FIGHTING FOR

COLORADO VALUES

BETTER JOBS & MORE ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

Coloradans deserve good-paying jobs that can support their families. Despite Colorado’s relatively low unemployment rate, too many families within the 6th District are facing economic hardship. Wages and benefits have failed to keep up with the cost of living in Colorado, especially in the expensive Metro area. Hardworking Coloradans are struggling to raise their families and achieve the American Dream.

By investing in workforce development, apprenticeship training, and growing industries like healthcare, technology, and renewable energy, we can open the door to career advancement and better opportunities for Colorado families. I fought alongside other veterans to bring the new VA hospital to Aurora and will continue my fight to bring similar high-paying jobs to the 6th District.

We must attract better jobs that have good wages and benefits to ensure that Coloradans can afford a home, finance a college education or specialized job training, access health care, and save for retirement. We also must make sure that all work provides dignity and living wages. In addition to ensuring good wages, benefits, and educational opportunities, we must work to ensure that our economy provides opportunities for people to move up the economic ladder by defending consumer protections and corporate oversight. For many families, child care, home ownership, and retirement are all economic barriers. We must reduce these barriers for people so that they have opportunities to get ahead. See my Economic Mobility & Consumer Protection Plan for more details

CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM

Washington is broken. Politicians are in the pockets of the special interests that spend millions of dollars to get them elected. They stack the decks for their donors and Colorado families pay the price. We can unrig the system by ending the flood of unlimited and undisclosed money that is drowning out the voices of regular people. I will fight to bring accountability to Washington and end the corrupting influence of special interest money so that our government serves all Coloradans, not just big donors. This is why I have promised not to take a dime of corporate PAC money. I will fight to end the influence of dark money in politics, keep foreign money out of US politics, commit to openness and transparency in my own congressional office, support the DISCLOSE Act, and fight to overturn Citizens United.

See my Campaign Finance Reform Plan for more details

CIVIL RIGHTS AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

We cannot ignore inequities that still exist in many communities and the effects they have on communities of color. It is the duty of anyone who believes in our nation’s core values, to stand up with one voice and clearly denounce all forms of bigotry and hatred. American communities have been torn apart by injustices facing communities of color. We must acknowledge this and tackle inequities where they exist so that we can provide safety, opportunity, and dignity for all Americans. I fought beside soldiers who came from different racial, religious, and economic backgrounds – people who forged bonds and became brothers and sisters. We need to move toward a place of respect, understanding, and honesty so that we can make those same strides in Colorado communities.

In Congress, I will fight for justice and equal treatment for all by promoting criminal justice policies to improve law enforcement, reduce incarceration, decriminalize marijuana, and strengthen communities. Mass incarceration, unequal application of the justice system based on race and class, and the long-term impacts of incarceration on employment, housing, and re-integration point to a criminal justice system in need of reform. I support innovative, data-based reforms such as restorative justice that are designed to keep the public safer and address the underlying causes of crimes. Nationally, roughly 77% of those released from prison are rearrested within five years. Research shows that longer sentences actually make recidivism more, not less likely. The deck is stacked against individuals with a criminal conviction who struggle to re-enter the workforce, find stable housing, and maintain a steady paycheck – challenges that greatly increase the chances of recidivism. Many of those in the criminal justice system suffer from mental illness or substance abuse, and prisons remain ill-equipped to offer treatment and rehabilitation services.

We must protect and strengthen our communities. We must work to fight discrimination in our criminal justice sentencing. We must protect voting rights and all civil rights. In my civic work I’ve helped bridge the trust divide between law enforcement and our community. I’ve worked to reform law enforcement training to better address the inequities facing our communities of color. In Congress I will continue this work to protect civil rights and community safety.

DEFENDING OUR DEMOCRACY

America’s democratic institutions and the Rule of Law must be defended. One of my proudest accomplishments is leading paratroopers in combat for this country. Wearing the American flag on my shoulder and fighting for America is something that left a lasting mark on my life and my values. I saw countries that struggled to enforce the Rule of Law, due process, and individual rights. I served in the Army in places of the world where citizens cannot depend on these pillars of democracy. When I came home, I continued my fight for these same values as I began my legal career and took another oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. I have experienced first-hand the strengths and weaknesses of our criminal justice system – including prosecuting criminal cases and representing those accused of crimes. Now, as a lawyer who specializes in conducting independent legal investigations, I know how critical Congress’ power to investigate is for understanding facts, discovering corruption and culpability, and holding people accountable.

We are faced with unprecedented challenges to our institutions and democratic norms. I will never waver in my fight to ensure that our democracy is strong and that Americans can trust their government and elected representatives. I am proud of my commitment to democratic values and in Congress I will draw on my prior service to this country and my legal skills to continue that fight every day.

EDUCATION

Young people should have access to high quality education, regardless of where they live or their ability to pay. I owe much of my success to strong public neighborhood schools. Every child deserves the same. Colorado’s public school funding system has left too many children behind. In Congress, I will fight cuts in funding and voucher proposals that will only make this problem worse for Colorado’s families.

America has the best colleges, universities, and technical training in the world, but all too often our students cannot afford to pursue their education. Americans owe over $1.48 trillion in student loan debt. That’s about $620 billion more than the total U.S. credit card debt. We must ensure that student loans are affordable, costs of higher education are reasonable, and that community colleges and technical training opportunities are available and reliable so that job training and re-training for tomorrow’s economy is available to all Americans. All hardworking students should have the option to pursue education or advanced training without fear of a massive price tag. Hardworking students too often face the choice of bypassing higher education or taking on the burden of overwhelming student debt.

Our young people should not have to make the choice between an education and eventually owning a home. Congress, I will support legislation to allow people to re-finance and consolidate student loans, lower the costs of education and advanced training, and provide loan forgiveness to those who work in public service careers.

ENVIRONMENT

We must fight climate change and protect the Colorado that we love. Climate change is the defining issue of our age. This is not just a vague idea for my family or any family that enjoys Colorado’s beautiful outdoors. My children are 5th generation Coloradans and our family has seen the state change over the decades. Coloradans can already see the effects of long-term drought, higher temperatures, and natural disasters.

America must again be a global leader to help solve our world’s most pressing problems, and climate change is no different. We must re-engage with other nations to work towards climate solutions, including encouraging clean energy transitions. Pushing for renewable energy development will also help grow our economy and create good-paying jobs. I will also fight to ensure that our public lands are not sold off to the highest bidder or destroyed by irresponsible drilling and mining. We must fight to protect our clean air, clean water, and public health.

Communities across America depend on government funding to help treat drinking water, detect lead contamination, clean up abandoned mines and waste sites, and for other important projects to ensure our families are safe from pollution. Leaving a healthy planet for our children and grandchildren will always be a priority for me and should never be a pawn in political games.

See my Environment and Energy Plan for more details

FOREIGN POLICY

American security and prosperity require a dynamic, nuanced, and influential foreign policy, where America projects its interests rather than withdraws behind our borders. I saw the power of America’s defense capabilities during my time in the Army, but also saw first-hand the importance of our diplomatic and development capacities. Over the last 20 years, our foreign policy has increasingly been defined by the three “D’s”—Diplomacy, Defense, and Development. While spending the largest portion of our budget on defense, our security and economic interests are increasingly dependent on negotiating through a complex, competitive, and often dangerous world. Diplomacy saves American lives. Our military leaders support diplomacy and development assistance as tools to avoid needless conflict that take the lives of American troops and civilians, and waste expensive military assets.

America needs to resume its global leadership position in international institutions, and promote human rights and democracy abroad. Our absence from global negotiations and our abrogating commitments has frightened our allies, weakened our alliances, and signaled to our enemies that we are weak. Retreating from our global leadership position is not an option, and will not move the world to a safer, cleaner, and more prosperous place for our children.

GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION

Each year, 33,000 Americans die from gun violence and another 130,000 are shot. Here in Colorado we’ve dealt with two of the nation’s worst mass shootings in Aurora and Littleton. Coloradans know that we do not have to choose between Second Amendment protections and safer communities. As a hunter and former Army Ranger, I know that there are many responsible gun owners in Colorado, but also knows what guns are capable of and that common-sense reforms are needed to reduce gun violence.

Simple, common-sense laws that are supported by a huge majority of Americans can help make our communities, schools, and homes safer from gun violence. Background checks have prevented over 2.4 million gun sales to felons, domestic abusers, and dangerously mentally ill individuals. But, loopholes still allow up to 40% of gun sales to go unchecked. Coloradans support closing these types of loopholes.

Mike Coffman has taken more money from the gun lobby than anyone else in Colorado’s Congressional delegation. I have pledged not only that I will not take any corporate PAC money, but I will never take a dime from the gun lobby. My priority in Congress will be to work towards solutions to gun violence and I will always put our children, our families, and our communities first.

See my Gun Violence Prevention plan for more details

HEALTH CARE

Health care is a right, not a privilege. No American should suffer because they cannot afford health care. It is that simple. For too long, career politicians in Washington have played politics with the lives of Americans whose survival depends on affordable health care. We need to move past gridlock and work toward a bipartisan solution. The Affordable Care Act needs improvement in certain areas, but unlike Mike Coffman, I want to fix the system, rather than abandon it in favor of a tax break for the wealthy. We can begin by stabilizing the individual market and lowering prescription drug prices to increase competition and make them more affordable for consumers. We need to protect the health care of the tens of millions of Americans who now have coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act increased coverage so that 90% of Americans can access health care, but we cannot settle for less than coverage for all Americans. That’s why I believe that we must not only protect hard-won gains under the ACA, but also work towards universal health care. I will fight for a public option that will reduce costs for consumers and increase their choices. Over 170-million Americans get coverage through their employers and many of them want to keep their coverage. Another 20-million are covered by Medicare Advantage and do not want to lose their plan. Ensuring universal health care coverage while also not forcing people to give up coverage that works for them is a difficult balance. We must fight for universal coverage because no American should go bankrupt to afford health care for themselves or their family.

HOUSING AFFORDABILITY

Ensuring that everyone has access to affordable housing is critical to ensuring the strength of our economy and the social fabric of our nation, and for too long Washington has ignored the growing housing crisis. Colorado, along with the rest of the nation, is facing an affordable housing crisis, and I will make increasing the supply of affordable housing one of my primary goals in Congress.

No one should be forced to choose between a roof over their heads, food on the table, medical care, or an education. We need our teachers, police, firefighters, health care workers, and other first responders to live in the communities they serve so that they are vested in the long-term outcomes of the cities in which they work and live. Housing prices and rents have risen too high and too quickly for most working families to afford a decent place to live.

Colorado has only 27 available affordable housing units for every 100 eligible renters. More than 290,000 households in Colorado are severely burdened by housing costs, spending more than 50% of their income for a roof over their heads, leaving little left over for other basic needs. We need to leverage government resources in partnership with private sector activity to create new affordable housing based on a multi-pronged approach that supports both for sale and rental housing.

IMMIGRATION

Our immigrant neighbors deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and our laws should reflect that. During my time in the Army, I served with people of all backgrounds, political persuasions, and nationalities. I served with immigrants whose commitment to our country was never questioned. All that mattered was that we had each other’s backs. The 6th District is home to over 100,000 immigrants who help make our community such a special place to live. These immigrants came to America in pursuit of a better life for their families.

I believe we should provide the Dreamers with a path towards citizenship and reform the immigration system to bring the millions of other undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and provides certainty to them and their families. I will support immigrants brought to America as children. They are vital for our economy, are eager to serve in our military or ready to thrive in our universities, and they came here through no fault of their own. Many of them also have family members who are American citizens. Family unity is a bedrock, core value of our society. Our immigration and visa policies must reflect that. Keeping families together has been part of our visa system for decades, and for good reason. We must insure that family-based immigration stands on equal footing with business- and skills-based immigration.

Making sure we have secure borders that prevent the illegal flow of weapons and drugs into America is a priority for every member of Congress. But, we need to be smarter about the border and not waste billions of dollars on an ineffective wall. A comprehensive approach to immigration reform and visa processing is also necessary. American businesses need workers in virtually all sectors – from agriculture and construction to hospitals and boardrooms.

We should support the policy that has been in place for generations allowing an expedited path to citizenship for people who serve in the military. For those who want to strengthen our nation and to provide for their families, we can find a way to welcome them.

LGBTQ RIGHTS

No American should face discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation. In 2012 I was honored to speak at the Democratic National Convention in support of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” I was extremely proud to speak on behalf of President Obama and to stand up for equality in the military. Since the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the LGBTQ community has won a few critical legal battles, including for marriage equality.

However, our LGBTQ neighbors continue to be a target of hate, discrimination, and unequal treatment under the law. It is no coincidence that LQBTQ youth have the highest rate of suicide in the nation. Retaliating against the success of marriage equality in 2015, many states are enacting draconian legislation that will allow businesses to refuse services to same-sex couples on the basis of religious freedom, and six states have already passed laws that prevent local governments from extending non-discrimination protections to same-sex couples.

We should continually strive to expand marriage equality, workplace protections, enforcement of hate crime laws, and protections for LGBTQ military personnel and veterans. In Congress I will continue fighting to ensure that LGBTQ Americans have the same rights and protections that all Americans should have, and to prevent the rollback of the progress that so many Americans have fought for.

TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE

The Colorado economy of tomorrow will be built on the roads, bridges, and infrastructure of today. Our infrastructure, once the envy of the world, is now crumbling and unsafe in many places. Not only do we need to fix today’s backlog of road and bridge projects, but we also must plan for tomorrow’s needs. This includes planning for population growth and more sustainable and affordable transportation options. Colorado’s 6th District has seen tremendous growth and development, but much of this has outpaced our local investments, seen most clearly in our water supply problems and traffic gridlock. Our infrastructure repairs, planning, and building must balance growth, economic development, and sustainable long-term solutions that benefit all Coloradans.

Beyond ensuring that our infrastructure remains safe into the future, we must also envision what Coloradans will need in the decades to come. We must invest in infrastructure and transportation systems that help us build tomorrow’s economy. I will focus on two main priorities to accomplish this: creating access for all Coloradans to high-speed internet and planning transportation systems that provide greater choice and sustainable options. We cannot continue to try to build bigger highways – experts know that this does not solve congestion problems. To solve our development and traffic problems we can build smarter, more innovative, and more sustainable solutions for the future.

VETERANS

We must fight for those who fought for us by protecting veterans’ benefits, improving the benefits claims system, and improving access, quality, and timeliness of VA health care. I was proud to fight alongside some of the finest men and women this country has to offer. These veterans have earned their benefits and deserve the best care this country has to offer. We must fulfill our promises to the brave men and women who fight for us by protecting their medical care, access to mental health resources, compensation for service connected disabilities, education benefits, and by helping them transition to civilian life to include meaningful employment.

I also know that homelessness among veterans is unacceptable and will fight to care for our veterans. When I returned home after serving in the U.S. Army, I struggled to access my own benefits. This inspired me to begin fighting for veterans in Colorado. I worked with other veteran leaders and elected officials to secure the funding for the new VA hospital in Aurora. I help veterans as they transition to civilian life. I also donate hundreds of hours of legal pro bono work for veterans and organizations that work to help veterans with substance abuse and other issues. I will never stop fighting for those who served our country.

When we send men and women to fight our wars, we promise to take care of them and their families. The Veterans Administration was once known for its excellent health care system, but has been plagued by underfunding and mismanagement. I will work tirelessly to ensure that our veterans can rely on quality and timely medical care and mental health care and will fight attempts to privatize the VA. Nearly three million Americans have served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. When they return home, many struggle to transition back to civilian life. Protecting veterans’ education benefits and working to promote employment and career development of veterans can help ease this difficult transition for many veterans.

WOMEN'S RIGHTS

Equal pay is not only a women’s issue – it is also a moral, family, and economic issue. As of 2015, nearly 45 percent of women mothers were the breadwinners for their families, yet they are still making .84 cents on the dollar in Colorado. In our country it is a moral issue to treat everyone equally for the work they do. Equal pay will also help grow our economy and support families by making home ownership, education, advanced training, and retirement more accessible for more Coloradans. Mike Coffman voted against equal pay for women. In Congress I will always fight to ensure that women are paid equally for the work they do.

Colorado families are working hard to make ends meet, a task made harder when a family welcomes a new child or someone falls sick and paid leave is not available. We cannot support parents, promote early childhood development, or care for our aging generations without policies that make it possible for American workers to care for their families without fear of losing pay or their jobs. I believe it is time to move our economy into the 21st century. That includes modern family leave policies. I will fight to ensure that all workers are able to care for their families without enduring financial hardship – whether they need sick time, parental leave, or time to care for family members.  

Existing penalties are woefully inadequate to punish those who abused their power and violated the trust of their subordinates and the American people.We must hold our elected leaders to a higher standard of conduct. When ethics investigations find that members of Congress have committed sexual harassment or assault – or they resign to avoid the consequences of such an investigation – they should lose their congressional pension.

I will fight to protect a woman’s right to choose. Women should have the right to make health care decisions that are right for them and their families. It is truly shameful that we still have to defend a woman’s right to make her own health care choices. Stripping women’s health care funding from the federal budget and removing protections for women’s health care from our laws will hurt families across the country and in Colorado. In Congress, I will protect a woman’s right to choose, while simultaneously working to continue funding critical resources like Planned Parenthood. I will also fight to ensure that protections for maternity care are not removed from our health care laws and that families are able to take paid sick leave. I look at my daughter and cannot stand to think that she will have to wage this same fight when she is grown. But you do not have to have a daughter to support women and families across the country.

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