Dems in NM delegation urge Martinez to reject Obamacare replacement

Democrats in New Mexico’s congressional delegation urged Gov. Susana Martinez to raise concerns about the Republican Obamacare replacement’s projected negative impact on Medicaid. A letter addressed to Martinez Friday signed by Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Ben Ray Lujan highlights impacts of the Medicaid expansion in New Mexico under the Affordable Care Act. Their letter attributes the Medicaid expansion to gaining health insurance for an extra 263,000 people in the state and bringing in $4.6 billion a year to New Mexico in federal money.

Analysis: AHCA would reduce insured rate, increases costs in NM

An analysis of the health care bill currently floundering in Congress finds it would decrease the amount of New Mexicans with insurance and raise how much they pay for insurance. The Office of the Superintendent of Insurance predicts sweeping, largely negative, changes for New Mexicans if the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) is replaced by the American Health Care Act (AHCA). In other words, the Donald Trump-backed health care bill that the House is working on voting for (though it looks increasingly unlikely a vote will occur anytime soon) would have a negative impact on the current situation in New Mexico. Update: The House pulled the bill from consideration Friday before a vote. This post continues as originally written below.

Udall will vote against Gorsuch, says should need 60 votes

Senator Tom Udall will not vote to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and will support the need for 60 votes for the confirmation. The Democratic U.S. Senator made the announcement Friday in a statement to media. Udall, one of the more liberal members of the U.S. Senate, was never likely to vote for Gorsuch. But his decision to support the filibuster of Gorsuch is significant. If enough senators oppose cloture—which ends debate on the nomination—it would require 60 votes to move forward to a final vote, essentially blocking Gorsuch.

Report: After GOP opposition, no Skandera federal nomination

Objections by U.S. Senate Republicans ended talk that Hanna Skandera might join the Donald Trump administration, according to a report in Politico Thursday. The report, which led the outlet’s Morning Education tipsheet, said the New Mexico Public Education Department secretary’s support for the controversial Common Core standards were one reason Republicans were skeptical to confirm her as assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. “I am focused on continuing the great progress we have started and will continue in New Mexico,” Skandera said in a statement to NM Political Report when asked about if she had any conversations about joining the Trump administration. “When education focuses on students and not politics, everyone wins.”

Skandera is the head of the governing board of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), which produces a standardized test in public schools aligned with Common Core. Republicans have largely criticized Common Core standards, which the Barack Obama administration supported. Common Core standards’ roots came out of the George W. Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act.

NM advocates, patients push against Obamacare replacement

A coalition of healthcare advocacy and poverty rights organizations wants Congress to dump the Republican-backed replacement for the federal Affordable Care Act. On Wednesday, Parents Reaching Out held a press conference in Albuquerque encouraging people to call their representatives and senators to urge them to oppose the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which the federal House of Representatives may vote on as early as this Thursday. “We are concerned about upcoming Medicaid cuts and the potential devastation to our community,” said Lisa Rossignol, the healthcare liaison at Parents Reaching Out, which organized the Wednesday press conference. The bill, backed by President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, would end the Medicaid expansion under the ACA by 2020. It would also cut money to Medicaid, the federal healthcare program for the poor, by $370 billion over 10 years, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

After report on Russia ties, Heinrich says Senators should call Manafort in to testify

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich says a former Donald Trump campaign chairman should testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee after reports of the former campaign official’s ties to Russia. Heinrich, a member of the committee, said that Paul Manafort must testify “and give the American people the answers they deserve.”

Heinrich cited an Associated Press report that Manafort “secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics.”

Manafort worked for Oleg Deripaska, who is a close ally of Putin, for a reported $10 million a year contract. Heinrich said the work described by the AP was similar to recent Russian hacking actions during the elections in the United States. “I am alarmed by reports that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort created and then sold the Russians what appears to be a game plan to undermine democracy and further the interests of the Russian government – including inside the United States,” Heinrich said. “His reported recommendation to use political campaign tactics, establish front groups, and manipulate the press are strikingly similar to the actual tactics we know the Russians employed to undermine our presidential election.”

The Trump administration has attempted to downplay Manafort’s role, with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer saying Manafort’s role in the campaign was “for a very limited amount of time.”

As CNN reported, Manafort was Trump’s campaign chairman and chief strategist for the summer of 2016 before the role went to Breitbart News’ Steve Bannon and political strategist Kellyanne Conway.

Berry admin not worried, but federal funds for ART not set in stone

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry’s administration is voicing confidence that $50 million in federal funding will come their way to help finance the Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) project. That’s at least what the city’s Chief Operations Officer Michael Riordan said Monday evening at a city council meeting. He mentioned that former President Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget recommendations include “a $50 million earmark” for the bus rapid transit project and that even though Congress hasn’t approved a budget, the money is still “currently on the legislative docket to be passed.”

ART, now well into construction with torn roads and narrow lanes that hold back traffic in the heart of Central Avenue, is projected to be 10 miles of dedicated lanes in the street for a rapid bus system with 20 stations. The project is slated to be up and running this fall, but it’s drawn controversy among some residents and business owners along the route, who have blamed slow sales on the project’s construction. More controversy came last week when President Donald Trump released his budget recommendations for fiscal year 2018, which freezes all funding for a Federal Transit Administration grant program for local public transportation projects—including ART.

Balderas files brief opposing new travel ban

Attorney General Hector Balderas filed a brief opposing the revised travel ban on travel from six Muslim majority countries earlier this week. Balderas previously supported a lawsuit by the state of Washington opposing the previous travel ban. That lawsuit succeeded and federal courts halted the program. Despite a Twitter declaration by President Donald Trump, the administration did not appeal that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The recent brief supported a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court by the state of Hawaii.

ICE enforcement surge makes some ‘live in constant fear’

Every morning before he leaves to go to work, Yalil scans the street outside his home to see if any unusual cars are parked outside. “If it’s something, we do have to plan not to go to work and stay the whole day home,” he said. Yalil’s little brothers, both still in school and born in the United States, are too young to understand why their family needs to be so cautious. But they’re instructed every day to never answer the door, “not even to the missionaries, the people who are talking about God,” Yalil said. “We just let them know they cannot open the door because my dad and my mom could be detained and we might not get to see them again,” he said.

Most of delegation slams Trump healthcare plan after CBO report

“Inhumane” and “disastrous” were just two of the words used by Democrats in the New Mexico congressional delegation in response to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office analysis of the bill to repeal large portions of the Affordable Care Act. Monday, after the report’s release, some Democrats in the delegation mentioned Trump’s campaign promise to make sure a replacement plan would provide health insurance for more people than the Affordable Care Act. In its analysis, the CBO found that 24 million fewer Americans would have health care by 2026 under the American Health Care Act. Within just a year of its implementation, 14 million fewer people would have health care, according to the analysis. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said the administration disagreed with the CBO report and that the report’s numbers “defy logic.” He also said the CBO report did not analyze the full healthcare plan.