How Colorado's Congressional Delegation Has Spent The Recess So Far

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Denver, Colo.-, February 23, 2017 | comments
On Friday evening, more than a thousand people are expected at a town hall in Denver for Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner.

Here's the catch: He probably won't be there. 

While he's been in Colorado this week, Gardner has been invited to forums in Fort Collins, Boulder and Denver by constituents unhappy with his support for President Donald Trump's policies. They're also unhappy with Gardner's  lack of public events during the congressional recess. 

Those constituents plan to ask questions whether or not Gardner shows up.

A New Yorker writer was on hand for the Fort Collins event, where Gardner was a no-show, to illustrate a national trend: Town halls have become outlets for public anger nationwide with the new administration.

The streak of angry town halls began with memorable footage of Representative Tom McClintock, a Republican from California, being escorted to a waiting car by police after a meeting with constituents outside of Sacramento; days later, there was that crowd shouting “Do your job!” at Representative Jason Chaffetz, of Utah, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

The Washington Post has gone so far as to publish a "Yell-O-Matic." Pick the the member of Congress's name and you get linked to a video clip of them facing angry constituents.   

Among Colorado's congressional delegation, Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Lakewood, plans to a hold a live community forum at a library in Thornton Saturday. Here's the status of other members of the delegation.

  • Sen. Michael Bennet, Democrat, spent the week traveling to Cuba and Colombia with  a congressional delegation. His office says he spent his time in Latin America discussing trade, migration and human rights. 
  • Sen. Cory Gardner, Republican, toured Colorado and spoke at smaller gatherings on agriculture, aerospace and local commerce. Reporters and activists dogged the senator to ask why he wasn't holding a town hall or another more public forum.
  • Rep. Dianna DeGette, Democrat of Denver, led a House delegation to Tokyo as co-chair of the Congressional Study Group on Japan. The representative held a community forum earlier this month. Her office says they're planning more public events for the coming weeks. 
  • Rep. Jared Polis, Democrat of Boulder, stayed in Washington for the start of the week. He held constituent and staff meetings at his office. He also called back some people who didn't get to ask questions during a pair of recent town halls. He had a family commitment in the later part of the week, according to his office.
  • Rep. Scott Tipton, Republican of Cortez, traveled to Germany as a part of a congressional delegation to meet with the German parliament. His office says they try to schedule public meetings in the spring or summer when the weather accommodates easier travel.

  • Rep. Ken Buck, Republican of Greeley, held a number of business roundtables in Colorado this week. He also held a quiet meeting in Greeley with members of Indivisible, a network of anti-Trump activists, according to The Colorado Independent. Organizers told the outlet that Buck allowed the meeting as long as there were no signs, recording devices, or advance publicity. The representative returned to the D.C.-area later in the week to give an address at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

  • Rep. Doug Lamborn, Republican of Colorado Springs, also joined the congressional delegation to meet with lawmakers in Germany. His office says the congressman is looking at mid-April for events in Colorado. 

  • Rep. Mike Coffman, Republican if Aurora, toured his district to hear ideas about how to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He met with health care providers and patient advocacy groups on the issue. He plans to hold in-person town hall meeting in April, according to his staff.

  • Rep. Ed Perlmutter, Democrat of Lakewood, made an unannounced appearance at a town hall for state lawmakers at the start of the week. He spent the rest of the recess in Colorado, staff members say. The representative holds monthly "Government at the Grocery" events to meet with constituents. So many people showed up for his last one that he moved this month's event to a library in Thornton. 

Content originally published by CPR on February 23, 2017.
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