Congress is moments away from voting to end or continue the longest federal-government shutdown in U.S. history, brought upon by an impasse over whether the body should allocate $5 billion to fund Donald Trump's border wall, a campaign promise that every U.S. representative of a district actually on the border thinks is a bad idea.
Still, the fight continues, and it got especially fiery when Colorado's Democratic senator, Michael Bennet, took to the floor to air his grievances and point out the hypocrisy of his Republican colleagues' arguments.
Following a speech by Senator Ted Cruz, in which the Republican from Texas lamented the situation government-funded first responders like the Coast Guard and others find themselves in, Bennet stood, arms crossed, as if contemplating one of life's mysteries. He acknowledged that he seldom rose "to contradict somebody on the other side."
But the thoughtful-professor shtick didn't last long.
"These crocodile tears the senator from Texas is crying for first responders are too hard for me to take," Bennet said. "Because when you — when the senator from Texas shut this government down in 2013, my state was flooded. It was under water. People were killed. People's houses were destroyed. Their small businesses were ruined forever. And because of the senator from Texas, this government was shut down for politics that he asserted to a second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses." Watch the full video of Bennet's speech from CSPAN below:
As longtime Coloradans remember all too well, in September 2013, devastating floods spread across almost 200 miles and seventeen counties of this state, killing seventeen people and decimating nearly 19,000 homes. That same month, Congress shut down the federal government over funding for Obamacare, a move largely orchestrated by Cruz. Noting Cruz's role in that earlier shutdown, the Washington Post reported in 2016: "Today, the drama that surrounded the shutdown — including Cruz’s 21-hour Senate speech, in which he read Green Eggs and Ham to his daughters via the C-SPAN feed — is the defining moment of a Senate tenure that has helped make Cruz the favorite Republican presidential candidate for many conservatives."
Who wiped out in the primary, as Bennet could hardly wait to point out.
"But we are of no help to the first responders, to the teachers, the students whose schools were closed with a federal government that was shut down because of the junior senator from Texas," Bennet continued, the volume of his voice rising.
Bennet questioned why Cruz supported a "president who wants to erect a medieval barrier on the border of Texas, who wants to use eminent domain to build that wall, who wants to declare an unconstitutional emergency to build that wall," promising that no elected leader from Colorado would ever support a president who tried to use eminent domain to take land from their home state...unlike Cruz.
Cruz, who followed Bennet, said that his feelings were hurt. "The senator from Colorado spent a great deal of time yelling, spent a great deal of time attacking me personally... . I don't believe I have ever bellowed or yelled at a colleague on the Senate floor, and I hope I never do that."
Perhaps Cruz didn't remember the time he'd called Mitch McConnell a liar on that same floor, Bennet later pointed out.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.