Bennet vows to fight for clean air and water
colorado springs» U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet sought to reassure a wary group concerned about a long list of issues, including the environment, Russia and — especially — health care under President Donald Trump.
“Tell me why I shouldn’t be scared,” one woman said at Thursday’s town hall meeting.
Bennet, a Democrat from Denver, strongly criticized the Republicans’ health care bill, the American Health Care Act. He acknowledged there are problems with Obamacare, but he said the new legislation posed problems that were far worse.
“I don’t believe there is any way this plan that (House Speaker) Paul Ryan has suggested will pass the Senate. I’m not even sure it will pass the House,” Bennet told voters gathered in heavily Republican El Paso County.
The stop in Colorado Springs was the first of five across the state for Bennet. The in-person town halls are the first in a long stretch and come amid a fierce national debate and controversy on everything from immigration to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Bennet said he would oppose Trump’s proposals to slash funding for science and climate research. He strongly dismissed suggestions by Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, that there are doubts surrounding the link between human activity and climate change.
“The science is settled on that question,” Bennet said. “What we do about it is unsettled. … This gives us an opportunity to demonstrate there is a consensus in America that climate change is real and we need to do something.”
He added: “I will fight for clean water and clean air. I will fight for Colorado’s economy in the face of budgets and other policies that strike me as jobkilling policies, not policies that are going to support good-paying jobs for our state.”
Bennet took time to push back against Trump’s attacks on the media, specifically while journalists in the Middle East are dying trying to cover the Syrian conflict and the Islamic State.
“That’s a place where I think my voice needs to be heard,” he said.
“Sign me up for working with people where I can,” he said. “Sign me up for protecting principles and defending American, traditional principles that I very much agree with. But I’m not going to be one of these people who says, ‘I’ll never work with you just because you’re a Republican.’ Or ‘I’ll never work with you just because you’re Donald Trump.’ I’ve voted for about half of his nominees and I’ve voted against about half of them. And I’m making a judgment on each one.”
Bennet fielded a question from El Paso County Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez Jr. about federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch, whom Trump has nominated to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I’ve not yet made a decision on how I’m going to vote,” he said. “He’s been a judge here for a long time and many many, people speak highly of him. … I think — particularly in the context that we’re in today — I think it’s very important to hear his testimony.”
He didn’t speak at length with reporters after the Colorado Springs event and told a television reporter who followed him out while asking about Gorsuch: “I think my job is to listen to the hearings and make a judgment. That’s why we have the process. And I look forward to the hearings.”
Many audience members said they were interested in how Bennet plans to oppose Trump’s policies and decisions.
“I want to know his plans for resistance,” said Morgan Chavez, a 35-year-old married Colorado Springs mother of two girls. “(Democrats) need to oppose harder. This is not the time for quiet partisanship. This is the time to resist fascism.”
More than 100 people attended a Colorado Springs town hall meeting with Sen. Michael Bennet on Thursday at the Tesla Education Center. Mark Reis, The Gazette