GOP senator brags about 'bipartisan record' despite voting with Trump 90% of the time

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Few of Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner's 'bipartisan' bills have made any headway on Capitol Hill.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R) bragged on Wednesday of his "bipartisan record of results" for his home state, claiming a new report found those efforts "effective."

A closer examination of his legislative record, however, contradicts those statements.

Gardner, who is facing a close reelection race in 2020, noted in a press release that a recent GovTrack report found him to be the Republican senator who wrote the "most bipartisan bills."

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"I'm proud of my bipartisan record of results for Colorado," he wrote. "Great things are possible when we set aside partisan blinders and instead focus on the results that Coloradans care about. I will continue to work across the aisle for the good of our entire state, because it’s what the people of Colorado want and should demand from their leaders in Washington.”

But few of those "bipartisan bills" have made any headway on Capitol Hill.

According to Congress.gov, Gardner has filed 59 bills since the start of 2019. Just two of those — the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act of 2019 and the Department of Veterans Affairs Provider Accountability Act — have actually been approved by the GOP-controlled Senate. The rest remain stuck as the GOP majority focuses almost exclusively on confirmation votes.

Of Gardner's remaining bills, 45 have at least one Democratic cosponsor — but in most cases only one. Fifteen of those bills were cosponsored only by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and typically dealt with state-related matters, like the Rocky Mountain National Park Boundary Modification Act and a proposal to give their state two additional federal district judgeships. Colorado is currently one of just nine states with split Senate delegations, where one senator is in the Democratic caucus and one in the Republican caucus.

Many of the remaining bills were non-controversial or minor proposals, including the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2019, the Aluminum Pricing Examination Act, and the Telecommunications Opportunities for Workers Engaging in Real Infrastructure Deployment Act of 2019.

While his non-enacted bills may be bipartisan, Gardner's actual voting record has been anything but.

Since the start of 2017, Gardner has been a reliable vote for Donald Trump on every major issue. When the Senate voted on Affordable Care Act repeal, the Supreme Court nominations of Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, confirmation for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, tax cuts for the rich, and abortion bans, Gardner was always a yes vote. When the chamber considered whether to convict Trump or hear from fact witnesses in his impeachment trial, Gardner was a firm no.

Overall, Gardner has voted with Trump 89.6% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight. That's more often than even some of Trump's most loyal allies like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

Gardner's partisan loyalty to Trump does not represent his constituents' views: Trump lost Colorado by nearly 5 percentage points in 2016 and voters gave him a net unfavorable rating of 10% in a January tracking poll.

Gardner's office did not immediately respond to questions about his voting record.

Recent polling shows Gardner facing an uphill battle for reelection in November against former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D). Election forecaster Sabato's Crystal Ball moved the seat from "tossup" to "leans Democratic" last week.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.