Salazar, Udall ready for majority rule
EAGLE COUNTY ” Even before Virginia tipped to Democratic Senator Jim Webb Thursday, Colorado’s own Sen. Ken Salazar was predicting the party would indeed gain a majority in the U.S. Senate.
Now that both the House and the Senate are back in the hands of Democrats, Salazar said he’s ready to move forward with bipartisan solutions.
“There’s a danger that Democrats will spend time investigating and over-stressing the accountability side,” Salazar said in a conference call Wednesday. “There is an appropriate oversight role Congress needs to play, which it hasn’t because all the keys to the kingdom were controlled by one party.”
President Bush has signaled that he’s willing to work with Democrats more cooperatively than in the past and that’s what people want, Salazar said.
“People elect us to get there and get work done instead of getting into partisan bickering,” he said. “I hope Congress takes the higher road of reaching out to the president, and I hope he will walk the talk of bipartisanship. He’s been very partisan, despite the talk.”
U.S. Rep. Mark Udall easily won reelection in Colorado’s second congressional district ” which includes Eagle County ” against Republican Rich Mancuso. He echoed similar thoughts Wednesday.
“Clearly people in the country have said we want to change course, not just about the war in Iraq but on what’s happening here at home,” Udall said. “The president has the responsibility to respond. I believe we in the Congress will look to work with him and find common ground, but he has to also extend the hand as well, and for six years they really haven’t.”
Salazar said there’s a lot of work ahead to shuffle some committee assignments for incoming senators, but said he plans to remain on the same committees he’s been on: agriculture, aging, ethics, energy and veterans affairs.
“What I’ll do in November and December is start identifying additional pieces of legislation that are important to Colorado,” Salazar said. “We need to govern from the center, and I would hope there would be more people in that vein who can help us move forward with the agenda for the country.”
Salazar also said he was “pleased” that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had resigned and that he was looking forward to reviewing the qualifications of the man nominated to succeed him, Robert Gates.
“When you look at the huge issues facing the Department of Defense, the obvious one is leadership in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Salazar said. “But just as important is the condition of our military … In Iraq there’s just been too much reliance on our National Guard.”
Ultimately, Salazar said, voters Tuesday made it clear they were ready for a change.
“Everyone had on their minds all the scandals coming out of the Republican side,” he said. “It sent a signal to Americans that we need checks and balances. So many years of one-party rule were not delivering the best government.”
Alex Miller can be reached at 748-2931, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado
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