Members of congress want answers on $3 million contract for possibly substandard masks for Navajo Nation

Members of Congress from New Mexico and Arizona sought answers about a $3 million contract given to a former White House staffer to supply masks to the Navajo Nation. The masks may be substandard, as the Navajo Nation deals with the highest rate of COVID-19 cases in the country. “The IHS facilities serving the Tribe are in dire need of PPE to combat the virus and ensure medical personnel are protected from potential exposure,” the lawmakers wrote. “Accordingly, we’re also concerned by reports that the federal contract to supply PPE to the Navajo IHS Service Area was awarded to a company established by a former senior official in the White House with limited competitive bidding and no prior federal contracting experience.”

Update: Masks sold by former White House official to Navajo hospitals don’t meet FDA standards

The letter, led by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, requests a number of answers from Rear Admiral Michael Weahkee, the Director of the Indian Health Service. 

The Navajo Nation spreads across parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. As of Tuesday, Navajo Nation health officials had confirmed 4,842 COVID-19 cases and 158 deaths related to the disease.

Deb Haaland

NY Times highlights Congresswoman Deb Haaland

During a New York Times’ “Women in the Public Spotlight” discussion, U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland said Congress needs more women. The New York Times invited the Albuquerque Democrat to participate in an online event called “Women in the Public Spotlight” on Tuesday as part of the Times’ recognition of 2020 as the centennial of when women’s suffrage went into effect. Congress passed the 19th Amendment, which gave white women the right to vote, in 1919. Haaland answered questions, along with Reshma Saujani, founder and chief executive of an organization called Girls Who Code and author of “Brave, Not Perfect.” Monica Drake, assistant managing editor of The New York Times hosted. Haaland said she ran because she wanted more Native American women in Congress and she said that Congress should be 50 percent women.

ACLU spending on education in two state senate districts targeted by progressives

Two progressive Democrats, Siah Correa Hemphill and Pam Cordova, who are challenging  incumbents who lean more to the right within the Democratic party, are getting a boost in their campaign efforts. Correa Hemphill is running against incumbent Democratic state Sen. Gabriel Ramos. With her May filing report, she has outraised Ramos by $53.26. Ramos, who was appointed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to replace Lt. Gov. Howie Morales, is running his first election for the seat. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico is spending $150,000 in the remaining weeks of the primary to educate voters on the fact that Ramos and state Sen. Clemente Sanchez, also a Democrat, both voted against HB 51 in 2019.

White House task force on murdered and missing Indigenous crisis meets with local criticism

The Department of Justice held its first task force meeting on murdered and missing American Indians and Alaska Natives with much fanfare Wednesday in Washington, D.C., but local leaders question whether the federal government’s efforts will be enough. President Donald Trump issued an executive order late last year establishing what he called “Operation Lady Justice,” an interagency group led by the U.S. Department of Justice, that would “aggressively” address the crisis of murdered and missing women and girls in Indigenous communities. Although no one knows for sure how many Indigenous women and children are murdered or go missing, the federal government estimates that 1.5 million Indigenous women and children experience violence, including sexual violence, in their lifetime. Just prior to Trump’s announcement, Secretary of the Interior William Barr told a group at the Flathead Reservation in Montana last year that the Department of Justice would commit $1.5 million to hire specialized coordinators to help improve law enforcement response to the problem. But Democratic U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland,an enrolled member of Laguna Pueblo, has previously said that the DOJ’s plan “falls short,” issued a critical statement to NM Political Report Thursday.

In historic vote, House impeaches Trump for abuse of power, obstruction of Congress

The U.S. House voted to approve two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump Wednesday night. 

The House voted 230-197, with one voting present, on the first article of impeachment, abuse of power. That alleged that Trump used his powers as President to try to punish Joe Biden, a political opponent. The House voted 229-198, with one voting present, on the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress. That article alleged that Trump improperly impeded the investigation in a number of ways, including directing current and former officials to not comply with subpoenas from House committees. It’s just the third time in U.S. history that a president has been impeached, after Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998.

Warren taps Haaland, two other congresswomen as campaign co-chairs

U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, an increasingly important campaign surrogate for Elizabeth Warren, is now one of Warren’s campaign co-chairs. 

Warren made the announcement on Friday, announcing that Haaland and fellow Democrats Katie Porter of California and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts would hold the positions. Haaland endorsed Warren this summer. “It’s an incredible honor to have these three persistent women on our team,” Warren said in a statement. While Warren has seen her polling numbers drop in recent weeks, she is still among the top tier of candidates for the Democratic nomination along with former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in national polls, while South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg polls high in Iowa and New Hampshire, though trails in South Carolina and Nevada. 

The Iowa Caucus, the first contest in the Democratic nomination, will take place on Feb. 3.

Members of Congress pressure White House to fire Stephen Miller

Two of New Mexico’s U.S. Representatives signed onto a letter calling on President Donald Trump to remove White House Senior Advisor Stephen Miller from the administration in light of emails revealed by the Southern Policy Law Center in recent weeks. Reps. Ben Ray Luján and Deb Haaland signed the letter along with over 100 other members of Congress, all Democrats. Rep. Don Beyer, D-Virginia, took the lead on writing the letter. The emails, provided to the SPLC by Katie McHugh, a former Breitbart reporter who has since renounced her far-right political views, show Miller shared links from far-right, white nationalist websites, suggested Breitbart aggregate a story from the fringe website American Renaissance and expressed anger at removal of the Confederate flag after a shooting by a white supremacist.

Udall, Luján and Haaland introduce bill to support tribal stewardship of wildlife

U.S. Senator Tom Udall introduced legislation this week to support the conservation of wildlife corridors on tribal lands in the United States. 

The Tribal Wildlife Corridors Act of 2019 would require federal entities such as the Forest Service and the Department of the Interior to coordinate with indigenous nations on land management and wildlife corridor conservation. The bill is supported by U.S. Reps. Ben Ray Luján and Deb Haaland, along with seven Democratic U.S. Senators. 

The legacy of human activity on the planet has led to severe habitat loss and habitat fragmentation for millions of species. A recent report on biodiversity published by the United Nations found that activities such as farming, logging, fishing, poaching and mining have altered the planet’s ecosystems at a rate “unprecedented in human history.”

RELATED: Tribes are leaders in wildlife management

Wildlife corridors are stretches of land that are not fragmented by human-made structures such as roads, fencing, or bridges and where wildlife can move freely. These corridors are becoming increasingly rare in certain areas in the U.S. and around the globe.

Members of NM House delegation vote to back impeachment investigation

House Democrats, including all members of New Mexico’s delegation, voted Thursday to approve rules related to the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. The 232-196 vote was nearly on party lines, with ex-Republican, now independent Justin Amash voting along with the Democratic majority and two Democrats voting with Republicans against the rules. The vote outlined rules for the next phase of the impeachment proceedings, which has so far consisted of closed-door meetings with witnesses. At the same time, the House has been pushing for documents from Trump and testimony from those close to Trump. Republicans have criticized the process, saying it is not transparent.

As Trump speaks, Democrats rally miles away

While the city of Rio Rancho prepared for President Donald Trump’s appearance in Rio Rancho, Democrats held a unity rally in Old Town Albuquerque at Tiguex Park. Hundreds of supporters listened to Democratic elected officials and others slam Trump and his agenda. They also rejected the idea that Trump could win New mexico and be the first Republican presidential candidate to win the state since George W. Bush in 2004. Related: Trump rallies in Rio Rancho, vows to flip NM in 2020

Supporters held signs calling for Trump to be impeached, calling for action on gun violence and to protect abortion access. Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller kicked off the event.