Pearce uncommitted on Obamacare replacement bill

As of Tuesday afternoon, Rep. Steve Pearce is still undecided on the Republican healthcare overhaul. Pearce isn’t tipping his hand as to which way he’ll vote, even as more Republicans begin to announce their intentions on the massive healthcare bill pushed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, and President Donald Trump. The effort is the first major piece of legislation introduced during the Trump era. Both chambers of Congress are controlled by Republicans, who want to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Some conservatives say the bill doesn’t go far enough to repeal the ACA.

Berry admin not worried, but federal funds for ART not set in stone

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry’s administration is voicing confidence that $50 million in federal funding will come their way to help finance the Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) project. That’s at least what the city’s Chief Operations Officer Michael Riordan said Monday evening at a city council meeting. He mentioned that former President Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget recommendations include “a $50 million earmark” for the bus rapid transit project and that even though Congress hasn’t approved a budget, the money is still “currently on the legislative docket to be passed.”

ART, now well into construction with torn roads and narrow lanes that hold back traffic in the heart of Central Avenue, is projected to be 10 miles of dedicated lanes in the street for a rapid bus system with 20 stations. The project is slated to be up and running this fall, but it’s drawn controversy among some residents and business owners along the route, who have blamed slow sales on the project’s construction. More controversy came last week when President Donald Trump released his budget recommendations for fiscal year 2018, which freezes all funding for a Federal Transit Administration grant program for local public transportation projects—including ART.

Odds and Ends: Luján endorses Clinton, no Martinez endorsement yet

—All of New Mexico’s congressional Democrats are on Team Hillary. Ben Ray Luján, the last holdout, announced his support for Hillary Clinton. Luján said in a statement that the former Secretary of State “embodies New Mexico values.”

“She puts people first and will roll up her sleeves to change their lives for the better,” he added. “Her record of advocating on behalf of women, children and families, investing in science and supporting our national labs, and fighting to protect our land, water and air will make a real difference in New Mexico and across the country.”

Luján is also the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, giving him an increased national profile among Democrats. —Speaking of endorsements, you may have heard that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie endorsed Donald Trump (yes, each word is a link to a different news story on the event).

DOJ looking into ABQ ‘school to prison pipeline’

The federal Department of Justice is considering an investigation into Albuquerque’s juvenile justice system. This comes according to a letter the agency wrote to U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham last month. The letter, signed by Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta on Aug. 4, refers to a complaint made by Laura Bruening, the mother of a teen with autism enrolled in Albuquerque Public Schools. Gupta writes that Bruening alleges APS is discriminating against special education students by “funnelling children with disabilities into the juvenile justice system.” Bruening, according to the letter, also alleges that school officials have retaliated against parents for complaining about treatment of their children and that school officials “operate without appropriate protocols, out of their jurisdiction, and [through] an inappropriate relationship with the Albuquerque Police Department.”

Gupta, in the letter, also thanks Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., for providing information about Bruening’s case and mentions that it “is important to us as we continue our work with APD”—referring to the five-year reform plan the federal government instituted on the troubled police department.

Lujan Grisham took part in trip secretly paid for by Azerbaijan state oil company

The Washington Post revealed that ten members of Congress participated in a secret trip that was secretly paid for by the state-owned oil company of Azerbaijan. Among those members of Congress is U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M. The Albuquerque Democrat’s participation in the trip was revealed as part of an ethics report obtained by the Washington Post. A spokesman for Lujan Grisham said the trip was previously approved by the Ethics Committee. In addition to traveling to the conference in Azerbaijan, Lujan Grisham also was one of the members who took “side trips to Turkey” according to the Washington Post. The State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic, or SOCAR, “allegedly funneled $750,000 through nonprofit corporations based in the United States to conceal the source of the funding for the conference in the former Soviet nation,” the paper said, citing a 70-page ethics report.