With the House and Senate both away from the Capitol this week for the Memorial Day recess, members of the Colorado delegation kept busy with events in the state and their respective districts.
On June 3, Isabella Guzman, head of the Small Business Administration, joined Sen. John Hickenlooper visiting three Front Range restaurants to draw attention to the more than $300 million in new COVID-19 relief funds distributed to more than 1,500 Colorado eateries, bars, breweries and food trucks.
Their itinerary took them to El Pueblito Mexican Restaurant in Greeley, Scrumpy’s Hard Cider Bar and Pub in Fort Collins and Coffee at the Point in Denver.
More flexible than last year's PPP funds, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund grants — pushed by Hickenlooper, a freshman Democrat, in the massive March pandemic relief bill — let food-and-drink establishments cover expenses including payroll, rent, construction, utilities and maintenance. They don't need to be repaid.
“Today, we witnessed the creativity and ingenuity that so many small businesses across America have used to pivot and adapt during this pandemic," said Guzman, on what turned out to be her first visit to small businesses outside the Washington, D.C., area.
"Thanks to the efforts of small business advocates such as Senator Hickenlooper, we have been able to deliver relief swiftly and efficiently to help these businesses recover and rebuild."
Hickenlooper, a former brewpub and restaurant owner, touted the program in a statement: “The restaurants and bars we visited today are small businesses that give life to their communities. They needed a lifeline to stay open after this past year and that’s exactly what these grants will give them.”
SPACE JAM ... Rep. Jason Crow was on hand June 4 in Aurora to welcome Col. Marcus Jackson, the new commander of the renamed Buckley Space Force Base.
Today was a big day for @Buckley_SFB! Congratulations to Col. Marcus Jackson for assuming Command of the newly renamed Buckley Space Force Base. This change is a reflection of the important role space will play as we confront 21st century threats. pic.twitter.com/SHPYQev639— Rep. Jason Crow (@RepJasonCrow) June 4, 2021
"This change is a reflection of the important role space will play as we confront 21st century threats," Crow, a Democrat, tweeted.
IN THE HOPPER ... Sens. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, and Mike Crapo, an Idaho Republican, introduced a bill on June 1 to cover certain cancer diagnostic procedures for Medicare patients.
The Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act would provide coverage for new types of tests that can detect multiple types of cancer before symptoms develop, the lawmakers said.
Under current law, Medicare only covers services authorized by Congress or recommended by a federal task force. Bennet and Crapo's bill would speed the availability of some innovative screenings, possibly saving lives and also saving money on treatment by encouraging early detection, they said in a release.
• Bennet and Sen. James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican, introduced a bill to let Americans access retirement funds to help with family emergencies without facing penalties.
The Enhancing Emergency and Retirement Savings Act would give people more flexibility to deal with unexpected expenses, Bennet said in a statement.
“Nearly four in 10 Americans can’t afford a $400 emergency expense," he said. "I hear all the time from Coloradans who get hit with an unexpected car repair they can’t afford and then lose their job because they can’t make it to work. Millions of families are trapped in this cycle of economic insecurity — one emergency away from everything falling apart."
THE BULLY PULPIT ... Rep. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican, reiterated his calls to rein in Facebook on June 4 after the social media giant announced it was extending its suspension of former President Donald Trump from the platform into 2023 after determining Trump fomented violence ahead of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Buck, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, issued the following statement:
"Facebook is suspending former President Trump for two years, but continuing to allow CCP propaganda, Assad, and human smugglers to use their platform. That is utter hypocrisy, and Facebook must be held accountable.
"Facebook can only censor conservatives because of their monopoly power. Conservatives need to address Facebook’s anticompetitive behavior, or they will never stop censoring."
BRINGING HOME THE BACON ... Bennet, Hickenlooper and Rep. Joe Neguse, a Lafayette Democrat, on June 3 announced the award of $1 million in federal funds to an institute at Colorado State University that encourages bringing energy innovations to market.
Part of the Department of Energy's Energy Program for Innovation Clusters, the award will help CSU's Energy Institute create a commercialization accelerator in collaboration with Innosphere Ventures, the Colorado Energy Research Collaboratory and more than a dozen other partners, the lawmakers said.
“Time and again, Colorado has proven itself as a leader in energy innovation,” said Bennet in a statement. "I'm glad the DOE recognizes the hard work happening in Colorado to unlock new industries and technologies that benefit these communities.”
TWEET OF THE WEEK ... Rep. Ed Perlmutter, an Arvada Democrat, released the latest installment of his office's contributions to the Veterans History Project on June 1.
Conducted by congressional intern Chase Cromwell, the 35-minute interview features Marine Corps combat veteran Michael Knight, who is pursuing a doctorate in material science at the Colorado School of Mines.
"I believe highlighting and preserving our Veterans’ stories is one of the many ways to recognize their service and sacrifice for our country," Perlmutter tweeted. "That's why today I'm proud to share the latest Veterans History Project interview conducted by my office."
It's the fifth interview for the Veterans History Project — part of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center — produced by Perlmutter's office. Previous films, produced in collaboration with community colleges and a high school, include "The Wars We Fought," "The Greatest Generation: Operation Detachment," "Women Warriors: A Vision of Valor," and "MEDIC!" Watch them all here.