Welcome to DC Doings, a weekly look at the Colorado congressional delegation's activity.
The House and Senate were both in session last week. The House began its seven-week August recess this week, while the Senate stays gaveled in through Friday before breaking for five weeks until a scheduled return on Sept. 13.
CAMP AMACHE PRESERVATION BILL PASSES HOUSE ... A bipartisan bill to designate the former Amache Japanese American internment camp in Southeast Colorado as a national historic site passed the full House on 416-2 vote on July 29.
The bill, sponsored by Reps. Joe Neguse, a Lafayette Democrat, and Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican, heads to the Senate, where a companion bill sponsored by Colorado's two senators, Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, both Democrats, awaits.
“Designation of Amache as a national historic site will help us to honor and preserve the stories of many survivors who lived through this dark moment in our nation’s history, and provide education and healing for future generations," said Neguse in a statement.
Said Buck, who originally introduced the bill in an earlier Congress: “Our nation is better today because of the lessons we have learned from our past. The Amache National Historic Site Act is important because it recognizes the horrible injustices committed against Japanese Americans and preserves the site for people throughout Colorado and the United States. I’m grateful to my colleagues in the House for voting to pass this legislation today and I hope my colleagues in the Senate will prioritize swift passage.”
Bennet applauded the bill's passage in the House.
“It has never been a guarantee that America's highest ideals will always prevail, and our country’s shameful internment of Japanese Americans during World War II proves that,” he said in a statement.
“Establishing Amache as a part of the National Park System will preserve its story, so that future generations learn from this dark period in our history. As this legislation advances out of the House, I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to pass this important bill.”
Said Hickenlooper: “We’re one step closer to making Amache a National Historic Site. Preserving Amache is about what we choose to remember and what we commit ourselves to prevent. The ball is now in the Senate’s court.”
The other members of Colorado's delegation signed on as co-sponsors include Democratic Reps. Diana DeGette of Denver, Jason Crow of Centennial and Ed Perlmutter of Arvada.
THE AYES HAVE IT ... The House Small Business Committee passed bipartisan legislation sponsored by Crow on July 29 to strengthen the Small Business Administration's ability to handle cybersecurity threats that affect small businesses.
The bill, the SBA Cybersecurity Act, also sponsored by Republican Rep. Young Kim of California, would require the SBA to issue a report assessing its ability to deal with cyber threats. It would also require that the SBA notify Congress with details about any future breaches.
“Cyberattacks are one of the biggest threats to our economy and small businesses, and this bill would ensure that we are doing everything we can to protect the millions of small businesses the SBA serves,” Crow said in a statement.
IN THE HOPPER ... Crow introduced bipartisan legislation on July 26 authorizing the U.S. Postal Service to issue a stamp to help fund medical treatment for veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Veterans Health Care Stamp Act of 2021 would lead to sales of what's known as a "semipostal" stamp, sold at a premium — usually 10 cents on a 55 cent stamp — to help raise funds for a specified cause. Examples include a stamp boosting breast cancer research and one devoted to "saving vanishing species."
Others who are sponsoring the legislation include Democratic Rep. Colin Allred of Texas and Republican Reps. Michael C. Burgess of Texas and Neal Dunn of Florida.
Crow, a decorated Army Ranger veteran, said in a statement: “When I came back from war and served as a veteran advocate in Colorado, I saw how many men and women were let down by the country they served. We owe our veterans a debt of gratitude that we can never fully repay. The Veterans Health Care Stamp Act is a commonsense way that all Americans can give back to those that served by helping to increase veterans’ access to quality health care.”
• Buck joined with Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee on July 26 to introduce a bill meant to encourage grocery stores to open in so-called "food deserts," areas where residents lack easy access to nutritious food.
The Supermarket Tax Credit for Underserved Areas Act would increase tax credits for companies that establish a grocery store in an area that needs one and create a tax credit for selling fresh fruit and vegetables.
“Access to fresh and affordable food is fundamental to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but tragically, over 20 million Americans currently live in a food desert. In fact, many communities throughout Colorado and the 4th Congressional District are food deserts," Buck said in a statement.
Buck said he recently learned that the only grocery store in the Eastern Plains town of Selbert had closed, adding: "Our bipartisan bill ... offers incentives to open and maintain grocery stores in communities like Seibert to ensure a stable supply of healthy food.”
View the USDA's food desert locator here.
• Perlmutter introduced legislation on July 27 that would direct NASA to study whether it's a good idea to establish a space research hub at an academic institution in order to help the U.S. keep its edge in space exploration and research.
The Space Resources Institute Act is co-sponsored by Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Springs Republican, and has backing from the Colorado School of Mines and the Colorado Space Grant Consortium.
“Space exploration fuels American innovation and Americans’ desire to explore the universe,” Perlmutter said in a statement. “The study of space resources is one of the many exciting frontiers ahead for deep space exploration and ensuring coordinated research and technology development in this field will play an important role in Colorado’s aerospace economy and future space missions, including getting our astronauts to the Moon and onto Mars.”
• Bennet joined with Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Joni Ernst of Iowa and Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia to introduce a bill on July 27 to improve a national suicide hotline and related mental health crisis centers.
The Suicide and Crisis Outreach Prevention Enhancement Act is intended to boost awareness of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — a national network of crisis centers linked through a toll-free phone number — and compile data on those using the service. The bill would also increase the program's capacity.
“Everywhere I go, I hear about the growing mental health crisis that is causing heartbreak and loss in Colorado communities and across the country,” Bennet said in a statement.
“As we work to invest in smart resources to end this crisis and prevent further loss of life, it’s crucial that we also address the racial and socioeconomic disparities in access to mental and behavioral health care. Our bipartisan legislation will strengthen the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to support all individuals in crisis and help reduce disparities in access to the program.”
• Bennet and Hickenlooper on July 27 introduced legislation to support clean energy technologies that are still in their early stages in order help the country cut emissions in coming years.
The Energy Sector Innovation Credit Act would offer flexible investment or production tax credits to promote innovation across the spectrum of clean energy technologies, the senators said, including storage, carbon capture and hydrogen production. A report by the International Energy Agency, they noted, predicts that 40% of anticipated emission reductions will be achieved with technologies that are not yet commercially available on a wide scale.
“Meeting our climate goals demands an all-of-the above approach — and that includes meaningful investment in clean energy innovation,” Bennet said in a statement.
The proposed tax credit, he added, "will help jumpstart the development of promising emerging technologies vital to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and fighting climate change, accelerating their deployment and helping ensure they can compete with higher-emitting energy sources in the market.”
Said Hickenlooper: “Clean energy must be affordable if we’re going to meet our emissions goals. That means we must innovate. This tax credit will enable us to scale clean energy solutions while keeping costs down for consumers.”
• Hickenlooper and Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee introduced a bill on July 28 to create a grant program for rural health care providers in order to increase staffing and equipment while staying open for more hours.
The Rural Health Innovation Act would help rural providers expand operations by offering $500,000 grants for existing facilities and up to $750,000 for new operations.
“Health clinics and public health departments function as lifelines in rural communities," Hickenlooper said in a statement. "These providers regularly make the difference between life and death. We need to support them and give them the resources they need to improve health outcomes in our rural areas."
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN ... Rep. Lauren Boebert of Silt joined 40 of her fellow House Republicans on a letter asking for a briefing from leading Biden Administration officials about their response to the West's drought.
Others on the letter include Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Dan Newhouse, chairman of the Western Caucus, and Rep. Bruce Westerman, ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources.
The letter went to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
Said Boebert in a statement: “The most frustrating part about the drought crisis is that there are bipartisan actions we can take to reduce its severity. Unfortunately, Democrats are too focused on uprooting the entire country with their Green New Deal policies to work on commonsense solutions that help rural communities. To date, all we’ve got to address the drought crisis from the Biden regime is talking points with no real substance. While dam-busting Democrats are focusing on destroying water storage projects, I’m busy working on real solutions that put rural communities first.”
FOR THE RECORD ... Buck included material in the July 28 Congressional Record celebrating Douglas County's ranking as the second-healthiest community in the country this year by U.S. News and World Report.
“Douglas County’s 63,000 acres of natural land are home to three state parks, the Reuter-Hess Reservoir, the Devil’s Head National Recreation Trail, and the beautiful Rocky Mountains — all of which enjoy 300 days of sunshine each year," Buck said. "Residents of the community value the parks and nature and consistently prioritize health and wellness.
“Douglas County’s rank as the second healthiest county is a testament to the beautiful nature and the quality of life in the community. I am honored to celebrate this well-deserved recognition alongside the residents of Douglas County, Colorado.”
The fast-growing suburban county came in second on the list last year and in 2018, and topped the list in 2019.
TWEET OF THE WEEK ... Members of the delegation wished followers a happy 145th Colorado Day on Aug. 1, celebrating when Colorado became a state.
While several found graphics featuring the state flag or iconic scenery from the state and a few noted that state parks are free on Aug. 2, Hickenlooper posted a clip that depicts him and Gov. Jared Polis biting into fresh Palisade peaches.
"There are so many things that make our state so great — one of them being peach season!" Hickenlooper tweeted.
"Happy 145th Birthday Colorado! #ColoradoDay"