Republicans angered over the passage of health care legislation Sunday have blocked a hearing scheduled by U.S. Sen. Mark Udall for this afternoon on how to protect Colorado cities and towns from the hazards of the beetle infestation that has ravaged millions of acres of lodge pole pine tress here.
Republican leaders are leaning on an rule that requires the unanimous consent of Senators in both parties to agree to hearings scheduled after 2 p.m. In a statement, Udall said Republicans “objected to the bark beetle hearing and vowed not to cooperate with Democrats for the rest of the year.”
The move signals either the beginning of a long stretch of tit-for-tat in DC or the temporary reaction of lawmakers suffering recently bruised egos.
Roughly 2 million acres of pine trees have been destroyed in Colorado, leaving whole hollowed-out mountainsides of trees toppling or ready to topple onto houses and roads and powerlines, ready to catch fire. Small mountain towns are paying tourism and clean-up costs in the wake of the infestation.
Colorado State Senator Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne, was in Washington to testify at the hearing.
“It is critical that this hearing go forward – especially with Senator Gibbs in Washington to explain how important this bipartisan bill is to Coloradans. Delay just prevents urgently needed resources from going to Colorado communities threatened by beetle-killed trees,” Senator Udall said. “I strongly urge my colleagues to re-think their strategy – this is a matter of public safety, and that’s too important for political gamesmanship.”
U.S. Sen. John McCain Monday said angry Republicans in Washington will not work with Democrats for the rest of the year.