Dems in delegation slam Nunes memo release as ‘cowardly,’ ‘partisan’

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.

More New Mexicans approve of Heinrich, Udall’s job performance than disapprove

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.

We’re not that far apart

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.

NM’s Senators won’t back spending bill without DACA fix

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.

A big cost to NM if Congress doesn’t act on children’s health program

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.

GOP tax bill could put giant hole in NM’s budget

The tax bill Congress is considering could blow up New Mexico’s budget—as early as next year. New Mexico Senate Finance Committee chair John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, and House Appropriations and Finance Committee chair Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, sounded the alarm with a letter to members of the congressional delegation and Gov. Susana Martinez. The two wrote the state could lose nearly $600 million in federal funding in the coming year, including over $430 million in federal mineral leasing payments. This is money the federal government pays to states for oil and gas drilling and coal mining on federal lands within their borders. “Loss of FML revenues, which primarily fund public education in New Mexico, would have a devastating impact on the state’s budget and would wipe out the reserves our state has struggled to rebuild,” the two legislators wrote.

Heinrich, Udall back ethics investigation into Franken after sexual assault allegations

Both of New Mexico’s U.S. Senators back the idea of an investigation into sexual harassment by Sen. Al Franken. Thursday morning, Los Angeles radio host Leeann Tweeden said Franken groped her and wrote a kissing scene in a sketch just so he could kiss her while on a USO tour. She described it as sexual assault. The tour took place before Franken, a Democrat, ran for office. He has cited the tour as a reason why he decided to run for Senate. In the post-Harvey Weinstein and Roy Moore accusation landscape, the reactions were swift, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling for an ethics investigation.

Senators aim to close ‘loophole’ in domestic violence gun ban

One of New Mexico’s U.S. Senators introduced legislation that would make sure those convicted of domestic violence offenses in the military cannot own a firearm. U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, a Democrat, worked with U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, a Republican, on sponsoring the legislation. Both men described the bill as one that can pass with bipartisan support and will have a real-world impact. They introduced the bill in response to the fact that the man who killed over two dozen men, women and children in a Sutherland Springs, Texas church was convicted of assault against his wife and step-child and discharged for bad conduct while a member of the U.S. Air Force. The alleged murderer was still able to buy guns despite a federal ban preventing those convicted of domestic violence from buying firearms.

But there is no specification in the Uniform Code of Military Justice for domestic assault, Flake said, only for assault. Because of this, the military has not been reporting convictions of what would be classified as domestic assault in non-military courts to a federal database of domestic abusers meant to prevent them from owning weapons.

Trump makes his pick for U.S. Attorney in New Mexico

President Donald Trump nominated a Santa Fe attorney to be the next U.S. Attorney for New Mexico. Trump announced Wednesday morning that John C. Anderson is his choice for the position, which has been vacant for nearl yeight months. U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, both Democrats, and U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, a Republican, suggested  Anderson and Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Federici as candidates for the position, which has been empty since March 10 when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked Damon Martinez and more than 40 other U.S. Attorneys to resign. “The New Mexico delegation worked closely together to identify and recommend qualified New Mexicans for federal law enforcement appointments,” a letter from the three members of the delegation said. “We appreciate that the White House acted on our recommendations for U.S. attorney, and we offer our sincere congratulations to John Anderson.”

The U.S. Senate will need to confirm his appointment.

Heinrich joins forces with Collins over Russia interference and election security

During the 2016 election, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security didn’t know which state officials to communicate with to relay the threat of attempted Russian interference. That confusion is one thing U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich wants to fix with the Securing America’s Voting Equipment (SAVE) Act, which he introduced with Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins. “I think overall, over the course of the last few decades, we may have become complacent as a country as to the potential for this,” Heinrich said of attempts to influence elections in the United States. “There were cases where they were maybe engaged with the wrong decisionmaker or talking to the vendor instead of, say a secretary of state or a county clerk,” Heinrich said. “Just getting all of that written down in a way that sort of provides a roadmap for a real-time event so that the response is quick provides a lot of advantages.”

If passed, the legislation would strengthen the security of the country’s elections system, which are not centrally run by the federal government, but by state and local officials.