Rep. Ken Buck will find himself in a new Washington, D.C. when he returns to represent Colorado's 4th Congressional District.
For the first time in his four years in the House of Representatives, Buck will belong to the minority party. Democrats flipped the House in the 2018 midterms after an eight-year run of Republican control.
The congressman talked to Colorado Matters about the upcoming session, which begins with a one-two punch of the possible shutdown and new Mueller investigation revelations.
On the possibility of a government shutdown over border wall funding:
"No I don’t think [a shutdown is a reasonable bargaining chip for the wall]. I think Chuck Schumer is absolutely wrong in what he is doing. And I think another 'Schumer Shutdown' would be really unfortunate, especially right before Christmas. I think sending federal workers home before Christmas without knowing when and if they’ll have a job is wrong. I think the Senate should grow up. I think the Senate should take its responsibility seriously.
Americans want border security. It is clear the Senate Democrats are acting irresponsibly. I hope they are shamed into a very, very small price to pay for the wall and to really enhance border security and get this country moving forward on a very important issue."
On President Trump's claim that the re-negotiated trade agreement with Mexico will pay for the wall:
"I do not know the impact at this point of a future trade agreement because there are so many variables in the trade agreement. But it is clear that we need to have a strong trade agreement with our neighbors. We need to help them build their economies as we build our economy. Hopefully through aid to countries in our own hemisphere as well as strong trade agreements with countries in our own hemisphere, we will build up the economies throughout our hemisphere and reduce the need for people to try to immigrate illegally into this country.
I think the root cause of the illegal immigration is the desire for individuals to improve their economic standing. Asylum is relevant and warranted in a very, very small fraction of the cases of individuals coming into this country. The vast majority of individuals who come into this country come here because they want greater economic opportunity. If they did it legally, if they went through the legal process, I think we all would welcome people who help strengthen this country’s economy, but doing it illegally is something we can’t tolerate."
On the status of the Mueller investigation:
"That’s what I think needs to be focused on is, was there collusion in the 2016 campaign between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. That’s the question that was originally posed and should be answered. If we assign a dozen prosecutors and a few dozen federal agents and we bring the full weight and force of the federal government to examine every aspect of someone’s life, we will find a crime. There are thousands and thousands of federal crimes, and tens of thousands of state crimes, that can be charged by the federal government as crimes under federal law that no United States citizen could possibly avoid."
On how his work could change now that Republicans are the minority party:
"I haven’t been in the minority yet as a legislator. I’ve only been here for four years, and I’ve been here in the majority. Although, it often feels like I am in the minority of the majority, because there are far too many Republicans who want to spend far too much money, who want to overregulate our economy, who want to act like Democrat-lites. And we have a serious problem in this body with people who don’t understand the role of the federal government as it relates to the state, and the role of the federal government in our economy.
I don’t know. I think there is many a conspiracy between Republicans and Democrats to spend too much money, to help their friends, and I’m not sure how much that changes. There will certainly be hot button issues that the focus will change. In terms of the overall, day-to-day work here, I’m fear there is very little change on the horizon."
On his work in the Freedom Caucus and ReFormers Caucus:
"One of the problems we have in the Congress is we have what we call closed rules, where leadership decides what the bill will be. The bill doesn’t even have to go through committee. Leadership puts a bill on the floor and there is no ability for legislators to offer amendments to that legislation. The spending bill that we've been discussing, the reason why we may have a shutdown in government is going to be a closed rule. People won’t be able to get up and offer amendments, thoughtful amendments, amendments that would make the bill stronger, if we don’t have an open rule. And unfortunately we just do too much of that. That’s one of the major problems that Republicans and Democrats see in how the leadership of both parties operate this place."