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Senator Hickenlooper outlines his legislative priorities

US Senator John Hickenlooper in 2021
Renee Bouchard
U.S. Senate Photographic Studio
US Senator John Hickenlooper in 2021

For the past of couple years, Democrats ran the show in Washington, D.C., for the most part, holding the White House and both chambers of Congress, albeit by a slim margin.

But the balance of power has shifted following the 2022 midterms as Republicans secured a majority in the House.

Colorado’s Senator John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, was not up for re-election in 2022, and won’t have to run again until 2026.

However Hickenlooper says the recent shift in Washington will affect his, and his party’s, work.

“Everything is going to have to be bipartisan. Which isn't a bad thing. If you look at everything we did in the last congress — a congress is two years — The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, the CHIPS and Science Act, I mean these were big bipartisan bills that were very important,” said Hickenlooper.

Settling into the first months of the new Congress, Hickenlooper says efforts might be less sweeping than legislation passed in 2020 and 2021.

“But really, small projects, I think the Dolores River NCA, the National Conservation Area, that's a classic example. I mean, I think those are the kinds of things we’ll be able to make progress on, as well as implementing the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill,” said Hickenlooper.

“All these bills, that to a large extent are going to deliver resources – money – to counties and municipalities and states all over America.”

Even modest efforts could have a direct impact in Southwest Colorado, such as a proposed bill to conserve the Dolores River.

And when it comes to capturing those funds from past legislation which Hickenlooper speaks of, the task will fall on area county governments.

But, Hickenlooper says, they won’t be working alone.

“Governor Polis is on top of this and is going to hire a couple of staff to help smaller communities access these large amounts of money, and I know my office and Senator Bennet's office are going to train our outreach staff to find what are the best ways to access some of these pools of resources,” he said.

While Hickenlooper himself did not face re-election, many of his colleagues in the Senate did, some decided to retire.

Adjusting to the new session, he notes many of the colleagues he is missing were actually folks from across the aisle,

“It was great to have those kind of older, more experienced Republicans, but a lot of them couldn't stand Donald Trump and when the Republican Party divided over President Trump they left. After January 6th they said ‘We won't support Trump, and therefore we think we can't win a primary,’ and that’s a loss. They were really talented people who really cared about not just the Republican Party but the whole country. Their states and the whole country,” said Hickenlooper.

When it comes to looking ahead, Hickenlooper can’t help but dream of Congress’ summer recess, when legislators take a break from Washington to meet their constituents back home.

The senator notes this is one of the greatest parts of his job, especially when it brings him to Colorado's Southwest corner.

“You know, when I drive around Southwestern, Colorado, I’m doing constituent services. It's part of my job to get to those communities,” he said.

“And again, as you know, spring and summer in Southwest Colorado are one of the most beautiful times of year in one of the most beautiful parts of our country that you could ever have. So we’re going to do town hall meetings and try to get out and meet more people.”

This storywas shared with us via Rocky Mountain Community Radio, a network of public media stations including KDNK in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico.

Gavin McGough