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Despite circulating petitions, US Constitution does not allow for recall of members of Congress

Posted: 8:56 PM, Feb 13, 2017
Updated: 2017-02-14 18:33:35Z

DENVER – No, you cannot recall a U.S. Congressman.

Despite the handfuls of petitions circulating online for the recall of Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner over the past several weeks, the Constitution does not allow for the recall of any senator or representative.

Some Coloradans have been angry with Gardner over his support of some of the cabinet picks in the new Donald Trump administration, as well as his insinuation that some protesting his offices in recent weeks were paid to do so . Sixteen people were cited for their actions while  protesting outside of his office in late January.

A handful of petitions on change.org and an editorial in the Boulder Daily Camera all called for constituents to recall the senator, and his office voicemails and email inboxes were flooded by tens of thousands of calls and letters.

But the U.S. Constitution allows for the removal of a senator or representative only by a two-thirds vote from either house, and usually only in the case of treason or a criminal conviction relating to that Congressperson’s official duties.

There was a provision considered while the Founding Fathers were writing the constitution in 1787 that would have allowed for the recall of members of Congress, but it was not included in the final version.

Some may have been confused, thinking that a Colorado law that allows for a petition to be agreed upon by a certain number of voters to recall a state senator or representative also applied to those elected to U.S. Congress.

But that petition process, which requires verified signatures from 25 percent of voters in the previous election, applies only to state officials.

Gardner will next be up for re-election in 2020; Colorado’s other senator, Democrat Michael Bennet, will be up for re-election in 2022, but has said he will likely retire. You can still reach them the old-fashioned way to voice your pleasure or lack thereof with their actions by writing them or calling their offices. The same goes for Colorado's representatives in the House.

In the meantime, Gardner issued a statement to Denver7 Monday evening saying he welcomes continued efforts by constituents to reach him and his office:

"Like most Congressional offices, my office continues to receive a very high volume of phone calls and emails. Just this afternoon, the Senate Sergeant at Arms notified all senate offices that the Senate's voicemail system was down for a significant period of time. This is unacceptable, and I know how frustrating it is. That is why I am working to find new and innovative ways for Coloradans to contact me directly. I want to hear from you. I continue to encourage my constituents to reach out to me to share their opinions - whether through meetings, phone calls, email, or social media." 

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