Proposed, sweeping and dramatic changes to a decades-old federal food aid program could have major negative impacts on many impoverished New Mexicans who rely on the program. Donald Trump’s administration proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), previously known as food stamps, in his most recent budget recommendation. The proposal included providing food boxes to those who qualify for the program while slashing the amount of money the federal government spends by 30 percent over ten years. All of this would likely result in fewer people receiving fewer benefits through the program. While the state splits the administrative costs of the program with the federal government, the federal government provides funding for the SNAP benefits New Mexicans receive.
Following the latest mass shooting, one of New Mexico’s U.S. Senators wants to repeal an amendment that bars the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from researching gun violence and its impact on public health. U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich announced his opposition to the Dickey Amendment Tuesday, saying that CDC research is necessary to help find solutions to curb gun violence. “I am calling for the repeal of the Dickey Amendment because I am fed up with tragedies like the mass shootings in Parkland, Las Vegas, and Aztec,” Heinrich said. I am also heartsick over the estimated 91 Americans killed each day by gun violence.”
The Dickey Amendment, implemented in 1996, specifically stopped the CDC from using any funds to “advocate or promote gun control.” The National Rifle Association was a driving force behind the amendment at the time. The amendment itself is gaining attention, as mass shootings have increased over recent years, and debate over why has no authority to look back on.
Some Democratic elected officials from New Mexico and the party’s state chair called for a member of their party to step down as a Doña Ana County Commissioner on Thursday after allegations of sexual misconduct. A day after the Democratic Party of New Mexico Vice Chairwoman Neomi Martinez-Parra criticized party chair Richard Ellenberg for not doing enough to address Martinez-Parra’s allegations against Vasquez, Ellenberg issued an apology and called for Vasquez to resign. “While I can’t force his hand, I am calling on John Vasquez to resign from the County Commission and the County Central Committee, and I will repeat that call as often as is necessary until we are successful,” Ellenberg wrote in a statement Thursday. Following Ellenberg’s statement, U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, along with U.S. Reps.
After state and U.S. lawmakers called an editorial cartoon in the state’s largest newspaper racist and offensive, the editor-in-chief of the Albuquerque Journal issued an apology. In a statement, Karen Moses apologized for upsetting readers. “In hindsight, instead of generating debate, this cartoon only inflamed emotions,” according to Moses’s statement posted on the paper’s website Thursday. “This was not the intent, and for that, the Journal apologizes.”
Moses also said the cartoon does not reflect the position of the Journal. The Journal’s reporters, who work separately from the editorial board, covered the controversy in the paper’s Thursday edition.
Inflammatory words over immigration led to a heated back-and-forth this week between a New Mexico Congresswoman and an Arizona Congressman. It began after Democratic New Mexico U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham brought Dalia Medina, a woman who immigrated to the U.S. with her parents from Mexico as a child, as her guest to the State of the Union last week. Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar from Arizona called for U.S. Capitol police to check immigration statuses of Lujan Grisham’s and others’, guests and possibly arrest them. Even those in his own party weren’t on board with the call for arrests. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, distanced himself from the proposal in the hours before the State of the Union.
Democrats in the New Mexico congressional delegation slammed the release of a memo by House Intelligence Committee Republicans, saying the document was partisan and inaccurate. The FBI urged Congress to not release the memo before President Donald Trump allowed its release. The memo itself likely will not be a smoking gun to end the investigation into the Trump presidential campaign, as some supporters had hoped. Indeed, it confirmed that the FBI began investigating Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos well before the U.S. government saw the Steele Dossier. Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee crafted their own memo, which they wish to release.
Almost half of New Mexicans approve of the way their U.S. Senators are doing their jobs, while less than a third disapprove. That’s according to the latest Morning Consult approval ratings. The poll conducted in late 2017 found that 49 percent of New Mexico registered voters approve of Tom Udall’s job performance, while 29 percent disapproved and 2 percent had no opinion. Martin Heinrich’s approval rating sat at 46 percent, while 29 percent disapproved and 24 percent had no opinion. The numbers do not always add up to 100 percent because of rounding.
The American people have to be scratching their heads in wonder, watching us here in Washington, completely dumbfounded as to why on Earth we can’t get to yes on a deal to fund the government, extend health care to millions of American children, invest in our military and protect the fine young men and women we know as Dreamers. The American people are right, because the truth is that we aren’t that far apart. Republicans and Democrats are close to agreement on numbers for the budget caps. We agree that the Children’s Health Insurance Program must be extended. And we even have a bipartisan deal on the table to shield Dreamers from across this country from the deportation machine that President Trump unleashed in September when he announced that he would cancel the DACA program.
New Mexico’s two U.S. Senators oppose any funding bill that does not include a fix for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. The program, known as DACA, has been debated since September when President Donald Trump announced he would he end the Obama-era program. Trump also stopped the federal government from processing new applications. The short-term spending bill proposed by House Republicans lacks immigration provisions. U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, a Democrat, announced on social media he opposed the short-term 30-day spending bill.
If Congress fails to reauthorize a popular health insurance program, it will cost the state big money. But unlike in some other states, New Mexico’s children won’t lose health insurance. The Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, lapsed on Sept. 30. Since then, Congress has failed to agree on renewing the federally-funded program.