Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner continues to dodge questions about whether he will support the historic $3 trillion relief package that House Democrats passed last week, but the Republican slammed the HEROES Act in a recent interview on KOA radio, saying the bill was “focused on special pet political projects.”
“I think what you see now in the House is a partisan approach. That’s not what we need,” Gardner said. “The only thing that’s going to come out of the Senate and the House together in a way that can get on the president’s desk is bipartisan. That’s what we need.”
The HEROES Act includes another round of direct cash payments of $1,200 to taxpayers, an extension of unemployment benefits, tens of billions of dollars for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, stronger labor protections for employees as businesses start to reopen, over $150 billion in relief for rent, mortgages, and utility bills, student-loan forgiveness, and more. The bill also includes oversight measures as money is distributed to ensure state, local, and tribal communities receive assistance.
Gardner’s office did not return a call seeking to know which elements of the bill he considers “special pet projects” and which parts he favors.
But GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, a Gardner ally, wasn’t shy about singling out the HEROES Act’s help for marijuana businesses as a gift to special interests, calling it the “cherry on the top” in a bill laden with pet projects.
Meanwhile, Colorado Democrats heralded the passage of the legislation.
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) praised her colleagues after the bill passed by a close vote and urged the Senate to act quickly.
“This is not a time to think small. Now more than ever, we must come together and take big, bold action to protect our communities from this unprecedented crisis,” DeGette said in a statement.
Likewise, Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) took to Facebook to explain why he voted in favor of the legislation: “This is a desperately needed bill to help stabilize our country, provide supports for Americans … We have to think big and act boldly during this very difficult time.”
Colorado Democrats all voted in favor of the HEROES Act, which would provide $9.8 billion for the state. In fact, the Seventh Congressional District, which Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) represents, could receive $903 million if the bill passes.
Perlmutter backed efforts to provide $500 billion to state and local governments, as well as banking the relief for Colorado’s cannabis industry that was mocked by McConnell.
“This critical funding will ensure our cities and states can respond to this crisis, backfill lost revenue, and avoid harmful cuts to frontline workers such as first responders, teachers, and public health workers,” Perlmutter said in a statement.
Gardner told CNN that he backs $500 billion for states and cities, and he thought he has a “good meeting” with Trump recently to discuss it.
But he has another idea for addressing the economic devastation brought on by COVID-19 — a “Rehire America” package, which he described during his interview with KOA radio:
“This is not focused on lobbyists,” said Gardner on KOA, contrasting his Rehire America proposal with the CARES Act. “It is not focused on special pet political projects. It’s focused on rehiring workers. Getting workers paid. Getting them back into their jobs. We have millions and millions and millions of people across this country who are suffering in ways they never thought possible. We have to get them back to work. We have to get this economy up and running again.”
Gardner’s co-sponsored legislation last week to allow employers more time and freedom to spend funds from the Paycheck Protection Program as they wish.
Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO), meanwhile, slammed his Republican colleagues who planned to vote against the HEROES Act — which would require employers to use the funds they receive from the program to rehire any laid off or furloughed employees.
“This bill is about helping all of America, and in particular, the American heroes who are standing up for us every day,” Neguse said on Twitter. “They continue to stand up for us — it’s time for us to stand up for them.”