Doña Ana County Democrats Labor Day Breakfast


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New Mexico Democrats Elect New Leadership Team

The Democratic Party of New Mexico has elected its’ leadership team for 2015-2017. Debra Haaland was elected Democratic Party of New Mexico State Chair. Juan Sanchez was elected State Vice Chair. Haaland was elected by a strong majority at the DPNM State Central Committee (SCC) meeting held in Albuquerque on Saturday, April 25. Also elected […]

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Doña Ana County Democrats Elect Their 2015-2017 Leadership Team

The Democratic Party of Doña Ana County has elected its’ leadership team for 2015-2017 Liz Rodriguez-Johnson has been elected Doña Ana County Democratic Party Chair Julian Alexander has been elected Doña Ana County Democratic Party Vice Chair District 33 Director – Mary Helen Ratje District 34 Director – Virginia Gomez District 35 Director – Eugene Alvarez District […]

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Senators Udall and Heinrich Back Clean Power Plan To Reduce Carbon Pollution

Both of New Mexico’s United States Senators have issued statements strongly in support of President Obama’s plan to combat climate change.

U.S. Senator Tom Udall praised the plan by the president and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce global warming-causing pollution from power plants. Udall issued the following statement:

“New Mexico and the rest of the Southwest are in the bull’s-eye when it comes to the effects of climate change. From prolonged droughts and more frequent and severe wildfires, to water scarcity and increased diagnoses of asthma and other health issues among children, global warming is impacting families and communities across our state. We can’t afford to hand off this crisis to the next generation – we need to act now. I applaud the president’s plan to limit carbon emissions, a leading contributor to global warming, to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

“A central part of the Clean Power Plan is that states are allowed to design their own plans to meet the targets for cutting pollution. With our diverse energy resources, New Mexico is well-positioned to make the transition to more clean energy, and we can create good-paying jobs in everything from installation to technology as we make the move. Our power companies are working cooperatively and have already started integrating renewable energy thanks to New Mexico’s renewable portfolio standard, which aims to generate 20 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020. I’m pleased the state will continue to work with the EPA to implement a plan that works best for New Mexicans and our utilities. Reducing carbon pollution is a strong step that will fight climate change and help ensure our children are healthier and our air is cleaner.”

A leader in the fight against global warming, Udall has long advocated for a national Renewable Electricity Standard. A bill he introduced this year calls for the United States to commit to producing 30 percent of our nation’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the Senate Climate Action Task Force, released the following statement today in support of the Obama Administration’s final Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon pollution nationwide by an average of 30 percent over 2005 levels by 2030, with different specific targets for each state.

“This is a historic step in combating climate change and protecting the health of our kids and future generations. I commend the Obama Administration for taking strong action to establish reasonable and achievable standards that will benefit us all.

“Climate change has very real and costly consequences in New Mexico and across the country. We’re seeing more extreme drought conditions, larger wildfires, shrinking forests, and increased flooding. This is the reality now, not at some far off date in the future. And the longer we wait to act, the more difficult and expensive the solutions will be and the more unpredictable our weather will become.

“With our abundance of wind and sun, New Mexico stands to gain from investments in the job-creating renewable energy sector. Further, the plan will save families and businesses money on their utility bills, protect public health, and preserve the reliability of our electric grid.

“The time is now to act on climate change. We can’t afford to wait.”

Information on how the Clean Power Plan impacts New Mexico is available here.

Additional information on the Clean Power Plan can be found here.

Senators Udall and Heinrich Vote to Protect Funding for Women’s Health Care

Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich voted against an effort to cut off life-saving health care services for women in New Mexico by de-funding Planned Parenthood. The Republican-backed motion has failed in the U.S. Senate.

Following the vote Senator Udall issued the following statement:

“Planned Parenthood provides critical health care and preventive services, such as cancer screenings and tests, for women and men, many of whom do not have access to services elsewhere. I’m not going to allow this life-saving care to be cut off for thousands in New Mexico.

“Exploiting women’s health care for political gain does the Senate a disservice and wastes the people’s time. New Mexicans – and all Americans – can’t afford more threats of stalemates and shutdowns. It’s time to stop playing games and get back to work on legislation to keep the government running and help families get ahead.”

Senators Udall and Heinrich Issue Statements on Las Cruces Church Bombings

U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich have issued statements on the on the detonation of two explosive devices Sunday morning in Las Cruces.

U.S. Senator Tom Udall issued the following statement on the explosions at Calvary Baptist Church and Holy Cross Catholic Church:

“My thoughts and prayers are with the congregations of Calvary Baptist Church, Holy Cross Catholic Church and the people of Las Cruces. While I’m relieved that no one was hurt, I’m disturbed that it appears the explosions were intended to cause harm. New Mexicans will not tolerate this unconscionable violence or attempts to instill fear in our places of worship. I’m thankful to the law enforcement officers who responded swiftly yesterday and to those who continue to investigate, and I hope that those responsible will be caught promptly and brought to justice.

“Yesterday’s multi-faith vigil and the outpouring of support from across the state demonstrate that New Mexicans won’t be divided by violence — we stand together in difficult times. I know the community will continue to find strength in one another and their faith.”

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich released the following statement on the two explosions that took place at Calvary Baptist Church and Holy Cross Catholic Church in Las Cruces:

“I am deeply grateful that no one was hurt by the explosive devices that were detonated at two churches in Las Cruces. Let us all make absolutely clear that New Mexico will not tolerate violence against our houses of worship or attempts to spread fear and division among us. The way this community has responded, coming together to find strength in one another and in their faith, is an example we should all look to as we make clear that we all stand with our friends in Las Cruces.”

Senator Udall Pushes to Improve Voter Access for Native Americans

Native American Voting Rights Act would establish polling locations, boost voter protections on tribal lands

U.S. Senator Tom Udall announced he has joined several senators, including Jon Tester (D-Mont.), in introducing legislation to increase voter protections and access to the polls for Native Americans. Many Native Americans live in rural communities and are often forced to travel long distances to the closest polling location. According to the National Congress of American Indians, Native American voter turnout was 17 percent less than non-natives in 2012.

The Native American Voting Rights Act would expand access to the polls by requiring states to establish polling locations on reservations upon request from a tribe, including early voting locations in states that allow votes to be cast prior to Election Day. The bill also directs state election administrators to mail absentee ballots to the homes of all registered voters if requested by a tribe. Udall is a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Tester is the committee vice chairman.

“For too many Native Americans living in Indian Country in New Mexico and across the nation, simply casting a ballot in an election takes a significant amount of time and effort,” Udall said. “Polling places are located hours from home, it’s difficult to get absentee ballots, and tribal IDs aren’t recognized as a valid form of voter identification. These unfair barriers discourage Native Americans from making their voices heard on election day. Our bill would help break down these obstacles so voters across Indian Country can exercise their fundamental American rights.”

“Nobody should be denied the basic right to vote and have a say in the democratic process,” Tester said. “We should be doing everything we can to increase access to the polls and remove the barriers that keep too many folks from voting. The Native American Voting Rights Act ensures that tribes are receiving the resources needed to increase the opportunity for folks to cast their ballot.”

“Native Americans were the last to legally obtain the fundamental right to vote in the United States, and Native voters continue to face persistent barriers in exercising that right today. Voters on Indian reservations may be hours away from the nearest polling place. The provisions included in the Native American Voting Rights Act will help ensure that American Indians and Alaska Natives have the basic access to elections that most Americans take for granted,” said National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby.

The Native American Voting Rights Act also mandates that states recognize tribal IDs as a valid form of identification if an ID is required to vote.

Additionally, the bill expands provisions under the Voting Rights Act to require the U.S. Attorney General to take civil actions to enforce tribal voting protections and supply poll observers to ensure nobody is denied their right to vote if they meet the qualifications under state and federal law. U.S. Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) have also cosponsored the bill.

The full text of the Native American Voting Rights Act is available HERE.

Weekly Address: Celebrating Fifty Years of Medicare and Medicaid

In this week’s address, the President celebrated the 50th birthdays of Medicare and Medicaid, which together have allowed millions to live longer and better lives. These programs are a promise that if we work hard, and play by the rules, we’ll be rewarded with a basic measure of dignity, security, and the freedom to live our lives as we want. Every American deserves the sense of safety and security that comes with health insurance. That’s why the President signed the Affordable Care Act, and that’s why he will continue to work to ensure that Medicare and Medicaid, programs that are fundamental to our way of life, stay strong.

Watch and share President Obama’s weekly address.

Senator Udall Urges Support for Diplomatic Agreement to Prevent Nuclear-Armed Iran

In a speech on the Senate floor yesterday, U.S. Senator Tom Udall endorsed the proposed diplomatic agreement to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. He urged Congress to support it based on the scientific and technical merits, saying the alternative could lead to more war that Americans don’t want and can’t afford.

“This is a historic moment. This agreement has profound impact if we approve it and – make no mistake – if we fail to approve it,” Udall said in his speech. “This is a time for careful review and I hope we can take a step back and take a clear view.”

Udall underscored the importance of verification and emphasized his confidence in the science guiding the agreement, including the work done by scientists and nuclear energy and weapons experts at national labs like Los Alamos and Sandia in New Mexico.

“Critics rightly ask: How will we be sure? Iran has cheated before and they may cheat again,” Udall said. “That is why the P5+1 will be closely involved in the redesign and rebuilding of this reactor. If it has plutonium, we will know.”

“We all agree on one thing: verification is key. I don’t think any of us have any illusions here. Iran has a long and troubling history of deception,” Udall continued. “I am pleased the administration included Secretary of Energy Moniz in these discussions. The Department of Energy is the world’s foremost expert on nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. Any agreement on nuclear weapons must be guided by science. Not politics. Not speculation. Science. Our scientists at New Mexico’s two national labs, Los Alamos and Sandia, and scientists at Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge national laboratories all have played a key role in these negotiations.”

“This agreement will take the nuclear threat off the table. That is what it will do, but here’s what it will not do. It does not diminish our resolve to combat other threats or to defend our allies. That resolve will be and it must be stronger than ever. To my colleagues who argue we should walk away from the agreement, which has already been approved by the world’s leading powers, I would ask: walk away to where? To what end? To what alternative?”

Udall urged senators to consider the deal with a focus not on politics, but rather on preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon or the materials to develop one. He encouraged them to act promptly on the strategic opportunity presented by the proposed agreement, rather than delaying.

“We have a choice between this deal and no deal. I do not believe we will get another chance,” Udall said. “But…I ask that we be open to ways that Congress can reinforce the agreement. That should be part of the process too, with investment in people and technologies to support nonproliferation enforcement, with strong oversight of the implementation plan – not to embarrass or score political points – but to ensure Iran is abiding by its part of the deal, with increased support for our allies in the region, and with clear provisions for a quick snapback of existing sanctions should that be necessary.”

Watch Senator Udall’s remarks here.

Senator Martin Heinrich: Op-Ed: Iran deal is a historic opportunity

Reposted from the Albuquerque Journal, Thursday, July 30, 2015

In the first decade of this century when we were entangled in the War in Iraq, Iran’s nuclear program surged ahead rapidly, adding thousands of centrifuges, building complex nuclear facilities and stockpiling highly enriched uranium.

In the absence of real negotiations and before the most recent sanctions, Iran built a nuclear infrastructure that went from 164 centrifuges in 2003 to 19,000 centrifuges today and included large quantities of 20 percent enriched uranium that could quickly be enriched to weapons grade material.

Senator Martin Heinrich

Senator Martin Heinrich

When evaluating the deal we achieved with our allies and partners to prevent Iran from being able to build a nuclear weapon, context, data and details like these matter. Perhaps the most critical data point: Without a deal, Iran could acquire enough highly enriched material for a bomb in 60-90 days.

With a deal, Iran must reduce its stockpile by 98 percent. It must cut its number of centrifuges by two-thirds. And it must allow 24/7 inspections and continuous monitoring of its nuclear infrastructure.

Further, a mechanism is in place that will allow inspections of sites should we suspect covert action being taken to build a bomb anywhere else in Iran.

This accord breaks each path to a weaponized nuclear device, including any potential covert effort. We should welcome each of those developments as major steps toward regional and international security.

I have studied both the science and the politics of the nuclear-age world we live in from an early age. I grew up listening to my father, who served in the Navy in the ’50s, tell what it was like to watch a nuclear blast firsthand and to see the formation of a mushroom cloud over Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands. While studying engineering at the University of Missouri, I worked at one of the largest research reactors in the United States. More recently, I have seen the centrifuges dedicated to the peaceful production of nuclear energy, which are housed in New Mexico.

In the House and now on the Senate Armed Services Committee, I have served on the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, which sets policy on non-proliferation and our nuclear deterrent. I also serve on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, where I have received numerous briefings on Iran’s nuclear program and capabilities. So I am well acquainted with the steps necessary to successfully construct a nuclear weapon and to detect such activity.

The comprehensive, long-term deal achieved last week includes all the necessary tools to break each potential Iranian pathway to a nuclear bomb. Further, it incorporates enough lead time so that, should Iran change its course, the United States and the world can react well before a device could be built; a scenario I hope never occurs, but one that leaves all options on the table, including the military option.

Many of my colleagues in the Senate will object to this historical accomplishment, saying that we could have done better. However, they fail to offer any realistic alternatives.

The only concrete alternative, should Congress reject this deal, comes from my colleague, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who has suggested a military strike.

While the military option will always remain on the table, it should remain our absolute last resort. Our military and intelligence leaders have looked at the potential repercussions should a military conflict with Iran occur. That path would provoke retaliation and very likely lead to a nuclear armed Iran in a matter of just a few years.

For too long, our country has been engaged in military conflicts that have cost our nation dearly in blood and treasure. We must always be ready at a moment’s notice to defend our country, our allies and our interests, but we must also be willing to avoid conflict whenever a diplomatic option is present and possible.

I am optimistic this accord is in the best interest of our nation and our allies. I am still deeply distrustful of Iran’s leadership. But, to make peace, you must negotiate with your enemies.

Any deal with Iran will not be without risk, but the risks associated with inaction are far more dire. This deal sets the stage for a safer and more stable Middle East, and a more secure United States. We must seize this historic opportunity.

Senator Udall Votes for Temporary Extension of Highway Trust Fund, Urges Congress to Work on Robust Solution for Long-Term Highway Funding

Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall expressed his disappointment in Congress’ failure to pass a responsible long-term bill to fund highways and other infrastructure ahead of a July 31 deadline. Udall voted against a Senate-drafted proposal that would extend federal transportation programs for six years but provide funding only for three years. The bipartisan leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives refused to take up the Senate bill, which Udall also said failed to include sufficient funding and important safety provisions. Later in the day, he joined the Senate in voting 91-4 to extend the expiring Highway Trust Fund until the end of October so the House and Senate can continue negotiations over a better, longer-term agreement. He issued the following statement:

“New Mexico, like many other regions of the country, is facing a crisis when it comes to its highways, roads and bridges. Repairs and updates are badly needed, but with the Highway Trust Fund running perpetually low, there’s never enough money to go around. Federal highway funding makes up 70 percent of New Mexico’s budget for roads — New Mexicans need Congress to agree on a forward-thinking plan that invests in transportation, safety and the future of our communities. Unfortunately, the long-term funding bill passed by the Senate today doesn’t fit that description, and it stands no chance of becoming law because the House won’t agree to it. Congress now has three months to craft a responsible plan to fund our nation’s highways, and I will keep working for a bill that provides long-term funding, strong safety standards and makes the investment needed to grow jobs in New Mexico and communities across the country.”

Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Medicare

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Medicare into law. President Harry Truman seated at right.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Medicare into law. President Harry Truman seated at right.

On this date, fifty years ago, July 30, 1965, at a ceremony held in Independence, Missouri, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed Medicare into law. Moments later, the nation’s first Medicare Card was presented to President Harry Truman, then 81 years old.

Medicare was created in 1965 when people over 65 found it virtually impossible to get private health insurance coverage. Medicare has made access to health care a universal right for Americans once they reach age 65. This has helped improve the health and longevity of older Americans.

Seven months into his presidency, on November 19, 1945, Harry Truman became the first sitting president to propose national health insurance, an initiative that was opposed at the time by Congress.

In 1961, a task force convened by another Democratic President, John F. Kennedy recommended creating a national health insurance program specifically for those over 65. In May. 1962 Kennedy gave a televised speech about the need for Medicare.

Medicare Card Number One issued to President Harry S. Truman on July 30, 1965

Medicare Card Number One issued to President Harry S. Truman on July 30, 1965

In 1964, President Johnson again called on Congress to pass the Medicare Act. Legislation creating Medicare as well as Medicaid (health care services for certain low-income people and others) passed both houses of Congress under Democratic Party leadership by a vote of 70-24 in the Senate and 307-116 in the House.

The Medicare program, providing hospital and medical insurance for Americans age 65 or older, was signed into law as an amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935, a signature accomplishment of yet another Democratic President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Some 19 million people enrolled in Medicare when it went into effect in 1966.

When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicare bill into law at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, he said that it “all started really with the man from Independence.”

Building on the his predecessors commitment to the health security of all Americans, in 2009 President Barack Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act, which strengthens Medicare by protecting and improving your guaranteed benefits and cracking down on waste, fraud and inefficiency. It also identifies savings that will keep Medicare financially stable for 12 years longer than if the law hadn’t been passed.

Democrats continue to work to strengthen the health security of all, and the retirement security of America’s seniors, including Social Security and Medicare. Democrats believe that a dignified retirement is central to the American Dream and that Medicare and Social Security are the foundation of realizing that dream. In recent years, Democrats have beaten back Republican plans to turn Medicare into a voucher system, and to privatize Social Security—plans that would have exposed retirement funds of millions of American seniors and placed their retirement and health security at risk.

Senators Udall, Wyden Introduce Bill to End Sweetheart Deals for Coal Companies

New bill would get a fair return for taxpayers

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today introduced legislation to ensure American taxpayers receive the full value of coal produced on public lands.

The Coal Royalty Fairness Act would require the Interior Department to collect royalties for coal mined on federal lands based on the actual market value of coal. Currently, some private mining companies sell coal to their own affiliated companies at a lower cost than market value, and pay federal royalties based on the cheaper, first point of sale.

“Our bill makes a simple change that will ensure taxpayers get their fair share of royalties on coal mined from public lands. We’ve been shortchanged for far too long,” Udall said. “Like many other western states, New Mexico depends on mineral royalties to help pay for things like public education, and fixing our broken royalty program will give our schools a much-needed funding boost.”

“American taxpayers are getting ripped off by coal companies under the current, broken coal royalties system,” Wyden said. “I raised concerns about this two years ago, and today, Sen. Udall and I are introducing legislation to get the public every penny owed by companies that may be taking advantage of a loose system. Instead of subsidizing private coal companies, it’s time to put this money back where it belongs – into rural communities and the pockets of taxpayers.”

The bill is modeled after current successful practices in Montana where the state determines taxes for coal mined on public lands based on the true value of coal.

A report from Headwaters Economics estimates the public loses about $140 million a year based on the current system of royalty valuation.

The bill would also increase transparency within the federal coal program by requiring the Interior Department to calculate and publish the going market rate for coal and coal transportation. Additionally, it would require the Government Accountability Office to review the program every three years.

Wyden called for an investigation into the federal coal program in 2013 as the then-chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee after a series of news reports detailed how some companies were using financial arrangements – selling coal to their own affiliates- to avoid paying full royalties on the market cost of coal.

Read the bill text here and a one-page summary here.


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