Colorado Democrats hail “a new chapter” as state’s Republicans criticize Biden

As they looked on from their homes or their seats outside the U.S. Capitol, Colorado Democrats in Congress saw Wednesday’s inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as the dawn of a new day in America after a year of death, disease and division.

They echoed Biden’s calls for unity, two weeks after the Capitol they work in was overrun by a violent mob trying to overturn Biden’s victory. They echoed his calls for healing, days after the country’s death toll from COVID-19 eclipsed 400,000. They cheered the transfer of power, even if it was not entirely without bloodshed this year.

“Today is the start of a new chapter in our nation’s history,” said Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, in a statement. “It’s a time for us to come together and show the word that America’s unity is still its greatest strength.”

Nearly half of Colorado’s congressional delegation, DeGette included, did not attend the inauguration, citing the pandemic or onerous security restrictions. Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Rifle Republican, traveled from Washington, D.C., to Maryland, where she had a front-row spot at former President Donald Trump’s farewell address to supporters, according to her tweets.

Rep. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican and chair of the Colorado GOP, was the only Republican member of Congress from Colorado to attend the inauguration. Before it began, he complained about the long line to enter and the cold D.C. weather.

“If Dems can’t run an inauguration how are they going to run a country?” Buck wrote on Twitter.

Buck said Biden’s first acts as president — which include executive orders blocking the Keystone XL pipeline, rejoining the Paris climate accord and stopping construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall — “will hurt millions of people and weaken our nation.”

Meanwhile, Boebert called the wall order an “irresponsible and reckless action that puts our communities at risk” on Twitter. She also said she will introduce legislation Thursday that would keep America out of the Paris agreement, which was signed in 2016 under President Barack Obama, along with nearly 200 other countries, before Trump backed out of it.

For Colorado Democrats, Biden’s ascent means an opportunity to face what the new president called in his inaugural speech the “cascading crises of our era,” including the pandemic, the economy, racial injustice and climate change. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Denver, said that not since Franklin Roosevelt’s inauguration in 1933 “has an administration begun with such formidable challenges.”

“Today’s inauguration sends a clear message to Americans and people across the world that the peaceful transfer of power is the cornerstone of democracy,” said Rep. Jason Crow, an Aurora Democrat, in a statement. “The January 6th attacks on our Capitol and the setbacks our nation has experienced over the last four years will not define us.”

At the inauguration, Crow met Clay Wild, son of Pennsylvania U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, who thanked Crow. A memorable photograph from the Jan. 6 Capitol riot shows Crow comforting the congresswoman as the two crouched in the House gallery. Below, police pointed their guns at barricaded House doors.

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