Today, John Hickenlooper held a virtual roundtable with teachers, veterans, small business owners, and La Junta Mayor Jeffri Pruyn to hear stories from Coloradans “crushed” by the pandemic and resulting economic crisis. Coloradans united to call on Senator Cory Gardner to act immediately to deliver long-delayed COVID relief as the Senate returns from a month-long vacation.
Four months ago, the House of Representatives passed a COVID relief bill that included desperately needed resources for testing and contact tracing, support for unemployed workers, resources to help schools reopen safely, student loan relief, help for struggling small businesses, and funding to help state and local governments pay frontline workers.
More than 100 days ago, Senator Gardner said it was “unfathomable” the Senate would go on recess without passing COVID relief, yet that’s exactly what they’ve done — multiple times. Months later, Gardner has still failed to pass any additional COVID relief.
“The Senate has let almost four months go by without any type of COVID relief as they come back from a month long vacation,” said Hickenlooper. “When Colorado faced wildfires and floods, we didn’t go on vacation while people were suffering — and we didn’t spend months arguing. We came together and helped communities that were in distress and we were able to build back stronger than before. Now that Senator Cory Gardner is finally back from his month-long vacation, he must get to work to extend emergency unemployment, provide schools with the resources they need to reopen safely, and pass urgently needed relief.”
“Our farmers and ranchers are struggling, our local community college enrollment is way down.” said La Junta Mayor Jeffri Pruyn. “I feel like everybody’s kind of just holding on with their fingertips, hoping that we’ll get somewhere. It’s because the federal government did not take the stance they needed to take in March when we were closing down completely. I know Cory Gardner has been down here, but I must say he does not meet with me. He doesn’t come talk with me because he knows that I’m not going to be the one patting him on the back and telling him what a great job he’s doing. So he doesn’t come, he doesn’t meet with me.”
“I think it’s been unconscionable — Cory Gardner’s hiding from his constituents for the past four years, constantly just dodging being completely unavailable,” said Fort Collins small business owner Becca Bram. “I’ve been over at his office a couple of times trying to find him. Don’t know where he’s been, they’re not seeing us and not talking to us.”
“Well, Senator Gardner I have some words. Schools really need the support of both state and federal governments during this pandemic,” said Lakewood teacher Adrianne Fleming. “I have several educator friends who have spent hundreds of their own dollars on PPE and classroom items while simultaneously facing a pay freeze this year. So teachers need help from every avenue and it simply isn’t coming.”
“I’ve had a lot of people that were good friends of mine that got deployed, and they lost their lives. I don’t think someone who sacrifices for their country is a sucker,” said Pueblo veteran Stephen Varela. “I think that’s the worst thing a person in public office can say. I think it’s unbecoming of them in that position. And the other thing is, Cory Gardner did not say anything — that says a lot. It says that either one, he agrees with the president, or he just doesn’t care about veterans in this community and he doesn’t care about the sacrifice that people are making that are serving their country. So, I was taken back by that and you know what, shame on Cory Gardner for not saying anything and speaking up for his constituents.”