Current Position: US Senator since 2009
Chair, Subcommittee Conservation, Forestry and Natural Resources
“We must meet the promise each generation has made to the next: to leave more opportunity, not less, for our kids and grandkids.” Michael Bennet
Senator Bennet Remembers Victims of Boulder Shooting in Floor Speech, Calls for Action
Source: Government page
Fox 21 News, – September 16, 2021 (Medium)
DENVER—Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined a group of senators in writing the Biden administration to urge them to implement the wildland firefighter pay and personnel provisions into the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
While battling historic wildfires across the West, federal firefighting agencies are facing major staffing shortfalls due to a significant pay gap between federal and state wildland firefighters.
In a letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the Office of Personnel Management Director Kiran Ahuja, the senators wrote the following letter:
Dear Secretary Haaland, Secretary Vilsack, and Director Ahuja:
We write today in support of the bipartisan infrastructure bill (the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) and urge you to prepare for rapid implementation of provisions relating to federal wildland firefighters. Specifically, we ask that your agencies begin working together now to be in position to swiftly implement the pay increase for federal wildland firefighters, the development of a distinct “wildland firefighter” occupational series, and the conversion of at least 1,000 seasonal firefighting positions to permanent positions once this bill is signed into law….
Source: Government page
Michael Bennet has represented Colorado in the United States Senate since 2009. Recognized as a pragmatic and independent thinker, he is driven by an obligation to create more opportunity for the next generation. Michael has built a reputation of taking on Washington dysfunction and working with Republicans and Democrats to address our nation’s greatest challenges— including education, climate change, immigration, health care, and national security.
Before serving in the Senate, Michael worked to restructure failing businesses and helped create the world’s largest movie theater chain. As superintendent of the Denver Public Schools, he led one of the most extensive reform efforts in the country, resulting in substantial, sustained academic improvement for Denver’s children.
He lives in Denver with his wife and three daughters.
- Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
- Subcommittee on Commodities, Markets, Trade and Risk Management
- Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry and Natural Resources (Chair)
- Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy
- Committee on Finance
- Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure (Chair)
- Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight
- Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy
- Select Committee on Intelligence
WASHINGTON, DC OFFICE
261 Russell Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510
DENVER METRO OFFICE
Cesar E. Chavez Memorial Building
1244 Speer Boulevard
Denver, CO 80204
Toll Free: 866-455-9866
PIKES PEAK OFFICE
409 North Tejon Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
225 North 5th Street
Grand Junction, CO 81501
NORTHERN COLORADO & EASTERN PLAINS OFFICE
1200 South College Avenue
Fort Collins, CO 80524
1309 East 3rd Avenue, Suite 101
Durango, CO 81301
SOUTHEAST & ARKANSAS VALLEY OFFICE
129 West B Street
Pueblo, CO 81003
SAN LUIS VALLEY OFFICE
609 Main Street
Alamosa, CO 81101
- Chief of staff to mayor of Denver
2003 to 2005
Denver Public Schools
2005 to 2009
Birth Year: 1964
Place of Birth: New Delhi, India
Spouse: Susan Daggett
Children: Halina Bennet, Caroline Bennet, Anne Bennet
Washington D.C. Office
261 Russell Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510
Denver Metro Office
Cesar E. Chavez Memorial Building
1244 Speer Boulevard
Denver, CO 80204
Pikes Peak Office
409 North Tejon Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
San Luis Valley Office
609 Main Street
Alamosa, CO 81101
225 North 5th Street
Grand Junction, CO 81501
Michael Farrand Bennet (born November 28, 1964) is an American businessman, lawyer, and politician serving as the senior United States Senator from Colorado, a seat he has held since 2009. A member of the Democratic Party, he was appointed to the seat when Senator Ken Salazar became Secretary of the Interior. Bennet previously worked as a managing director for the Anschutz Investment Company, chief of staff to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, and Superintendent of Denver Public Schools.
Bennet is the son of Douglas J. Bennet, a former State Department official and president of Wesleyan University. Early in his career, Bennet worked for Ohio Governor Richard Celeste. He went on to receive his Juris Doctor degree from Yale Law School, after which he worked as a law clerk and later as Counsel to the U.S. Deputy Attorney General in the Bill Clinton administration.
Bennet became superintendent of the Denver public school system in July 2005. In late 2008 he was speculated to be a candidate for Obama’s United States Secretary of Education. He was appointed by Governor Bill Ritter to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Ken Salazar when Salazar became Secretary of the Interior in January 2009. Bennet was elected in the 2010 Senate election, defeating Republican Ken Buck. He chaired the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) for the 2014 cycle and was reelected to the Senate in 2016.
On May 2, 2019, Bennet announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. He dropped out of the race on February 11, 2020, after a poor showing in the New Hampshire primary.
Early life and education
Bennet was born in New Delhi, India. His mother is Susanne Christine Bennet (née Klejman), a retired elementary school librarian and Jewish Holocaust survivor who was born in 1938 in Warsaw, Poland, and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1950. Her parents survived imprisonment in the Warsaw Ghetto. His father is Douglas J. Bennet, who was born in New Jersey, a Christian who served as an aide to Chester Bowles, then the U.S. ambassador to India, ran the United States Agency for International Development under President Jimmy Carter, served as President and CEO of National Public Radio (1983–93), and as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs in the Clinton administration (1993–95). His grandfather Douglas Bennet was an economic adviser in Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s administration.
Bennet grew up in Washington, D.C. as his father served as an aide to Vice President Hubert Humphrey, among others. He was held back in second grade because of his dyslexia. He was enrolled at St. Albans School, an elite all-boys preparatory school, and served as a page on Capitol Hill.
In 1987, Bennet earned his Bachelor of Arts in history from Wesleyan University, the alma mater of his father and grandfather. At Wesleyan he was a member of Beta Theta Pi. Bennet earned his J.D. degree from Yale Law School, where he was the Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law Journal.
From 1988 until 1990, when he left to attend Yale, he served as an aide to Ohio Governor Richard Celeste. After law school he served as a law clerk for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and as an associate to Washington, D.C. attorney Lloyd Cutler. He then served as Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General during the Bill Clinton administration. His father, Douglas Bennet worked in the Clinton White House as well, as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs. Following a stint as an assistant to the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, Bennet left the legal world and moved West. After briefly living in Montana, he moved with his fiancé to Colorado in 1997. Bennet worked for six years in Denver as Managing Director for the Anschutz Investment Company, where he led the reorganization of an oil company and helped consolidate three movie theater chains into the Regal Entertainment Group.
While working for Anschutz, Bennet befriended fellow Wesleyan alumnus John Hickenlooper, informally advising the latter’s successful campaign for mayor of Denver. Moving back into public service, Bennet served for two years as Hickenlooper’s Chief of Staff.
The Denver Board of Education selected Bennet as superintendent of Denver Public Schools on June 27, 2005, and he took office on July 1. He had no experience as a school administrator. Under Bennet’s leadership, the Denver Public School system grew student enrollment, decreased dropout rates, and improved graduation rates and college enrollment. Those trends have continued since Bennet left the office. Bennet collaborated with educators and community members to develop the Denver Plan, a commitment to increase student success by focusing on higher expectations, better professional learning opportunities for educators, and deeper engagement with the community and stakeholders. Bennet and the City of Denver also partnered with private philanthropists to increase college enrollment and affordability for DPS graduates. The Denver Post said of his tenure, “Bennet has been a force—pushing reforms and steering the state’s second-largest district to a culture of success.”
In 2008 Bennet persuaded the Denver Board of Education to enter into a 30-year, $750 million financial bond transaction with variable interest rates designed to fluctuate as economic conditions changed. According to The New York Times, “In short order, the transaction went awry because of stress in the credit markets, problems with the bond insurer and plummeting interest rates.” As of 2010 the school system had paid $115 million in interest and other fees, at least $25 million more than it originally anticipated.
Bennet was among the many officials whose names were circulated for United States Secretary of Education in the Obama administration, a position eventually filled by Arne Duncan. He and his wife were early Obama supporters during the 2008 Democratic primaries, and he was among those who advised Obama on education issues.
On January 3, 2009, Bennet was named by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter to fill the seat in the United States Senate vacated by United States Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on January 20. Ritter chose Bennet after interviewing several prominent Colorado Democrats, and Bennet took the job with the blessing of Hickenlooper. Upon taking office on January 21, 2009, he became the youngest senator in the 111th United States Congress, and he stated that he would seek election at the end of his term in 2010.
In his January 2011 article in Time, titled “Shaking Schools Up in an Already Tumultuous Year,” Andrew J. Rotherham said of Bennet: “If the federal No Child Left Behind Act is modified this year, or if anything else of significance happens in Washington on education policy, this Colorado Democrat will be at the center of it.”
Bennet ran for election for a full term as Senator from Colorado in the 2010 election. On September 16, 2009, former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff announced his campaign to challenge Bennet for the Democratic nomination. Bennet received endorsements from President Obama, U.S. Senator Mark Udall, and U.S. Representatives Betsy Markey, Jared Polis, and John Salazar of the Colorado congressional delegation. He raised $7 million and had a four-to-one cash advantage over Romanoff.
On August 10, 2010, Bennet defeated Romanoff in the primary and won his party’s nomination, facing Republican candidate Ken Buck. The campaign became one of the most expensive in the country, with the candidates spending a reported $15 million combined, and outside groups another $30 million. Bennet portrayed Buck as an extremist conservative opposed to abortion and direct election of Senators, while Buck and the groups supporting him characterized Bennet as a big-spending liberal.
On November 3, the day after polls closed, Bennet was declared the winner and Buck conceded. Bennet won by 851,590 votes (48.1%) to 822,731 (46.4%). He subsequently returned to Washington, D.C. in January 2011 to start a full six-year term. After the election, Obama said Bennet “perfectly reflects the qualities of the ruggedly independent state he has been chosen to serve.”
Bennet was reelected to a second term on November 8, 2016, defeating the Republican nominee, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn. Bennet received 1.36 million votes, 156,248 more than Glenn. He received 31,780 more votes than Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who won the state in the presidential election. Bennet received more votes than any other Democrat in a statewide race in Colorado history. He also won more votes in Colorado’s rural counties than any other statewide Democrat in state history.
Bennet announced that he would seek reelection to a third term in 2022.
In the wake of the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol, Bennet called for the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution to be invoked to remove Trump from office.
Bennet sits on the following committees and subcommittees in the 115th United States Congress (2017–19).
- Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
- Committee on Finance
- Select Committee on Intelligence
In September 2009, Bennet cosponsored the DREAM Act (S. 729), which proposed amending the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 by giving residency to immigrants enrolled in higher education programs or serving in the military. In 2013, he was a member of the Gang of Eight, a bipartisan group of four Democratic and four Republican U.S. Senators who introduced comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Their bill, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, passed the U.S. Senate with a vote of 68-32, but stalled in the House due to opposition from the Republican majority. He later cosponsored the Dream Act of 2017. After President Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Bennet worked with a bipartisan group of Senators to provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers with stronger border protections.
In August 2018, Bennet was one of 17 senators to sign a letter spearheaded by Kamala Harris to United States Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen demanding that the Trump administration take immediate action in attempting to reunite 539 migrant children with their families, citing each passing day of inaction as intensifying “trauma that this administration has needlessly caused for children and their families seeking humanitarian protection.”
In June 2019, Bennet and six other Democratic senators led by Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz sent letters to the Government Accountability Office and the suspension and debarment official and inspector general at the US Department of Health and Human Services citing recent reports that showed “significant evidence that some federal contractors and grantees have not provided adequate accommodations for children in line with legal and contractual requirements” and urged the officials to determine whether federal contractors and grantees are in violation of contractual obligations or federal regulations and should thus face financial consequences.
In July 2019, following reports that the Trump administration intended to cease protecting spouses, parents and children of active-duty service members from deportation, Bennet was one of 22 senators led by Tammy Duckworth to sign a letter arguing that the protection gave service members the ability “to fight for the United States overseas and not worry that their spouse, children, or parents will be deported while they are away” and that its termination would both cause service members personal hardship and negatively affect their combat performance.
Also in July 2019, Markey and 15 other Senate Democrats introduced the Protecting Sensitive Locations Act, which would require, except in special circumstances, that ICE agents get approval from a supervisor before engaging in enforcement actions at sensitive locations, and that agents receive annual training in addition to reporting annually on enforcement actions in those locations.
In October 2017, Bennet was one of 19 senators to sign a letter to Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt questioning Pruitt’s decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan, asserting that Pruitt used “mathematical sleights of hand to overstate the costs of industry compliance with the 2015 Rule and understate the benefits that will be lost if the 2017 repeal is finalized”, and that science denial and math tricks fail to “satisfy the requirements of the law, nor will it slow the increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, the inexorable rise in sea levels, or the other dire effects of global warming that our planet is already experiencing.”
In November 2018, Bennet was one of 25 Democratic senators to cosponsor a resolution in response to findings of the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change report and National Climate Assessment. The resolution affirmed the senators’ acceptance of the findings and their support for bold action to address climate change.
In March 2019, Bennet was an original cosponsor of a bipartisan bill intended to mandate that the Environmental Protection Agency declare per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances as hazardous substances that can be addressed with cleanup funds via the EPA Superfund law and require that polluters undertake or pay for remediation within a year of the bill’s enaction.
In April 2019, Bennet was one of 12 senators to sign a bipartisan letter to top senators on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development advocating that the Energy Department be granted maximum funding for carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), arguing that American job growth could be stimulated by investment in capturing carbon emissions and expressing disagreement with President Trump’s 2020 budget request to combine the two federal programs that do carbon capture research.
In September 2019, Bennet was one of eight senators to sign a bipartisan letter to congressional leadership requesting full and lasting funding of the Land and Water Conservation Act in order to aid national parks and public lands, benefit the $887 billion American outdoor recreation economy, and “ensure much-needed investment in our public lands and continuity for the state, tribal, and non-federal partners who depend on them.”
As of 2010, Bennet had earned a “C+” grade from the National Rifle Association for a mixed record regarding his votes for gun rights. In 2012, Bennet joined then Colorado Senator Mark Udall in asking for stricter gun control, in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. After the shooting, Bennet said, “In Colorado, we support the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, we support the ability of people to hunt and recreate and to protect their families and homes, and we want to keep the wrong weapons out of the hands of the wrong people.”
Bennet participated in the Chris Murphy gun control filibuster, demanding that gun laws be changed in the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting. During his participation in the filibuster, Bennet talked about the 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooting, citing that as a response to the shooting, the state of Colorado closed gun sale loopholes and now requires background checks for any gun purchase.
In 2013, Bennet voted against a Senate Amendment 711 to S. 649 (), an amendment introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that would have reinstated the federal assault weapons ban. The amendment was defeated 40-60 with one Republican, Mark Kirk, voting in favor and 16 Democrats (including independent Senator Angus King, who caucuses with Democrats) against. Also in 2013 Bennet voted to strengthen the background check system and to ban high-capacity magazines.
Bennet owns a shotgun, which he has called a “hunting shotgun”.
In July 2017, Bennet co-sponsored the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (s. 720), which permits U.S. states to enact laws that require contractors to sign a pledge saying they will not boycott goods from Israel, or their contracts will be terminated.
In March 2018, Bennet voted against tabling[clarification needed] a resolution spearheaded by Bernie Sanders, Chris Murphy, and Mike Lee that would have required Trump to withdraw American troops either in or influencing Yemen within the next 30 days unless they were combating Al-Qaeda.
In November 2018, Bennet joined Senators Chris Coons, Elizabeth Warren, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers in sending the Trump administration a letter raising concerns about the People’s Republic of China‘s undue influence on media outlets and academic institutions in the United States. They wrote: “In American news outlets, Beijing has used financial ties to suppress negative information about the CCP. In the past four years, multiple media outlets with direct or indirect financial ties to China allegedly decided not to publish stories on wealth and corruption in the CCP. In one case, an editor resigned due to mounting self-censorship in the outlet’s China coverage. Beijing has also sought to use relationships with American academic institutions and student groups to shape public discourse.”
In April 2019, Bennet was one of 34 senators to sign a letter to Trump about cutting aid to Central America. It encouraged Trump “to listen to members of your own Administration and reverse a decision that will damage our national security and aggravate conditions inside Central America,” asserting that Trump had “consistently expressed a flawed understanding of U.S. foreign assistance” since becoming president and that he was “personally undermining efforts to promote U.S. national security and economic prosperity” by preventing the use of Fiscal Year 2018 national security funding. The senators argued that foreign assistance to Central American countries created less migration to the U.S. by helping to improve conditions in those countries.
Health care policy
Bennet voted in support of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. In November 2009, when the bill was still working its way through Congress, Bennet said that he would support health care reform even if it meant losing the election. In 2016, describing the healthcare costs in western and central Colorado as among the highest in the United States, Bennet said he “didn’t have answers” and called it “next to impossible” to fix the Affordable Care Act given partisan attitudes at that time.
As part of a group of Democrats proposing “more incremental steps to broaden health care coverage”, as opposed to Bernie Sanders‘s push for “Medicare for All”, Bennet and Senator Tim Kaine have proposed “Medicare X”. Medicare X would “create a public option modeled after Medicare alongside private options on the ObamaCare marketplaces“. In 2019 Bennet and Kaine reintroduced the latest version of the plan, which would also “expand access to tax credits.”
In January 2019 during the 2018–19 United States federal government shutdown, Bennet was one of 34 senators to sign a letter to Commissioner of Food and Drugs Scott Gottlieb recognizing the efforts of the FDA to address the shutdown’s effect on public health and employees while remaining alarmed “that the continued shutdown will result in increasingly harmful effects on the agency’s employees and the safety and security of the nation’s food and medical products.”
In April 2019 Bennet and Senator Chuck Grassley’s Advancing Care for Exceptional (ACE) Kids Act, legislation that creates an option for states and families to provide improved coordination of care for children with complex medical conditions, was signed into law.
Bennet cosponsored the bipartisan STATES Act, proposed in the 115th U.S. Congress by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Gardner, which would exempt individuals or corporations in compliance with state cannabis laws from federal enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act. He also cosponsored the SAFE Banking Act in 2019, which would provide marijuana businesses with access to banking services.
In 2018 Bennet criticized the Trump administration for attempting to cherry-pick data to misinform the public on marijuana use. In response, the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy committed to be completely objective and dispassionate in its analysis of marijuana.
Bennet cosponsored the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act in 2018 and the Marijuana Justice Act in 2019, a pair of bills that would legalize cannabis at the federal level by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act. He opposed Colorado’s Amendment 64 to legalize cannabis in 2012.
In 2009, Bennet co-sponsored the Solar Manufacturing Jobs Creation Act, legislation that would have provided a tax credit to support solar manufacturing in the U.S. The legislation was not enacted.
Bennet supports same-sex marriage. He lauded the Supreme Court‘s 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, stating on his Senate website “Marriage is a fundamental right that same-sex couples deserve to enjoy, and now they will have the same rights and opportunities that the law grants to Susan [Bennet’s spouse] and me.”
Bennet is the author of legislation to direct resources to improve the sexual health of older Americans, including LGBTQ+ and rural senior populations. He is an original co-sponsor of the Equality Act.
2018–19 government shutdown
On January 24, 2019, Bennet gave an impromptu 25-minute speech on the Senate floor in response to comments by Senator Ted Cruz. He questioned the authenticity of Cruz’s concern about difficulties that the 2018–19 government shutdown was causing to first responders, recalling that in 2013 Cruz led a shutdown that lasted 16 days at a time when Colorado was experiencing flooding. In less than eight hours the speech became the most-watched Senate floor speech in C-SPAN history.
In March 2019, Bennet was one of 38 senators to sign a letter to United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue warning that dairy farmers “have continued to face market instability and are struggling to survive the fourth year of sustained low prices” and urging his department to “strongly encourage these farmers to consider the Dairy Margin Coverage program.”
2020 presidential campaign
Bennet’s 2020 presidential campaign began on May 2, 2019, when he officially declared his candidacy during an appearance on CBS This Morning. Bennet was previously mentioned as a possible presidential candidate following his viral response to Senator Ted Cruz in January 2019. In February and March 2019 he traveled to early primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire. In late March Bennet said he was “very inclined” to run for the presidency.
Following his announcement, Bennet campaigned in Iowa on May 5 and 11 and South Carolina on May 31. He qualified for the first set of debates on June 3, and appeared in the June 27 debate, receiving 8.1 minutes of airtime. He appeared in the second set of debates, on July 26 and 27, this time receiving 10.6 minutes of airtime. He failed to qualify for the remainder of the debates. He also failed to qualify for the Iowa and New Hampshire debate, making him the candidate to fail to qualify for a debate the most times (six).
On October 26, 1997, Bennet married Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund attorney Susan Diane Daggett, in Marianna, Arkansas. They have three daughters and reside in Denver’s Congress Park neighborhood.
Though not raised in an observant household, Bennet acknowledges his Jewish roots. He has said that he was “raised with two different heritages, one [that] was Jewish and one [that] was Christian,” and that he believes in God.
On April 3, 2019, Bennet announced he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent surgery later that month. Following the surgery, Bennet’s office said the procedure was “completely successful” and that he requires no further treatment.
As of 2019, according to Forbes Magazine, Bennet’s net worth was $15 million.
|Democratic||Michael Bennet (incumbent)||183,225||54.2|
|Democratic||Michael Bennet (incumbent)||851,590||48.1%|
|Democratic||Michael Bennet (incumbent)||262,344||100.00%|
|Democratic||Michael Bennet (incumbent)||1,370,710||49.97%||+1.92%|
|Libertarian||Lily Tang Williams||99,277||3.62%||+2.35%|
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- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
- Collected news and commentary at The Denver Post
2016 US Senator
|Michael Bennet (D)||1,370,710||50%|
|Darryl Glenn (R)||1,215,318||44.3%|
|Lily Tang Williams (L)||99,277||3.6%|
|Arn Menconi (G)||36,805||1.3%|
|Bill Hammons ()||9,336||0.3%|
|Dan Chaping ()||8,361||0.3%|
|Paul Noel Fiorino ()||3,216||0.1%|
Source: Follow the Money
Conservation, Forestry, and Natural Resources
Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade
Rural Development and Energy
Energy, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure
Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy
Taxation and IRS Oversight
See: Vote Smart
Michael believes we need to work together and make the tough decisions necessary to put our nation’s fiscal house in order. Since his first days in the Senate in 2009, he has been leading the fight for a comprehensive, bipartisan solution to our nation’s unsustainable long-term deficits.
Michael has pushed for a balanced approach that reduces the deficit and demonstrates that we are all willing to make the sacrifices necessary to cut spending while paying for the critical investments our country needs to succeed—just as our parents and grandparents did for us. That is why he voted against the eleventh-hour fiscal cliff package that was passed on New Year’s Eve of 2013. That legislation—like so many other products of today’s Congress—represented the path of least resistance, rammed through without making any of the difficult choices elected leaders are supposedly sent to Washington to do. That is also why Michael fought so hard against the irresponsible tax plan in 2017 that will add nearly $2 trillion to our deficits in its first decade alone—a tax plan that completely missed the mark on what makes our economy stronger, while adding to our unsustainable fiscal burdens over the long run.
As a member of the Senate Committee on Finance, Michael has worked across the aisle on responsible, commonsense legislation to help secure our country’s fiscal future. He has pushed for policies that would reform our tax code to make it simpler and fairer, while raising the revenues necessary to finance our long-term obligations. In 2011, Michael and Republican Senator Mike Johanns rallied together 32 Republicans and 32 Democrats to support a comprehensive deficit reduction package that included discretionary spending cuts, entitlement changes, and tax reform. In 2017, Michael introduced a bill to eliminate the threat of default by ending Congress’s ability to weaponize the debt limit for extreme partisan ends.
During the 2017 tax debate, Michael spoke passionately on the Senate floor about why borrowing from the middle class and future generations to finance tax cuts overwhelmingly tilted toward the wealthiest Americans is incredibly irresponsible. He also spoke about what the trillions in additional deficits that will result from the tax legislation could have financed if it had been put toward real priorities for Colorado and the country.
Like many Americans, Michael knows that Washington is broken, and he has worked since 2009 to make Congress more functional.
Politicians are public servants who should focus on serving the people—not pleasing lobbyists or fattening their bank accounts. In his time in the Senate, Michael has fought to hold lawmakers accountable to their promises and the rule of law. He supports legislation to stop automatic pay raises for members of Congress and to permanently ban them from ever becoming lobbyists, because he believes serving in Congress is a privilege rather than a gateway for members to get rich after leaving office. Michael has introduced bipartisan legislation that would require senators to stay in Washington during a government shutdown, so they cannot head home and turn their backs on the problems they create. He also supports overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and placing commonsense limits on campaign spending.
Michael believes that democracy depends on transparency and public access to information. He has lobbied federal agencies to swiftly comply with the Freedom of Information Act, because the American people deserve to know how the government is making decisions that will affect them and their families. He has also been a strong advocate for public disclosure of financial information. The American people must be confident that their elected officials are making decisions that are in the best interests of the nation, not their personal finances. Michael has pressured politicians to fully disclose their financial information and address any potential conflicts of interest.
Michael firmly believes in equal rights for all people, no matter where they come from, what they look like, how they worship, or whom they love. He proudly stands on the side of justice and equality, ready to fight to ensure that all Americans are treated fairly.
FIGHTING FOR EQUALITY
It is past time for federal laws to be entirely free from discrimination. Michael supports the Equality Act, which would explicitly ban discrimination against LGBTQ Americans and add further protections against sex discrimination. In his efforts to create a world in which women are treated as equals to their male peers, Michael continues to call on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to close the gender pay gap and secure protections for women’s access to safe and affordable health care.
PROTECTING VOTING RIGHTS
Michael knows our democracy is stronger when everyone’s voice is heard. In this vein, Michael has advocated for policies that not only protect access to the ballot, but also encourage greater participation. He supports expanding voting protections, changing redistricting laws that suppress the voting rights of minorities, and simplifying the voting process through measures, such as same-day registration.
IMPROVING THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
For years, Michael has championed bipartisan legislation to reduce the national rape kit backlog. In 2017, the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act passed into law, extending the Sexual Assault Forensic Reporting program across the country.
Michael stands behind Colorado’s decision to legalize marijuana and is working in Washington to advance policies that protect both the state and legitimate cannabis businesses’ rights. He has introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure marijuana businesses can access banking services to increase public safety and improve government compliance.
Michael also supports efforts to reform our criminal justice system, which disproportionately affects people of color across the country, by reducing mandatory minimum sentences for low-level offenses and increasing resources for individuals reentering their communities.
ENDING THE GUN VIOLENCE EPIDEMIC
Michael believes we cannot accept the gun violence epidemic in this country as a normal condition of American life. Unlike in Washington, Colorado’s legislators made tough choices after the state suffered two of the worst mass shootings in the nation’s history. After the massacre in Columbine, they closed the gun show loophole. After the tragedy in Aurora, they strengthened background checks. Michael supports legislation in the Senate to similarly close loopholes, improve background checks, and extend mental health services at the national level. Michael views this issue not as taking guns away from people, but from keeping guns out of the wrong hands.
Michael believes a resilient agricultural sector is vital to a strong economy. This is certainly true in Colorado, where farming and ranching are a proud tradition and generate more than $40 billion in economic output each year.
As a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, Michael is working to bring the diverse voices of Colorado to the debate in Washington. In 2014, Michael relied on the input he received from dozens of Farm Bill Listening Sessions held across the state to advocate for Colorado’s priorities in the Farm Bill. Because of that input, the bill strengthened crop insurance, improved disaster assistance, and streamlined conservation programs. It also provided new tools for the Forest Service to increase wildfire mitigation and forest restoration. As he prepares to write the next Farm Bill, Michael will continue to listen to Colorado’s farmers and ranchers to build on this progress and provide rural communities with an even stronger foundation and greater certainty.
In addition to strengthening the farm economy at home, Michael recognizes the importance of increasing access to markets abroad. As a member of the Senate Committee on Finance, Michael has worked to maintain and improve access international export markets for Colorado’s agricultural products. He is committed to creating a 21st century economy in Colorado that provides opportunities for the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
Michael believes in an all-of-the-above strategy that transitions Colorado to cleaner sources of energy while growing the economy. He recognizes this moment in our country as an opportunity to modernize our energy system, transition to low-cost renewable sources of energy, increase energy independence, and provide reliable and affordable energy for every American.
In the Senate, Michael has championed Colorado’s status as a clean energy leader. He has fought to retain wind and solar tax credits and led bipartisan legislation to clean up coal emission from plants and expand the market for liquefied natural gas. In 2017, he secured amendments in bipartisan legislation that passed the Senate to protect Property Accessed Clean Energy financing and create a program to train veterans to enter the energy and cybersecurity workforce. After seeing the promise of Colorado’s community solar system, Michael introduced a bill to expand the program so communities across the country can save on their electricity bills by sharing solar energy production. Michael believes that innovation will help solve the world’s toughest challenges, which is why he continues to fight for funding for Colorado’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), ARPA-E, and many other energy programs.
Michael believes the economy does best when everyone has an opportunity to contribute to and share in our country’s prosperity. Over the last 40 years, America has continued to thrive as the most innovative, dynamic economy in the world, and Colorado has been at the forefront of our economic leadership. At the same time, the basic American bargain—if you work hard, you can get ahead—has eroded for too many people.
Incomes for the middle-class have not kept pace with the rising costs of housing, health care, higher education, and childcare. And many rural communities have not benefited enough from broader economic growth and job creation. In too many neighborhoods, grinding poverty has limited our children’s ambitions for too long. Every economic policy Michael fights for in the Senate helps address these challenges.
DELIVERING A HIGH-QUALITY EDUCATION FOR EVERY CHILD
As a former Superintendent of Denver Public Schools, Michael worked to deliver a high-quality education to every child in the city, and he saw how that can prepare our kids for the economy of the future and create the next generation of leaders. As a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), Michael is working to expand access to high-quality and affordable early childhood education, improve the quality of higher education, help students graduate college without burdensome debts, and give every child the opportunity to pursue his or her dreams.
GIVING KIDS IN EVERY COMMUNITY A CHANCE TO SUCCEED
Michael has fought to expand the Child Tax Credit by introducing the American Family Act and the Working Families Tax Relief Act, both of which would help low-income and middle-class parents afford the costs of raising a child and make major reductions in child poverty.
SAVING FOR A SECURE RETIREMENT
Michael believes that Social Security is a rock-solid guarantee that we need to protect for every American. He also has introduced bipartisan legislation to expand access to retirement savings options by helping small businesses set up 401(k)s and encouraging employees to participate.
MAKING JOB-CREATING INVESTMENTS IN INFRASTRUCTURE AND INNOVATION
Michael supports smart federal investments in basic research and development that form the building blocks for major technological breakthroughs, as well as upgrading our infrastructure — including roads, bridges, airports, high-speed broadband internet, and public transit. He believes lawmakers should invest in roads and bridges for future generations the way their parents and grandparents invested in the infrastructure we see today.
DEVELOPING A LOW-COST, CLEANER ENERGY FUTURE
Michael believes in a comprehensive energy policy that meets our 21st century needs, establishes aggressive targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency, and includes responsible development of our traditional energy resources.
REFORMING OUR TAX CODE TO MAKE IT ECONOMICALLY COMPETITIVE, SIMPLER, AND MORE FAIR
Michael has been a champion of comprehensive, fiscally-responsible tax reform that makes our tax code simpler and more fair, while encouraging investment and job creation by American businesses in the United States. That’s why he fought against the Republican tax plan in 2017 which overwhelmingly benefitted the wealthiest Americans, not the working families in this country who need relief most, and is projected to add nearly $2 trillion to our debt over the first decade.
FIGHTING FOR COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM
Michael believes that immigrants are not only vital to the fabric of our country, but also to our economic potential. He was a member of the bipartisan Gang of Eight that negotiated a comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate with 68 votes in 2013. The nonpartisan, independent Congressional Budget Office found that this legislation would increase our economic output by 3.3 percent by the end of the first decade and 5.4 percent by the end of the second decade, raising average wages and lowering deficits over the long run.
As the former superintendent of the Denver Public Schools, Michael understands the importance of a high-quality education to a child’s chances of success. Yet more often than not, our schools are failing to prepare the next generation for the 21st century.
Michael believes our country’s competitiveness depends on a fundamental transformation of public education that gives schools and districts more flexibility to innovate and make decisions in the best interests of their students while holding them to high standards for all our children. As a leader on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), Michael helped overhaul No Child Left Behind, replacing it with a bipartisan law that returns power to states and local communities. Michael also helped secure provisions that reward innovation in schools, support rural school districts, and improve teacher training.
In his ongoing efforts to modernize the higher education landscape, Michael works tirelessly to ensure every student can pursue some form of higher education without incurring crushing debt. Michael supports policies that make it easier for students to earn degrees that prepare them for 21st century careers, including programs for career and technical education. He also has championed bipartisan solutions to simplify the financial aid process and expand year-round Pell Grants so students can finish college with less debt and on their own schedule.
Michael knows climate change is not a problem we can push off to the next generation. Persistent droughts and wildfires threaten the businesses of farmers and ranchers in Colorado. Warming temperatures endanger skiing, fly fishing, and hiking in communities across the West. Increasing carbon pollution is threatening the health of our children. Michael believes in a comprehensive approach to combat climate change that includes commonsense actions to reduce carbon pollution and increase the resiliency of our communities, all while growing the economy.
In the Senate, Michael has championed efforts to both protect existing policies that address climate change and implement new, forward-looking measures to combat this growing threat. He is the only senator on both the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis and the bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus. In 2017, he cast the deciding vote that kept in place standards to reduce methane emissions on public lands, which harm Colorado’s air quality. He fought sweeping rollbacks of climate policies—including the Paris Agreement, Clean Power Plan, and fuel economy standards—and opposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget. He also led an effort to standardize the metric that federal agencies use to measure the cost of climate pollution.
Michael recognizes that the corruption of inaction in the current age of polarization will leave a less safe and healthy planet for his children and those of future generations. That’s why he has repeatedly said he is willing to work with anyone to break through Washington gridlock and address the economic and environmental realities of climate change. Two of the numerous bipartisan bills he has introduced include helping the coal industry reduce its carbon pollution and securing federal disaster funding to rebuild more resilient and efficient energy systems.
Michael believes protecting public lands and wild places is an integral part of Colorado’s heritage. It’s why he brought together a diverse group of stakeholders in Southwest Colorado to protect the Hermosa Creek watershed in 2014, and why he has stood up for sacred places and critical wildlife habitat across the country, including Bears Ears National Monument and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Michael puts collaboration and local input at the center of his work to protect and improve the management of public lands. In 2017, after consulting with local community leaders, sportsmen, and veterans, Michael introduced legislation to establish permanent protections for nearly 100,000 acres of wilderness, recreation, and conservation areas along Colorado’s Continental Divide—and to create the first-ever National Historic Landscape around Camp Hale. This follows his years of work across the aisle on forward-thinking approaches to improve land management, address maintenance and infrastructure, and successfully fix the Forest Service’s budget by putting an end to “fire borrowing.”
From hiking to hunting, Michael recognizes that outdoor recreation is vital to Colorado’s economy. In 2017, following a request from Michael and other Colorado lawmakers, the Outdoor Retailer Show moved locations from Utah to Denver, in no small part due to the state’s commitment to protecting public lands. As a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, Michael has advanced legislation to increase access to hunting and fishing and ensure all communities have the opportunity to explore our public lands and waters.
As a member of the Senate Committee on Finance and a former member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), Michael is working to make our nation’s health care system more responsive to the needs of families in Colorado. Michael believes every American should be covered with an affordable, high-quality health care plan. To accomplish this, he is fighting to continue the progress made under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), while also working to decrease costs, support rural communities, invest in research and innovation, and fight the opioid epidemic.
Since joining the Senate in 2009, Michael has worked with his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass legislation that modernizes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), advances medical innovation, and enhances patient access to life-saving treatments. Among these advancements is the Breakthrough Therapies Designation, a bipartisan law that Michael helped pass in 2012 to expedite the FDA approval process for breakthrough drugs and treatments that show dramatic responses early in development. The designation has already led to life-saving innovations in cancer, cystic-fibrosis, and other diseases.
In 2013, Michael championed the bipartisan Drug Quality and Security Act known as “Track and Trace.” The law created a system to track prescription drugs from the time they are manufactured to the moment they are delivered to the pharmacy, helping eliminate counterfeit and tainted drugs from the market. In 2016, Michael secured several priorities in the 21st Century Cures Act, including measures to build on the Breakthrough Designation for medical devices, create a pathway to speed up access to antibiotics for life-threatening conditions, and provide additional resources for mental health services and the opioid crisis. In 2017, Michael again worked across the aisle to pass the Research to Accelerate Cures and Equity (RACE) for Children Act, which will close the cancer research gap between adults and kids, prompting companies to study the most innovative treatments for pediatric cancer.
As Michael looks to the future of health care, he is focused on increasing competition in rural communities and lowering costs with his latest proposal, Medicare-X. He will continue to fight for better care for children, with bills such as the Advancing Care for Exceptional (ACE) Kids Act, and for resources to combat the opioid crisis, which has devastated communities throughout Colorado. As a forward-thinker in this exciting era of precision medicine and gene editing, Michael will continue his bipartisan efforts to advance innovation and research in Colorado and across the country.
Michael knows our broken immigration system hobbles our economy, reduces our global competitiveness, and keeps millions of hardworking families living in the shadows. He is fighting for commonsense solutions that reflect two bedrock American values: we are a nation that respects the rule of law, and we are a nation of immigrants.
Michael was part of the “Gang of Eight,” a group of bipartisan senators who worked together to write a sweeping bill to fix our broken immigration system. The group met with a diverse coalition of business, labor, farm worker, faith, and Latino leaders to write a bill that would secure our borders, reform an outdated visa system, guarantee important worker protections, and create a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants. The Senate passed the bill with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2013. This legislative process and language continue to serve as a template for future reform efforts.
Michael has long-supported offering a path to citizenship for individuals who were brought to the United States as children. Michael knows that Dreamers are hard-working Americans who contribute to our economy, strengthen our communities, and are as American as his own children. That’s why he cosponsored the Dream Act of 2009 when he first arrived in the Senate, and most recently cosponsored the bipartisan Dream Act of 2017. When Congress failed to pass the Dream Act, Michael urged then-President Obama to create the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Since President Trump terminated the DACA program, Michael has worked in good faith with his colleagues across the aisle to find a permanent solution for Dreamers. He offered several bipartisan proposals that included a path to citizenship for Dreamers and increased border security. He continues to work with his Democratic and Republican colleagues to advocate for commonsense immigration reforms that support our economy, improve our communities, and keep families together.
For years, Michael worked with leaders throughout Colorado to convene and promote a civil conversation around immigration reform that could inform real and lasting reform at the federal level. The result of those conversations was manifested in the Colorado Compact, a set of six principles that represent a more rational and collaborative approach to immigration policy. The Compact played an instrumental role in guiding Michael during the 2013 immigration debate in Washington.
Michael was part of the “Gang of Eight,” a bipartisan group of senators that worked together to draft the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act. The bill would have invested billions of dollars to secure our borders and better track who comes in and out of the country. It would have created a more efficient, sensible, and flexible visa system to encourage new workers—skilled and unskilled—to contribute to our changing 21st century economy, while safeguarding American worker protections. The bill also would have created a tough, but fair, path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the shadows. On June 27, 2013, the Senate passed the legislation 68-32 with overwhelming bipartisan support. The House of Representatives never followed suit, and the legislation ultimately never became law.
Congress has failed time and again to resolve our broken immigration system because of partisan gridlock. This political reality has resulted in direct consequences for businesses, families, and communities across our country. Michael continues to work to fix our broken immigration system and fight for comprehensive immigration reform.
Even though Colorado has been a national leader in growth, job creation, and innovation during Michael’s time in the Senate, too many rural communities have not shared fully in that success. Michael believes our nation’s long-term prosperity depends on a thriving rural America and that we have an obligation to support locally-driven efforts to maintain the health and heritage of Colorado’s rural communities.
In the Senate, Michael has introduced legislation to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program, which supports schools, roads, bridges, and emergency services in 43 Colorado counties. He also helped secure full funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program so Colorado counties can carry out vital services like fire and police protection, school construction, and road maintenance.
Michael understands that access to high-speed, affordable broadband is essential to succeed in the 21st century economy. Following years of work with local leaders in Red Cliff and Silverton, Michael helped expand reliable broadband to the communities. To further close the digital divide, Michael continues to urge the Federal Communications Commission to make its funding programs more transparent and level the playing field for smaller, rural providers to compete for federal funding. In 2018, he launched Connect Colorado, an initiative to ensure that federal agencies are responsive to questions and concerns that Colorado’s rural providers have as they apply for future FCC and USDA funding.
Colorado’s coal communities have been hit hard economically by a long-term decline in coal demand that has accelerated over the last decade. In response to this economic reality, Michael introduced legislation to spur investment, job creation, and economic growth in these communities. Through tax cuts and support for high-quality worker training, the Coal Community Empowerment Act would provide coal communities the support they need to thrive again in today’s economy.
Colorado is home to over 400,000 veterans, and Michael is committed to making our state the best place for servicemembers, veterans, and their families to work, live, and retire. Michael believes veterans deserve timely access to high-quality care in the manner that makes sense for them. Too often, veterans are prevented from accessing their full benefits because of outdated regulations and an unaccountable bureaucracy. Michael has worked across the aisle to introduce commonsense reforms, making it easier for veterans and their families to receive the care they deserve.
Michael worked with his colleagues from Colorado to create a program that allows veterans who live more than 40 miles from a clinic to receive their care at non-VA medical clinics. And, because Coloradans know that 40 miles as the crow flies is not the same as 40 miles through winding mountain roads, Michael made sure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) used actual driving distance. When he heard complaints that health care providers in the program were encountering reimbursement delays, Michael successfully lobbied for the elimination of a regulation causing the hold-up, expediting payment to providers.
Michael also has partnered with Colorado lawmakers to ensure that the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center in Aurora will be completed and that future VA construction projects are effectively managed. He has introduced bipartisan legislation to change the culture at the VA, give employees tools to punish wrongdoing, and strengthen protections for whistleblowers.