Senator Martin Heinrich Introduces Bill To Modernize Nation’s Electric Transmission Grid

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has introduced a bill (S. 2947) to remove barriers to creating a cleaner, more consumer-friendly electric grid.

The bill clarifies that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has the legal authority to require regional grid operators in interstate wholesale markets to allow consumers to be compensated for voluntarily reducing their electricity consumption-a tool referred to as demand response. By providing incentives for consumers to reduce their use of power, demand response lowers overall electricity costs, improves reliability and efficiency, and reduces emissions.

“Modernizing our electrical grid is central to becoming a nation that’s more energy efficient and provides cost savings for everyone,” said Sen. Heinrich. “There is no kilowatt-hour more valuable than the one you don’t use in the first place. This bill is a small fix but with big implications for growing the economy, and is central to slowing the effects of climate change and creating a healthier environment for future generations.”

There are currently six multi-state independent grid operators, primarily in the East, Midwest and California, that are responsible for assuring the reliability of the power supplied to the local utility companies and keeping the cost of power down. FERC’s authority to regulate these interstate markets for electricity arises under the 80-year old Federal Power Act. However, the law was written for a different era when there were no regional power grids and few interstate sales of electricity. Though the law gave FERC clear authority over matters affecting wholesale power rates, there is some question whether Congress intended a reduction in power use to be considered on equal footing with the generation of power, even though both clearly affect the rates consumers pay for power.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on May 23, 2014 ruled that FERC did not have the authority to promote demand response as an alternative to the increased generation of power. Senator Heinrich’s bill simply clarifies that FERC has the authority under the Federal Power Act.

Full text of the bill is available here.

Senator Tom Udall Statement on Chuck Hagel

Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall issued the following statement after President Obama announced that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will step down:

“Over the last year, we have seen the emergence of a brutal terrorist organization as well as other security threats that have required a targeted, strategic response, with little room for mistakes. As the commander in chief, President Obama needs to have a strong defense secretary who will handle these challenges with authority and clear leadership. I thank Secretary Hagel for his many years of service to our country and to the administration. I particularly appreciate Secretary Hagel’s strong understanding of the strategic importance of our national laboratories, and I hope his successor will share that focus. I look forward to more information from the president about his next steps as well as the upcoming confirmation process.”

Weekly Address: Immigration Accountability Executive Action

In this week’s address, the President laid out the steps he took this past week to fix our broken immigration system. Enacted within his legal authority, the President’s plan focuses on cracking down on illegal immigration at the border; deporting felons, not families; and accountability through criminal background checks and taxes. These are commonsense steps, but only Congress can finish the job.

As the President acts, he’ll continue to work with Congress on a comprehensive, bipartisan bill — like the one passed by the Senate more than a year ago — that can replace these actions and fix the whole system.

VIDEO MENSAJE DE LA CASA BLANCA: Acción Ejecutiva del Presidente Obama sobre Inmigración

En el mensaje de la Casa Blanca de esta semana, Denis McDonough, Jefe de Estado de la Casa Blanca expuso las medidas que el Presidente tomó la semana pasada para arreglar nuestro sistema de inmigración que no funciona. Promulgada dentro de sus facultades legales, el plan del Presidente se centra en tomar medidas enérgicas contra la inmigración ilegal en la frontera; la deportación de criminales, no las familias; y la rendición de cuentas a través de la verificación de antecedentes penales y de los impuestos. Estos son pasos de sentido común, pero sólo el Congreso puede terminar el trabajo. Como actúa el Presidente, que continuará trabajando con el Congreso en un proyecto de ley bipartidista integral – como lo que el Senado aprobó hace más de un año – que puede sustituir a estas acciones y fijar el conjunto del sistema.

English/Inglís: Watch and share President Obama’s weekly address.

En Espanol: Video mensaje de la Casa Blanca.

Senators Udall and Heinrich Respond to President Obama’s Immigration Announcement

New Mexico’s United States Senators responded to President Obama’s executive action on immigration with statements of support Thursday night.

U.S. Senator Tom Udall issued the following statement on the president’s decision to take executive action on immigration:

“Over 40,000 people in New Mexico and millions more around the country are living in immigration limbo while they work and raise families here in the United States. Deporting these children and families isn’t a realistic option. We need to focus our limited resources on securing the border and going after drug dealers, gang members and potential terrorists.

“New Mexicans have seen firsthand the problems caused by House Republicans, who have dragged their feet on immigration for too long – it has been 511 days since the Senate passed a bipartisan comprehensive reform bill. Because the House won’t act, the president is justified in taking commonsense steps to fix our broken immigration system under existing law.

“The president is offering a temporary solution to keep families together, give employers who hire workers on visas more certainty about their workforce, and devote our limited resources to deporting dangerous criminals. It’s past time for Congress to work together on a permanent fix of our broken immigration system.”

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich released the following statement on the actions President Obama is taking to help fix our broken immigration system:

“The President’s proposal is a good first step toward fixing our nation’s broken immigration system. This executive action cracks down on illegal immigration at the border and prioritizes deporting felons rather than families. It also requires undocumented workers to pass a background check and pay their taxes. Those are common sense steps and well within the executive authority used by Presidents like Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush to deal with these same issues. However, only Congress can finish the job and fix the entire immigration system.

“Last year, the Senate passed a common-sense, bipartisan immigration bill that dramatically increases resources at our nation’s border, will grow our economy, and prioritizes keeping families together. Yet here we are, more than 500 days later, and Speaker Boehner still refuses to allow a vote on this legislation. That’s not leadership, it’s obstruction. Speaker Boehner needs to stop his activist litigation and do his job by passing legislation. If House Republicans genuinely want to fix our immigration laws and make our policies crystal clear, they would pass the Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill now.

“As the son of an immigrant, I know how important reform is for families across New Mexico. Our immigrant communities have helped write the economic, social, and cultural story of America. New Mexicans are eager for a solution, DREAM Act students deserve a solution, and our economy requires a solution.

“I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass a permanent solution to fix our nation’s broken immigration system. America will be better for it.”

“We Were Strangers Once, Too”: The President Announces New Steps on Immigration

“Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger — we were strangers once, too. My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too.”

– President Obama, November 20, 2014

Since the founding of our nation, we’ve weaved a tradition of welcoming immigrants into the very fabric of who we are. It’s what keeps us dynamic, entrepreneurial, and uniquely American.

But, as we know all too well, America’s immigration system is broken. So tonight, President Obama addressed the nation on the executive actions he is taking to help fix what he can:

1. We will build on our progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement personnel. 

Today, we have more agents and technology deployed to secure our southern border than at any time in our history. And over the past six years, illegal border crossings have been cut by more than half. Although this summer, there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is now actually lower than it’s been in nearly two years. Overall, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s.  Those are the facts.

2. We will make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders have proposed. 

3. We will take steps to deal responsibly with the millions of undocumented immigrants who already live in our country.

Read more about the details of the President’s actions at WhiteHouse.gov/Immigration-Action.

Families who enter our country the right way and play by the rules watch others flout the rules. Business owners who offer their workers good wages and benefits see the competition exploit undocumented immigrants by paying them far less. All of us take offense to anyone who reaps the rewards of living in America without taking on the responsibilities of living in America. And undocumented immigrants who desperately want to embrace those responsibilities see little option but to remain in the shadows, or risk their families being torn apart.

We are a nation of immigrants, and we are a nation of laws. We must hold accountable those who broke the law, while understanding that the mass deportation of millions of Americans is neither possible nor in keeping with who we are as Americans. That is why the President is focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security: “Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids.”


“I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common-sense law.”


So here is the deal the President put forward tonight:

If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes — you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily, without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law.

Here is what this deal is not: Amnesty. Amnesty is the immigration system we have now, in which millions of people live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules, and politicians use this issue to scare and divide Americans.

That’s the real amnesty — leaving this broken system the way it is. Mass amnesty would be unfair. Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character. What I’m describing is accountability – a common-sense, middle ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.

The best and most definitive way to fix the system is to pass comprehensive and common-sense immigration reform in Congress. Last year, 68 Democrats, Republicans, and independents in the Senate came together to do just that. That bipartisan bill would have doubled the number of Border Patrol agents; given undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship if they pay a fine, start paying taxes, and go to the back of the line; and boosted our economy while shrinking the deficit.


“What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal — that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will.”


But more than 500 days later, Republicans in the House continue to block the bipartisan bill from a vote. “Had the House of Representatives allowed that kind of a bill a simple yes-or-no vote, it would have passed with support from both parties, and today it would be the law,” the President noted.

So the President had to act, just as every president since President Eisenhower has over this last half century.

To those Members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill.

At the heart of the President’s actions is a commitment to who we are as a nation. We are a nation that values families and works together to keep them together. We are a nation that educates the world’s best and brightest, and encourages them to stay and create jobs here.

We are a nation that welcomes the tired, the poor, and the huddled weary who yearn to breathe free and build a better life for their children.

As the President said:

Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger — we were strangers once, too.

My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too. And whether our forebears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in, and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like, or what our last names are, or how we worship.  What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal – that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will.

Watch and share President Obama’s speech on immigration.

Tune In: President Obama Will Address the Nation on Immigration Reform Thursday

Our immigration system has been broken for decades — and every minute we fail to act, millions of people who live in the shadows but want to play by the rules and pay taxes have no way to live right by the law and contribute to our country.

So tomorrow night, Thursday, November 20, President Obama will address the nation to lay out the executive actions he’s taking to fix our broken immigration system. You can watch the President live tomorrow night at 6 p.m. MT at WhiteHouse.gov/Live.

This is a step forward in the President’s plan to work with Congress on passing common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform. He laid out his principles for that reform two years ago in Del Sol High School in Las Vegas — and that’s where he’ll return on Friday to discuss why he is using his executive authority now, and why Republicans in Congress must act to pass a long-term solution to immigration reform.

The Senate passed a bipartisan bill more than 500 days ago, and while the country waits for House Republicans to vote, the President will act — like the Presidents before him — to fix our immigration system in the ways that he can.

So tune in tomorrow night at 6 p.m. MT to learn what the President is doing to ensure that America will continue to be what it has always been: a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

Senators Udall and Heinrich Vote Against Keystone XL Pipeline Bill; Vote Fails in the U.S. Senate

U.S. Senator Tom Udall released the following statement after voting against a bill to mandate approval of the Keystone pipeline. The bill failed to win the support needed to move forward:

“Throughout my time in public service, I’ve advocated for a ‘do it all, do it right’ strategy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and move toward energy independence — something that will require us to truly invest in clean energy as well as traditional oil and gas resources. I support responsible oil and gas production in New Mexico, which provides millions of dollars a year for education in our state, and I will fight as hard as anyone for investing in American infrastructure and jobs. But few energy issues have been as politicized as this one, and that’s a big part of why I voted no today. I do not believe Congress should intervene and pass a law simply to mandate approval of one specific pipeline for one private company. The long-standing law is clear that the president — and not Congress — issues or denies permits for individual cross-border pipeline projects. I urge the administration to complete its process as soon as possible and make a decision that considers all relevant factors including the pipeline’s impacts on the economy and climate change pollution.”

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, released the following statement today after voting against the Keystone XL Pipeline legislation:

“This debate is not about a pipeline. It’s really about market signals. A vote to approve Keystone sends the signal that carbon pollution and climate are not serious economic concerns and that even the dirtiest fuels, such as tar sands, are a good place to invest capital. A vote against Keystone sends the signal that our government is taking the science of climate change and risk analysis seriously, and that the smarter investments are on the low-carbon and sustainable fuels of the future. We have a small and closing window to avoid economically disastrous climate impacts. My vote against Keystone reflects that reality.”

New Mexico Land Commissioner Ray Powell

It’s Not Over ‘Til It’s Over… Ray Powell Needs Our Help!

The race for State Land Commissioner has now come down to a 757 vote margin as of Monday. An automatic recount will be done after the State Canvassing Board meets on November 25.

We need to help our Democratic Land Commissioner, Ray Powell.

Ray has been the best land commissioner that New Mexico has ever had.

During 2014 alone, his hard work has brought in over $800 Million dollars for schools, hospitals and universities. Fourteen renewable energy projects are in progress.

Ray Powell has cleaned up the State Land Office and made it a guardian for public lands.

Help Ray Powell stay in office and protect New Mexico public lands. Please contribute $15, $25 or $50 to help in the recount process.

Ray wants to continue building a better future for all New Mexicans by helping generate more funds for schools and helping create new good paying jobs ​while ​ensuring New Mexico continues to be​ a leader in wind, solar and geothermal energy.

This is New Mexico’s future and Ray Powell is the only ​State Land Commissioner that will make this happen.

Please contribute whatever you can right now, TODAY.

Ray Powell is building a better future.

Today.

Doña Ana County Democrats and DPNM Congratulate NM Congressman Ben Ray Luján as the next Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee!

Congressman Ben Ray Luján

Congressman Ben Ray Luján

Congressman Ben Ray Luján, who serves New Mexico’s Third Congressional District has been named Chair of the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi made the announcement Monday Afternoon in Washington, DC.

Congressman Luján is the first New Mexican and the first Hispanic congressman to lead the DCCC.

The Democratic Party of Doña Ana County joins the Democrats throughout New Mexico in congratulating Congressman Luján!


Read more about Congressman Luján’s selection as DCCC Chair in the Washington Post. Click Here.

Weekly Address: Open Enrollment Starts Today

In this week’s address, the President reminded Americans that Affordable Care Act open enrollment begins this weekend. In the past year, more than 10 million people have gained health insurance, including more than 7 million who enrolled in Health Insurance Marketplace coverage. They are proof that the Affordable Care Act is working, making health care more affordable, accessible, and of higher quality for millions of people.

The President encouraged all Americans to take advantage of open enrollment, and remind their friends and families to do so as well.

VIDEO MENSAJE DE LA CASA BLANCA: ¡Asegúrate! Inscríbete en cobertura médica desde hoy

En el mensaje de esta semana, Mayra Álvarez, Directora del Grupo de Intercambios de los Estados en el Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos recordó que la inscripción abierta bajo la Ley de Cuidado de Salud a Bajo Precio comienza este fin de semana. En el último año más de 10 millones de personas han obtenido un seguro médico, incluyendo a más de siete millones personas que se inscribieron en la cobertura a través del Mercado de Salud. Ellos son la prueba de que la Ley de Cuidado de Salud a Bajo Precio está funcionando, logrando que la cobertura sea más asequible, accesible y de mayor calidad para millones de personas. El Presidente alentó a todos las personas que viven en los Estados Unidos a aprovechar del período de inscripción abierta, y recordarle a sus amigos y familiares a hacer lo mismo.

 

English/Inglís: Watch and share President Obama’s weekly address.

En Español: Video mensaje de la Casa Blanca.


Need to get covered? Find a health plan that best fits your needs at HealthCare.gov.

Learn more and get covered at the New Mexico Health Exchange: Be Well NM

Already covered? Commit to help someone you know get covered here.

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