October 1, 2015

Congress passes temporary funding measure, but long-term worries remain

Capitol Hill Building, Washington DC

Both the U.S. House and Senate voted to pass a temporary funding measure that will keep the federal government running—for another couple of months at least.

Capitol Hill Building, Washington DC

Capitol Hill Building, Washington DC

The bill passed without language that would have barred Planned Parenthood, a health provider with some facilities that perform abortions, from getting any federal funding.

Both of New Mexico’s U.S. Senators and two of the three members of the House voted for the funding measure. One, the lone Republican in the delegation, voted against. In fact, most of the Republicans in the House voted against the legislation.

It passed on a a 277-151 vote.

Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., explained why he voted against the legislation.

Pearce called the bill “a failure and completely unacceptable.”

“This short-term bill stifles progress being made at New Mexico’s universities and threatens to delay grant funding for businesses working to improve our communities,” Pearce said. “It also doesn’t provide any assurance to families—looking to visit our state’s beautiful federal parks this holiday season—that they will be open.”

Earlier, Pearce had signed onto a letter saying he would vote against any legislation that did not include language stopping Planned Parenthood from getting federal funding. Pearce’s statement on the short-term funding fix did not include any mention of Planned Parenthood.

The Senate passed the legislation 78-20.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall also said that he would support a longer term funding bill, but praised this legislation that avoided a shutdown.

“I hope this is a turning point, which will allow us to work together on a responsible long-term budget that gives federal employees and contractors certainty — one that funds crucial priorities such as national security, education, energy and our environment and enables families and seniors to thrive,” Udall said. “The people of New Mexico want us to stop governing from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis and start working for them.”

Udall also called for the end of sequestration.

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., agreed with Udall about the need for a long-term funding solution and the end of sequestration.

“Without wasting anymore time, Democrats and Republicans must now work together toward a reasonable, long-term budget agreement that makes investments in the middle class and reverses the across-the-board sequester cuts that threaten our economy and hard-working families,” Heinrich said.

Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., was worried that it would just set the stage for another possible shutdown in December.

“New Mexicans and the American people cannot afford the dysfunction of a Republican Congress that has proved themselves unable to govern, lurching from one manufactured crisis to another,” Luján said. “It’s time for them to do their job so we can help hard-working people get ahead and stay ahead.”

Luján is also the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, an organization that seeks to elect more Democrats to Congress.

“New Mexico businesses continue to struggle as a result of the gridlock and uncertainty over the federal budget,” Rep. Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., said. “I urge the Republican leadership to meet with Democrats to negotiate a long-term budget that meets the needs of New Mexico families, workers and small businesses.”

Lujan Grisham sits on the House Budget Committee. Udall sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee.