Weekly Address: Writing the Rules for a Global Economy

In this week’s address, the President spoke to the merits of the high-standards trade agreement reached this past week. The Trans-Pacific Partnership helps level the playing field for American workers and businesses, so we can export more Made-in-America products all over the world, supporting higher-paying American jobs here at home. The President acknowledged that past trade agreements have not always lived up to expectations, but emphasized that this is a good deal, with the strongest commitments on labor and environment of any trade agreement in history. It reflects America’s values and gives our workers the fair shot at success they deserve. The President encouraged everyone to read the agreement, which will be available online well before he signs it, and looked forward to working with lawmakers from both parties as they consider and approve this deal.

Watch and share President Obama’s weekly address.

Air Force Heeds Senator Heinrich’s Call to Address RPA Personnel Shortfalls

Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, welcomed the Air Force’s announcement to expand the Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) mission at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. The expansion will increase the rate of student production from 603 pilots and sensor operator students in fiscal year 2015 up to an estimated 818 students in fiscal year 2016.

“Our RPA community has been at a breaking point. Our airmen have had to fly countless missions with too few pilots,” said Sen. Heinrich. “This move by the Air Force is welcome news and will result in increased instructors, more students, and an expansion of facilities at Holloman Air Force Base. This is a significant step forward, but there is still more work to be done. I look forward to continuing to help improve the quality of life of our airmen and to further strengthen our military’s readiness.”

Earlier this year, Senator Heinrich included language in the fiscal year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act requiring actions to rectify personnel shortfalls within the RPA community. Senator Heinrich also sent a letter to U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Secretary Ash Carter stating that the Pentagon’s expansion of RPA’s is unsustainable without corresponding growth in personnel recruitment, training, and retention. Holloman Air Force Base is the nation’s premier RPA training location and Cannon Air Force Base hosts a special operations RPA mission.

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz Statement on the Dysfunction in the House of Representatives

DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has released the following statement in response to the Republican dysfunction in the House of Representatives:

“Republican dysfunction in the House of Representatives is preventing Congress from taking action to help middle class families and create greater opportunity for every American. House Republicans continue to waste taxpayer time and money on baseless investigations and government shutdowns. The Tea Party caucus has now claimed one Speaker and two Speakers-in-waiting.

“Meanwhile, Democrats have created 13 million jobs, 67 straight months of private sector job growth, and extended access to quality, affordable health care for 17 million Americans. The choice for American voters between Democrats and Republicans could not be any more clear.”

Senator Udall Votes for Major National Defense Bill, Urges Solution to Dangerous Sequestration Cuts

U.S. Senator Tom Udall has joined the Senate in voting 70-27 for a major defense policy bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill — the result of an agreement between the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives — includes several priorities Udall has championed for New Mexico. In addition to programs important for New Mexico’s military bases and national laboratories, the bill includes Udall’s measure to strengthen the open-air burn pits registry he created to help veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals and fumes while deployed overseas.

“This bill is important for New Mexico’s labs and military bases, as well as our troops and defense employees,” Udall said. “I fought to include several policies that will support research at our labs, strengthen our bases by continuing construction projects, and sustain thousands of jobs. I’m especially proud that the bill enables us to continue to build the open-air burn pits registry so that we can improve our work to help our troops and veterans suffering from illnesses related to inhaling toxic fumes in Iraq and Afghanistan get the care and treatment they need.”

The NDAA authorizes several new military construction projects at Cannon, Holloman and Kirtland Air Force bases. Additionally, it encourages investment in infrastructure at White Sands Missile Range and increased Laboratory Directed Research and Development at the national labs. It also authorizes funding for New Mexico’s national labs and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). Further, the bill authorizes funding to continue the B61 Life Extension Program, which supports jobs at Los Alamos and Sandia national labs, and the Chemistry and Metallurgy Replacement Project at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

While the NDAA is an authorization bill, meaning it sets policy and planned spending levels for federal agencies, these measures will be funded through the appropriations process. A member of the Appropriations Committee, Udall added that he is disappointed that the House and Senate conference committee did not reach an agreement to end across-the-board cuts known as sequestration. Instead, the NDAA funds additional defense needs through a one-time loophole that does not allow the budget certainty that New Mexico troops and military communities need to plan for the future.

“These gimmicks will weaken our national defense and New Mexico communities, while creating uncertainty about future funding for our troops and their families,” Udall said. “I supported an amendment to the NDAA in the Senate that would have removed the budget loophole from the bill and encouraged Congress to end sequestration cuts to all programs, but the amendment was not incorporated in the final bill. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I will keep fighting to end sequestration and provide the resources and support needed to keep our national defense and our military communities strong.”

In addition to measures important to New Mexico’s military bases and labs, Udall supported numerous new provisions in the NDAA that impact New Mexico, including:

– An amendment Udall authored to require the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to share information relating to the exposure of members of the Armed Forces to airborne hazards and open burn pits.
– A provision based on a bill Udall introduced to increase the maximum percentage each laboratory director may set aside for Laboratory Directed Research and Development from 5 percent to 7 percent.
– Authorization for funding for New Mexico’s national labs and WIPP.
– Authorization for construction projects at Cannon Air Force Base, including a pumphouse, fuel storage, a squadron operations facility, training facilities and a new entry control gatehouse.
– Authorization for constructing a Space Vehicles Component Development Lab at Kirtland Air Force Base.
– Authorization to build a new Fixed Ground Control Station at Holloman Air Force Base, which will be used to accommodate the growing number of Remotely Piloted Aircraft missions (RPAs).
– Authorization for constructing a Marshalling area at Holloman Air Force base to support the F-16 training mission.

Update from Doña Ana County Democratic Party Chair Liz Rodríguez-Johnson

Dear Fellow Doña Ana County Democrats:

It’s been more than a month since my last update. We continue to work diligently and focus the Democratic Party of Doña Ana County (DPDAC) effort on get-out-the-vote for 2016. District Directors continue to work very hard to populate all their empty Precinct Officer positions and to organize the communities within their Districts. I am still reaching out to numerous community organizations who can help us find Democratic volunteers. Activities that the DPDAC has undertaken in the past month are described in the following paragraphs.

We had a very successful Labor Day Breakfast event at the Farm and Ranch Museum. Our honoree John Henry of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (I.A.T.S.E.) and the Keynote Speaker Democratic House Leader Brian Egolf inspired us all. I want to thank everyone who attended, donated or helped out in some way. I am very proud of our Fundraising Chair, Terri McBrayer. Terri and her team worked very hard on this event and it showed, we sold out the event, and then some! Volunteers on Terri’s team include: Susie Chaparro, Laura Garcia, Dr. Bobbie Green, Orlando Jimenez (welcome back!), Lydia Ponce, Katherine Ponce, Evelyn Segovia and Frances Williams. I also want to thank Carlos Castenada for printing our event program, Jane Grider for donating those beautiful turquoise necklaces and John L. Vasquez for donating that amazing pergola that brought in top dollar for the Party. It is worth mentioning that Stephen Jones received a special award for all his hard work and dedication to DPDAC and to the Democratic Party of New Mexico.

We sponsored Floats in the Hatch Valley Chile Festival and the 16 de Septiembre Parade & Festival in Mesilla. The float master did it again! I have received many compliments on their hard work. Thank you Don & Allyson Apodaca, Oscar Butler, Andy Segovia, Evelyn Segovia, Paul Ponce, Lydia Ponce, Catherine Ponce, Joanne Vullo, and David Chavez.

Doña Ana County hosted the State Central Committee Meeting on September 12, 2015. I was most honored to be able to give the welcome remarks. our State Chair Debra Haaland and her team ran a great meeting. I feel we accomplished much and learned some new things as well. Good Job!

We held monthly meetings at Chaparral and the Butterfield/Moongate area. They were both very well attended. Democrats who have never attended a County Party meeting are now being given the opportunity to participate. The Democrats in the more rural parts of Doña Ana County have expressed their appreciation of our efforts to reach out. Our nezt County meeting will be held on Thursday, October 15, at 6:00pm at La Mesa Community Center, 744 San Jose St., La Mesa, NM.

Also this month on October 20, 2015, we will have a CCC Meeting to elect a new DPDAC Vice Chair. Julian Alexander has resigned. The Meeting will be Alma d’Arte Charter School, 402 West Court St., Las Cruces, New Mexico. Registration will start at 5:00pm and the Meeting starts promptly at 6:00pm.

Liz Rodríguez-Johnson

ICYMI: The Case for Compromise

In case you missed it, Joe Nocera’s column in The New York Times today praises the bipartisan effort led by Senator Tom Udall to overhaul the nation’s broken chemical safety law. Udall’s comprehensive bill — the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act — has the support of 60 senators from 38 states and is ready for a vote on the Senate floor immediately.

“You see, the bill — officially the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act — is the result of (shudder!) compromise. Those compromises were originally hammered out by Lautenberg, a liberal Democratic senator, and David Vitter, a right-wing Republican senator allied with the chemical industry. The two men co-sponsored a bill in May 2013. Then Lautenberg died,” Nocera wrote.

“Senator Tom Udall, another Democrat, picked up where Lautenberg left off, and over the next two-plus years, he and Vitter continued to improve the bill while also making compromises to gain additional Senate support. In just the last week, the bipartisan bill, which the Senate is expected to vote on soon, has gained enough co-sponsors to be filibuster-proof.” Udall worked with environmental groups, industry stakeholders, health professionals, parent groups, other affected communities and a bipartisan group of lawmakers to craft and improve the legislation.

“In this era of polarized politics, it is something of a miracle: ‘an example of good, old-fashioned legislating,’ Udall told me.”

Read the full column HERE

Weekly Address: Congress Should Do its Job and Pass a Serious Budget

In this week’s address, the President emphasized that we need to do everything we can to strengthen economic growth and job creation.  This week, despite the fact that more than half of Republicans in Congress voted to shut down the government for the second time in two years, Congress managed to pass a last-minute bill to keep the government open for another ten weeks.  That means that in December, we could face yet another Republican threat to shut down the government.  The President emphasized that Congress needs to stop kicking the can down the road and do its job.  He stressed that Republicans and Democrats need to work together to pass a budget that fully funds the government and reverses the harmful sequestration cuts, and vowed that he would not sign another shortsighted spending bill like the one Congress sent him this past week.

Watch and share President Obama’s weekly address.

Governor Should Address Real Issues Within TRD and End Political Attacks

Today, the Democratic Party of New Mexico issued the following statement on the ongoing investigation into abuse of power in the Governor’s Taxation and Revenue Department:

“More information is coming to light about the abuses of power in the Governor’s Taxation and Revenue Department. Recently released emails show disturbing instances of the Secretary applying pressure to employees to protect herself from personal liability at the expense of New Mexican taxpayers. Moreover, these emails show TRD in violation of taxpayer confidentiality. Instead of addressing the real issues within the Department, Republicans have been focused on political cheap shots against Auditor Keller. It’s time for the Governor to set her politically-motivated attacks aside and ensure fairness for New Mexico’s taxpayers.”

The Secretary of the Taxation and Revenue Department, Demesia Padilla, is under investigation by the New Mexico Attorney General’s office for allegedly using her position to attempt to provide special treatment to a prior client of her accounting practice. Secretary Padilla is an appointee of the Governor. An email recently uncovered by the New Mexico Political Report confirms that Secretary Padilla desired to write an affidavit in support of her former client.

$1.5 Million Grant Awarded to Combat Human Trafficking in New Mexico; DOJ Grant Will Expand Ongoing Efforts by the Attorney General

As part of his commitment to combat human trafficking, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas has announced the award of $1.5 million in federal grant funding to combat human trafficking in New Mexico. The collaborative grants will fund efforts across New Mexico to fight human trafficking, provide services for victims and expand research. New Mexico is one of 16 sites selected for an anti-trafficking task force award, receiving $1.5 million to support law enforcement efforts and victims’ services for the next three years.

“Human trafficking, modern-day slavery, is not someone else’s problem; it’s happening across New Mexico, in our communities and in our neighborhoods. The callous disregard of traffickers for the lives of their victims is a tragedy and we cannot delay in acting to end it,” said New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas. “My office is committed to cracking down on violent offenders in New Mexico and on criminals who prey on our most vulnerable citizens.”

Loretta Lynch, Attorney General of the United States, made the following remarks announcing the grant awards, “I am pleased to announce that the Department of Justice is expanding our support by awarding $44 million in grant funding to combat human trafficking. These grants – administered by the Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime and the National Institute of Justice – will fund efforts across the country to fight human trafficking, to provide services for survivors and to expand research going forward. The grants include nearly $23 million as part of a DOJ initiative called the Enhanced Collaborative Model, which is designed to bring together law enforcement and victims’ services providers to address
human trafficking in a comprehensive way.”

For more information on the Department of Justice grant, visit http://ojp.gov/ovc/grants/pdftxt/FY15_ECM_Competitive_Solicitation-508.pdf.

Senator Udall Calls on Congress to Immediately Extend LWCF, Find Permanent Solution

With Congress allowing the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to lapse for the first time in over a half century, U.S. Senator Tom Udall yesterday called on Congress to immediately pass a 60-day extension and continue working to permanently authorize and fully fund the nation’s premier conservation program. Udall’s father, former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, helped secure passage of the LWCF in 1965 and the program has since helped boost the economy in local communities and supported outdoor recreation throughout the nation. Earlier in the day, Udall spoke passionately from the Senate floor about the impact the LWCF has had in New Mexico. He released the following statement:

“The LWCF is based on a simple idea — use revenue from developing one natural resource for preserving public lands and waters for all to enjoy. In its 50 years, the LWCF has created urban parks like Valle de Oro and Petroglyph National Monument and conserved wild backcountry across New Mexico. These parks and open spaces support countless jobs and improve our quality of life. And its economic impact is impressive — for every $1 invested, we see a return of $4 to local communities.

“There’s no question that the LWCF has become one of our nation’s most successful conservation programs and enjoys broad bipartisan support — yet Congress is about to let it expire. That doesn’t make any sense, and we don’t have to let it happen. I urge the Senate to act on a measure to extend the LWCF that will give us time to work on a permanent solution as part of any budget agreement later this year. But no matter what happens with the extension, I’ve fought for years to permanently authorize and fully fund the LWCF, and I will continue working toward a solution that will allow the LWCF to continue and live up to its full potential.”

The LWCF has helped create and protect urban parks and open spaces that enhance recreation and outdoor opportunities in urban and rural communities alike. It’s funded through revenues from federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf and does not use taxpayer dollars. The program also supports America’s outdoor recreation, conservation and preservation economies, which contribute more than $1 trillion to the nation’s economy each year and support 9.4 million American jobs. More than $261 million has been spent in New Mexico since 1965 to protect natural resources and provide recreational opportunities, including more than $41 million for state and local grants.

Watch and share Senator Udall’s remarks.


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