Doña Ana County Democrats Celebrate African American History Month

The Democratic Party of Doña Ana County is proud to celebrate diversity and to join in the observance of African American History Month. This year’s theme, “A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture” honors the historic achievements of the African Americans in  in music, art, and literature as well as people of African descent, in shaping the world of human rights, politics and diplomacy.

This year’s theme celebrates the leading role African Americans have taken in the fields of the arts and literature. Confident that their struggles mattered in human history, African Americans over the past century have self-consciously used their talents to change how the world viewed African Americans, and in the process enriched the lives of all of us.

Imange 'Spoken Word' Painter Martel Chapman examines the artistic cross-pollination of the Harlem Renaissance.

Image: ‘Spoken Word’ by painter Martel Chapman examines the artistic cross-pollination of the Harlem Renaissance.

We also honor the historic role of African Americans in the cause of freedom throughout our shared history up to the present time. We celebrate  the heritage, the achievements, and the ongoing contributions of  African Americans, here in New Mexico, and throughout the United States, during the observance this month, and throughout the year, and without whose historic efforts and sacrifice, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, this nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to equality would not have endured.

We also join in celebrating the diversity of leadership that we, as a nation, as a community organization, and as a political party must embrace, if we are to continue to ensure the future success of this great nation and remain a beacon of freedom to the rest of the world.

Each year, Americans observe African American History Month in February by celebrating the history, cultures and contributions of African American citizens whose forebears came to the Americas from the African Continent.

Conceived by the Harvard-educated historian and teacher Carter G. Woodson as Negro History Week in 1925, the celebration was expanded to a month in 1976, the nation’s bicentennial. In signing the enabling Act, President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

Weekly Address: A Path Towards a Thriving Middle Class

In this week’s address, the President described the progress our economy has made, laying a foundation for a future that prioritizes middle-class economics.

This week, the President will send a budget to Congress centered on the idea that everyone who works hard should have the chance to get ahead. His plan will reverse harmful sequestration cuts and instead make paychecks go further, create good jobs here in the United States, and prepare hardworking Americans to earn higher wages. The President made the case for his budget, and affirmed his commitment to doing everything he can to ensure more Americans can get ahead in this new economy.

Watch and share President Obama’s weekly address.

Senators Udall, Heinrich Vote Against Special Interest Bill for Keystone Pipeline

U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich have voted against a bill mandating approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Udall said it was an unprecedented act for Congress to require the administration to approve a pipeline for a private, foreign corporation.

The vote came shortly after Udall offered an amendment to create a national Renewable Electricity Standard, which would require utilities to generate 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025. His amendment received bipartisan support from almost half the Senate, demonstrating significant support for a forward-looking energy policy.

Udall released the following statement:

“For the last three weeks, the Senate has debated a bill that asks Congress to do something that is unprecedented – mandate a pipeline for a private, foreign corporation. The Keystone XL Pipeline is an investment in doing things the old way. I believe we need a ‘do it all, do it right’ energy strategy, and I’m deeply disappointed that we missed a chance to set a comprehensive energy policy that would maximize our energy potential while strengthening our economy and our energy security. Instead of doubling down on foreign oil, we should be talking about how we can invest in energy independence and jobs of the future.

“Today, I offered an amendment that would set a national Renewable Electricity Standard that would combat global warming while creating hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country. New Mexico and over half the states have wildly successful policies. I was pleased to receive the support of Republican Senators from a diverse array of states. The vote shows there is strong support for an energy policy that invests in traditional and renewable energy, and I’ll keep working for a comprehensive change that moves our nation forward.”

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, released the following statement today after voting against legislation to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline:
“Tar sands are not the right choice to meet our future energy needs. Instead of focusing on the past, which the Keystone XL Pipeline represents, we need to look to the future of clean energy technologies and the domestic jobs they support. Our national energy policy should be focused on two fundamental principles, fewer imports and cleaner fuels. Developing Canada’s tar sands flunks both these tests. My position against tar sand development is about taking the science of climate change and risk analysis seriously, and that the smarter investments are in the low-carbon and sustainable fuels of the future.”

Senators Udall, Heinrich Urge McConnell To Pass Homeland Security Funding Bill without Unfairly Targeting DREAMers

With Homeland Security funding set to expire, Senators say clean, full funding bill for 2015 fiscal year urgently needed to maintain security efforts

In a letter, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich urged Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to pass a clean bill that funds the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the remainder of the fiscal year. The letter was signed by forty-five Senators, including two Independents calling for a DHS funding bill without extraneous policy riders attached. The letter also noted that the President would veto any piece of legislation that would limit his discretion on immigration matters.

“As we rapidly approach the date on which the Department of Homeland Security’s funding expires, and as law enforcement officials face major threats to our nation’s safety and security, we write with one simple request: work with us to pass a clean bill that funds Homeland Security for the remainder of the fiscal year,” the Senators wrote in their letter to McConnell. “The House bill cannot pass the Senate … The President has also made clear that he will veto any bill that expressly limits his authority to exercise prosecutorial discretion on immigration matters. While we agree our current immigration system needs comprehensive reform, including border security enhancements, this appropriations bill is not the place for this debate.”

The letter continued, “Every day, new threats emerge that endanger our citizens at home and our allies abroad. We should not cast doubt on future funding for the Department of Homeland Security at a time when the entire nation should be marshalling collective resources to defend against terrorism.”

The Senators urged the Majority Leader to “immediately schedule a vote” on the clean, bipartisan compromise funding bill that House and Senate negotiators reached in December, which would fund DHS for the entire fiscal year. DHS is operating on a continuing resolution which runs out at the end of February.

Homeland security funding supports DHS and its related agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers, Transportation Security Administration, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, among others.

The full text of the letter is available here.

Weekly Address: Middle-Class Economics

In this week’s address, the President shared his plan, outlined in his State of the Union address earlier this week, to give hardworking families the support they need to make ends meet by focusing on policies that benefit the middle class and those working to reach the middle class.

Through common-sense proposals like closing loopholes that benefit the wealthy and providing tax relief to the middle class, making two years of community college free for responsible students, strengthening paid leave policies and access to quality child care for working families, and raising the minimum wage, we can ensure that everyone benefits from, and contributes to, America’s success.

Middle-class economics is working, and we have laid a new foundation, but there is still progress to be made, and the President said he is eager to get to work.

 

Watch and share President Obama’s weekly address.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez Delivers Democratic Response to Governor Martinez’s State of New Mexico Address

Democrats Will Push for Help for Working People, Oppose Anti-Union Measures

New Mexico Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez (D-29-Bernalillo & Valencia) delivered a Democratic response yesterday to Gov. Susana Martinez’s State of the State address which was given at the State Capitol. Sanchez laid out significant differences between Democratic priorities and the Governor’s policy agenda, including so-called ‘Right to Work’ legislation, repeal of drivers’ licenses of undocumented immigrants, mandatory retention of third graders, over-testing in public schools, funding of early childhood education, environmental protections, and other issues. He said Democrats will push for a minimum wage increase, paid family leave, and more help for economically struggling families.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez

Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez

“We strongly oppose the so-called ‘Right to Work’ laws that Gov. Susana Martinez supports. Contrary to her assertions today, these laws are not important for attracting businesses that are relocating. Such laws are in fact anti-worker, and they lower the wages and incomes of working people. Workers make an average of $7,000 less annually in states that enact such laws than workers in states that protect workers’ economic security, according to the Congressional Research Service,” Sanchez said.

“We already have some of the lowest median incomes in nation, how low can we go? Working people need a stronger voice in the workplace today. Democrats will fight to make sure their voices are heard,” Sanchez added.

Democrats will push for an increase of $2.60 hourly minimum wage to bring the statewide minimum wage to $10.10 from its current $7.50. Last year Senate Democrats passed a modest pay raise for the lowest-paid working families, but failed in the House. Gov. Martinez said then she would have vetoed that measure if it had reached her desk. At that time she pushed a tax cut for the biggest out-of-state corporations.

“The Governor’s claims about children being her number one priority are not enough, and photo-op politics will not improve our children’s future. Holding back third graders based on their score on a standardized reading test, even if a child excels in math or social studies or is a poor test taker is wrong, and we will oppose it,” said Sanchez. “It is an unproven and punitive policy that strips parents of their control over major decisions in their kid’s education.”

Majority Leader Sanchez vowed that Democrats would fight for a major, substantial and ongoing investment in early childhood education programs to be paid from the State’s permanent fund. That is not part of the agenda presented by Gov. Martinez today. New Mexico has ranked 50th worst on the nation for children’s well being until last year. Sanchez said Democrats would fight for the early education funds for children in New Mexico in this session.

Sanchez said Democrats opposed the Governor’s renewed call for repeal of the New Mexico law that allows undocumented immigrants to get drivers licenses. “The Governor wants to take away licenses from 90,000 undocumented immigrant drivers in our state while other states are following our lead, and now are allowing these immigrants to get drivers licenses. Her plan would negatively impact public safety. Most importantly, what will happen to the100,000 children of those undocumented immigrants when a parent can no longer take them to see a doctor when they are sick? To a dental visit when they have a tooth ache? From basketball or band practice after school? If this Administration cares deeply about children, it will drop its continued push for repeal,” Sanchez said.

Senator Sanchez said he welcomed Gov. Martinez’s agreement with the Legislative Jobs Council on several economic growth measures, including an increase of LEDA funding for local economic development; an increase for the Job Training Fund, and funding for NM Partnership, a nonprofit group working with the Economic Development Department in business recruiting and marketing in rural areas.

“Even though we agree on some issues, the fact remains that her policies have left New Mexicans struggling, even desperate, and anxious about their own and their children’s futures. After the speeches are forgotten today, Democrats will still be working to find solutions to the big challenges we face. We are every bit as optimistic as the Governor about our state’s bright future, but we have a better way to get there,” Sanchez added.

Watch: President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union

“A brighter future is ours to write. Let’s begin this new chapter — together — and let’s start the work right now.”

Those were a few of President Obama’s final words as he finished delivering his sixth State of the Union address moments ago.

He spoke not just about where we are as nation, but where we’re going.

This is a speech you don’t want to miss — so if you didn’t see it live, make sure you watch the full enhanced version now. Click here.

Doña Ana County Democrats Commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Today on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Democratic Party of Doña Ana County commemorates the life and legacy of Dr. King and the enduring vision of the civil rights movement.

Martin-Luther-King-Jr-9365086-2-402“Many of the ugly pages of American history have been obscured and forgotten” Dr. King wrote in 1967, “America owes a debt of justice which it has only begun to pay. If it loses the will to finish or slackens in its determination, history will recall its crimes and the country that would be great will lack the most indispensable element of greatness–justice.” On the event of this dedication, we have not forgotten that that debt is not yet paid, greatness is far from won, justice still eludes us, and the dream of Dr. King not yet reality. Regrettably, determination of the nation to finish the work of the civil rights movement is still very much at risk.

We must never turn back. We agree with Dr. King, and all of the champions of freedom of our history that no American is free until all of us are free. We are proud to stand alongside all of the leaders of the American past, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who sacrificed so much for the civil and human rights of all, and we honor those Americans who continue to work toward that vision that we all should strive to carry on.

We know there remains much work to be done. Today the Democratic Party of New Mexico calls on all of us to recommit ourselves to the great call of America’s history, to achieve the equality and dignity of all, and to win for ourselves and for our children the greatness Dr. King hoped for, the blessings of freedom and the security of justice.

In commemorating the life of Dr. King and the movement he led, we call on all of us to work toward those common values we, as Americans, most cherish. Today we should all rededicate ourselves to that dream, so eloquently inspired by the life of Dr. King and his contemporaries, and promise to continue to work toward that day when every American is afforded the same opportunities and freedoms regardless of skin color, gender, religious belief, income, sexual orientation, ability or disability, or place of birth.

Weekly Address: State of the Union Is This Tuesday

In this week’s address, the President recounted the stories of letter writers from around the country who will be joining him when he delivers his annual State of the Union address this Tuesday: Carolyn, who was able to expand her small business through a Small Business Administration loan, and this year raised wages for their hourly employees; Jason, a wounded warrior who served in Afghanistan and is now back home with his wife and first daughter, born in November; and Victor, who affords his student loans with help from the Income Based Repayment Plan, and has health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act.

Stories like theirs are proof of the progress our country has made. The President encouraged everyone to tune in Tuesday evening to hear more about America’s comeback, and the steps we can take to ensure all Americans – not just a fortunate few – benefit from our American resurgence.

Watch and share President Obama’s weekly address.

5 Things You Need to Know About President Obama’s Broadband Announcement Today

Earlier today, President Obama traveled to Cedar Falls, Iowa to share how this small city has done some big things to deliver lightning-fast Internet to the entire metro area. This afternoon, he toured the Cedar Falls Utilities headquarters to see how technicians connect homes and businesses to the area’s fiber optic network, and called for more communities to deliver this vital resource to their economy.

So here are five things you need to know about today’s announcement.

1. Fiber optic Internet is really, really fast.

The average American broadband customer has around 10 Mbps, which means downloading an HD movie would take around 22 minutes. Once reserved for research universities and major telecommunications carriers, fiber optic Internet is now available direct to homes and businesses. And along with it comes blazing speeds of around 1 gigabyte — or 1,000 megabytes — per second. That’s around 100 times faster than the average American Internet connection, and brings down the time to download that same HD movie to around eight seconds. That’s right: eight seconds.

2. Cedar Falls, Iowa has really, really fast fiber optic Internet. For everyone in town.

If you live, or have a business in Cedar Falls, you can get a “gig,” and you can get it for less than many Americans pay for premium cable. Now not everyone needs access to all that speed, and not every town will find fiber optic Internet to be the answer for them — but communities deserve to decide for themselves, and to experience the benefits that come with it.

3. Fast, affordable Internet is about a lot more than watching movies or online gaming.

Fast broadband can be a magnetic force for a local economy — it keeps existing businesses in town and thriving, and attracts new ones, creating jobs. In his speech, the President outlined just how broadband is helping spur economic revitalization in towns across the country, including here in Cedar Falls. And fast Internet isn’t just about helping technology companies, either. It can help small businesses stay competitive, giving them access to the full range of cloud services and online tools to streamline everything from payroll to collaborating with others. And, yes, it’s great for streaming movies and MMORPGs, too.

4. But it’s not available all across the country.

There’s been some impressive investment across the country, and for some, speeds have continued to rise — in fact between 2009 and 2012, annual investment in U.S. wireless networks grew more than 40%, from $21 billion to $30 billion. Yet around half the country’s rural population cannot even get access at a quarter of the speed of Cedar Falls — and when they do, they rarely have more than one provider to choose from. We can’t afford to leave so many parts of the country without a vibrant, competitive broadband marketplace.

5. President Obama’s announcements today will help bring faster, cheaper Internet for more Americans.

In the 1920s, some argued that reliable electricity was a luxury, too expensive to offer to the entire country, and its uses too uncertain for rural communities to take full advantage. From supporting community efforts to bringing faster and better broadband to citizens to removing regulatory barriers to build-out and investment, the President’s announcements today are all aimed at helping more communities in America get access to this transformative — and essential — technology.

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