Sen. Cory Gardner Cites Disagreements With Trump On Trade, Travel Ban And Budget

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Photo: Congressional Easter Break
Sen. Cory Gardner at a March 21, 2017 news conference during the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

Sen. Cory Gardner isn't shy about talking about where he opposes President Trump.

Back in Colorado for a two-week Easter recess, the state's junior Republican senator spoke out against Trump's trade policies, his proposed travel ban and the president's budget priorities that cut diplomatic spending over defense spending.

The White House’s proposed budget outline calls for a $54 billion increase in Pentagon funding, but deep cuts to the State Department — a boost in so-called hard power over soft power.

Gardner disagrees with this budget approach. He noted that spending on diplomacy saves money on war down the road.

"Many of these areas of foreign policy spending, whether it's USAID dollars or other diplomatic efforts, actually result in some very significant savings because we're helping improve economies and we're preventing war," Gardner said in an interview with CPR News. "I think these are very important efforts that we fund and so I do have concerns about these levels of cuts."

One of the senator's recess stops was speaking to employees at CoBank, which provides credit to farmers. Gardner said he was disappointed in the president's stance on trade, particularly the Trans Pacific Partnership.

The Obama-led trade proposal would have opened up agreements with almost a dozen East Asian and South Pacific countries and the United States. Trump opposed the deal and it is not expected to get a vote in Congress.

"If you take the eastern plains of Colorado ... that area of Colorado exports about 87 percent of the wheat it produces, not just to California, but exports overseas and so we have to make sure we have a trade policy that doesn't accidentally spawn a trade war," Gardner said. "It's important the United States shows it's interested in trade."

Hanging w @SenCoryGardner at @CoBank as he answers ??s from employees

On immigration, Gardner said he has continued conversations with Republican Senate colleagues on the need for a comprehensive immigration reform bill that tackled strengthening the border, but also reforming the visa program. He said he wasn't sure how the Trump administration would greet such a bill, but that discussions were ongoing.

Gardner also said he expects Colorado's $1.3 billion pot industry to be mostly unaffected by Trump — despite Attorney General Jeff Sessions' outspoken comments against marijuana. Gardner said it wasn't a presidential priority, which means Sessions will likely leave everything alone.

"Colorado has proven that it's done a good job on it, but there's more that we can do and we can learn lessons from it and share that with other states," he said. "Damn straight I'm going to stand up for state's rights."