Sen. Cory Gardner went on conservative talk radio last week and expressed his desire to drastically lower the COVID unemployment benefits 330,000 hard-working Coloradans need to pay rent and keep food on the table.

This comes after the senator tweeted back in June: “It’s unfathomable that the Senate is going on recess without considering any additional #COVID-19 assistance for the American people. Anyone who thinks the time is now to go on recess hasn’t been listening. Coloradans and Americans alike have been sacrificing and hurting.”  

Dennis Dougherty, executive director of the Colorado AFL-CIO

Then, less than 24 hours later, he voted to adjourn.  

We need you to do your job, senator. Do it for Coloradans who don’t have one. Support the continuation of the $600 COVID unemployment benefit, along with Senate Democrats, and push Senate Majority Leader — and President Trump — to pass the full relief bill this week.

The unemployment rate in Colorado has quadrupled since January as the American economy stumbled hard under the weight of the pandemic, according to numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The $600 COVID benefit is an economic lifeline for families, small businesses and the overall economy. 

Senator, if you fail to stand up for Coloradans and instead allow Republicans to cut the benefit to $200, which is what the Majority Leader plans to do, it will be a gut punch to our communities and small businesses. And not just in Colorado. Nationally, the $400 per week cut will mean another 3.4 million jobs lost. 

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Like the other components of the relief bill offered by Democrats, the COVID unemployment benefit isn’t some kind of windfall. It’s helping families stay afloat and it’s keeping our economy from sliding into a depression.

As for the handful of Coloradans who are netting more now than they did prior to the pandemic, they haven’t gone on recess. They’re too busy looking for new jobs to replace the ones they had that no longer exist.

True leaders step forward to unite communities in a crisis. And even though Colorado’s workers and working families have been devastated by the bungled and chaotic response to the pandemic by this administration, it’s not too late for you, senator, to do your job.

First, protect Coloradans and fight to extend the COVID unemployment benefits. Then, demand that OSHA and MSHA issue emergency temporary standards to protect workers and the administration use the Defense Production Act to make sure we have enough PPE.

Lastly, Sen. McConnell’s bill has no aid for state and local governments and the U.S. Postal Service and not nearly enough aid for schools. Sen. Gardner: help us feed our families, protect our workers, and teach our kids. It’s your job.

Coloradans need you to get back to work.  America does, too. 

Dennis Dougherty, who lives in Denver with his wife and two children, is executive director of the Colorado AFL-CIO.

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