Mike Coffman

Mike Coffman

COLORADO's 6th DISTRICT

Air Force Examines Anomalies as Musk’s SpaceX Seeks Work

2014/07/22

[[{"fid":"545","view_mode":"teaser","fields":{"format":"teaser","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Bloomberg","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":"Bloomberg"},"type":"media","attributes":{"alt":"Bloomberg","title":"Bloomberg","style":"width: 200px; height: 100px;","class":"media-element file-teaser"}}]] The Air Force is examining several anomalies that occurred during Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s three civilian space flights as part of its review of billionaire Elon Musk’s quest to launch military satellites. While none of the irregularities caused the missions to fail, the Air Force is reviewing corrective actions as it weighs certification of SpaceX. Musk’s company wants a piece of a $67.6 billion Pentagon program for satellite launches, a market held by a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co., the government’s top two contractors. “These anomalies are continuing to be discussed with SpaceX,” the service said in briefing paper sent May 20 to Representative Mike Rogers, an Alabama Republican and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s strategic panel. His congressional district is near the one where the joint venture, Centennial, Colorado-based United Launch Alliance LLC, assembles booster rockets. The Air Force paper provides insight into the issues the service is assessing as it considers whether Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX should be allowed to launch military satellites, which “have significantly different and generally more stringent launch vehicle requirements than” missions for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, according to the paper. SpaceX currently ferries cargo to the International Space Station under a $1.6 billion NASA contract. In a cover letter to Rogers, Air Force Secretary Deborah James wrote that, “to date, SpaceX and its Falcon 9 v1.1 launch system have made the most progress toward certification.” As for other potential competitors, “we have received statements of intent but progress is slower,” she said. The Air Force provided Bloomberg News with a redacted copy of the May 20 letter and briefing paper in response to a request for the release of official records. Lawmakers including Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona and Senator Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat who leads the defense appropriations subcommittee, are pressing for competition as fast as possible. Durbin’s panel proposed $125 million to bankroll an additional launch over 14 originally designated. The new flight would be open to competition. Three lawmakers, including Representative Mike Coffman, a Colorado Republican whose district includes United Launch’s headquarters, wrote to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on July 15, asking him to disclose all anomalies on SpaceX missions following news reports of issues. Republican Representative Mo Brooks, who represents the Alabama district where the company’s rockets are assembled, also signed the letter. Air Force officials have said they anticipate the review of SpaceX launches and possible certification will be completed by May 2015. The company needs certification to win a contract to launch a National Reconnaissance Office spy satellite in 2016. The Air Force last week opened up the launch to bidding -- the first competitive one in a decade. SpaceX can bid on it while the certification process continues. The Air Force paper to Rogers outlines the certification status and “the most significant flight anomalies from the three flights being considered to meet the certification criteria.” One occurred during a September 2013 launch, when a second-stage rocket engine failed to re-ignite. A second anomaly was a stage-one fire on the “Octaweb” engine structure during a flight in December. The third irregularity involved what the Air Force called “unacceptable fuel reserves at engine cutoff of the stage 2 second burnoff” in a January mission. The service said there were other “lesser but still significant flight and ground operations and observations in discussion with SpaceX.” It said it was working with the company to help “improve the probability” of certification by December. That’s when the National Reconnaissance Office wants to award the satellite launch contract. In a written statement to Durbin’s panel after a March hearing, SpaceX said previous mission anomalies had been resolved. It didn’t identify the causes, which it said were “proprietary.” Without addressing the specifics of the May 20 letter, SpaceX spokesman John Taylor said in an an e-mail that the service “has officially certified as successful the three flights.” He said SpaceX and the Air Force expect to complete the certification process later this year. If allowed to compete for the launches, “SpaceX will provide the nation with efficient and highly reliable launch services, while saving taxpayers billions of dollars, a goal that everyone should fully support,” Taylor said. Air Force spokesman Major Eric Badger said in an e-mail that the service is working hard to get the company certified. “SpaceX believes they will be done by the end of 2014,” Badger said. “The Air Force believes that’s an extremely aggressive schedule.” In its briefing paper, the Air Force expressed concerns about whether SpaceX can demonstrate the capability to integrate payloads vertically, instead of the horizontal approach the company uses for commercial and NASA missions. SpaceX must demonstrate the vertical integration capability to win the spy satellite contract, according to a memo to Pentagon weapons buyer Frank Kendall from his director for program assessments. U.S. military payloads “are neither designed nor tested to be horizontally integrated into a rocket and SpaceX currently does not perform vertical integration,” the Air Force wrote. It said the company is planning to build that capability. Badger said the Air Force wasn’t able to comment on the anomalies under review or whether it thinks SpaceX can achieve the required vertical capability. That’s “due to some of the information being proprietary and other parts being linked to” a lawsuit that SpaceX filed against the Air Force. SpaceX sued in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in April, asserting the Air Force illegally excluded it from the contract for as many as 36 launches awarded to the Lockheed-Boeing team in December. Rogers said in an e-mailed statement that the Air Force’s May 20 response to him “makes clear why the new entrant certification process is robust and deliberate” when multibillion-dollar satellites are launched. “While I look forward to real competition to bring down launch prices, it is clear from this response that we have a ways to go,” he said. Read More

How US must handle Iraq crisis

2014/07/17

[[{"fid":"544","view_mode":"teaser","fields":{"format":"teaser","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"style":"width: 200px; height: 100px;","class":"media-element file-teaser"}}]] What I remember most about serving with the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq was realizing the extraordinary level of hatred that the Sunnis and Shia Arabs had for each other. To understand Iraq today, one must understand the deep religious divisions within the country.  The Islamic faith fractured into two very separate sects following a leadership struggle after the death of the Prophet Mohamed in 632 AD.  Muslims who believed that the leader should be a descendant of the Prophet Mohamed himself became known as Shia while those who believed that the leader should be decided by the community of Muslim’s became known as Sunnis.  Iraq is made up of approximately sixty percent Shia Arab, twenty percent Sunni Arab, and twenty percent Kurds who, unlike Iraqi Arabs, have a stronger identification to their ethnicity than to their religious affiliation.  Saddam Hussein was a Sunni Arab and under his leadership the Sunni Arabs were the ruling elite of the country.  After the collapse of the regime and the introduction of representative government, the tables were turned on the Sunnis and the Shia. The Shia, who were poorly treated under Saddam Hussein,  were easily able to dominate the new, constitutionally-elected Iraqi government. When the U.S. military pulled out in 2011, the Shia-led Malaki government turned to their worst sectarian instincts and marginalized the country’s Sunni Arabs by essentially pushing them out of the government and alienating them.  The conduct of the Malaki government since 2011 has ignited a Sunni Arab revolt and has created an opening for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that would not exist if the Sunni Arabs felt they had any hope of a reasonable future under a Malaki government. At this point, an intervention by the U.S. military, at any level, in support of the Shia-led Iraqi government will only be seen as taking sides in a sectarian conflict.  A military resolution to the crisis simply does not exist.   Even the Iraqi Army now is seen by the Sunni Arabs and by the Kurds as a sectarian Shia Arab military force that to them is little more than just another Shia militia. The only solution is a political reconciliation.  Any U.S. military assistance in Iraq must come with strict conditions. It must be clear that military aide is predicated on a fundamental change in the Iraqi government.  This will send a clear message to Iraq’s Sunni Arabs and Kurds that they will have a voice in the formation of a new government where they will be fairly treated and their respective provinces will receive an equitable distribution of the country’s oil wealth. The areas in Iraq that have fallen to ISIS are Sunni-dominated communities that are deeply opposed to the Shia-led government in Baghdad.  These areas have temporarily aligned themselves with ISIS, just as they did with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQIZ) terror network when coalition forces were occupying the country. When the U.S. and our coalition allies were in the country, local Sunni Arab Iraqi insurgents joined forces with jihadist’s to fight what they perceived as their common enemies.  However, this was not a natural alliance and once the Sunni Arabs saw hope for a future in a more inclusive pluralistic Iraqi government, with  our assistance, they turned against the radical Islamists forces who were terrorizing their communities and imposing beliefs that were objectionable to local Sunni Arab tribal and religious leaders.  Areas in Iraq not dominated by disaffected Sunni Arabs are not in danger of falling to the ISIS-led opposition forces. The US must also understand that a successful conventional military operation in Iraq will only drive the insurgency underground where they can wage a guerrilla war against the Iraqi government without end. The time is now to put pressure on the Iraqi government to change.  Maliki must go. A change in Iraq’s government is our only hope. Sending a contingent of U.S. military personnel, no matter how small, will be counterproductive to that goal.   Our presence before a change in leadership will merely send a message to the Malaki government that we will support them despite what they have done and continue to do to destroy the country by oppressing the Sunni Arab population. Republican Mike Coffman serves Colorado's 6th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and served for a combined 21 years between the U.S. Army, the Army Reserve, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the Marine Corps Reserve.  Coffman is the only veteran in the Colorado delegation and the only member of Congress to have served in both the first Gulf War and in the Iraq War. Read More

Reps. Gardner and Coffman question SpaceX in defense of ULA

2014/07/16

[[{"fid":"543","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"class":"media-element file-default"}}]] Two of Colorado’s Republican U.S. Representatives sent a letter to NASA’s Administrator Tuesday questioning the reliability of rockets made by SpaceX, which hopes to be a competitor to Centennial-based United Launch Alliance. Reps. Mike Coffman and Cory Gardner’s letter is a direct, tit-for-tat response to Capitol Hill’s recent scrutiny of ULA’s dependency on a Russian-made rocket engine and its monopoly of U.S. military launch services. Coffman and Gardner are asking the space agency to reveal more details about “all anomalies and mishap information, un-redacted, so that Congress can gain a better understanding of what has occurred and ensure full transparency.” It is the latest political maneuver in the controversial space launch industry. ULA is a joint venture between Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin that the government allowed to form in 2006. The two companies argued rocket launches are too expensive of an endeavor to keep competing against each other. ULA said the sole-source relationship with the Air Force saves the taxpayers more money while SpaceX questions the true cost of launch. Tesla co-founder Elon Musk started SpaceX — formally known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp. — with the goal of building cheaper, reusable rockets. The California-based company made waves in April when it filled a lawsuit against the U.S. government and United Launch Services, a subsidiary of ULA. SpaceX passed a major milestone in its quest to receive U.S. government certification last week for its Falcon 9 rocket. But Coffman and Gardner highlight a laundry list of reported launch delays and technical difficulties that they should be fully explored in light of the recent firestorm. “As a member of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee for the House Armed Services Committee, I’ve read a number of articles that have outlined SpaceX’s problems and I find it ironic that they are targeting ULA for cost issues,” Coffman said in an e-mail to The Denver Post. “It begs the question as to what else is going on with these rockets that we don’t know about.” The letter states: “According to recent news reports, SpaceX launch attempts have resulted in wide ranging problems, including multiple helium leaks, loss of capsule control, multiple thruster issues, avionics issues, capsule contamination issues, and three consecutive seawater intrusions on ISS Cargo Resupply (CRS) missions. SpaceX contracted or planned 24 Falcon 9 flights for its NASA, DOD and commercial customers through 2013 and flew seven. They list approximately 30 flights for this year and next, yet have only flown three times.” Read More

Coffman Introduces Legislation to Protect Medicare Advantage

2014/07/16

[[{"fid":"539","view_mode":"teaser","fields":{"format":"teaser","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"class":"media-element file-teaser"}}]] Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo. (6th CD), issued the following news release: U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO) introduced legislation today, Protecting Seniors' Medicare Choices from Obamacare Act of 2014, to help protect the Medicare Advantage program from further cuts by reversing a section in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, that expands Medicaid eligibility to cover prisoners in state and local correctional facilities and, in part, pays for it by reducing the resources available for Medicare Advantage Plans for seniors. "There are many issues with Obamacare but one of the most troubling is how the expansion of Medicaid which is paid for, in part, by reductions to the Medicare Advantage program that so many seniors enjoy," said Coffman Medicaid was originally designed to primarily provide healthcare to low-income families, but Obamacare expanded Medicaid to cover low-income adults without children. One collateral impact of that, in states like Colorado that chose the Medicaid expansion, is that correctional facilities run by state and local governments have been able to shift the cost of providing medical care for their inmates over to the Medicaid system and, under Obamacare, the federal government helps offset the cost by taking resources out of the Medicare system with Medicare Advantage being the first casualty. Medicare Advantage is a choice that seniors can make in selecting a Medicare-approved privately administered health care insurance plans that compete for seniors based on the quality of their provider networks, their ability to limit out-of-pocket expenses, and for any additional services not covered under traditional Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans receive a flat amount for each qualified Medicare enrollee and are allowed to profit from their savings in running an efficient system that keeps their enrolled seniors satisfied with their services. "Millions of seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage have worked hard all their lives, raised their families, and paid into the Medicare system. Now, they are counting on their Medicare Advantage plan to be there for them. It is not fair to these same seniors to have their benefits cut to pay for expanded Medicaid coverage for criminals," said Coffman. Insurers who provide Medicare Advantage plans are scheduled to face reductions in their per-capital reimbursement levels in order to help pay for the cost of Obamacare. Coffman believes that one reason for the bias in Obamacare against Medicare Advantage is the goal of laying a foundation for a complete government-run health care system. According to Coffman, it doesn't make sense to leave privately-administered Medicare Advantage plans still standing given this objective. Coffman believes that by continually lowering the per-capita reimbursement levels to help fund Obamacare, Medicare Advantage plans will be forced to shrink their provider networks, increase out-of-pocket expenses to seniors, and to quit offering any additional services not covered by tradition Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans will eventually be financially squeezed into extinction. Coffman projects that his legislation will help stabilize the Medicare Advantage program by no longer applying the Medicaid expansion to prison inmates in local and state-run correctional facilities and restoring an estimated $2 billion in savings back into the Medicare Advantage program. "I think that Medicare Advantage Plans are great options for seniors and I want to do everything I can to not only protect Medicare but to preserve all of the choices that seniors currently enjoy under Medicare," said Coffman. Read More

Coffman Presses NASA for Transparency on SpaceX

2014/07/15

(Washington, D.C.)  Today, U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO), along with Representative Cory Gardner (R-CO), sent a letter to the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) expressing strong concerns over anomalies that have occurred on taxpayer-funded space launch vehicles, and the lack of public disclosure or transparency of these anomalies.  The letter expresses concern over an epidemic of anomalies that have occurred during SpaceX launches or launch attempts, and communicates frustrations with NASA’s refusal to provide insight into those mishaps.  “In the interest of full disclosure and accountability, we request that NASA publicly release all anomalies and mishap information, un-redacted, so that Congress can gain a better understanding of what has occurred and ensure full transparency.  Because the development of the vehicles and capsule in question were funded by NASA dollars, we request that you provide Congress with the information you have on the various aspects of risk and reliability from these programs, including contractual, management, technical, manufacturing, cost, schedule and safety”, wrote Coffman and Gardner.    According to recent news reports, SpaceX launch attempts have resulted in wide ranging problems, including multiple helium leaks, loss of capsule control, multiple thruster issues, avionics issues, capsule contamination issues, and three consecutive seawater intrusions on ISS Cargo Resupply (CRS) missions.  SpaceX contracted or planned 24 Falcon 9 flights for its NASA, DOD and commercial customers through 2013 and flew seven.  They list approximately 30 flights for this year and next, yet have only flown three times.  “Because the vehicles in question were funded by American taxpayer dollars, there should be no issue making this report publicly available.  This information is critical to Congress’ understanding of these programs and the associated risks,”  wrote Coffman and Gardner. The letter to NASA can be found here. Read More

Coffman Introduces Legislation to Protect Medicare Advantage

2014/07/15

(Washington, D.C.)  U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO) introduced legislation today,  Protecting Seniors’ Medicare Choices from Obamacare Act of 2014, to help protect the Medicare Advantage program from further cuts by reversing a section in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, that expands Medicaid eligibility to cover prisoners in state and local correctional facilities and, in part, pays for it by reducing the resources available for Medicare Advantage Plans for seniors. “There are many issues with Obamacare but one of the most troubling is how the expansion of Medicaid which is paid for, in part, by reductions to the Medicare Advantage program that so many seniors enjoy,” said Coffman Medicaid was originally designed to primarily provide healthcare to low-income families, but Obamacare expanded Medicaid to cover low-income adults without children.  One collateral impact of that, in states like Colorado that chose the Medicaid expansion, is that correctional facilities run by state and local governments have been able to shift the cost of providing medical care for their inmates over to the Medicaid system and, under Obamacare, the federal government helps offset the cost by taking resources out of the Medicare system with Medicare Advantage being the first casualty. Medicare Advantage is a choice that seniors can make in selecting a Medicare-approved privately administered health care insurance plans that compete for seniors based on the quality of their provider networks, their ability to limit out-of-pocket expenses, and for any additional services not covered under traditional Medicare.  Medicare Advantage plans receive a flat amount for each qualified Medicare enrollee and are allowed to profit from their savings in running an efficient system that keeps their enrolled seniors satisfied with their services. “Millions of seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage have worked hard all their lives, raised their families, and paid into the Medicare system. Now, they are counting on their Medicare Advantage plan to be there for them. It is not fair to these same seniors to have their benefits cut to pay for expanded Medicaid coverage for criminals,” said Coffman. Insurers who provide Medicare Advantage plans are scheduled to face reductions in their per-capita reimbursement levels in order to help pay for the cost of Obamacare.  Coffman believes that one reason for the bias in Obamacare against Medicare Advantage is the goal of laying a foundation for a complete government-run health care system.  According to Coffman, it doesn’t make sense to leave privately-administered Medicare Advantage plans still standing given this objective.  Coffman believes that by continually lowering the per-capita reimbursement levels to help fund Obamacare, Medicare Advantage plans will be forced to shrink their provider networks, increase out-of-pocket expenses to seniors, and to quit offering any additional services not covered by tradition Medicare.  Medicare Advantage plans will eventually be financially squeezed into extinction. Coffman projects that his legislation will help stabilize the Medicare Advantage program by no longer applying the Medicaid expansion to prison inmates in local and state-run correctional facilities and restoring an estimated $2 billion in savings back into the Medicare Advantage program. “I think that Medicare Advantage Plans are great options for seniors and I want to do everything I can to not only protect Medicare but to preserve all of the choices that seniors currently enjoy under Medicare,” said Coffman. Read More

House Republican who backs ENDA doesn’t want to change bill

2014/07/15

[[{"fid":"535","view_mode":"teaser","fields":{"format":"teaser","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"class":"media-element file-teaser"}}]] One of the eight Republican co-sponsors of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act opposes rewriting the bill despite the controversy over its religious exemption, saying that the language could enable a successful vote as an amendment to a larger legislative vehicle. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), a Republican known for his support for LGBT rights, said in an interview with the Washington Blade that ENDA should remain as it’s currently written when asked if he would support a bill with a narrower exemption. “I’m standing by the bill that I co-sponsored, and that’s been introduced in the House and has passed the Senate,” Dent said. “That’s the bill that I support. I don’t believe that the religious exemption should be amended in the aftermath of the Hobby Lobby case.”  A major theme among groups that pulled support from ENDA last week was the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case, but Dent said he would advise against looking to that decision for guidance on the ENDA religious exemption given the lawsuit’s outcome. “In fact, I would argue very strenuously that we ought not be looking to the health care law for guidance on how to draft this exemption given how that whole situation has gone,” Dent said. Counting Dent, the eight Republican co-sponsors of ENDA in the House are Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), Richard Hanna (N.Y.), Jon Runyan (N.J.), Frank LoBiondo (N.J.), Mike Coffman (Colo.), Michael Grimm (N.Y.) and Chris Gibson (N.Y.) Dent, who’s also a supporter of marriage equality, asserted the religious exemption in ENDA isn’t controversial because he says it’s consistent with the Civil Rights of 1964. LGBT opponents of the bill say they dropped support for the religious exemption because it’s broader than the exemption under existing law. Even if ENDA were signed into law, religious organizations could still discriminate against or fire someone in a non-minsterial role based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Informed that LGBT opponents of ENDA believe the religious exemption in the bill is broader than civil rights laws protecting other groups, Dent maintained the current language is important because that version of the bill passed the Senate. “In order to get further bipartisan support, I believe weakening, or narrowing the religious exemption, will limit our ability to get further support from the Republican side of the aisle,” Dent said. “So, I guess the issue is I believe we need to maintain the broader religious exemption in order to pass the bill.” Despite the withdrawal of support from many, including the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the American Civil Liberties Union, Dent noted the Human Rights Campaign still backs the bill and said he does not sense a groundswell of opposition to the bill. Dent’s position is along the lines of other LGBT Republican groups — such as Log Cabin Republican and the American Unity Fund — that continue to support the bill with its current religious exemption, despite the withdrawal of support from LGBT groups. Gregory Angelo, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, said his organization’s position on ENDA is aligned with the Pennsylvania Republican’s views. “I spoke with Congressman Dent personally on Friday, and our position on ENDA is the same as his: This version of ENDA received broad bi-partisan support in the Senate and has bi-partisan support in the House,” Angelo said. “We support ENDA as-is and will continue to push for its passage in this Congress.” Spokespersons for Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who were among the 10 Republicans to vote for ENDA in the Senate last year, also said they continue to support ENDA with its current language. And even though House Speaker John Boehner has repeatedly said he opposes the legislation and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest has said the chances are “not very good” ENDA will pass the Republican-controlled House, Dent envisioned a way to the pass the current bill by attaching it to another legislative vehicle. “There’s always the possibility that some other legislative vehicle would come before the House that could be amended to include the House and Senate ENDA language,” Dent said. “And that possibility still remains. The question is, will there be an appropriate legislative vehicle to be amended? That’s the issue.” Dent said he wasn’t sure which bill would be appropriate to amend. Amid controversy over ENDA, a number of groups, including HRC, have endorsed the idea of a comprehensive bill that in addition to banning anti-LGBT discrimination in employment would cover other categories like public accommodations, housing and credit. Asked whether he would support such a bill, Dent said he thinks it’s important to pass legislation first that’s pending before Congress. “I say let’s walk before we run. Let’s pass the bill that’s under consideration,” Dent said. “I suppose we can always cross those other bridges when we come to that. For some people, the perfect will always be the enemy of the good. I think one has to accept incremental progress.” There’s speculation that groups dropped support for ENDA to make a stronger case against a religious exemption in a planned executive order barring anti-LGBT discrimination among federal contractors. Faith-based groups, including Catholic Charities USA, are calling for an exemption in the upcoming directive to allow religious organizations to discriminate against LGBT workers while receiving federal contractors. Asked whether he would support a religious exemption in the executive order, Dent he prefers addressing the issue of LGBT workplace discrimination legislatively without resorting to administrative action. “I believe we should deal with this issue legislatively as opposed to administratively. President Obama can issue an executive order if he’d like,” Dent said. “But frankly, President Obama doesn’t have a particularly good record with religious exemptions.” Asked if that response means a religious exemption in the planned executive order would be a good idea, Dent replied, “Yeah, sure.” But he expressed skepticism the Obama administration would find the right language to withstand scrutiny from the courts. “I just don’t see them writing a religious exemption that will be not used against us is [like] the one that they provided for under the health care law with respect to Hobby Lobby case,” Dent said. “This falls to religiously affiliated institutions like schools, hospitals and charities, where there is also pending litigation. I just believe the administration has been walking on thin ice with respect to these religious exemptions.” Read More

Coffman To Meet With Constituents At MLK Library

2014/07/14

(Aurora, CO) U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) will meet one-on-one with constituents at the Martin Luther King Library on Saturday, July 19th from 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM.  Constituents are invited to come to the library in Aurora to meet with Representative Coffman and discuss the issues that are important to them. WHO: U.S. Representative Mike Coffman WHAT: Constituent Meetings WHERE: 9898 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, CO 80010 WHEN: Saturday, July 19, 2014 from 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM Read More

VA denied 80 percent of disability claims filed by Gulf War veterans

2014/07/09

[[{"fid":"532","view_mode":"teaser","fields":{"format":"teaser","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"style":"width: 250px; height: 50px;","class":"media-element file-teaser"}}]] The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has released data that shows 80 percent of disability claims filed by Gulf War veterans for conditions related to the war have been denied, citing “inadequate and insufficient evidence” to indicate that the cancers, chronic fatigue and migraines they suffer from are service-related.   “[The Institute of Medicine] stated that there ‘is no consistent evidence of a higher overall incidence of cancer in veterans who were deployed to the Gulf War than in non-deployed veterans,’” Robert Jesse, VA’s acting undersecretary for health, wrote in a letter Rep. Mike Coffman, Colorado Republican, USA Today reported Monday.   Ron Brown, president of the National Gulf War Resource Center, told the paper that the VA’s research contradicts the Institute of Medicine’s 2007 findings.   “What they’ve done is used the overall population of deployed veterans during Desert Storm,” he said. “If you use the whole population, it does not show an increase of cancers, but if you look at Khamisiyah, there are significant increases of cancers.”   Mr. Brown’s assertions are backed up by the the American Journal of Public Health. For unexposed soldiers, the brain cancer death rate from 1991 to 2000 was 12 per 100,000. For those near Khamisiyah, the rate was 25 per 100,000, USA Today reported.   “This is nothing new,” Mr. Brown added in regards to the VA’s denial of claims. “Our veterans have been fighting for 23 years to get the benefits they’ve earned.” Read More

VA apologizes for whistleblower retaliation

2014/07/09

[[{"fid":"531","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"class":"media-element file-full"}}]] A senior Department of Veterans Affairs official late Tuesday night apologized to employees who had spoken out about shoddy medical care and faced retaliation for their efforts. “I apologize to everyone whose voice was stifled,” James Tuchschmidt, the acting principal deputy under secretary for health, told the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “I’m past being upset and mad and angry about this. I’m very disillusioned and sickened by all of this.” Tuchschmidt made his comments following hours of testimony by four whistleblowers who said they had been harassed for reporting various problems throughout the VA’s healthcare system. Intimidation efforts, among other things, included having their pay suspended and being transferred out of facilities without any explanation, they said. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is looking into 67 claims of retaliation by VA managers against employees who lodged whistleblower complaints, including 25 filed since June 1, according to Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner. About 30 of the complaints have passed the initial review stage and have been marked for further investigation, Lerner told the panel, noting the complaints were filed in 28 states at 45 separate facilities. Lerner repeated many of the conclusions her office made in a June 23 letter to President Obama and congressional leaders that said the VA’s Office of the Medical Inspector routinely dismissed, or minimized, whistleblower complaints. Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson has since announced that the head of that office has retired and the organization itself would be restructured. Tuchschmidt , who at times was visibly distraught, said he hoped the personal stories he heard “are exceptions and not the rule” and that the medical inspector office would be tasked with a new, internal audit function that would listen to and seek out whistleblowers. Still, Tuchschmidt’s apology was not enough for panel members. “It pains me to say, but I don’t believe with one fiber of my being that you’re going to get this right,” Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) said. “A generation of good work has been erased.” Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.) said the latest revelations show the VA needs “real dramatic changes … it’s a systemic problem and we need to deal with it.” Tuchschmidt, who has served at the agency for 20 years, said he has seen a difference since VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned on May 30. He pointed out that Gibson has traveled to medical centers across the country and that his engagement with staff has been “phenomenal.” That argument, too, fell on deaf ears. “If the new secretary, when he comes aboard, has folks like you in senior leadership … it show’s he’s not serious about change,” Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) charged. Lerner said she was optimistic that VA could turn around its culture and that she had been encouraged by the recent moves made by Gibson. Read More

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Contact Information

2443 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-7882
Fax 202-226-4623
coffman.house.gov

Mike Coffman began his distinguished career of serving our nation at a very young age.  At age seventeen, after finishing his junior year at Aurora Central High School in 1972, he enlisted in the U.S. Army.   Through the Army, Coffman was able to earn a high school diploma.  In 1974, he left active duty to attend the University of Colorado under the G.I. Bill where he continued his military career by serving in the U.S. Army Reserve.  Coffman took a leave of absence from the U.S. Army Reserve and the University of Colorado to attend D.G. Vaishnav College in Chennai, India in 1976 and the University of Veracruz in Xalapa, Mexico in 1977.  Coffman graduated from the University of Colorado in 1979 and immediately transferred from the U.S. Army Reserve to the U.S. Marine Corps where he served as an infantry officer.

In 1983, Coffman came back home to Colorado and started a small business, an Aurora-based property management company, that would grow to over 20 employees. He remained the senior share holder of the firm for the next seventeen years until selling his interest in 2000. While in business, he continued serving in the military by joining the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

In his role as a Colorado small business owner, Coffman saw the need to bring more common sense pro-growth economic policies to state government so he ran and was elected to the State House of Representatives in 1988 and re-elected in 1990.  Shortly after his 1990 re-election, Coffman took an unpaid leave of absence from the state legislature and volunteered to return to active duty for the first Gulf War where he served as the executive officer for a light armored infantry company.   The battalion that Coffman served in was ordered to attack and defend positions inside of Kuwait, for three consecutive days prior to the main ground attack, as part of a deception and reconnaissance-by-fire operation.  Coffman retired from the military in 1994 after having served for seven years between the U.S. Army and the Army Reserve and thirteen years between the U.S. Marine Corps and the Marine Corps Reserve.

In 1994, Coffman was elected to the State Senate where he served as the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.  While in the State Senate, he completed the Senior Executive Program for State and Local Government at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.  In 1998, Coffman was elected to the office of State Treasurer and re-elected in 2002.  In 2005, the U.S. Marine Corps was under strength in meeting their requirements for the Iraq War and begun to extend Marines beyond their active duty enlistments, recall Marines recently released from active duty, and selectively reach out to retired Marines and request their return to active duty.   Coffman resigned his position as the State Treasurer and volunteered to return to the U.S. Marine Corps for an assignment in Iraq.  In Iraq, Coffman was a civil affairs officer where he worked in support of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI) in 2005 and in 2006 he was reassigned to help establish interim local governments in the Western Euphrates River Valley.

In 2006, Coffman came home after completing a full tour of duty in Iraq and was appointed by Governor Bill Owens to serve out the remainder of his term as the State Treasurer.  In that same year, he ran and was elected to the Office of Secretary of State and served in that capacity until he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008.

Coffman is the only veteran in the Colorado delegation and the only Member of Congress to have served in both the first Gulf War and in the Iraq War.  Congressman Coffman represents the 6th Congressional District of Colorado and serves on the Armed Services Committee, the Veteran’s Affairs Committee where he is the Chairman for the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and on the House Committee on Small Business.

Coffman and his wife Cynthia were married in 2005 just before he deployed to Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps.  Cynthia Coffman was the Chief Legal Counsel to Governor Bill Owens before becoming the Chief Deputy Attorney General for the State of Colorado under Attorney General John Suthers.  Coffman attends Faith Presbyterian Church in Aurora with his eighty year-old mother, Dorothy Coffman.


Serving With

Scott Tipton

COLORADO's 3rd DISTRICT

Cory Gardner

COLORADO's 4th DISTRICT

Doug Lamborn

COLORADO's 5th DISTRICT

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