Congressman Joe Neguse enjoying whirlwind nine months

By Dan Karpiel

The Surveyor

It is a job with many perks, and potentially even more headaches.

Yet less than a year into office, Congressman Joe Neguse, whose second Congressional district encompasses all of Berthoud, has been enjoying himself, working extremely hard both in Colorado and on Capitol Hill and doing his best to work across the aisle.

Rep. Joe Neguse

Neguse, a Democrat elected last November with 60% of the vote, became the first African American elected to Congress from Colorado, and serves on the House Judiciary and Natural Resources committees as well as the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. Neguse is a member of both the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Nine months into office Neguse has voted largely along party lines and in May announced his support for the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, saying in a press release, “The Special Counsel’s report clearly outlined sweeping and systematic Russian interference in our 2016 elections. This is not about politics. It is about protecting the rule of law in our country. Given the findings of the Special Counsel’s report, as well as the continued obstruction of Congress by the administration, I believe we should proceed with opening an impeachment inquiry.”

While Neguse has remained largely loyal to his party, he was quick to point out in a discussion with the Surveyor last week how he has been working to bridge the partisan gap and accomplish goals that are of benefit to his northern Colorado constituents of any political stripe, explaining there are many issues on which partisan politics does not enter the equation. Two bills on issues relating to public lands that Neguse sponsored have been signed into law by the president.

“One of the bright spots … we’ve been able to get a lot done. Our office has introduced 21 bills, more bills than any freshman member of Congress, Republican or Democrat,” Neguse commented. “The vast majority of those bills are bipartisan bills. They would have a pronounced impact on the lives of people in Berthoud, in Loveland, when we think of issues like affordable housing, funding for individuals with disabilities in education (IDEA) act, really important for the Thompson Valley School District.”

Neguse explained that funding the IDEA act has been a big priority, and earlier this year he was able to secure an amendment to an appropriations bill to provide an additional $1 billion in federal monies for special-needs students. The amendment received broad bi-partisan support and Neguse said he was hopeful it will see a similar fate in the Senate.

“From my perspective, our office has always been very focused on taking our cues from local leaders,” Neguse explained. “They all made it very clear that IDEA funding needed to be a priority of the Congress. The federal match has never reached the 40% pledge … so ultimately school districts like Thompson are forced to bridge the gap. That amendment will go a long way to helping with some of the funding challenges our local school districts have.”

During the campaign last fall, Neguse told the Surveyor he planned, if elected, to be an in-district Congressman and he has remained true to his word. Neguse has held 22 town halls, six of which have been in Larimer County. That number represents the largest number of town halls held by any freshman member of Congress as well as the most of all nine members of Colorado’s delegation.

“A cornerstone of my service has been being responsive to constituents on the ground and so, for me, in order to do the job effectively as a representative and to get a good pulse as to how folks are feeling, the best way to do that is to actually meet with the people I serve,” Neguse said.

This Saturday Neguse will host Colorado’s first App-a-thon. The event, which will be held at the Google Office at 2930 Pearl St., in Boulder from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., is part of the Congressional App Challenge and is designed to enlighten young people in the area of coding and computer science. At the event, students of any skill level will work with Google computer science experts to design and code a unique app, getting hands-on experience from some of the world’s leading developers.

“I made it very clear when I was running for Congress that I wanted to be present in the community, and so this year I’ve been back from Washington just about every week,” said Neguse, who lives in Lafayette with his wife and 1-year-old daughter.

“In this time of great division in our country I would encourage folks to reach out to people who might have a different world view than their own. I took an oath when I was sworn into Congress that I would defend the Constitution, that I would work hard each and every day to serve the people of the second district, and for me that means listening to everyone, not just folks who may agree with me,” The congressman said.  

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