Michael Bennet

Senator from Colorado
Jump to  stances on the issues
Michael Bennet dropped out of the presidential race on February 11, 2020. This page is no longer being updated.
Bennet has pitched himself as a pragmatic lawmaker with a progressive voting record. He was first appointed to the US Senate in 2009 and subsequently elected in 2010 and 2016.
Wesleyan University, B.A., 1987; Yale Law School, 1993
November 28, 1964
Susan Daggett
Halina, Anne and Caroline
Superintendent of Denver Public Schools, 2005-2009;
Chief of staff to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, 2003;
Managing director, Anschutz Investment Company, 1997-2003;
Special assistant to the US attorney for Connecticut, 1997;
Counsel to the US deputy attorney general, 1995-1997


'A national government that did nothing to protect' a generation: Colorado senator calls for gun reform in powerful speech
Updated 9:41 PM ET, Wed Mar 24, 2021
Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet on Wednesday called on the Senate to act in the wake of a mass shooting at a supermarket in his state, asserting in an impassioned speech from the chamber floor that his colleagues have a moral obligation to a generation of young Americans who have lived through dozens of such attacks. "Boulder will heal but this scar will always be there -- my daughter's generation will always bear the burden of a national government that did nothing to protect them. They and the children that I used to work for at the Denver Public Schools, they carry a burden that we didn't carry," the Colorado Democrat said, referencing his previous work as superintendent of the school district. "They have grown up with a reasonable fear that they will be shot in their classrooms or in their schools or at a movie theater or in any public place. I didn't grow up in an America with more gun-related deaths than virtually any country in this world, and we can't accept it for their America," he continued. The at-times emotional speech from a senator whose state previously witnessed the Columbine and Aurora massacres comes at a time of heightened debate over guns on Capitol Hill following seven mass shootings in seven days around the country, including in Boulder, Colorado, and a rampage in Atlanta. But despite Democratic control of the House, Senate and White House, potential gun reform faces an uphill battle, with Senate Democrats divided over House-passed measures including expanded background checks. The 21-year-old suspect in Monday's massacre at the Boulder supermarket -- which left 10 dead including a store manager and a police officer -- faces 10 counts of murder in the first degree, police said Tuesday. The motive in the attack isn't immediately known, and the investigation will take a long time, authorities said. Bennet stressed Wednesday that gun violence has been a longstanding issue for both his state and the country, speaking to the current political climate in calling for gun regulations. "I'm not asking anybody here to show the courage that (Boulder shooting victim) Officer Talley showed, or the other men and women of law enforcement who constantly have to deal with the inability of this place's capacity to deal with these issues," Bennet told his fellow senators. "I'm just asking us to show just an ounce of their courage by doing whatever we can to keep weapons of war out of our communities, to pass universal background checks, to limit the size of magazines, to address the epidemic crisis of mental health in this country. It seems like that would be the least that we could do." Lawmakers' failure to act, he said, "has helped create these conditions, and we can't wait any longer. The Senate needs to act. There's nobody else to act but the United States Senate." The Democratic-led House of Representatives passed two bills on March 11 that would expand background checks on all commercial gun sales. While the first of the two recently passed bills, H.R. 8, has bipartisan support in the House, it needs a supermajority in the Senate -- which it does not currently have. Bennet also referenced the Columbine High School shooting, which occurred in Colorado in 1999, as a benchmark for the many such massacres punctuating the young adulthoods of an entire generation of Americans, including his daughter. "The shootings at Columbine High School happened right before my oldest daughter was born, Caroline Bennet," Bennet said. "She's 21 years old, and her entire generation has grown up in the shadow of gun violence, something none of us had to do." Bennet, a moderate Democrat and former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, is up for reelection in 2022. While the seat is not seen as particularly vulnerable in light of Colorado having trended blue, Democrats are still monitoring the race, which could potentially see gun control emerge as a key issue. While speaking on the Senate floor, Bennet also read remembrances of the 10 victims' lives, including Officer Eric Talley, the first Boulder police officer to arrive at the shooting. "I've spent the past day learning about the victims of this terrible crime and I want America to know what extraordinary human beings we've lost in my state," Bennet said, tearing up while recounting one woman's account of how grateful she was that her father, who was killed in the shooting, could walk her down the aisle at her wedding last year. "Officer Talley and these other folks represent the best of Colorado, and we certainly owe Officer Talley a debt of gratitude we'll never be able to repay," Bennet said, adding that "my heart goes out to all of the families and the entire community of Boulder. We have endured too many tragedies as a state. So many other states are the same, here."


climate crisis
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Bennet has said he doesn’t support the Green New Deal, the broad plan to address renewable-energy infrastructure and climate change proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. Instead, he has released his own five-principle plan, which would significantly increase the protection of public lands. “I think it is great that we have a bunch of bold proposals out there,” Bennet said in May 2019. “We are going to have a competition of ideas.” Bennet has set a target of 100% net-zero emissions by no later than 2050, although he has not detailed how he would reach this goal. He also said he would create a $1 trillion “climate bank” to invest in infrastructure and, he hopes, spur private investment in green energy innovation. Bennet says the plan would create 10 million jobs over a decade related to what he calls the “zero-emission economy.”Bennet has said he would keep the US in the Paris climate agreement, a landmark 2015 deal on global warming targets that Trump has pledged to abandon. More on Bennet’s climate crisis policy
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Bennet has not signed on with congressional Democratic efforts to pass a $15 minimum wage. According to his campaign, he favors an increase to $12 per hour. He’s also introduced legislation to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and overhaul and expand the child tax credit, which currently provides families with a credit of up to $2,000 for each dependent under 17. Under Bennet’s plan, families would get a $300 monthly credit for each child under 6 and $250 a month for each child under 17. He has actively opposed some of Trump’s trade actions. With Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, Bennet filed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to reverse the President’s tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, and he has opposed Trump’s trade war with China, specifically because of the negative impact on American farmers. But he has also said Trump “was right to call China out.” More on Bennet’s economic policy
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Bennet unveiled a plan in September 2019 pledging that by 2028, “every child born in this country, regardless of circumstance, will be at the center of a community that offers them a real chance to flourish personally and prosper financially,” according to his campaign. The plan calls for a federal-state partnership to establish free nationwide preschool, support for school districts that establish longer school days and school years, free community college for all Americans, increases to teacher pay and more funding for schools in rural areas and “high-poverty and otherwise underserved schools.” As Denver schools superintendent, Bennet was deeply involved in shaping merit-pay plans for teachers. As a presidential candidate he has called for taking steps to raise teacher pay. “We have to pay teachers as the professionals that they are. And that’s not just a little bit more. That is a lot more,” he said at a CNN town hall. More on Bennet’s education policy
gun violence
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Bennet has voted to ban high-capacity magazines and supports universal background checks. While he did not co-sponsor the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019, Bennet says he would support banning so-called assault weapons. He did not endorse the recent legislation because it “was overly drawn and allowed the manufacturers to avoid the ban,” he told CNN in May 2019.
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Bennet is not in favor of plans that would eliminate private insurance. He co-sponsored a plan known as “Medicare-X” that would let individuals and small businesses buy government-backed insurance policies, known as a public option, on the Affordable Care Act exchanges. The plan would also allow the government to negotiate prescription drug prices. Bennet says Americans should still have choice when it comes to health insurance. “We need to get to universal health care,” he said during the first Democratic debate. “I believe the way to do that is by finishing the work we started with Obamacare and creating a public option.” In July 2019, he introduced a rural health care plan that would harness technology to provide medical services in rural communities, including allowing doctors to see patients via video chat and remotely monitor patients. The plan would provide up to $10,000 a year in loan forgiveness and repayment support for doctors, nurses and other health care professionals who choose to work in rural areas. And it would invest $60 billion to combat substance abuse, including building more treatment centers. More on Bennet’s health care policy
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Bennet has compared Trump’s separation of families at the border to his Jewish mother’s experience being separated from her own parents as a child in Poland during the Holocaust. “When I see these kids at the border, I see my mom,” Bennet said during the first Democratic debate. He has called for overhauling the asylum process and restoring aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to reduce the flow of migrants north. He’s a co-sponsor to a Senate bill called the Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act. Bennet has said he still stands by the last major bipartisan immigration package, negotiated in 2013, which included a pathway to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants. He also co-sponsored the DREAM Act of 2009, some of which was eventually put into effect through Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program protecting from deportation some undocumented immigrants who arrived in the US as minors.


Takeaways from the court hearing on releasing more documents from the Mar-a-Lago search
Updated 5:05 AM ET, Fri Aug 19, 2022
A US magistrate judge started the process of potentially releasing some information from the affidavit that the Justice Department used to obtain a search warrant for former President Donald Trump's Florida residence. Judge Bruce Reinhart said during a hearing at the West Palm Beach courthouse that he was planning to unseal portions of the affidavit, which is sought by various media outlets and other organizations. His announcement came after the Justice Department, while arguing against the disclosure of the documents, revealed new, if not extremely vague, details about the investigation into the handling of classified documents from the Trump White House. Here are takeaways from the hearing: Judge lays out process for potentially releasing parts of affidavit Reinhart set in motion on Thursday the possible public release of a heavily redacted version of the affidavit for the search at Mar-a-Lago. The judge plans to hear more from the Justice Department by next Thursday about how extensively investigators want to keep confidential the document that describes their investigative steps and methods leading to the need for the search. Reinhart said he wasn't convinced yet that the entire affidavit should remain undisclosed to the public. "I'm not prepared to find that the affidavit should be fully sealed" based on the record he has now, Reinhart said, adding that there are "portions" which could be unsealed. Prosecutors will have the opportunity to propose redactions and explain why each piece of information needs to be kept from the public eye, Reinhart said. Those proposals will be due noon ET on August 25. Reinhart said he then may have additional confidential discussions with the Justice Department before making his decisions on transparency. Unsealed document sharpens focus on Trump as possible subject of criminal probe A document unsealed Thursday, which offered specifics about the crimes the Justice Department is investigating, including "willful retention of national defense information," sharpens the focus on the former President as a possible subject of the criminal probe, several legal experts told CNN. Previously, the search warrant documents only listed the federal statutes, including the broad law known as the Espionage Act. And the documents released so far have made clear that Trump and others around him face potential legal exposure, including for possible obstruction of justice. But the specific language on "willful retention" could point to the role of the former President, who would have been authorized to possess national defense documents while in office but not once he decamped to his private club and residence in Palm Beach, Florida. The newly unsealed document was part of the application for the warrant and was among several largely procedural documents the judge unsealed Thursday. Affidavit described how evidence of obstruction may be found at Mar-a-Lago, according to DOJ A Justice Department lawyer said during the hearing that the probable cause affidavit used to get a warrant described how prosecutors might find "evidence of obstruction" on the grounds of the Florida property -- a possible crime that the search warrant itself revealed was under investigation. "In this case, the court has found probable cause there's a violation of one of the obstruction statutes, and that evidence of obstruction would be found at Mar-a-Lago" said Jay Bratt, who heads the Justice Department's counterintelligence section. Obstruction of justice was one of the three statutes listed on the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago, which was unsealed last week, and Reinhart said during the hearing Thursday that he "found there is probable cause" that the statutes had been violated. Bratt made the comments about obstruction being investigated while he was trying to highlight DOJ's fear that future witnesses may not be willing to provide information if too much was to come out about the investigation so far. DOJ says affidavit is lengthy, detailed and contained 'substantial grand jury information' Bratt revealed other details about the affidavit, describing it as lengthy, detailed and containing "substantial grand jury information." He told the federal judge that letting the public read the affidavit would "provide a roadmap to the investigation," and would even indicate the next steps in the probe. Bratt's comments in court emphasized that this is an active, ongoing criminal investigation, with robust witness interview work being done and grand jury activity. While acknowledging that there is a public interest in transparency, Bratt said that there was "another public interest" in criminal investigations being able to go forward unimpeded. Warnings about chilling witnesses reveal that there have been several in this probe As Bratt warned that releasing the affidavit could have a chilling effect on witnesses participating in this and future investigations, he revealed that several witnesses are already part of the documents investigation. Some of those witnesses have very specific relevant information that, if released, would reveal who they are, Bratt said. Bratt also raised concerns about the risks the FBI has faced since the news of the Mar-a-Lago search broke, including the recent standoff at a Cincinnati FBI field office and "amateur sleuths" on the internet. He told the judge that if any of the other documents are released, the DOJ would want to redact even background information about the agents who have worked on the matter so far. Trump attorneys did not seek to weigh in in court about releasing the documents An attorney for Trump was present at the hearing, but she did not speak before the judge nor was she asked to weigh in during the proceedings. The attorney, Christina Bobb, told reporters before the hearing that she was there to observe. Trump is not officially a part in the dispute over releasing the warrant documents. Previously, when the DOJ had asked the judge to unseal the warrant itself and the receipt of the search, the judge instructed the Department to confer with Trump and to then communicate to the court whether Trump opposed the disclosure of the documents. Ahead of Thursday's hearing, the judge set a 9 a.m. ET deadline for parties to file submissions responding to DOJ filings in the dispute. It was notable that the Trump team did not seek by then to formally get involved in the dispute, particularly because Trump and his allies have been vocal outside of court about their desire for the warrant documents to be released. Some of Bobb's public remarks about the search were nonetheless put before Reinhart on Thursday. Charles Tobin -- who was arguing for the affidavit's release on behalf of an assortment of media outlets including CNN -- pointed out that Bobb had already provided information about an FBI subpoena of Mar-a-Lago surveillance tape and that DOJ officials had visited Mar-a-Lago in June. This story has been updated with additional developments.