BY FREDA MIKLIN
On April 25, two-term CD6 U.S. Rep. Jason Crow held a telephone town hall to answer questions from constituents. Crow opened the event by listing three committees on which he serves, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Armed Services Committee and Small Business Committee. He also chairs the Subcommittee on Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Workforce Development.
Crow said he had introduced bills focused on jobs, climate change and climate-related disasters, expanding resources for small businesses, gun violence and reducing crime. He stressed his belief in the importance of working collaboratively across the aisle, pointing to the fact that, “More than 70% of the bills I’ve introduced have had a GOP co-sponsor.”
A former Army Ranger, Crow said he has been focused very hard on making sure that, “We are supporting our brothers and sisters in their fight for freedom, democracy and survival,” adding, “This is where the front lines of our battle for democracy exist right now and I think it’s important that America stands with Ukraine and with Europe, fighting back against Russian aggression and Vladimir Putin’s illegal and atrocious war against the Ukrainians.”
Crow said he worked to pass the bipartisan Infrastructure and Jobs Act last year. He expects Colorado to receive $4 billion to invest in roads, bridges and critical infrastructure, plus vehicle charging stations.
On the causes of inflation, Crow pointed to supply chain shortages, especially of microchips, microprocessors and semi-conductors, explaining, “We are making very large investments to re-onshore manufacturing of microchips and microprocessors back to the U.S,” adding that his, “Made in Americas Act” gives tax incentives to companies to bring manufacturing back to the U.S.
To combat labor shortages, Crow “is working very hard for the extension of apprenticeship programs, so that people can up-skill, re-skill, or create new skills to enter the workforce or go into better, more high-paying jobs.”
Another caller wanted to know what we can do to get first-class weapons to the Ukrainians? Crow said, “I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve been pushing the Congress hard to increase our support past the $3 billion in weapons and assistance we’ve already provided. I visited eastern Europe last week. I went to Poland, where shipments are originating from. I met with the 82nd Airborne Division, which is the division that I served in when I was in the Army. I saw the soldiers that are providing that support and facilitating additional security along the border. I also visited Slovakia and Romania and saw the supply lines that are going into Ukraine. The bottom line is this–the Ukrainians can win this. They are fierce. They are amazing fighters. They’re fighting for their independence, their own homes, their own cities. But they can only win it if NATO and the U.S. continue to support and increases its support. We’ve sent in thousands of javelin anti-tank missiles, thousands of stinger anti-aircraft weapons, guns, ammunition and many other types of supplies to help them do as well as they are doing so far. But the Russians are going to continue to push hard. They’re not going to stop, so the needs are changing. They need more advanced weaponry, including aircraft, drones, artillery and other high-tech weapons…I continue to push for the transfer of fighter jets from European countries who have the MIGs and unmanned drones to help knock out those Russian convoys.”
When a caller asked Rep. Crow, “What are you doing to support energy independence? he said, “I supported the bill that prevents the purchase of Russian gas…We need to increase production and diversify sources. It’s good for our economy and job growth and good for our environment to make a transition to electric, solar, wind and other renewables. That will take time, but, in the near term, we have to meet our needs and keep prices down. We must rely on our friends, Mexico and Canada, and call on U.S. energy companies to increase production. There are unused drilling permits that U.S. companies have. They can employ those without the federal government taking any action. In fact, the use of those permits has increased 50% under the Biden administration, which helps meet our near- term needs. Also, the administration is releasing one million barrels of oil each day from our strategic oil reserves to help get prices down and meet our needs.”
A caller said he had been waiting months for an IRS refund. Crow said, “We have staff in our Aurora office that you can contact to help you with any claim against the federal government, including the IRS. That number is 720-748-7514.”
When a constituent wanted to know what could be done “to better our veterans home health care system at the VA?” Crow pointed to the lack of staff in the VA health care system. He said it is presently short 40,000 health care practitioners, which is what is driving the wait time for veterans to get seen or get services. He said he had a bill that would create a pilot program around the country to cut the red tape and to speed up onboarding and hiring of medical professionals. He said “Right now it takes over 180 days for the VA to hire a health care worker. That’s absurd. I want to cut that time significantly and get people on the job and caring for our veterans. We’ve been working very hard on this. My bipartisan cosponsor is Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer from Michigan.”
An online listener asked Crow to address the subject of voting rights. He said, “There’s nothing more important to any democracy than the right to vote. What we’re seeing right now is an effort around the country to prevent people from voting, to disenfranchise black and brown communities from voting. Twenty states have passed over 400 laws to roll back voting rights, to make it harder for people to vote. That’s not OK. It’s not right. That’s why we have to pass the For the People Act of 2021. We passed it in the House, where I was a co-sponsor. It provides federal protections, regardless of what state you live in, regardless of the color of your skin, to say that if you are entitled to vote, that you have that right and people can’t take it away from you.”
He continued, “In Colorado, we do it really, really well. We have the second highest voter participation rate in the country. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. The more people who vote and let their voice be heard, the healthier our democracy is. Over a decade ago, Democrats and Republicans came together and passed a series of bills, including automatic voter registration, mail-in ballots, and same day voting registration. We have really important protections that we passed and implemented on a bipartisan basis. Once we did that, our voting participation went up. We know it works, we just want to protect other states who want to do the same. That’s what these voting rights bills are all about. The problem is the Senate. Because of the filibuster, we need 60 votes in the Senate to pass any legislation. We have not been able to pass this important voting rights protection bill, which is one reason why I am in favor of abolishing the filibuster so we can protect the right to vote and protect our democracy.”
A mom asked Crow to address high food prices. He acknowledged that, “Food prices are going up and it’s a problem,” adding, “People have to make tough decisions about food and gas purchases.” He said that supply chain disruptions, a shortage of workers, and increased wages, have all affected the increase in the prices of goods. He added, “Bringing manufacturing back to this country will help the supply chain problem. We are working on that.”
When the president of the Denver Metro Association of Realtors, Milford Adams, called to say that the average price of homes in Denver is now almost $700,000 and we need not just affordable, but attainable housing. Crow said, “You’re absolutely right. People can’t afford to live here. Senior citizens can’t afford to stay in their homes. To address that problem, I am co-sponsoring the Housing and Infrastructure Act as well as the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act.” Crow pointed out that, “Right now we just don’t have enough housing stock to meet our needs.” He added that, “In Colorado, about 90% of our affordable housing is built using the low-income tax credit. We want to expand and strengthen that.”
When a constituent said, “We are incredibly polarized politically. Are there any efforts to reach across the divide and bridge that gap for the American people?” Crow responded, “You’re right. We are divided as a country and we can’t be a vibrant democracy and have respectable debates now. We have to lower the temperature, not demonize others and call one another names.” Crow shared that he’s a member of the For Country Caucus comprised of military veterans from both sides of the aisle who pledge not to attack each other and to help each other pass bills. He said, “We never question each other’s patriotism since we’ve all served our country.” He said that he is also a member of the Civility Caucus, whose motto is, “All of Congress should be civil.” Crow explained that a congressperson can only join with a member of the other party and that he joined with GOP Rep. Troy Balderson from Ohio. Members of the Civility Caucus “take a pledge not to attack or malign each other, just have honest debates.”
Rep. Crow closed with the promise, “I will always show up, I will always be transparent, I will try to come to the right solution for our country. I will keep my eyes, ears and heart open to everyone in the community.”
In his bid for a third term, Crow will face newcomer Republican Steve Monahan, a former naval aviator and member of the Navy’s Sixth Fleet Band. He is a small business owner and father of three young children.