A Senate hearing on a forest health bill critical to Summit County was cancelled Tuesday.
Local Democratic leader accuses Republicans of obstructionist tactics by using obscure U.S. Senate rule on timing of hearing in backlash over health care passage
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — A U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing on a forest health bill set for today was canceled, with no word on when it might be rescheduled.
State Sen. Dan Gibbs was in Washington, D.C. to testify in support of the measure, which could help speed fire mitigation and forest health logging projects in Summit County.
According to Gibbs and Summit County Democratic Party chair Lucinda Burns, Republican senators blocked the hearing by using an arcane rule that requires unanimous consent of senators in both parties to agree to hearings scheduled after 2 p.m.
Denver Post political editor Curtis Hubbard blogged about the partisan gridlock, with a quote from Gibbs.
“It is critical that this hearing go forward — especially with Senator Gibbs in Washington to explain how important this bipartisan bill is to Coloradans,” said U.S. Senator Mark Udall, one of the co-sponsors of the bipartisan measure.
According to a e-mail from Burns, Republicans blocked the hearing because they’re angry about passage of the health care bill. She wrote that the Republicans have vowed to not cooperate with Democrats for the rest of the year.
Udall agreed with that assessment.
“Delay just prevents urgently needed resources from going to Colorado communities threatened by beetle-killed trees,” Udall said. ”I strongly urge my colleagues to re-think their strategy. This is a matter of public safety, and that’s too important for political gamesmanship.”
Republican officials in the U.S. Senate could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.
Filed under: federal government | Tagged: Forest health, politics, U.S. Senate | 3 Comments »