Heinrich: FDA funds will help COVID-19 testing efforts in NM

New Mexico U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich said during a press conference Thursday that he received confirmation the Food and Drug Administration approved money that will eventually help provide more supplies for New Mexico.  

“I’m pleased to announce this morning that we received confirmation that the FDA has granted an emergency use authorization to Abbott Laboratories which will soon be able to supply New Mexico enough of the resources needed to significantly increase our current testing capacity,” Heinrich said. 

He also praised Congress for working together to pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which Heinrich called an “essential step towards getting a better handle on the spread of the virus.”

President Donald Trump signed the bill into law Wednesday night. “This legislation will provide the necessary resources to rapidly expand free COVID-19 testing for all those who need it,” he said. 

He said his staff are currently working in a “virtual office system” in an attempt to decrease the spread of COVID-19, which is a disease caused by the coronavirus. In light of a member of Congress testing positive for COVID-19, Heinrich said it’s easier in the Senate than in the House for members to keep their distance from one another because of the smaller number of people. 

“I think we have a pretty solid plan in our Senate office right now,” Heinrich said, “But what would help would be more testing capacity because we don’t know if it’s only one member of Congress and that’s part of the problem.”

Heinrich also urged landlords and banks to work with people who have seen decreased income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He said he remains committed to working with other senators as well as state leaders to ensure New Mexicans are taken care of. 

“I truly believe that this is the challenge that our nation will be measured against,” he said. “And despite the sometimes inconsistent messages and behavior in the White House over recent weeks and months, I remain laser focused on doing everything in my power to demand a coordinated federal response.”

U.S. Senate votes to acquit Trump

The U.S. Senate voted to acquit President Donald Trump on two articles of impeachment Wednesday. On Article I, abuse of power, Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney voted along with all Democrats, making the vote 52-48. Article II, obstruction of Congress, came on party-lines, 53-47. 

The allegations came in light of Trump asking Ukraine to announce an investigation of the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democratic candidate for president who Trump may face in November’s general election, and the trouble Congress had getting information from the White House, which stonewalled the investigation. It would have taken two-thirds of the Senate to vote to convict Trump and remove him from office. Both New Mexico U.S. Senators voted to convict Trump and criticized the Senate Majority for not calling any witnesses for the trial, including former National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Lujan Grisham’s approval rating in new poll at 47 percent

A new poll shows nearly half of New Mexicans approve of the way Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is doing her job. The poll from Morning Consult finds Lujan Grisham’s approval rating at 47 percent, while 37 percent disapprove of her job performance. Another 16 percent have no opinion. Lujan Grisham took office at the beginning of the year after easily defeating Republican Steve Pearce. Lujan Grisham was previously a U.S. Representative from the state’s 1st Congressional District, which is centered on the Albuquerque area.

Heinrich: ‘Trump is running our government like a criminal enterprise’

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich slammed President Donald Trump after the release of a rough transcript of the president’s conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. 

“This transcript is hard evidence that President Trump is running our government like a criminal enterprise,” Heinrich said. “He has enlisted both his personal attorney and the U.S. Attorney General to coordinate with a foreign government to interfere in our election.”

The phone call took place in July and is part of a whistleblower complaint filed with the Intelligence Community Inspector General. Federal law requires that such complaints be transmitted to the House and Senate Intelligence committees. The complaint will be sent to Congress Wednesday afternoon, according to U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California; Heinrich sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee. In the call, Trump asked Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential frontrunner.

Sen. Heinrich backs Green New Deal, citing lack of progress on climate crisis

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich threw his support behind the youth-led Global Climate Strike and announced he’s signed on as a co-sponsor to the Green New Deal, in a video posted to his Facebook page on Friday. “This rising generation of activists understands what we’re up against, and is willing to propose the kind of bold changes that equal the scale of that problem. Unlike previous generations who have delayed and denied climate change, I strongly believe that these young people are going to be the critical catalyst for solving this issue,” Heinrich said. “I stand in solidarity with the students and activists around the world today who are demanding action on climate change, because you are the most powerful tool that we have to make this right.”

Heinrich, who sits on the Senate select committee on the climate crisis, said more needs to be done to address climate change. “I’ve spent decades working to build a renewable energy economy,” he said.

NM Senators welcome investigation into admin’s use of eminent domain for border wall

New Mexico’s U.S. Senators said an internal government watchdog will provide answers about how the Trump administration seized land to build a border wall between the United States and Mexico. Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee blocked an amendment one of those Senators, Tom Udall, introduced to the defense funding bill that would bar Trump from diverting money from military projects to fund the wall. In August, Udall and New Mexico’s other Senator, Martin Heinrich, signed onto a letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Dick Durbin of Illinois asking for an investigation into the use of eminent domain to take land for the border wall. All four senators are Democrats. GAO wrote to the four Senators last week saying they would begin the review the Trump administration’s eminent domain efforts. 

“At the current time we anticipate that staff with the required skills will be available to initiate an engagement in about three months,” the GAO official wrote.

$125 million in NM military projects being diverted to fund border wall

Two projects at military bases will see their funding sent to fund the construction of a border wall between the United States and Mexico. In all, the federal government is diverting the funds from 127 military projects totaling $3.6 billion toward the construction of the wall. The U.S. Department of Defense says the diversion will be temporary. The projects in New Mexico that saw their funding eliminated, at least temporarily, are $85 million for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) training facility for  at Holloman Air Force Base and $40 million originally slated for an information systems facility at White Sands Missile Range. U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, who represents the area and sits on the House Armed Services Committee, said she was “appalled at the Administration’s decision to divert military construction funds allocated for projects essential to our national defense to build a fiscally irresponsible border wall.”

Delegation on Mueller statement, possible impeachment

Robert Mueller, the special counsel who investigated President Donald Trump, spoke publicly Wednesday morning for the first time since he began the investigation in 2017. In his short statement, he said, “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.”

Mueller also said, “the report is my testimony” and that he would not provide any additional information to Congress. After Mueller’s televised statement, NM Political Report asked all three of New Mexico’s members of the House and both U.S. Senators these questions:

Has the Senator/Representative read the full report?Does the Senator/Representative feel that the House should begin impeachment proceedings?If not, why? And what, if any, other steps should be taken?

State preparing for a ‘full count’ in the next census

New Mexico faces challenges in getting a full and accurate count for the next census—and for receiving the federal funding that comes with it. So the state, and others, are getting ready in advance of the 2020 census. As part of the preparations, U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham traveled to New Mexico this week and met with stakeholders and public officials, including both U.S. Senators who represent the state. As part of his trip, Dillingham traveled with U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and local elected officials and stakeholders in a remote part of Los Lunas on Tuesday. The community was an example of a hard-to-count area of the state.

First public approval ratings show Lujan Grisham above water, but many have no opinion

A new poll is the first to show Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s approval rating. And while the number of registered New Mexico voters who approve of her job performance outnumber those who do not approve, nearly one-third of voters had no opinion. The poll by Morning Consult was conducted in the first three months of Lujan Grisham’s time in office and found that 41 percent of voters approved of her job performance while 33 percent disapproved. Another 28 percent declined to say how they felt or had no opinion. Lujan Grisham’s approval rating is higher than Susana Martinez’s approval rating when she left office.