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NM Dems: Impeachment not holding up legislation

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

The Trump administration and the president’s reelection campaign have accused Democrats in Congress of getting nothing done since launching the impeachment inquiry.

President Donald Trump has labeled them “do-nothing Democrats” on Twitter. The Trump Victory campaign has staged small “Stop the Madness” protests outside U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small’s offices in the 2nd Congressional District, urging her to vote against impeachment and get back to work on other issues.

But members of New Mexico’s all-Democratic delegation say it’s the Senate Republicans and the president who are holding up legislation.

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich

“That has had nothing to do with impeachment,” U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich told the Journal last week. “That’s had to do with (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell. The House of Representatives has been able to walk and chew gum at the same time. They continue to send us legislation.”

“They try to say we’re the do-nothing Democrats,” U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland added. “That’s really false. We’ve passed over 200 bills. It’s been over 230 days since we passed HR 1 (the For the People Act), that’s the big package to do with election security. My bill for same-day voter registration is in that package. It also contains campaign finance reform, and they’ve (the Senate) done nothing about it.”

U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small

Trump Victory regional coordinator Samantha Zager has mentioned the lack of a House vote on the United States Mexico Canada Agreement – an update of the North American Free Trade Agreement – in emails to the Journal. A White House official mentioned the USMCA and the lack of final passage of prescription drug legislation and defense spending during a conversation with the Journal last week. He said the White House would be willing to talk with Democrats about legislation that would cut the cost of prescription drugs that has the backing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and has been sponsored by U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján.

That’s news to Luján spokeswoman Lauren French.

“This legislation would dramatically lower the cost of prescription drugs for Americans struggling to afford their medication,” French said. “This bill is working through regular order so the final package put on the floor is the most impactful for families. I’ll note, I haven’t seen a single, not one, proposal from the White House on prescription drugs that’s been introduced in Congress.”

She said negotiators are moving forward with an agreement on the USMCA, “but House Democrats are going to ensure that any trade agreement protects workers and the environment and upholds labor and safety standards.”

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall said in a statement to the Journal that Trump walked out of negotiations about infrastructure earlier this year and said his demands for a wall on Mexican border has held up funding for other projects.

“Right now – overall government funding legislation for our military, national labs, nutrition programs, education programs, medical research, PFAS cleanup, our public lands, and many other priorities are being held hostage by the president because he is demanding over $8 billion for a wasteful border wall and refuses to stop raiding billions more from military bases, including $125 million from bases in New Mexico, for the wall,” Udall said.

Haaland said the House and Senate have passed defense spending bills – known as the National Defense Authorization Act. She is on the committee to reconcile the versions. She said the legislation is moving toward a vote.

And Torres Small points to legislation she’s sponsored that has been sent to the House floor for votes in the past two weeks “to expand health care access for new mothers in rural communities and to meet the labor needs of New Mexico’s critical agriculture industry.”

U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland

“It is Senate Republicans, in conjunction with the White House – not Democrats – that have blocked legislation to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions, to protect ‘Dreamers,’ to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, to address gun violence, and to secure our elections from foreign interference,” Udall said.

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