A new poll examining the job approval ratings of every governor and U.S. senator showed Gov. Susana Martinez near the bottom of the rankings and both of the state’s senators at mid-pack. That poll comes from Morning Consult, a website that regularly releases polls, most notably on President Donald Trump’s approval ratings, and is the website’s first approval ratings poll since the 2016 general election. The Morning Consult poll showed 43 percent of New Mexican registered voters approve of Martinez’s job performance while 48 percent disapprove. Martinez ranks 41st in approval ratings among governors. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster was not included in the rankings because he took over for Nikki Haley, who is the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
After reviewing hundreds of pages of protests, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management said the agency is almost set to release a payment of nearly $70 million dollars for oil and gas leases to the state of New Mexico. The spokeswoman, Donna Hummel, told NM Political Report Thursday afternoon that an oil and gas internal review process is complete and New Mexico could see the money in a few months. “We feel confident that the state will have its lease payment of about $70 million by June 1,” Hummel said. Hummel added the dollar amount New Mexico receives could change, though it’s unlikely. U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, the lone Republican in the state’s congressional delegation, and the Democratic members of the delegation sent letters to the BLM urging the agency to release funds owed to the state.
As carbon dioxide levels hit levels unseen in 650,000 years and global temperatures continue to rise, the United States government is rolling back climate change policies. On Tuesday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order revoking and rescinding all Obama-era orders and reports addressing climate and clean energy. He also ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to review and revoke the Clean Power Plan, which would have required states to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed implementation of that plan, pending the outcome of a lawsuit against the EPA by utilities, the coal industry and 24 states. New Mexico, through Attorney General Hector Balderas, was one of 25 states, cities and counties to file a motion to intervene in support of the plan.
U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich will vote against the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. He cited ties between the Donald Trump administration and Russia as one reason. Heinrich also indicated he would join other Democrats in a rare filibuster of the Supreme Court nominee by not voting to invoke cloture. Sixty senators are needed to invoke cloture and end debate, moving toward a final vote. There are 52 Republicans in the Senate.
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.
Senator Tom Udall will not vote to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and will support the need for 60 votes for the confirmation. The Democratic U.S. Senator made the announcement Friday in a statement to media. Udall, one of the more liberal members of the U.S. Senate, was never likely to vote for Gorsuch. But his decision to support the filibuster of Gorsuch is significant. If enough senators oppose cloture—which ends debate on the nomination—it would require 60 votes to move forward to a final vote, essentially blocking Gorsuch.
Most New Mexicans know climate change is happening and understand it is human-caused. According to recently-released data, New Mexicans are also more likely than people in about half the country to talk not just about the weather, but climate. This week, The New York Times published six maps showing how adult Americans think about climate change and regulations on carbon emissions. The maps were based on data from researchers at Yale University. According to their nationwide survey, 70 percent of Americans think global warming is happening.
“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.
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.
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.