Pelosi announces House will move forward with articles of impeachment

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that the U.S. House of Representatives would start drafting articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump over his withholding of foreign aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigating the son of a political rival. The announcement came after an investigation by the House, which began in late September. At the end of October, all three of New Mexico’s members of the House, all Democrats, voted to support the impeachment inquiry. The investigations included closed door meetings by House committees and more recently public hearings of the House Intelligence Committee and the House Judiciary Committee. Ben Ray Luján, the Assistant Speaker in the U.S. House of Representatives, supported the announcement.

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.

Torres Small backs impeachment inquiry

After becoming one of the final Democratic holdouts, U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small now supports the ongoing impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump happening in the House, citing Trump’s efforts to block the investigation. However, she said she still has “not reached judgment on the president’s actions, nor on the appropriate response.”

The first-term congresswoman announced the news in an opinion piece in the Las Cruces Sun News on Thursday. Previously, Torres Small had held the middle ground, saying she supported an investigation into the allegations against Trump related to Ukraine, but not calling it a formal impeachment inquiry. However, the Trump administration’s actions changed that. “Earlier this week, the president and his administration made it clear to New Mexicans that they are not committed to finding the truth,” Torres Small wrote.

House to begin impeachment inquiry

“Today, I am announcing the House of Representatives moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a brief statement Tuesday afternoon in an historic announcement. Shortly after Pelosi announced that she directed six committees to investigate Trump under the auspices of an impeachment inquiry, U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, a first-term Democrat representing the most conservative district in the state, released a statement that did not mention impeachment, and instead focused on access to a whistleblower complaint over actions Trump took regarding aid to Ukraine and allegedly pressuring the country to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. “Congress has a legal right to see the full details of any whistleblower complaint, especially those that involve our nation’s security,” Torres Small said. “The President must release the full complaint and allow any testimony by the whistleblower, or any other administration officials, to occur free of White House interference. Through the coming weeks and months, I will act to support and defend our Constitution by insisting on a transparent process that fully informs the American people and restores trust and faith in our system.

$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.”

Rep. Xochitl Torres Small offers lessons in rural politics

New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District has elected Republicans for the past four decades (minus a two-year blip 10 years ago). That changed last fall, when Xochitl Torres Small, D, won. The former water rights attorney now represents one of the nation’s largest districts, which covers more than half of New Mexico, from the Albuquerque suburbs to the southern border. This story originally appeared at High Country News and is reprinted with permission. Torres Small attributes her success to her emphasis on issues her rural constituents care about, regardless of party.

Herrell running for Congress again in 2020

A day after Republican Yvette Herrell closed the door on her 2018 campaign, she announced she would run for the seat again in 2020 and challenge Democrat Xochitl Torres Small, who narrowly defeated Herrell in November. “I’m running for Congress because I believe New Mexicans deserve a Representative who will work hard every day to keep growing our economy, safeguard our way of life from government overreach, and push for solutions and funding to protect our borders,” Herrell said. Herrell, who decided not to run for reelection to the state House of Representatives when she announced her congressional campaign last year, will likely face opposition in the Republican primary. The district has consistently voted for Republicans, only electing Democrats twice since the state earned a third congressional district in 1983. Herrell came out on top during a four-way Republican primary in 2018, which included former Republican Party of New Mexico chairman Monty Newman.

Herrell finishes review of ballots, won’t challenge election results

After inspecting absentee ballots from the 2nd Congressional District’s most-populous county, Republican Yvette Herrell decided not to challenge the results of the election she lost to Democrat Xochitl Torres Small in November. Herrell announced the news Monday, the deadline to challenge the results. Torres Small took the oath of office and was sworn into Congress last week. “I did not believe that there were reasons to contest the election, but I did strongly feel that there were enough claims of irregularities to warrant a full review, and that we might learn things that could be of use to State House and Senate Committees as they continually try to update and improve our election laws,” according to Herrell’s statement. Torres Small’s office declined to comment.

2nd CD race ranks among the most-expensive in NM history

The southern New Mexico congressional district won by Democrat Xochitl Torres Small may prove to be the most-expensive race in state history. Torres Small defeated Republican Yvette Herrell and will replace Republican Steve Pearce, who ran for governor instead of seeking another term. As anyone who watched TV in the weeks ahead of the election, candidates and outside groups targeted the race in the national battle over the U.S. House of Representatives. In all, candidates and outside groups spent $12.7 million on the race according to the Center for Responsive Politics, with several weeks of spending from candidates not due until Dec. 6.

Herrell sues to impound Doña Ana County absentee ballots

Republican congressional candidate Yvette Herrell filed a suit Tuesday, asking a judge to order the impound of absentee ballots in a key southern New Mexico county after she lost to Xochitl Torres Small in last week’s election. Herrell filed the suit in state district court and asked the court to order State Police to take control of absentee ballots and associated documents from Doña Ana County. She also wants an investigation into “reports of chain-of-custody issues and other improprieties” though she provided no evidence of problems.

The Doña Ana County Canvassing Board unanimously certified the results of last week’s election hours before Herrell filed the suit. In the filing, Herrell claims she was “stripped of [the] title” of winner of the election because of the results from the Doña Ana County absentee ballots. Some media outlets had already projected Herrell to win, but at least one, the Albuquerque Journal, did not know of the absentee ballots.