DC DOINGS | VP invited to visit Colorado’s space industry; Crow briefed on Afghan visas | Colorado In DC

Welcome to DC Doings, which gives you a look at what’s happening among Colorado’s congressional delegation.

This week the Senate was in session and the House was on a work week, and next week both chambers will be gaveled in.

Eight of the nine members of Colorado’s delegation came together Wednesday to invite Vice President Kamala Harris, who chairs the National Space Council, to visit Colorado to see the state’s extensive public and private space industry as she assembles the council’s priorities.

In a letter led by Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, the six Democrats and two Republicans make a case for keeping the permanent home of the U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs instead of moving it to Huntsville, Ala., as former President Donald Trump ordered in the last days of his administration.

“Colorado is the largest space economy per capita in the country,” the lawmakers wrote, highlighting the companies, educational institutions and military and intelligence installations that employ an estimated 300,000 people in space-related work.

“This concentration of technical expertise from the Eastern Plains to the Western Slope drives cutting-edge innovation that benefits our entire country,” they wrote.

The Colorado legislators have been calling on the Biden administration to review the last-minute decision relocating Space Command to Alabama, arguing that Trump ignored Pentagon advice for political reasons.

Silt Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Trump loyalist who has been attacking the Biden-Harris administration constantly on social media, declined to add her name to the invite but did unveil a slickly produced video featuring a cardboard cut-out of Harris she hauled to the southern border. Boebert said in the video that she wanted the vice president to see the migrant crisis up close, since she’s been tasked with handling it but hasn’t yet visited the border.

BRIEFING ROOM … U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, an Aurora Democrat, met Tuesday with Defense Deputy Secretary Brian McKeon and members of the bipartisan Honoring Our Promises group Crow formed this spring to discuss the group’s efforts to protect Afghan translators and others who have helped the U.S. as the country withdraws from Afghanistan.

Crow, an Army veteran who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, said the Pentagon official had good news about the State Department’s work resolving a backlog processing visas.

“We continued to stress our strong preference that the Administration evacuate our Afghan partners to a temporary evacuation site where we can safely conduct robust visa processing without threat to applicants’ safety by the Taliban,” Crow said in a statement.

“The U.S. has a moral and national security imperative to honor our promises and protect our Afghan partners who are now at risk. The Honoring our Promises Working Group will continue to provide support and oversight to accomplish this mission.”

BOOK IT … Bennet and U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, a Lafayette Democrat, cheered news that a key Senate subcommittee has scheduled a hearing on the CORE Act, a public lands bill sponsored by the two Coloradans that has already been passed by the House.

Neguse, who chairs the equivalent House subcommittee, nodded to U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper, who sits on the Senate panel and made support for the CORE Act a central platform of his 2020 campaign for his seat.

“The CORE Act invests in the very best of Colorado and preserves our treasured public lands while strengthening our economy through major investments in outdoor recreation,” Neguse said in a statement.

The bill designates some 73,000 acres of new wilderness and around 80,000 acres of new recreation and conservation management areas. It also names Camp Hale, where the 10th Mountain Army Division trained during World War II in Eagle and Summit counties, as the first National Historic Landscape.

While the legislation has won bipartisan support the three times it’s passed the House, Colorado’s Republican lawmakers have either outright opposed it or offered a tepid response.

The bill’s hearing is set for 1 p.m. MT June 16 before the Senate Energy Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining.

THE AYES HAVE IT … The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Regina Rodriguez to the U.S. District Court for Colorado on a 72-28 vote, making the corporate attorney and former prosecutor the first Asian American to serve as a judge on the state’s federal court.

Rodriguez, recommended for the nomination by Bennet and Hickenlooper, was one of two federal judges seated by the Senate this week, marking the Biden administration’s first judicial nominees to make it to the bench.

“Throughout her distinguished career, Regina Rodriguez has demonstrated a deep commitment to service, justice, and the rule of law,” Bennet said in a statement after the vote. “Her overwhelmingly bipartisan confirmation signifies that she will make an exceptional judge.”

• A House committee on Thursday approved a resolution sponsored by U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, a Denver Democrat, to reverse a Trump administration rule that eased regulation of methane emissions in oil and gas production.

The legislation, HJ Res. 34, would reinstate Obama-era rules that set stricter regulations on methane, a greenhouse gas more than 80 times as potent as carbon dioxide, responsible for almost a quarter of the global warming caused by human activity, studies show.

It passed the committee on a 30-22 vote.

“If we’re going to be serious about solving this climate crisis, we absolutely must take steps now to reduce the amount of methane that’s being released into our atmosphere,” DeGette said in a statement.

• A bill sponsored by Hickenlooper to help states prevent child abuse by clarifying how some federal grants can be spent won unanimous approval in a Senate committee Thursday.

Added to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) Reauthorization Act of 2021, the Strengthening Families Act moves out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

“We have to make it easier for states to support families and prevent child abuse,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “Clarifying how states can use these funds will do that.”

IN THE HOPPER … U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican, co-sponsored five bipartisan bills released Friday that aim to rein in a handful of the largest tech companies by updating antitrust laws.

Buck, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, joined the subcommittee’s Democratic chair, Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline, announcing the package the Colorado Republican said will expand opportunities for consumers and small businesses by taking on anti-competitive behavior and the companies’ ability to restrict free speech.

“Big Tech has abused its dominance in the marketplace to crush competitors, censor speech, and control how we see and understand the world,” Buck said in a statement.

“Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google have prioritized power over innovation and harmed American businesses and consumers in the process. These companies have maintained monopoly power in the online marketplace by using a variety of anticompetitive behaviors to stifle competition. This legislation breaks up Big Tech’s monopoly power to control what Americans see and say online and fosters an online market that encourages innovation and provides American small businesses with a fair playing field.”

Neguse is the prime sponsor of one of the bills, the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act, which updates filing fees for mergers for the first time in two decades and would index fees to inflation. The funds, the sponsors say, will give the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission more resources to enforce antitrust laws.

The other four bills seek to halt what the lawmakers describe as discriminatory conduct by dominant digital platforms, including prohibitions on favoring their own products in search results, banning the largest companies from buying up their competitors and requiring data portability between platforms.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association, a tech industry group, blasted the legislation in a statement to the Associated Press.

“These proposed regulations represent a shift from the market-oriented principles that have characterized U.S. economic policy,” the trade group said. “They would have a severe impact on U.S. economic leadership, and decrease consumers’ ability to enjoy free digital services.”

• Bennet and Neguse introduced a bipartisan bill in both chambers on Monday to keep a portion of funds generated by ski area permits in local hands to support mountain communities.

The bill is dubbed the Ski Hill Resources for Economic Development Act — the SHRED Act — and Bennet drew attention to the play on snow-sports terminology in a tweet posted with a photo of his family on a ski slope about to make a run.

“Skiing is critical to Colorado’s economy and way of life. Today I introduced the SHRED Act to make sure we’re investing deeply in our mountain communities, so we can all keep shredding,” he tweeted. “As my campaign manager says, you can’t shred if there’s no gnar.”

The legislation would reallocated ski area permit fees paid the U.S. Forest Service from general funds to the National Forest System for use on infrastructure improvements, avalanche safety and better services for visitors, the lawmakers said.

“By keeping local ski fees in the communities developing them, we can invest in our national forests, improve the recreation permitting process, and support wildfire planning and coordination,” Neguse said in a statement.

“There are significant maintenance and restoration needs on our public lands and the Ski Hill Resources for Economic Development (SHRED) Act is a common-sense measure to support these lands, our communities and our mountain economies.”

TWEET OF THE WEEK … U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Springs Republican, on Monday visited the Springs Rescue Mission to present the venerable nonprofit’s retiring president and CEO Larry Yonker with a framed page from the Congressional Record honoring him and his impact.

“Springs Rescue Mission has become a pillar of the Pike’s Peak region, not only by caring for the homeless but as a model of local business, government, and faith-based collaboration, for the good of the community,” Lamborn said on June 4 in remarks read into the official government publication.

Lamborn recounts the nonprofit’s growth over the last decade into the largest homeless shelter in the region, including the innovative Greenway Flats faculty that houses dozens of formerly chronically homeless people and the new 200-seat Samaritan’s Kitchen.

“As a Colorado native and graduate of the University of Southern Colorado in Pueblo, Larry is motivated by a deep faith in God and compassionate love for his neighbors,” Lamborn said. “Larry’s drive and focus is derived from Matthew 25:34–40, and has been the inspiration for Larry’s tenure at Springs Rescue Mission.”

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