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.

Pearce uncommitted on Obamacare replacement bill

As of Tuesday afternoon, Rep. Steve Pearce is still undecided on the Republican healthcare overhaul. Pearce isn’t tipping his hand as to which way he’ll vote, even as more Republicans begin to announce their intentions on the massive healthcare bill pushed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, and President Donald Trump. The effort is the first major piece of legislation introduced during the Trump era. Both chambers of Congress are controlled by Republicans, who want to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Some conservatives say the bill doesn’t go far enough to repeal the ACA.

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.

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.

Dems in delegation give thumbs down to new Trump travel ban

Most of New Mexico’s congressional delegation still oppose President Donald Trump’s latest attempt to ban travelers from several Muslim-majority countries. Trump signed the revised executive order Monday, but it is not intended to go into effect until March 16. The previous ban, which went into effect when Trump signed it on Jan. 27, caused travel chaos for those from the seven impacted countries, and a federal court halted it within days. Despite a bold proclamation on Twitter by Trump, the administration did not appeal that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sessions should resign, says NM Senator

One U.S. Senator from New Mexico says U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions should resign after reports that he misled Congress over his  contact with the Russian ambassador last year during the presidential campaign. U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, a Democrat, said in a statement Thursday that a special counsel should investigate the Trump administration and its alleged ties to the Russian government. “Attorney General Sessions’ statements to Congress, under oath, were at best misleading, and that is concerning in and of itself,” Udall said. “In the context of the Trump administration’s lack of full disclosure about its connections to Russia, Attorney General Sessions has raised so many doubts about his integrity and his ability to lead the Department of Justice that I believe the nation would be better off if he resigned.”

Sen. Martin Heinrich, another Democrat, did not immediately call for Sessions’ resignation. “Attorney General Sessions needs to come clean,” Heinrich said in a statement to NM Political Report.

National group endorses Lujan Grisham for governor

The lone announced candidate for the 2018 New Mexico governor’s race got the backing of a national group Tuesday. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat who represents the Albuquerque area in Congress, received the endorsement of EMILY’s List. The organization seeks to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights to office. The group noted that only two Democratic women governors serve in the country now. In addition to the Democratic women, two Republican women also hold their state’s highest office, including current New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.

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%;}
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