Congressman Joe Neguse talks climate change and COVID-19 recovery in bid for reelection to US House

Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse discusses the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act at the Coon Hill Trailhead on the west side of the Eisenhower Tunnel in Summit County on Sept. 4.
Liz Copan/Summit Daily archive

KEYSTONE — Congressman Joe Neguse is hoping to continue his work pushing for action in Washington to combat climate change, invest in outdoor lands and support Coloradans through the COVID-19 pandemic in his bid for reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Neguse, a Democrat, was elected in 2018 to represent Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes Broomfield, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Grand, Larimer and Summit counties as well as parts of Boulder, Jefferson, Eagle and Park counties.

The congressman will face off against Republican challenger Dr. Charlie Winn in the upcoming November election, and he’s eager for another chance to build on his freshman term.

“It’s been a real opportunity, in my view, for me and my office to lean in and deliver for the people of our district,” Neguse said. “I made very clear what I was going to accomplish and, that if I were given the opportunity to serve this community, that we would move very aggressively to pursue a bold and ambitious legislative agenda, that we would be active and present in the community, and that we would not take advantage of this opportunity. I think we’ve done that.”

Neguse is a California native who moved to Colorado when he was 6 years old. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Colorado. Before his election in 2018, Neguse represented Colorado’s 2nd District on the University of Colorado Board of Regents along with serving in former Gov. John Hickenlooper’s cabinet as the head of Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies.

Neguse made the move to Congress in 2018, filling Gov. Jared Polis’ vacancy in the district. He currently sits on the House Judiciary Committee, the House Natural Resources Committee, the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and holds leadership positions in a number of other subcommittees and caucuses.

Since taking office, Neguse has had four bills signed into law, including the Secure Rural Schools Extension Act, the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program Extension Act, the Bolts Ditch Access and Use Act and the Arapaho National Forest Boundary Adjustment.  

But there’s work still to be done in other areas, he said.

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Over the past two years, Neguse has introduced 50 pieces of legislation, more than any other member of the freshman class or Colorado’s congressional delegation, much of it focused around the conservation of public lands and the environment. If reelected, among his top priorities will be continuing to push for better solutions to address the impacts of climate change.  

“I firmly believe that climate change truly is an existential threat facing our planet,” Neguse said. “And the planetary crisis we’re facing requires us to be bold and to meet the gravity and scale of the challenge. … It’s clearly an area where I think we need to do more, and I’ve dedicated much of my time in Congress to doing that.”

Neguse pointed to ongoing pieces of legislation — including the 21st Century Conservation Corps Act, which calls for major investments in forest health, wildfire mitigation and the outdoor economy — along with other efforts to expand clean energy and transportation through things like the Solar EDGE Act and the Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now Act, which seeks to transition to 50% zero-emission vehicles by 2030.

Neguse also has taken a central position in trying to pass the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act, better known as the CORE Act, which would preserve 400,000 acres of public land across the state along with designating Camp Hale as the country’s first National Historic Landscape.

The congressman also has introduced a number of other bills, ranging from measures to enact nationwide voter preregistration, combat surprise billing and discriminatory insurance policies, reduce the cost of higher education and more. But he says he’s also looking to community members to see what issues are important to them.

“We’re pursuing our legislative agenda with great vigor, continuing to lead locally and trusting our constituents to help lead the way in terms of the ideas and thoughtful proposals they approach our office with, and continuing to be a visible presence in the community,” Neguse said. “But we’re also leading on some of these really complex national issues.”

National issues

Neguse lauded Polis and other local officials for their response to the COVID-19 pandemic but said the government didn’t work fast enough at the federal level to help mitigate the impacts.

“We had this tragic outcome of losing 200,000 Americans over the last six months,” Neguse said. “It’s a tragedy of epic proportions, and I think the lack of federal strategy, with respect to testing and contact tracing and so many other aspects of dealing with this pandemic, has been incredibly costly as a country.”

The congressman has introduces a number of bills to start addressing the economic and public health impacts of the pandemic, including measures to support the U.S. Postal Service, increase food stamp funding, provide direct relief funding to cities and counties, and more.

In addition to the implementation of a national testing strategy and developing a vaccine, Neguse also called for a bold economic stimulus package to support small businesses and families struggling to keep afloat.

Neguse, who is Black, also discussed the Black Lives Matter movement and said local, state and federal officials need to continue working to ensure equality and justice are a reality for all Americans. Neguse was a co-sponsor of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 that passed through the House earlier this year, and he said he believes community members in the district have voiced a clear desire to address issues related to racism and police brutality.

“There’s still much more to be done as to equity and ensuring everyone has a seat at the table,” Neguse said. “The fact that the people of Summit, Boulder, Larimer and the other counties that make up this district made history electing the first Black congressman in Colorado’s history is indicative of the forward and inclusive nature of our community. We want to continue to build on that, and I consider myself lucky to be a part of that effort.”

With regard to the upcoming election, Neguse said he’ll be supporting Hickenlooper for U.S. Senate and former Vice President Joe Biden for president.

“I believe it’s time to turn the page,” Neguse said. “We need a president who is going to unite us, someone who is going to work to appeal to the better angels of our nature, someone who will bring empathy and decency and the core spirit of reaching across the aisle and working together. I think former Vice President Biden will do just that as will Sen. Kamala Harris.”

Finally, Neguse said he’s proud of the work he’s been able to do in Washington so far but that there’s still plenty of items on his list to check off.   

“It has been the greatest honor of my life thinking about how I can help the people of Summit County and Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District at home and here in Washington. I would be so grateful to have the opportunity to continue the important work we’ve started. Because while I’m proud of everything we’ve accomplished together, there still is so much work to be done. And I’m excited to roll up my sleeves.”


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