February 14, 2023

Federal delegation address legislators

Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernández approaches the rostrum to address a legislative joint session Monday.

Nicole Maxwell/New Mexico Political Report

Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernández approaches the rostrum to address a legislative joint session Monday.

Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation touted federal legislation like the American Rescue Plan Act while speaking to the state Legislature on Monday.

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich and U.S. Reps. Teresa Leger Fernández and Gabe Vasquez, all Democrats, addressed a joint session of the New Mexico Legislature Monday.

“I want to start by thanking you for your partnership, for your collaboration and for your leadership,” Heinrich said. “We have faced extraordinary challenges over the last few years and yet we have accomplished so much together to directly improve New Mexico’s future from passing legislation to provide paid leave for all workers to raising teachers wages to taking on predatory lenders and building a more equitable revenue base. But no decision that has come out of this legislature will be more consequential than last year’s passage of HJR 1.”

HJR 1 put a constitutional amendment on the 2022 ballot that allowed public investment to provide access to household services such as internet, energy, water and wastewater. The amendment was approved 65 percent for to 35 percent against.

Leger Fernández who spoke about her constituents’ stories she has shared in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as her experience on her third day of work, Jan. 6, 2021.

“We were on the edge of economic disaster when I joined Congress two years ago and on just my third day on the job, I lived through an insurrection which threatened our democracy,” Leger Fernández said. “But that’s not the important part of our story is it?”

Leger Fernández spoke about how Congress passed ARPA after the Jan. 6 insurrection.

“That American rescue plan was historic legislation, which saved the economy from collapsing” because it “expanded the child tax credit for working families and invested in small businesses struggling to stay afloat,” Leger Fernández said. 

Vazquez, a freshman congressman from Las Cruces representing the 2nd Congressional District, spoke about his support for the legislature modernization efforts that are being debated this session.

“I commend the legislature for supporting a modernized legislative body, one that operates more efficiently governance with greater clarity and purpose and allows anyone in this state to raise their hand and to serve regardless of their income or their background,” Vasquez said.

He also spoke about supporting policies that help everyone across his district, which encompasses part of Albuquerque and all of the southern half of the state.

“We must promote good policy that rewards sustainable agricultural practices, conserves water resources and develops the opportunities for farmers from the South Valley all the way down to the Hatch Valley,” Vasquez said. “Now New Mexico is also home to some of our nation’s premier military and research facilities, federal workplaces that provide jobs for our students, for our engineers, for our future scientists, for our small businesses and our servicemen and women. That’s why as the only member of Congress on an Armed Services Committee in New Mexico, I will work to protect the government’s investments that create these good paying jobs in the military and in research from Albuquerque down to Alamogordo.”