Michael Bennet: Getting things done for Colorado | SteamboatToday.com

Michael Bennet: Getting things done for Colorado

Every day families across Colorado wake up and get to work, helping their kids get ahead and making our communities a better place. From Routt County to the Front Range, Coloradans are determined and innovative — always willing to do what it takes to get the job done.

That’s the approach I’ve taken as your U.S. senator. Despite Washington dysfunction, working together we’ve been able to cut through the partisanship and make real progress for our state.

As a former school superintendent, I’ve seen up close how unnecessary regulations can make educating our kids more difficult. So I went to work with Democrats and Republicans to overhaul the No Child Left Behind law and make it work better for our schools. We came up with a bipartisan plan to re-empower schools, reduce high-stakes testing and let teachers teach again — all while maintaining accountability and supporting innovation.

We’ve taken steps to address inequalities in our education system, and the bill we passed will help expand opportunity for our kids. But we also need to tackle college affordability. You shouldn’t have to sign up for a lifetime of debt to get a college education, which is why I’ve worked to expand Pell Grants and simplify the financial aid application process.

Aside from education, we’ve made fixing our broken immigration system a priority. After months of meetings with everyone from farmers and migrant workers to law enforcement and faith leaders, we outlined a plan to strengthen the border, boost our economy and bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows.

Working with three other Democrats and four Republicans to write the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill was one of my most rewarding experiences in Washington. It wasn’t so much bipartisan as it was nonpartisan — everyone setting aside party politics and coming together to find common ground.

Our immigration reform bill passed the Senate with 68 votes. It would have become law if the House of Representatives took a vote — but partisan obstructions blocked it. Nonetheless, the experience proved to me how much can be accomplished when legislators focus on their job: getting results to help their constituents.

That’s how we passed legislation to streamline the FDA drug approval process and create a new “breakthrough therapies” designation that’s helping patients get lifesaving drugs faster. And that’s how we designated Browns Canyon and Chimney Rock as national monuments and protected more than 100,000 acres of the Hermosa Creek Watershed.

We extended tax credits for wind and solar energy to grow Colorado’s renewable energy economy while fighting climate change. We cut through red tape so rural veterans could access care. And we’ve supported tough and smart security solutions to keep our nation safe.

Together, we’ve managed to accomplish a lot for Colorado. But there’s still much left to do for our families and our communities, including making sure no one gets left behind as Colorado’s economy grows by raising the minimum wage, ensuring women get equal pay for equal work and protecting Social Security for the next generation.

I’m running for reelection because I reject the premise that Washington has to be as dysfunctional as it is today. We need to overturn Citizens United, get dark money out of politics and ban members of Congress from becoming lobbyists to make progress on some of the biggest challenges facing our country. But until we make those reforms and tackle Washington dysfunction head-on, I’ll keep working to cut across party lines and get things done for Colorado.

Democrat Michael Bennet is running for reelection to represent Colorado in the United States Senate.

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