One year ago, U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper arrived in Washington in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment was high, millions of children couldn’t go to school, and thousands of small businesses had shuttered. And on his first full day of work, January 6th, our nation experienced an attempted breach of democracy.
We’ve come a long way in one year. Here’s just some of what we’ve accomplished:
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
Hickenlooper was part of a bipartisan group of 22 Senators – one of only two freshmen – who negotiated and wrote the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The bill passed with 69 bipartisan votes, showing the world that Congress can still function.
Hickenlooper-authored provisions include:
- The RECHARGE Act: Hickenlooper’s first bill to become law helps fight climate change by making it cheaper to drive electric vehicles.
- Marijuana Research: Hickenlooper’s amendment requires the federal government to recommend ways for researchers to access marijuana samples and study how marijuana impairs driving. This was one of the first provisions on THC to pass Congress and become law.
- RTD Loan Deposit: Hickenlooper helped secure a provision to require the U.S. Department of Transportation to quickly return $28.9 million, plus interest, for a deposit that RTD made on a federal loan to redevelop Denver’s Union Station.
- Universal Broadband: Hickenlooper helped write the broadband section of the legislation. This $65 billion investment will help close the digital divide and lower internet costs for consumers.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill is our nation’s largest investment in infrastructure since the New Deal. Colorado is set to receive billions for key priorities, including:
- Roads and Bridges: $3.7 billion for roads and $225 million for bridge replacement and repairs. $716 million is already headed to Colorado.
- High-Speed Internet: At least $100 million to provide internet coverage to the 85,000 Coloradans who currently lack it.
- 1,282,000 Coloradans will be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit, which helps low-income families afford internet access.
- Public Transportation: $917 million over five years for upgrades and improvement to public transit and $432 million for airports. $86 million is already headed to 49 Colorado airports in 2022.
- Electric Vehicle Charging: $57 million over five years to support the expansion of an electric vehicle (EV) charging network. Colorado will also have the opportunity to apply for a share of the $2.5 billion in grant funding.
- Clean Water: $688 million over five years for drinking water infrastructure updates and lead pipe removal, including dedicated funding for Tribal access to clean water. $121 million is already headed to Colorado in 2022.
The bill is also Congress’ largest-ever investment in climate change.
In addition to Hickenlooper’s RECHARGE Act and funding for a national EV charging network, the bill includes:
- Clean Energy: $73 billion for transmission lines, grid reliability, carbon capture and direct air capture, clean hydrogen, energy efficiency, and other energy innovation priorities.
- Climate Resilience: $43 billion for wildfire and drought resiliency, weatherization, flood mitigation, and cybersecurity for critical infrastructure, with at least $51 million headed to Colorado. This includes $8.3 billion for Western water infrastructure, including conservation and efficiency.
- Pollution Remediation: $21 billion to address pollution cleanup, including Superfund sites and abandoned coal mines and oil and gas wells. The bill also authorizes a new program to clean up abandoned hardrock mines.
|WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: Denver Post Editorial Board: Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill “offers a compelling future for America and Congress… We like that vision, as well as a vision of Congress where partisan rancor is set aside for the good of the American people.”|
Alamosa Valley Courier: “Priorities important to Coloradans are reflected throughout the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act”
CBS Denver: Hickenlooper “helped negotiate the bill’s passage and says it will fund not only hundreds of road projects but a new runway at DIA and clean drinking water”
Grand Junction Daily Sentinel Editorial Board: “We’ll take any positive sign that the system — so often reduced to dysfunction in the last decade — can still work when experienced politicians work together for the good of the country instead of obstructing.”
Colorado Public Radio: “Part of the reason is Hickenlooper’s natural optimism, a trait he’s had since his entrepreneurial days, when he had to believe there was a solution able to fix any problem that came along.”
The American Rescue Plan
Hickenlooper’s election was essential for securing a Democratic Senate majority, which immediately got to work helping families and small businesses get through the COVID-19 health and economic crisis. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) has done more to support low-income and middle class families than any piece of legislation in a generation.
Key programs Hickenlooper supported include:
- Cash to Coloradans: The American Rescue Plan helped families survive during the pandemic.
- 4.7 million Coloradans received stimulus checks of up to $1,400
- Lifted 57,000 Colorado kids out of poverty with an expanded Child Tax Credit
- $300 million in emergency rental assistance helped low-income households and the unemployed afford rent and utilities
- Lower Health Care Costs: The American Rescue Plan increased and expanded eligibility for health insurance premium subsidies and lowered COBRA coverage costs for out of work Coloradans.
- Four out of five Coloradans who buy insurance via Connect for Health Colorado qualify for health insurance plans with premiums of $25 or less through 2022. That’s a 49% reduction in average costs for working class families!
- Small Business Relief: Small businesses – especially in communities of color – had trouble accessing the Paycheck Protection Program. Hickenlooper made supporting small businesses a priority and helped get COVID relief to those that needed it most.
- 1,762 Colorado restaurants, bars, breweries, caterers, food trucks, and others received nearly $500 million in Restaurant Revitalization Fund grants to help keep their doors open
- 469 Shuttered Venue Operators Grants to entertainment and cultural venues, totaling over $230 million to ensure that live music can continue thriving in Colorado
- At Hickenlooper’s urging, the Small Business Administration tripled the cap on Economic Injury Disaster Loans for COVID-19
- Aid to Schools, Hospitals, and Local Governments: Hickenlooper supported relief to get kids back in school, vaccine shots in arms, and local economies working again.
- $6 billion in direct aid to Colorado state and local governments; state task forces are currently developing plans to invest remaining funding in affordable housing, mental health, economic recovery, higher education, and workforce development
- $1.2 billion for Colorado K-12 schools to reopen safely and address the significant impact of the pandemic on students’ education and well-being
- $466 million for Colorado child care providers to help them keep their doors open and reduce costs for struggling families, plus another $10.8 million for Head Start
- Funding to help get the COVID-19 vaccine to 4 million Coloradans and nearly $17 million to help modernize 19 Colorado health care centers across the state
Serving Coloradans, in Washington and Back Home
Since day one, Hickenlooper has prioritized world class constituent service while helping establish Colorado as a powerhouse in Washington.
Back home, Hickenlooper has:
- Held four Virtual Town Halls, reaching nearly 10,000 Coloradans
- Responded to over 600,000 constituent letters and received 70,000 calls
- Visited 32 Colorado towns and held more than 200 meetings with constituents (at least 3 at breweries)
- Helped 1,700 Coloradans resolve issues with government agencies, such as VA and Social Security benefits, unemployment, and immigration
- Hosted five Cabinet Secretaries – Deb Haaland, Tom Vilsack, Xavier Becerra, Isabel Guzman, and Jennifer Granholm
- Established a permanent Bureau of Land Management Western Headquarters in Grand Junction
In Washington, Hickenlooper hit the ground running:
- Became the first freshman Democrat in 42 years to chair two subcommittees, the Commerce Subcommittee on Space and Science and the HELP Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety
- Voted 527 times on the Senate floor, including confirming a diverse slate of 40 federal judges and dozens of groundbreaking administration officials. It’s the most confirmed judges in a year since the Reagan Administration.
- Recommended and voted to confirm two Coloradans as federal judges, two more as U.S. Ambassadors, and Colorado’s new U.S. Attorney; also recommended four Coloradans who were appointed to leadership positions at federal agencies
- Voted to reinstate Obama-era limits on methane emissions modeled after those Hickenlooper pioneered in Colorado; also welcomed over 100 nations committing to methane reductions at the U.N. Climate Conference
- Sponsored 24 bills and amendments, and co-sponsored another 123 – 57% of the bills are bipartisan
- Attended 111 committee and subcommittee hearings – and chaired three!
And he still had time for five concerts (including Bob Dylan).
For a high-resolution version of the map above, CLICK HERE.
| AND HERE’S WHAT’S IN PROGRESS: |
The CORE ACT: The CORE Act received a hearing and is on track for a committee vote as early as January. Hickenlooper secured the Biden Administration’s support for the bill to protect 400,000 acres of public lands.
SPACE COMMAND: Hickenlooper has repeatedly led bipartisan groups of lawmakers in urging the Biden Administration to keep U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs, where it belongs. Two federal Inspectors General are currently reviewing the potential move and share regular updates on their progress.
AMACHE: Hickenlooper secured committee passage of a bill to make Amache, a former Japanese internment camp in Southeast Colorado, a National Historic Site. The bill now heads to the Senate floor.
SMALL BUSINESS: As his first legislation, Hickenlooper introduced a package of bills to increase access to Small Business Administration resources for underserved individuals, communities, and small businesses. Three of those bills were included in the House-passed reconciliation bill.
VOTING RIGHTS: After Republicans blocked debate on three separate bills to protect voting rights, Hickenlooper called for filibuster reform. The Senate is expected to take up the issue again in January.
CLIMATE CHANGE: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill was just a start. Hickenlooper is continuing to work toward a reconciliation package that includes strong investments to address climate change, and has been pushing to include a price on carbon emissions. His COMPETES Act to end non-competitive oil and gas leasing was included in the House and Senate reconciliation proposals.
IMMIGRATION: The Senate must tackle comprehensive immigration reform once and for all, including a pathway to citizenship. While Congress stalls, Hickenlooper has pushed the Biden Administration to expand the DACA program, reunite families, and recapture unused green cards. Hickenlooper cosponsors several bills to make our immigration system more just.
PARKS & EQUITY: The House-passed reconciliation bill includes a version of Hickenlooper’s legislation to help state and local governments build new parks and increase access to the outdoors in underserved communities.
21st CENTURY WORKFORCE: The pandemic has emphasized how important it is to build a workforce that empowers entrepreneurs, women, and people of color, while offering opportunities for success without a college degree. Hickenlooper is working on several proposals to help bring our economy into the 21st century, including expanding access to innovation and research, upskilling, and retirement security.
PANDEMIC PREPAREDNESS: Preventing the next pandemic will save countless lives while heading off another economic catastrophe. Hickenlooper is working on legislation to prioritize research into pathogens of pandemic concern, to improve vaccine supply chains, and helped secure $10 billion in pandemic preparedness funding in the Senate reconciliation proposal.
SPACE, SCIENCE & TECH: The Senate-passed U.S. Innovation and Competition Act includes provisions Hickenlooper supports to supercharge scientific research and innovation, help the U.S. compete internationally, train the next generation of scientists, reauthorize NASA, mitigate orbital debris, and address the semiconductor shortage. The bill will go to a conference negotiation between the Senate and House of Representatives early this year.
APPROPRIATIONS: Hickenlooper secured $85 million in funding for 50 Colorado projects in this year’s appropriations bills. Congress is expected to pass fiscal year 2022 government funding in February.
For a PDF version of the fact sheet above, CLICK HERE.