Do you trust the election process in Colorado? And will you accept the outcome of this election as announced?
Yes. Colorado sets the gold standard for election access and security. I believe every American should have the right to vote the way Coloradans vote, and that’s why I’ve written bills to expand access to voting, strengthen election security, and ban partisan gerrymandering nationwide. Our job is to hand the next generation a stronger democracy than we inherited, and that means not only passing common-sense reforms but also standing against Donald Trump and anti-democratic forces that continue to undermine elections and restrict Americans’ fundamental right to vote.
Do you believe the 2020 Presidential Election was absent of widespread fraud and fairly won by Joe Biden?
Yes. Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by more than seven million votes, and he won more votes than any presidential candidate in history. More than 50 judges, some appointed by Trump, dismissed lawsuits challenging the election result because the former president’s lawyers failed to provide any credible evidence of fraud. Trump’s own Attorney General, Bill Barr, said there was no evidence of widespread fraud. We need to elect candidates who will uphold the integrity of our elections, who are willing to condemn the January 6th insurrection, and call out the Big Lie — because to do otherwise is to be an apologist for Donald Trump’s unprecedented attack on our democracy.
In what ways can Congress act now to prepare the nation and ensure it can better handle the next pandemic?
The pandemic taught us that we can’t afford to be caught flat-footed once again. We need to invest in the right programs and tools now to better prepare for future pandemics.
The American Rescue Plan, which my opponent does not support, included my bill to fund a robust public health workforce so we can do the large-scale testing, contact tracing, and vaccine administration required. Looking ahead, we also have to replenish domestic stockpiles to ensure sufficient supplies of ventilators, swabs, surgical masks, and other vital equipment.
At the same time, we must keep our eye on future threats to public health. I am especially concerned about the rise of infections resistant to conventional antibiotics. Today, we have a complete market failure in the United States and globally, and we are not developing drugs that can target the most threatening infections. That’s why I wrote the PASTEUR Act with Senator Todd Young, a bipartisan bill to create a pipeline of next-generation antibiotics.
This year, Congress passed the most comprehensive gun law reform package in three decades, but advocates said it stopped short. Would you support a ban of AR-style guns?
This year, we finally overcame the National Rifle Association and made bipartisan progress on gun safety with a bill that even Mitch McConnell supports, but my opponent does not. We have to build on this progress, which is why I support a modern and well-crafted assault weapons ban to remove weapons of war from our communities.
There is still a humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. What should Congress do to address it?
I helped write the bipartisan, comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Senate in 2013. However, far-right members of the House Freedom Caucus shamefully blocked it from coming to a vote. That bill had a tough but fair pathway to citizenship, the most progressive DREAM Act ever written, an overhaul of our visa and guest worker system, and $40 billion of sophisticated, 21st-century border security — not Donald Trump’s medieval wall. I still believe that bill represents the pragmatic consensus on immigration we need to restore, otherwise, our broken immigration system will continue to inflict needless damage on our economy and our heritage as a nation of immigrants. Unfortunately, too many Republicans in the Senate would rather pound the bruise of the southern border to score political points instead of addressing the actual problem.
While the Affordable Care Act has notably increased access to health insurance for millions of Americans and ensured those who become sick retain coverage, for many people, health insurance is not affordable, and benefits become increasingly dismal. So little has been done on a federal level, that states are trying to fix the problems themselves. What’s the answer for a unilateral effort, and what’s the answer for a bi-partisan reform effort?
In the Inflation Reduction Act, we cut the cost of prescription drugs for seniors, capped insulin costs at $35 a month for seniors, and, for the first time in history, required Medicare to negotiate prices on behalf of the American people. We also lowered health care premiums for tens of thousands of Coloradans, but there’s more we must do. In my Medicare- X Choice Act, I’ve proposed establishing a public option that would give every American the choice to receive coverage through Medicare, instead of on the private market. That would increase choice and reduce costs for millions of families.
I also see opportunities for bipartisan progress to increase transparency and competition in the health care sector, expand access to telemedicine, and streamline bureaucracy to lower costs and accelerate proven treatments, similar to my bipartisan bill with Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina that fast-tracked drugs for serious diseases, like cancer.
What should Congress do to further address the fentanyl and opioid epidemics?
We have to confront the scourge of fentanyl in our society. It’s created an epidemic in our state that has touched virtually everyone. Abroad, we need to work with our allies to push back on China, where many of fentanyl’s underlying chemicals are sourced. We also have to apply pressure on Mexico to keep fentanyl from illegally pouring into our country.
At home, we can do a better job of holding accountable those who created this crisis in the first place. I wrote a bill that would make opioid manufacturers and distributors pay to address the crisis they created. We also have to end the chaos at the southern border that benefits cartels and traffickers, which is why I helped write a bipartisan immigration reform bill that included over $40 billion for sophisticated, 21st-century border security, among other provisions. We also have to strengthen our response at home, and my bipartisan MATE Act with Senator Susan Collins would better equip our healthcare system to identify, treat, and prevent addiction. Finally, we have to reform our criminal justice system, so we are not putting people back on the street in worse shape, which can perpetuate the cycle of addiction.
The EPA and every credible global expert agrees that burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat and transportation are the greatest contributors to climate change. Is there a way to reduce carbon emissions enough to prevent climate change and continue to use fossil fuels for those three greatest contributors? What vetted proof do you offer?
Climate change is a grave threat to Colorado’s environment, economy, and way of life. We must act urgently to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which means deploying clean energy faster than we ever have.
At the same time, we have to be honest about where we are. Across the economy, 80% of primary energy consumption still comes from fossil fuels. Renewables are just 12%. That’s why, even under the most ambitious projections, some fossil fuels will likely remain in our energy mix for decades.
This is the reality. One reason we have struggled to make progress on climate is because defenders of the status quo action claim that Democrats want to turn off fossil fuels tomorrow. That’s not true; this transition will not happen overnight. It’s a fool’s errand to try and make progress on climate without addressing the needs of communities like Craig, Meeker, and parts of northwest Colorado that rely on the fossil fuel industry. We need a responsible approach that draws on all our energy resources.
That’s why I’m pleased that we passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which is the largest investment ever in our climate. It has over $370 billion to deploy clean energy and secure U.S. energy independence. It will reduce carbon pollution 40% by the end of the decade and includes funds to help rural communities transition to a clean energy economy.
The Inflation Reduction Act was a good first step, but we have to do more to drive down carbon pollution and protect Colorado for our kids and grandkids. If my opponent had been in the Senate, we would never have passed this bill and taken a historic step on climate. In fact, he’s said we may have to “learn to live with” climate change and that he would allow the oil and gas industry to dictate his climate policy. I think our climate policy should be driven, not by special interests, but by science and the interests of the American people.
Given what the House Select Jan. 6 committee has revealed, do you believe Donald Trump was greatly responsible for the attack and should be held accountable?
There’s no doubt that Donald Trump was responsible for the insurrection on January 6th, and he needs to be held accountable — along with the people who spread his Big Lie. Colorado has a chance to do that by defeating people who refuse to hold Donald Trump accountable, like my opponent, who said Trump bears no responsibility for what happened on January 6th. We need to elect people who do not equivocate about defending American democracy.
A wide range of experts, conservative and liberal, agree that the vast majority of forces driving inflation costs stem from the pandemic, not government policies, as made clear by inflation being a global problem. Given that, what policies would you enact to drive down inflation costs?
Even before the pandemic, families in every part of our state told me they couldn’t afford some combination of housing, health care, higher education, or child care. Inflation has made a difficult situation even harder, and it’s put tremendous strain on Colorado families. We need to do more to bring costs down.
We can start by making the expanded child tax credit permanent, a bill I fought to secure in the American Rescue Plan that gave families up to $300 a month per child to help them pay for rent, groceries, school supplies, and more.
We also have to stay vigilant about companies taking advantage of inflation to gouge the American people with excessively high prices. I have a bill that would tax the excess profits of oil companies and redirect that revenue to Colorado families.
Earlier this year, the Senate took a significant step to lower costs for families by passing the Inflation Reduction Act. The bill caps the price of prescription drugs for patients on Medicare to $2,000 a year, and it caps the price of insulin at $35 a month. It will also lower energy prices by expanding supply. We also passed the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, which will help us build more robust and resilient supply chains here at home and expand domestic manufacturing so we aren’t dependent on foreign markets for critical items like semiconductors.
All of these steps are vital in our work to build an economy that grows for everyone, not just the few at the top.
What’s the most Colorado thing you’ve done recently?
I visited and hiked around Colorado’s historic Camp Hale and capped off my trip in Palisade with peaches from Talbot’s farms.
What is the last concert you attended?
I went to the Phish concert with Susan and our daughter, Anne.
What restaurant do you frequent most?
El Taco De Mexico in Denver.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Ending child poverty in America.
What was the last book you read?
It’s not the last book I read, but one of my favorites is the Tyranny of Merit by Michael Sandel
What is your least favorite household chore?
If you had to pick one television show to watch forever, what would it be?
The Original Star Trek (the William Shatner version)
Did you have any New Year’s resolutions? What were they?
To help in the garden more.
What were you most excited to do after pandemic restrictions eased?
Go to a Rockies Game with my daughters.
What fun fact about you would most surprise people who know you?
When I was in the second grade, our teacher asked us to line up based on whose family had arrived most recently and whose had been in America the longest. It turned out I was the answer to both questions. My mom and her parents were Polish Jews who survived the Holocaust. They were split up during the Nazi invasion of Poland and eventually came to America to rebuild their shattered lives. My dad, on the other hand, could trace his family roots all the way back to 100 religious refugees who arrived in 1620. One reason I love this country is because my unusual background is not unusual for an American.