Colo. role may rise with Dem-con­trolled House

Cen­ten­nial State del­e­ga­tion de­ter­mined to hold Trump ac­count­able

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Anna Staver and Nic Gar­cia

Colorado’s House del­e­ga­tion is go­ing to have a higher pro­file in the next Congress as Democrats pre­pare to take con­trol of the lower cham­ber for the se­cond half of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s term.

Rep. Diana DeGette, a Den­ver Demo­crat, wants a pro­mo­tion to ma­jor­ity whip — the No. 3 post in the House.

Ja­son Crow’s vic­tory over Repub­li­can in­cum­bent Mike Coff­man in the 6th Con­gres­sional District, along with the elec­tion of Joe Ne­guse in the 2nd, gives the Colorado del­e­ga­tion, like the House it­self, a Demo­cratic ma­jor­ity.

And Reps. Ed Perl­mut­ter, D-Ar­vada, and Ken Buck, R-Wind­sor, sit on key com­mit­tees where the fight over whether and how to in­ves­ti­gate Trump is ex­pected to

play out.

“Democrats tak­ing the House re­ally re­stores the sys­tem of checks and bal­ances that our founders en­vi­sioned,” DeGette told The Den­ver Post on Wed­nes­day. “Trump and his al­lies in Congress have tried to do what­ever they wanted with­out a check and bal­ance. We’re go­ing to make sure we hold the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion ac­count­able.”

DeGette, a 22-year House vet­eran, wants to help lead that charge while also push­ing for com­pro­mises on im­mi­gra­tion and trans­porta­tion. In a let­ter to her col­leagues Wed­nes­day morn­ing, she an­nounced her bid for whip.

The whip counts the votes for their party and pulls to­gether dif­fer­ent coali­tions to pass leg­is­la­tion. It will be a crit­i­cal po­si­tion for House Democrats be­cause they’re pro­jected to hold a nar­row ma­jor­ity in the next Congress that in­cludes sev­eral new mem­bers from tra­di­tion­ally red sub­ur­ban dis­tricts.

She is run­ning against South Carolina Rep. Jim Cly­burn.

“This was re­ally the year of the woman,” DeGette told The Den­ver Post. “Women are the rea­son we took this con­gres­sional ma­jor­ity, and we’ve only ever had one woman whip, and that was Nancy Pelosi.”

Pelosi on the hot seat

DeGette’s can­di­dacy comes amid calls from some House mem­bers for a change of Demo­cratic lead­er­ship. Pelosi, cur­rently the mi­nor­ity leader, has been a fa­vorite of tar­get of the right for sev­eral years, and some are ques­tion­ing whether she is the right per­son to lead Democrats as they re­take con­trol of the House.

DeGette, Perl­mut­ter and Crow all sup­port Pelosi’s ouster.

DeGette thinks her seven-term stint as chief deputy whip — which in­cluded the vote to pass the Af­ford­able Care Act — makes her the ideal can­di­date for whip.

She said she sees an op­por­tu­nity to work with House Repub­li­cans and even Trump on im­mi­gra­tion and trans­porta­tion bills come Jan­uary. Out­go­ing Repub­li­can House Speaker Paul Ryan, who didn’t seek re-elec­tion, was the road­block to leg­is­la­tion on both of those is­sues for the past two years, DeGette said, be­cause he wouldn’t bring bills to the floor if they needed Demo­cratic votes to pass.

“Im­mi­gra­tion re­form has passed the Se­nate be­fore,” she said. “It’s some­thing every­body knows needs to hap­pen.”

Perl­mut­ter said he en­thu­si­as­ti­cally sup­ports DeGette’s bid for whip.

“I do think it’s time for a change in lead­er­ship,” he said. “I think we’ve had these lead­ers in place for 15, 16, 17 years. I think some fresh per­spec­tives would be good.”

The com­ing fight over in­ves­ti­ga­tions

Buck, who now finds him­self in the mi­nor­ity, said he isn’t sure the House will be able to pass bills — even ones with bi­par­ti­san sup­port — if Democrats get mired in an end­less se­ries of in­ves­ti­ga­tions about the pres­i­dent.

Pelosi and oth­ers have promised to use their power as the ma­jor­ity party to in­ves­ti­gate Trump’s busi­ness and fi­nan­cial deal­ings and ties with Rus­sia.

“I don’t think that’s reach­ing across the aisle and try­ing to find com­pro­mise,” Buck told The Post on Wed­nes­day.

Buck sits on the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee as well as the Ju­di­ciary sub­com­mit­tees on Im­mi­gra­tion and Bor­der Se­cu­rity and An­titrust Law, which means the for­mer pros­e­cu­tor could find him­self at the cen­ter of sev­eral con­tentious Demo­cratic in­ves­ti­ga­tions. Buck said he plans to add an at­tor­ney to his staff in the com­ing weeks.

“I’m ashamed that those to the right and left of me in Congress are play­ing pol­i­tics with in­ves­ti­ga­tions,” Buck said. “Once we find the truth, we can put a po­lit­i­cal spin on it.”

Trump fired his own warn­ing shot on Twit­ter. “If the Democrats think they are go­ing to waste Tax­payer Money in­ves­ti­gat­ing us at the House level, then we will like­wise be forced to con­sider in­ves­ti­gat­ing them for all of the leaks of Clas­si­fied In­for­ma­tion, and much else, at the Se­nate level,” he wrote.

A few hours later, At­tor­ney General Jeff Ses­sions re­signed at Trump’s re­quest — a move seen by some as a step to­ward shut­ting down spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Trump’s 2016 cam­paign.

Colorado’s newly elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Crow and Ne­guse, both called the news about Ses­sions trou­bling.

“I think it’s very clear this ad­min­is­tra­tion is mak­ing moves to dis­band the Mueller in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and we need to make sure that doesn’t hap­pen,” Crow said. “At least Democrats have the power now to con­duct the in­ves­ti­ga­tions that are nec­es­sary.”

J. Scott Ap­ple­white, The Associated Press

The Capi­tol in Wash­ing­ton is bathed in sun­light Wed­nes­day on the morn­ing after Elec­tion Day as Democrats took back the House with a surge of fresh new can­di­dates and an out­pour­ing of voter en­thu­si­asm, end­ing eight years of Repub­li­can con­trol.

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