Dems frustrated after meeting with ICE head over raids

House Democrats, especially members of the Congressional Hispanic Committee, were frustrated after a meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s acting director following news of increased enforcement actions by the federal law enforcement agency. The meeting was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but ICE canceled the meeting in favor of today’s bipartisan meeting. At the meeting with Acting Director Thomas Homans, Democrats said in a press conference that not all those who wished to attend were allowed. “The meeting focused on the agency’s targeted enforcement efforts conducted across the nation last week,” a readout of the meeting provided by an ICE spokesperson said. The members also said they were disappointed that ICE didn’t provide all the information they asked for earlier this week.

Bill would terminate BLM, Forest Service law enforcement

This week, a bill to terminate law enforcement jobs at the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management was referred to a subcommittee in the House Committee on Agriculture. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, introduced the bill. If passed, it would eliminate the Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations unit, which handles everything from public safety and criminal investigations to seizing illegal drugs grown in forests, curtailing smuggling and closing drug labs on public lands. The bill would also eliminate and the BLM’s Office of Law Enforcement, which employs more than 250 rangers and special agents. The bill would cease funding for federal law enforcement on federal lands later this  year.

Hispanic lawmakers ask why ICE canceled meeting to discuss immigration raids

Officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement canceled a meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, including chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, hours before it was scheduled to take place Tuesday. The Albuquerque Journal first reported the cancellation. CHC, which is made up of Democratic members, has been critical of ICE’s actions and President Donald Trump’s rhetoric towards those in the country illegally, both during his campaign and since becoming president. After the cancellation of the meeting, several members, including Lujan Grisham, held a press conference. #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; width:100%;}
/* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block.

National Republicans say they’re going after two NM seats

The national Republican group tasked with winning seats in Congress announced their list of targets of seats currently held by Democrats for the 2018 elections. On  that list are two New Mexico congressional seats, including one that a Republican has never held for a full term. Those seats, the 1st Congressional and 3rd Congressional Districts, would likely be tough races for Republicans, based on recent election results. The National Republican Congressional Committee announced 36 Democratically-held seats as areas for potential pickups to increase their advantage in the House. Republicans currently outnumber Democrats 240-193, with two seats open after lawmakers left those seats to take other positions in government.

NM AG, Senators denounce Trump ‘Muslim ban’ order

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas joined 15 other attorneys general from around the country to condemn the executive order by President Donald Trump banning travel from certain Muslim-majority countries that caused confusion and outrage this weekend. Balderas was part of the joint statement, which included the top legal officers in New York, California, Pennsylvania and more. Other elected officials condemned the executive order. U.S. Sen. Tom Udall called the order “un-American” in a Facebook post Saturday. “Turning our backs on desperate refugees and essentially imposing a ban on Muslim immigration projects weakness, not strength,” Udall said in a statement Sunday.

Pearce named to Natural Resources Committee

Last week, House Republicans announced members of the House Committee on Natural Resources for the 115th Congress. That list included Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mexico who had previously served on the committee from 2003 through 2009. In a statement from his office, Pearce said he plans to work on “restoring the health of our national forests, ensuring multiple use on appropriate federal lands, allowing Native American communities to grow and prosper, fighting for New Mexico water, preserving our national treasures and landmarks to safeguard them for future generations and more.”

NM Political Report asked Pearce’s chief of staff Todd Willens for more details about the congressman’s plans. Willens declined to provide additional information, but wrote in an email that “as the agenda for the committee reveals itself, the Congressman will update the public.”

This session, the committee is chaired by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, a proponent of private property and states’ rights and an opponent of any new national monument designations. Bishop announced last week the Republican members of the committee will “strengthen an aggressive agenda that we will pursue in partnership with a new administration.”

The committee, which includes 26 Republicans and 18 Democrats, considers legislation on a wide range of issues important to New Mexico, including public lands management, energy and mining, American Indians, fisheries, wildlife and irrigation.

Pomp, circumstance and State of the State in photos

As is often the case, the first day of the 2017 legislative session began with lawmakers, lobbyists and reporters catching up and getting their bearings straight. The first day began with lawmakers settling into their new seating assignments and making new leadership official. Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, was elected Speaker of the House, while Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, D-Albuquerque, was elected by the Democratic caucus to serve as the Majority Floor Leader.  

#mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; width:100%;}
/* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block. We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file.

Report: Pearce among those who sought to weaken independent ethics office

Rep. Steve Pearce was one of the Republican members of Congress who voted to gut the independent office looking into ethics, according to a news report. The vote came during a closed-door meeting by Republicans and became public Monday. After a major public outcry, Republican lawmakers changed course Tuesday and announced they scrapped plans to remove the functions from Office of Congressional Ethics. Politico reported that Pearce was one of those who supported removing many key functions of the independent OCE, including its ability to refer allegations to law enforcement. The now-dead proposal sought to send give more power to the House Ethics Committee, which is made up of members of Congress.

Lujan Grisham to be part of Dem whip team

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham will be a Senior Whip in the Democratic caucus when the new Congress convenes next year. Lujan Grisham received the position after being named by Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer on Thursday. This is the second high-profile position for Lujan Grisham in the upcoming Congress. Lujan Grisham was recently elected chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which is made up of Hispanic members of the chamber, currently only Democrats. Hoyer referenced that position Thursday in a statement.

Here’s who’s considering running to replace Lujan Grisham in Congress

Many Albuquerque-area political figures are rumored to be gearing up for a congressional campaign after New Mexico Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham announced she plans to leave the seat and run for Governor. There are still no definitive announcements or declared candidates, but the handful of people NM Political Report spoke to this week gave similar answers—that they have been encouraged to run and are giving it serious consideration. Some said they don’t want to run for family reasons, in particular because of the amount of travel that comes with the job. The state’s congressional members often travel back and forth from Washington D.C. and New Mexico. U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich’s family, for example, lived in Albuquerque while he served in the U.S. House before Lujan Grisham.