DENVER (KDVR) — With a 50/50 split in the United States Senate, compromise between Democrats and Republicans will be crucial. Meanwhile, bipartisanship seems to be more difficult in a polarized political climate.
Sen. John Hickenlooper, Colorado’s new junior Democratic senator, is navigating the tricky world of legislating after years of leading municipal and state executive branches of government. He’ll be working on policy as he prepares to serve as a juror on a presidential impeachment trial.
For Hickenlooper– and many of his colleagues– the top priority is seeing our way through the pandemic by accelerating vaccine distribution.
“I have to believe that we can do better,” Hickenlooper said. “I know we can do better. We have to figure out how we get more vaccine.”
Hickenlooper noted that the impeachment trial can happen as senators work simultaneously on other issues like stimulating the economy.
“Somehow we’ve got to be doing several things at once … which is not tradition … what we’ve seen in the Senate for the last 10 years,” he said.
As a new member to the body, the senator is gearing up for an education on D.C. policy negotiation.
“I’ve never persuaded people to change their minds on something that matters by telling them why they’re wrong and why I’m right,” Hickenlooper said.
He said the ability to listen to fellow senators will be key to creating a level of trust with Republicans.
But will anything get done under current rules requiring 60 votes to end debates– including filibusters? Currently, senators can give lengthy floor speeches to delay crucial votes. FOX31 asked Hickenlooper if Democrats should demand a simple majority to move legislation forward. He hasn’t decided on that just yet. He said he wants to first focus on working with Republicans.
“I don’t think it’s a bad thing to try to get to 60 votes for important legislation,” Hickenlooper said. “If they lock down and just say, ‘no, no, no, no,’ then it becomes a more difficult issue.”
Vice President Kamala Harris will likely be busy with tie-breaking votes in her role as president of the Senate.
FOX31 asked Sen. Michael Bennet to share his expectations moving forward with a 50/50 Senate and his position on what should happen with rules that could impact filibusters. His spokesperson sent the following reply:
“Michael believes Congress should work together urgently to provide bipartisan relief to the American people. We are in the midst of an unprecedented public health and economic crisis. If we can’t make progress because of political posturing, we’ll have to consider all options.”