Martinez backs congressional tax overhaul efforts

Gov. Susana Martinez joined 20 Republican governors in support of federal tax cuts. The letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, didn’t advocate for either plan passed by the House or Senate, but instead called for general principles in a tax overhaul. The House and Senate each passed different plans, necessitating a conference committee for the two to reconcile language. The narrow Republican majority complicates the measure, as does the House Freedom Caucus, a bloc of hardline conservative Republicans in the House, including New Mexico’s Rep. Steve Pearce. They touted tax cuts made since 2011, and the economic growth they say the cuts caused.

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.

NM advocates, patients push against Obamacare replacement

A coalition of healthcare advocacy and poverty rights organizations wants Congress to dump the Republican-backed replacement for the federal Affordable Care Act. On Wednesday, Parents Reaching Out held a press conference in Albuquerque encouraging people to call their representatives and senators to urge them to oppose the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which the federal House of Representatives may vote on as early as this Thursday. “We are concerned about upcoming Medicaid cuts and the potential devastation to our community,” said Lisa Rossignol, the healthcare liaison at Parents Reaching Out, which organized the Wednesday press conference. The bill, backed by President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, would end the Medicaid expansion under the ACA by 2020. It would also cut money to Medicaid, the federal healthcare program for the poor, by $370 billion over 10 years, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

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.

Pearce: Border wall won’t work

U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, the state’s only Republican congressman, has been one of President Donald Trump’s staunchest supporters in New Mexico. Pearce stumped for Trump while other Republicans shunned him, and he’s backed some of the president’s most controversial proposals to roll back regulations on oil and gas drilling. But when it comes to building a wall between the United States and Mexico, Trump’s signature campaign theme, Pearce said Thursday it will not work. “You can come over it, under it, around it, through it,” Pearce said in an interview after addressing both houses of the New Mexico Legislature. Pearce has long criticized proposals to construct a barrier on the border with Mexico, which is also the southern boundary of his vast district, expressing skepticism that a wall or fence would improve nationals security.

Martinez wants Congress to repeal methane rule

Gov. Susana Martinez is urging Congress to repeal a federal rule that seeks to stop the waste of methane from oil and gas producers. Martinez sent a letter to U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., outlining her opposition to the rule, which was put in place by the Bureau of Land Management during the Barack Obama administration. Martinez argued that it would mean less royalties to state and federal governments. “Rather than allowing this misguided rule to move forward, I urge you to repeal the rule and work with the Department of Interior to address the infrastructure challenges currently causing venting and flaring events to occur,” Martinez wrote. “Insufficient pipeline capacity and gas processing capacity make it difficult for producers to capture and sell as much of their product as possible.”

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NM Dems file legislation to blunt Trump’s impact

A local legislator’s bill to bar New Mexico law enforcement from imposing federal immigration laws is getting attention as a measure to challenge President Trump’s expected crackdown on illegal immigration. “Given the repressive potential coming from the Trump administration, I wanted to make sure our immigrant community felt safe and protected,” the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero, D-Albuquerque, said in a recent interview. Hers is just one of several proposals sitting before the New Mexico Legislature directly reflect what’s happening as a result of 2016’s contentious campaign and the election of Donald Trump as president. State Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, for example, is carrying a bill that would require New Mexico’s electors to cast their votes to reflect the national popular vote. State Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Galisteo, has a measure to eliminate “faithless” electors, or state electors who cast votes without abiding by their state’s vote totals.

Luján remains DCCC chair, Pelosi still Minority Leader

Democrats in Congress voted to stay the course with leadership, including with one New Mexican in a key role. Ben Ray Luján, a Democratic congressman from northern New Mexico, will lead the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for a second election cycle in a row. The position is not elected and is instead selected by the Democratic leader. That leader remains Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, who was reelected to the minority leader position over Ohio’s Tim Ryan on a 134 to 63 vote. Pelosi has led the Democratic caucus since 2002, and often saw very little or no opposition for her time as Minority Leader or, when Democrats had a majority in the House of Representatives, Speaker.

NM Dems take part in ‘#NoFlyNoBuy’ sit-in

House Democrats staged a sit-in that lasted well into Thursday morning. The two Democrats in hte U.S. House from New Mexico took part in the sit-in. The Democrats sought a vote on a piece of legislation related to guns dubbed “no fly, no buy” which would bar those on terror watchlists from purchasing guns

The Democrats did not get their way when it came to a vote on the bill before the House adjourned for a recess for the 4th of July, but did get a likely secondary objective: a confrontation with House Republican leadership. Sen. Udall, Rep. Lujan Grisham and I on floor calling for vote to keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists pic.twitter.com/ZkCE4nxcWA
— Ben Ray Lujan (@repbenraylujan) June 22, 2016
The bill itself has a New Mexico connection—U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich is one of those who negotiated the compromise with Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine. Heinrich said the sit-in could be helpful.

Trump

Establishment Republicans back Martinez after Trump attack

It seems that Gov. Susana Martinez may be the new face of the conservative anti-Donald Trump movement. Establishment Republicans and even the head of one of the Super PACs backing Trump either defended Martinez or criticized the Republican presumptive nominee. Tuesday night during an Albuquerque rally, Trump slammed Susana Martinez. He cited facts that unemployment went up (though he said it doubled), that food stamp usage skyrocketed and that she allowed Syrian refugees to relocate to the stage “in large numbers” (when in reality just four Syrians have been relocated in the state). He also cited numbers from 2000, ten years before Martinez became governor.