4-19-17

Politicians turn out for anti-abortion press conference, fundraising

Anti-abortion advocates from across the country held a press conference in Albuquerque Wednesday morning denouncing New Mexico’s flagship university for its fetal tissue donation practices. Among those who spoke at the event were Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, New Mexico Rep. Steve Pearce, a Republican and Washington D.C. attorney Catherine Glenn Foster. Blackburn, who chaired the controversial congressional Select Panel on Infant Rights, said she came to “join my colleague in the House [of Representatives] and those in New Mexico that have worked on the issue of life.”

The Select Panel released a report in January faulting the University of New Mexico for lacking protocols to “ensure the survival of infants who show signs of life following extraction from the uterus.” It also scrutinized UNM’s relationship with Southwest Women’s Options, an abortion provider that has donated fetal tissue to the university for scientific research. Supporters of abortion rights, as well as minority Democrats in the Select Panel, have dismissed the report and the panel’s investigation for using “McCarthy-era tactics” to conduct “an end-to-end attack on fetal tissue donation and women’s health care.”

Pearce contended that “the laws are clear” and that “we’re simply stating, ‘Do not violate the law.’”

The Select Panel made 15 criminal referrals for its research of abortion providers and educational institutions across the country, including to New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas. To date, Balderas has not acted on the referral to his office.

Lujan Grisham: CHC will keep up pressure on deportations

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus won’t stop its criticism of Donald Trump’s immigration policies. That’s the word from Michelle Lujan Grisham, the New Mexico lawmaker who heads the caucus, which is made up of Hispanic members of Congress from around the country. All are Democrats (the Congressional Hispanic Conference is made up of Republican members). Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told members of Congress to “shut up” or change the law after his department faced criticism from members on its deportation practices. “If lawmakers do not like the laws they’ve passed and we are charged to enforce, then they should have the courage and skill to change the laws,’’ Kelly said earlier this week at George Washington University, according to reports.

Senate panel moves Wilson confirmation to floor

Heather Wilson’s bid to become the Secretary of the Air Force took a big step forward when her nomination cleared the Senate Armed Forces Committee on a 22-5 vote Wednesday. U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich sits on the committee and voted in favor of advancing her nomination. That was no surprise, as during questioning, Heinrich referred to her “impressive qualifications.”

Wilson is a former congresswoman from New Mexico, representing the Albuquerque area for a decade. Wilson is a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate and served in the U.S. Air Force. Related: Senators question Wilson on past controversies at confirmation hearing

She also faced Heinrich in the 2012 U.S. Senate race and lost by 6 percent.

Heinrich seeks info on treatment of children whose parents were deported

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich joined 14 other Democratic Senators in asking two federal departments for information on the treatment of children whose parents were deported. The 15 Senators, led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, asked for information from the federal Department of Homeland Security and the Health and Human Services Department on what happens to children, who are U.S. citizens, whose parents are deported. Related: Trump invites bids to build wall, cites importance of ‘aesthetics’

“These children are United States citizens, and the deportation of their parents leaves them vulnerable in myriad ways,” the senators wrote. “Abruptly separating from parents is a highly destabilizing, traumatic experience for children, and one that carries long term consequences such as feelings of loss and grief, economic hardship, and increased risk of neglect and abuse.”

They also requested to know how many children since January 2015 have been placed into the child welfare system because their parents have been deported, how much their foster care costs taxpayers and what policies are in place to ensure care for children whose parents have been arrested pending deportation. The senators also asked if DHS would seek a funding increase for support of social services as a result of increased foster care.

Trump can pull money from his businesses whenever he wants — without ever telling us

When President Donald Trump placed his businesses in a trust upon entering the White House, he put his sons in charge and claimed to distance himself from his sprawling empire. “I hope at the end of eight years I’ll come back and say, ‘Oh you did a good job,'” Trump said at a Jan. 11 press conference. Trump’s lawyer explained that the president “was completely isolating himself from his business interests.” The setup has long been slammed as insufficient, far short of the full divestment that many ethics experts say is needed to avoid conflicts of interest.

Senators question Wilson on past controversies at confirmation hearing

A U.S. Senate panel’s confirmation hearing for former New Mexico congresswoman Heather Wilson stuck mostly to the nuts and bolts of what her duties as the next secretary of the Air Force may entail. But her previous scandals related to her post-Congress business connections came up more than once during the three hour meeting before the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday morning. The panel did not vote on Wilson’s nomination to the post. The committee’s ranking member Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, posed questions to Wilson about her controversies working as a private contractor for national laboratories and her lobbying for weapons contractor Lockheed Martin. In quizzing Wilson about her private defense contracting work, Reed brought up the conclusions of a federal investigation that found that Sandia National Laboratories wrongly paid Wilson for services that federal law bars compensation for.

Pearce Las Cruces office vandalized

A Las Cruces office for U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce was egged this week, according to reports. The Las Cruces Sun-News reported the Las Cruces Police Department said the front door of the office was the only area to be egged. In addition to LCPD, Pearce’s office contacted the U.S. Capitol Police. Pearce denounced the actions in a statement to NM Political Report, saying the “act of vandalism is beyond civil discourse.”

“All of my congressional offices belong to the people of NM-02, and are essential to the everyday operations of assisting people with their social security, veteran benefits, and much more,” Pearce said in the emailed statement. “I thank my Las Cruces staff for cleaning up the mess so that we can resume work as usual for constituents.”

While Pearce’s office said they don’t know who egged the office, the Doña Ana County Republican Party said on Facebook, “This behavior has been a consistent pattern from the Democrat party and their affiliate groups.”

In February, hundreds of people held a protest outside the Las Cruces office and called for Pearce to hold a town hall.

Heinrich will vote against Gorsuch confirmation

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich will vote against the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. He cited ties between the Donald Trump administration and Russia as one reason. Heinrich also indicated he would join other Democrats in a rare filibuster of the Supreme Court nominee by not voting to invoke cloture. Sixty senators are needed to invoke cloture and end debate, moving toward a final vote. There are 52 Republicans in the Senate.

Wilson nomination hearing set for Thursday

Former New Mexico congresswoman Heather Wilson will have to divest herself of her and her husband’s stocks in defense contractors if she becomes Secretary of the Air Force. This came from financial disclosures that the Republican, now president of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, filed ahead of her nomination hearing. The Senate Armed Forces Committee will question Wilson on Thursday. If Wilson clears the committee, which is likely, her nomination will go to the full Senate. Among the stocks Wilson disclosed were those for Raytheon, Honeywell International, Intel and Verizon Communications.

With Obamacare Defeated, can we now focus on the ACA?

What would happen if the people of America were aware that there is legislation enacted to ensure that healthcare is accessible for every citizen? My guess is that people across the nation would be outraged at the political hijinks conducted over the past two weeks. “Obamacare” was defeated this past Friday with the pulling of a House bill to repeal and replace the present healthcare law. It is now time to enforce the law of the land that provides healthcare for every American citizen: the Affordable Care Act (ACA). And it is also time to end the war against the ACA over past seven years, a war waged to retain the supremacy of white men.