Colorado D.C. Roundup: Budget, Reproductive Rights, Opioid Crisis

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Washington, D.C.-, October 27, 2017 | comments

Big news on the budget front dominated headlines out of D.C., while Colorado representatives also tackled issues ranging from birth control access to the declaration of the opioid crisis as a public health emergency.

The budget resolution clears the House 

In major legislative action, the House passed the Senate's $4.1 trillion budget resolution – the blueprint for building the next year's budget. While it does call for some funding cuts, the resolution ultimately may add $1.5 trillion to the deficit to make way for a GOP tax bill.  

This doesn't create a final budget – there are still many committee meetings ahead before anything is finalized – but by moving ahead to reconciliation, Republicans have a chance to push through a tax reform bill without relying on Democratic support. 

Ken Buck, a Republican representing Colorado’s 4th Congressional District, was joined with 19 other Republicans in voting against the bill. 

Abortion and reproductive rights 

Colorado’s congressional delegation has been a study in contrast on issues of reproductive rights in the last week. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, opposed the Trump administration's move to eliminate part of the Affordable Care Act that required employers – both businesses and for-profit corporations – to provide birth control coverage.  

Several entities – most notably Hobby Lobby – objected on religious grounds, and the Supreme Court affirmed that companies with "closely held" religious beliefs should not be required to provide no-cost birth control. 

The administration's move to roll back those federal requirements earlier this month follows through on a promise Trump made in the Rose Garden several months ago.  

DeGette spoke at an event in Washington Thursday coinciding with a letter sent to the heads of the Department of Labor, Department of Health and Human Services and the Treasury. 

DeGette wasn't alone in her criticisms.

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More recently, the Trump administration was under fire for its efforts to prevent an undocumented teenager from receiving an abortion.  

Colorado’s representatives are not a united front on the issue. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, tweeted on Thursday that he got the Heartbeat Hero award, given by Faith2Action, a conservative group founded by Janet Porter.

The award is given the lawmakers for supporting the so-called Heartbeat Bill, a bill that would prevent doctors from performing abortions if a heartbeat can be heard, or after around six weeks gestation. 

Porter is known for her work to get fetal heartbeat bills passed in various state legislatures. 

Opioid crisis declared a public health emergency 

On Thursday, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. The designation is not as severe as a national emergency declaration, which Trump promised earlier in the year. The move is expected to put additional resources to a crisis that is claiming more lives than motor crashes and gun violence combined, the president said. 

DeGette says those resources aren’t enough. 

“The president’s declaration falls far short and does not deliver on his promise to make fighting the opioid epidemic a top priority,” she said in a statement.  

“So far there’s no evidence of an intention by the Trump administration to press for (more funding). Instead, they have worked tirelessly to rip health insurance coverage away from millions of Americas, even though access to coverage is a lifeline for people suffering from addiction,” the statement added.  

The designation lasts for 90 days, though the administration says it is easy to renew.  

More action from the House

Some noncontroversial bills passed with full support of Colorado's House delegation: 

  • H.R. 2142: INTERDICT Act — This bill provides U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents with screening devices aimed at combating opioid trafficking. 
  • H.R. 3898: Impeding North Korea’s Access to Finance Act of 2017 — This bill imposes additional sanctions on North Korea, specifically its ability to finance weapons programs.
  • H.R. 1698: Iran Ballistic Missiles and International Sanctions Enforcement Act — Mandates the president impose sanctions on entities involved with Iran’s ballistic missile program. 
Content originally published by KUNC on October 27, 2017.
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