Udall: Republican ‘games’ delay hearing on bark-beetle bill | VailDaily.com

Udall: Republican ‘games’ delay hearing on bark-beetle bill

Daily News staff report

Washington, D.C. – Summit County State Rep. Dan Gibbs flew back home today after a fruitless trip to Washington to testify about the pine beetle epidemic before the U.S. Senate. And it appears the root of the problem was Republican anger of passage of the health care reform bill

Colorado’s bark beetle hearing was canceled Tuesday due to Republican obstructionism, according to U.S. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.). In a press release, Udall’s office said Republican leaders used an arcane rule to cancel committee hearings while vowing not to cooperate with Democrats for the rest of the year.

For several months, U.S. Senator Mark Udall worked with Senate leaders to schedule Colorado’s first bark beetle hearing. Udall’s bill, the National Forest Insect and Disease Emergency Act, was originally scheduled to be heard in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday, with Gibbs testifying about the danger posed to Colorado communities by bark beetle-damaged trees. If passed, the bill would give the Forest Service and Interior Department more resources to reduce bark beetle-related safety and health threats.

Wednesday, according to Udall, Republican leaders again used the delay tactic. Udall said he is now urging Republican leaders to stop their political maneuvering and allow Colorado’s interests to be heard by moving forward with the much-needed bill.

“Republican leaders ought to know better,” Udall said. “These types of political games only hurt constituents, not Democratic lawmakers. In Colorado, we have mountains covered with orange-colored dying trees, and, as a result, homes are at risk of wildfire and hikers and workers in danger of being hurt by falling trees. This is a public safety emergency that needs to be addressed immediately. Republican games just give Coloradans one more hurdle to jump through to get help,” Udall said.

State Senator Dan Gibbs flew back to Colorado today without having the opportunity to testify.

“If Republican leadership had any idea of what we are facing in Colorado with this epidemic, they would stop these games now and let us do our jobs and help Colorado with this serious issue,” Gibbs said.

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