survey from the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable released this month found that 88% of businesses surveyed reported laying off or furloughing employees and 94% have seen decreased sales.
These businesses are core to who we are as a state. They deserve a senator — especially one who claims to care so much about our great outdoors — to fight hard for funding to keep them going.
Gardner told The New York Times: “This isn’t about me. I look at this as a huge accomplishment for Colorado.” He’s right, the Great American Outdoors Act is great for Colorado.
And he’s also right, it isn’t about him either. It’s always about McConnell and Trump.
Edie Hooton is the state representative for House District 10. She serves as the Majority Caucus Chair and the Vice Chair of the Committee on Energy and Environment.
Great American Outdoors Act heads to Trump as Cory Gardner leans on measure in reelection bid ~ The Colorado Sun
By Jessie Paul, The Colorado Sun
The Republican U.S. senator, who is facing an uphill election battle, has run ads touting his work on the legislation and in recent weeks toured western Colorado to celebrate the bill
Congress on Wednesday sent President Donald Trump a major, bipartisan public lands bill that has become a pillar of Republican Cory Gardner’s reelection campaign in Colorado, finalizing the swift passage of a measure seen as an election-year gift to the U.S. senator.
The U.S. House approved the Great American Outdoors Act, which would achieve the long-held goal of fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund while also tackling the nation’s massive national parks maintenance backlog, by a vote of 310-107.
Trump has said he will sign the bill.
The measure moved through Congress at lightning speed relative to the normal pace of legislation after Gardner, who was a prime sponsor of the bill, negotiated the support of Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in March. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been trying for years to secure full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
“It shows what can happen when you’re committed to the path of your legislation,” Gardner said in an interview with The Colorado Sun on Wednesday. “Every state, every county across the country will benefit.”
Gardner said he believes the legislation will create thousands of jobs in Colorado at a time when people are feeling the economic effects of the coronavirus crisis. He said it’s one of the greatest accomplishments of his congressional tenure.
Democrats and environmental groups with a liberal lean also applauded the bill’s passage.
“Whether it’s urban parks you access to escape the fast pace of the city or hiking trails in our national parks you enjoy over the weekend, Coloradans love and utilize public lands,” Hannah Collazo, the state director for Environment Colorado, said in a written statement. ”This bill is not only an investment in outdoor spaces but also in our emotional, spiritual, and physical health as Coloradans.”
Gardner, who is facing an uphill reelection battle as he seeks a second term, has capitalized on the win. During the Senate’s July 4 recess he toured Colorado to tout his work on the bill. His campaign has also run two television ads boasting of its passage in the Senate.
“Gardner’s law — endorsed by every environmental leader,” a 30-second TV ad released this week says.
Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, is scheduled to make a stop in Colorado on Thursday to celebrate the bill’s passage at Rocky Mountain National Park with Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.
Even the president weighed in on the legislation’s passage Wednesday.
Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Montana, is another GOP member of Congress facing a tough reelection bid in November.
The Great American Outdoors act has two key provisions:
- It mandates that the Land and Water Conservation Fund receive all of the money it was allotted — $900 million annually — from royalties collected on offshore oil and gas drilling. Congress, in the decades since the program was created, has repeatedly diverted the fund’s money.
- It allocated $9.5 billion over five years to address the National Park Service’s maintenance backlog.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund has been used to help pay for a number of projects in Colorado.
Meanwhile, the state’s public lands operated by the National Park Service had an estimated maintenance backlog of $2 billion in 2018. That included $84 million in needed repairs at Rocky Mountain National Park, $76 million in deferred maintenance at Mesa Verde National Park, and $21 million in put-off repairs and upgrades at the Colorado National Monument.
Democrats, while excited about the bill’s passage, have accused Gardner of trying to “greenwash” his record on the environment through the measure. They point to his decisions not to support tougher regulations on emissions of carbon dioxide and methane and his proximity to the Trump administration, which has rolled back a number of environmental regulations.
What Gardner is selling is a hollow victory,” state Rep. Edie Hooton, D-Boulder, wrote in an opinion piece published Sunday by The Sun. “… The only thing Gardner really seems to be working on here is how to rebrand his environmental record.”