Senate Democrats delay HHS nominee over women’s health funding

Last week, 65 administration nominees — including four to Health and Human Services — sailed through the Senate confirmation process by unanimous vote without any debate. One candidate left out was Dr. Brett Giroir, a Texas physician, who is the president’s choice for assistant secretary of health. Now, shedding light on their reservations, Senate Democrats are saying that Giroir’s testimony before the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee left them skeptical that he would support women’s health programs, which they say are under threat. The Democrats are insisting on a roll call vote on the Senate floor — after the Senate reconvenes Sept. 5. The position for which Giroir is nominated includes oversight of the Office of Population Affairs, which administers Title X grants, and the Office of Adolescent Health, which oversees the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.

The Interior secretary gave a closed-door speech to ALEC

On July 20, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke spoke at a closed-door meeting of conservative state legislators and lobbyists, raising questions about his stated goals of transparency in federal government. Zinke, a former Montana congressman, spoke in Denver at the annual meeting for the American Legislative Exchange Council, an industry organization backed by Koch Industries and ExxonMobil and devoted to “limited government, free markets and federalism.”

ALEC, whose initiatives include a push for state control over federal lands, provides model bills for state legislatures and influences bills going through Congress. Because of the group’s funding sources and its interest in states holding public lands, conservationists see Zinke’s association with the group as problematic. Throughout his congressional confirmation process for the Department of Interior position, and in the early months of his job, Zinke has reiterated that he does not favor land transfers. “The things that Zinke has claimed he stood for, in terms of public lands, ALEC are the ones driving against that all these years,” says Aaron Weiss, media director at the Center for Western Priorities.

Bill would stop NM National Guard from aiding in ICE immigration actions

One state legislator acted quickly after news that Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly authored a draft memo calling to mobilize National Guard troops in several states, including New Mexico, to apprehend those in the country illegally. State Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Mesilla Park, introduced legislation that would keep New Mexico National Guard troops from conducting immigration operations. Related: Reported plan to use National Guard to apprehend immigrants included NM

“In New Mexico, we will not order our dedicated National Guard members, many of whom would be asked to deport their neighbors and possibly relatives, to participate in ripping families apart and terrorizing our immigrant communities,” McCamley said in a statement. “I hope and trust that our governor would support this legislation that protects New Mexicans from the divisive and hateful policies of the current presidential administration.”

Related: Bill would stop NM National Guard from aiding in ICE immigration actions

The Catholic Church in the state denounced the idea of using National Guard troops to apprehend those in the country without documents. From the AP:
Allen Sanchez, executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Friday the Roman Catholic Church in the nation’s most Hispanic state would strongly oppose any effort to use National Guard troops to find and deport immigrants.

Reported plan to use National Guard to apprehend immigrants included NM

A draft memo from the White House to deploy National Guard troops in certain states to aid in rounding up those in the country illegally. One of those states is New Mexico. At least two spokesmen have denied the report from the Associated Press. The AP first reported on the existence of the draft memo this morning and said that Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly wrote the memo himself. From the AP report:
Four states that border on Mexico are included in the proposal — California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — but it also encompasses seven states contiguous to those four — Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Heinrich opposes Perry for DOE head

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich’s stance on Rick Perry as head of the U.S. Department of Energy hasn’t changed in recent weeks. When Donald Trump announced Perry as his pick to head the department late last year, Heinrich called the former Texas governor “uniquely unqualified.”

Tuesday, Heinrich voted against confirming Perry in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. matthew [9:59 PM]

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So far, Heinrich has only supported one of Trump’s nominees: James Mattis, who was confirmed as Secretary of Defense on a 98-1 vote earlier this year.

How New Mexico’s U.S. Senators voted on Trump’s nominees

The U.S. Senate is working its way through President Donald Trump’s nominees for key positions. Republicans have generally been supportive of Trump’s nominees, with

a few  exceptions. Democrats have largely picked their battles over nominations, allowing some to sail through, while delaying others. NM Political Report will continue to track the floor votes by Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich on each of the nominees. When either of the Senators said before a vote, either in a statement or in a news story, that they would support or oppose a nominee, NM Political Report will indicate that.

Rick Perry’s Texas giveaways

Donald Trump’s selection of Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy has prompted many Democrats to question Perry’s qualifications for the position. While he governed a state rich in fossil fuels and wind energy, Perry has far less experience than President Obama’s two energy secretaries, both physicists, in the department’s primary work, such as tending the nuclear-weapons stockpile, handling nuclear waste and carrying out advanced scientific research. That’s not to mention, of course, that Perry four years ago called for doing away with the entire department. However, there’s one realm in which Perry will have plenty of preparation: doling out taxpayer money in the form of government grants to the energy industry. What often gets lost in all the talk of the Texas job boom under Perry is how much economic development strategy was driven by direct subsidies to employers who promised to relocate to the state or create jobs there.

Trump appointments, policies will have long-term impacts on NM

Each announcement by President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team about his picks for cabinet positions flares public interest. Whether it’s ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to lead the State Department or former Texas Governor Rick Perry as secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, the appointments provide insight into what the businessman’s presidency might mean for America and the rest of the world. Those appointments will have significant impacts here in New Mexico, which has 23 sovereign Native American tribes, millions of acres of federal lands and an abundance of natural resources like oil, gas, coal, copper and uranium. Not only that, but in the past five years, the state’s environmental regulations and agencies—which might have been able to hold the line against some of the incoming president’s policies—have been weakened during the administration of Gov. Susana Martinez. When it comes to issues like science and environmental regulations, high-level staff picks have long-term impacts on everything from pollution trends and energy policy to the rate at which the Earth’s atmosphere is warming.

Udall, Heinrich slam Trump’s pick of Perry for DOE, citing labs

New Mexico’s two U.S. Senators took aim at the latest cabinet level nominee announced by President-elect Donald Trump Tuesday. Sen. Martin Heinrich called former Texas Governor Rick Perry “utterly unqualified” to lead the Department of Energy, while Sen. Tom Udall said he was “disappointed” by the selection. Heinrich noted that those who work at the national labs in New Mexico are affected by the Department of Energy, and called the department “New Mexico’s economic lifeblood.”

Udall also mentioned that most of the DOE budget is earmarked for “its solemn and critical responsibilities regarding our nation’s nuclear security.”

Udall brought up Los Alamos National Lab and Sandia National Labs as the “crown jewels of our nuclear security complex,” as well as the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeast New Mexico. “New Mexico is also home to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the nation’s only deep geologic facility that disposes of weapons-related nuclear waste, which is closed due to a radiological accident and still faces a difficult road to recovery,” Udall said. “To win the confidence of the American people and the Senate, Gov. Perry will need to demonstrate a strong understanding of these complex challenges and lay out a management vision to execute the difficult tasks before the department.”

Heinrich had a similar message.

Analysis: In politics, yesterday’s scolds are today’s endorsers

Editor’s note: If you’d like an email notice whenever we publish Ross Ramsey’s column, click here. Sometimes, your only choices are “naive” and “cynical” — as when the question is whether to believe what political people say. Naive: Trust them! They’re telling you want you need to know to participate in the epic wonderland of civic life. Cynical: Don’t trust them!