Trump budget’s Medicaid, SNAP cuts would have big impact on NM

Large cuts to safety-net programs will have a large impact on New Mexico, which is near the top of the nation in those on Medicaid and who receive food aid through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Over the next ten years, the proposed Trump budget would cut Medicaid spending by $610 billion and SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, by $193 billion. These cuts would come in addition to those  from the American Health Care Act. The president has also proposed reducing the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, by $5.8 billion over ten years. How agencies will exact the cuts to programs, and what their impacts on states might be, is still unclear.

Heinrich wants damage assessment after reports Trump revealed classified info

Sen. Martin Heinrich has asked the Trump administration for a damage assessment after news reports that the president revealed classified information to Russian officials during an Oval Office visit. Heinrich, along with two other Democratic senators, requested a review and damage assessment from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. “We request that you determine whether classified information was disclosed or compromised in any way during the May 10, 2017 meeting, and if so, to designate the National Counterintelligence Executive, in consultation with the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, as the lead agency for conducting a damage assessment,” the letter reads. The other senators signing onto the letter are Tom Carper of Delaware and Gary Peters of Michigan. Both are members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee while Heinrich sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Senators seek answers on Sessions’ role in Comey firing

U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts led 11 senators in calling for an investigation into Attorney General Jeff Sessions and whether his role in the firing of former FBI Director James Comey violated his recusal from any investigation into Russian ties with those close to President Donald Trump. The letter, which was also signed by New Mexico U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, was sent to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice Tuesday. In the letter, the senators said Session’s “recusal language itself could not be clearer.”

They also seek answers to three questions: to what extent Sessions was required to recuse himself from the investigation, the scope of his recusal and the timeline of his involvement in Comey’s firing. The letter notes that Sessions met with Trump and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to discuss the removal of Comey on May 8.

Udall calls for ‘swift’ investigation after reports Trump revealed classified info

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall criticized President Donald Trump Tuesday after the Washington Post revealed that the president disclosed classified information to Russian officials during a meeting in the Oval Office last week. On the Senate floor, Udall said the latest news calls for a “swift” and independent investigation. “The White House and President Trump face another crisis,” Udall said. Udall went on to criticize Trump’s firing of former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and FBI Director James Comey. “The only rational explanation is that he has something to hide,” Udall said.

Inaugural ‘News and Brews’ series deconstructs Trump’s first 100 days

The kickoff of NM Political Report’s monthly News and Brews summer series Thursday night featured a candid discussion about how the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency affected New Mexicans from different perspectives. Our own Environment Reporter Laura Paskus moderated the event, which featured insight from immigration attorney and Santa Fe Dreamers Project Director Allegra Love, former U.S. Department of Agriculture New Mexico State Director for Rural Development Terry Brunner and former Islamic Center of New Mexico President Abbas Akhil. Brunner, who headed USDA grants for New Mexico for rural development under the Obama administration, described Trump’s first 100 days as “fast and scary, kind of like a rollercoaster.”

“You wake up in the morning, it’s something completely new and different every day,” he said. Brunner warned that the effect of Trump’s “drain the swamp” rhetoric combined with picking officials without traditional qualifications to run federal agencies will “spread fear throughout the bureaucracy” and cause federal workers to “hunker down” and bring government’s delivery on services to the public “to a really slow lethargic pace.”

Brunner mentioned how in January, House Republicans evoked an obscure rule allowing them to drop federal employees’ salaries to just $1, which he argued is meant to “intimidate federal employees.”

“The [James] Comey firing is a sign that nobody’s job is secure,” he said, referring to Trump’s abrupt dismissal of the FBI director earlier this week. Love, who directs the Santa Fe Dreamers Project, a legal services group that helps undocumented families, said the immigrant community began to feel the effects of Trump‘s incoming presidency the day after he was elected.

Dems in delegation compare Comey firing to Nixon’s ‘Saturday Night Massacre’

Donald Trump’s shock firing of FBI Director James Comey Tuesday led to comparisons of former President Richard Nixon and the infamous Saturday Night Massacre. Comey was leading the agency investigating allegations that some of Trump’s political advisers colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election. “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau,” Trump said in his letter to Comey. It is unclear what three times Trump is referring to, and the New York Times reported White House officials did not elaborate. The administration cited Comey’s handling of the investigation of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as a reason why he was fired.

Wilson confirmed as Air Force secretary

Former congresswoman Heather Wilson was confirmed as President Donald Trump’s Secretary of the Air Force Monday. The Senate voted 76-22 to confirm Wilson, who is the first service secretary nominee to get approval from the Senate, according to the Associated Press. Both of New Mexico’s U.S. Senators—Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich—voted to confirm Wilson. Heinrich, who faced Wilson in 2012 as an opponent for his current Senate seat, voted to advance her nomination to the full Senate as part of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Udall served in the U.S. House at the same time as Wilson.

Testing is identifying just 5% of kids poisoned by lead in NM

New Mexico is among the worst states when it comes to identifying all the children who have been poisoned by lead. That’s according to a study published last week in Pediatrics, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Nationwide, only 64 percent of lead-poisoned children under the age of five are identified by testing. In New Mexico, that number is much lower—just five percent. Lead paint and lead additive in gasoline were banned decades ago.

Pearce votes yes as House passes sweeping healthcare bill

House Republicans passed a sweeping health care bill that could reshape the American healthcare system for the second time in less than a decade. If passed by the Senate, the bill would put hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans at risk of losing their health coverage. The legislation passed today, the American Health Care Act, is the culmination of years of criticism by Republicans of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The bill to replace the ACA passed on a 217-213 vote. Only one of New Mexico’s representatives, Republican Steve Pearce, voted for the legislation.

Report: Anti-Semitic incidents on the rise in NM

Anti-Semitic incidents in New Mexico, as well as the rest of the country, increased dramatically during 2016 and the first quarter of 2017, according to an annual audit from the Anti-Defamation League. The group’s Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents reported seven incidents in 2015, 11 in 2016 and seven in 2017 through the end of March. Those this year included two widely publicized bomb threats at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque. ADL also cited threats to a local website called ABQ Jew and an incident in an Albuquerque parking lot where a woman allegedly spit on a Jewish woman’s car and told her to “get ready for the next exodus” because of the election of Donald Trump. Suki Halevi, the ADL New Mexico regional director, also cited an interview on KSFR public radio with Christopher Bollyn, a conspiracy theorist who has called 9/11 “a massive Zionist Jewish crime.” The interview, which ADL said was apparently favorable to his point of view, occurred last summer on “Camp Lovewave,” a program that KSFR has since discontinued.