Congress is about to go on break, are you ready for more town halls?
Congress is set to be off for quite a bit of the month of April. According to the Washington Post, the House is only scheduled to be in session for EIGHT days this month. With all that time off, it’s likely we’ll see some of New Mexico’s congressional delegation back home and talking with constituents.
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While we’re generally pretty happy with the job our congressional delegation is doing in Washington, it’s always good to be aware of what key issues our congress people and senators are working on. And in southern New Mexico especially, holding Rep. Steve Pearce accountable for the LACK of representation he gives us is absolutely key.
So here’s a handy guide for some key issues to be aware of if you get the chance to talk with your representative or senator in the next few weeks.
Republicans failed to make any significant changes to the Affordable Care Act despite their majority in congress and Trump’s campaign promises. Democratic Representatives Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham were poised to vote no against any repeal legislation because they knew how important the ACA is to New Mexico families. Lujan Grisham went as far as saying that “the impact of this plan (repeal) would be a disaster for New Mexico, where 900,000 people rely on Medicaid.”
Rep. Steve Pearce, on the other hand, also opposed Speaker Paul Ryan‘s plan, but because, in his ultra-conservative way of thinking, that plan didn’t go far enough in removing healthcare options from New Mexicans.
As for the Senate, both Udall and Heinrich said they would vehemently oppose any attempts to undo Obamacare. So if you’re concerned with the status of America’s national health care crises, it’s good to know that (most) of our federal delegation is standing strong in support of the ACA and keeping New Mexico’s citizens covered for the time being.
2. Public Lands:
In the Land of Enchantment, nothing is more important to our way of life than our amazing public lands. From the mountain vistas to the working men and women who utilize public land leases, our federally controlled public lands are an intrinsic part of our state identity.
Not only does Congressman Pearce digress from the rest of New Mexico’s federal delegation on the public lands issue, he actively works almost daily to undo most of the protections in place at the federal level. He has actively opposed the designation of protected areas like the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument since its inception and has backed efforts to undo those protections under the new administration.
For those concerned with the public lands issue, we really are fortunate to have Senators Udall and Heinrich working to protect our interests here in the state AND federally supporting other public lands initiatives around the country.
Read more: Defending Public Lands | ProgressNow NM
3. Women’s access to healthcare options including abortion:
New Mexico respects women and trusts them to make their own best decisions for themselves when it comes to their healthcare and reproductive choices. And that sentiment is carried by Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Ben Ray Lujan, as well as our two democratic senators.
But once again, Republican Steve Pearce show’s how out-of-touch he really is with our New Mexico values by continuing his crusade against women. At recent town hall meetings, he has repeatedly called for the defunding of Planned Parenthood with no remorse. Check out our article on the 5 things Pearce gets wrong about reproductive justice on a regular basis.
We stand with New Mexico women in the ongoing struggle for safe and legal access to abortion and if you speak with your representative over the break we think it’s a good opportunity to remind them that we want them to stand with us.
4. Responsible gun ownership
Last summer, the House of Representatives held a historic sit-in on the floor to demand that clear and decisive action be taken at the federal level. Our democratic Senators joined our democratic congressional representatives in solidarity of reasonable changes to prevent needless gun violence.
Guess who didn’t join in that brave and needed action? Yup, none other than Republican Steve Pearce, a top-ten recipient of NRA and other pro-gun lobby monies.
New Mexicans overwhelmingly support responsible gun laws that keep guns out of the hands of terrorists and criminals and thankfully MOST of our federal delegation is on board with that mindset. This is a question worth asking your representative or senator if you attend any town halls this month.
5. Pushing back against Trump
Congress’ job is to represent the people and the states at the federal level. They constitute an independent branch of government, charged with generating laws that help strengthen the checks and balances that are the cornerstone of democracy. With Trump and the republicans in charge, there have already been some severe and frightening attempts to undermine these basic tenants of our government.
Senators Udall and Heinrich have been pretty outspoken in their opposition to Trump’s agenda, opposing most of his cabinet picks, his supreme court nominees, and voting against other Trump/Republican measures in the senate.
Reps. Lujan Grisham and Lujan have also regularly voted against Trump initiatives in the House. Rep. Pearce, however, has towed the party line and voted for some pretty scary things including allowing telecom companies to sell your data to the highest bidder. And while Pearce has stood up to A FEW things like the healthcare repeal, even people who voted for Pearce have asked why he’s not doing more to demand that Trump releases his tax returns and have expressed concerns about Trump’s behavior and demeanor in general.
We hope you find this list of issues useful as the month goes on and we (hopefully) get a chance to interact with our federal delegation here at home in the coming weeks. If you want to be alerted to any town hall or public meetings in your area, sign up below for our action alert emails.
Find an event near you: Statewide Progressive Events Calendar