Q&A: 1st Congressional District Candidate Debra Haaland

  • NAME: Debra Haaland
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Congresswoman
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Congresswoman, activist, former small business owner, chair of the Laguna Development Corporation Board, tribal administrator, 2012 Obama Native American Vote Director, 2014 Dem Lt. governor nominee, Democratic Party Chair 2015-2017
  • EDUCATION: BA in English, UNM; JD, UNM School of Law
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: debforcongress.com

What is your opinion of justice in policing legislation introduced in Congress recently after protests following George Floyd’s death?

I am an original cosponsor of the Justice in Policing Act which recently passed in the House. I fully support its measures to increase accountability for police misconduct, enhance transparency and data collection, and work to eliminate discriminatory policing practices. I authored the PROTECT Act to incentivize LEAs to demilitarize.

What is your opinion of the use of federal law enforcement officers in operations such as Operation Legend in which additional officers were sent to Albuquerque?

I helped amend H.R. 7617, which passed the House, to effectively defund Operation Legend. The Department of Justice needs to regain trust in our community, and protect and serve all our communities, but as Trump sends officers into our cities, they continue to hurt people and abuse their power.

What is your opinion of the coronavirus response packages passed by Congress and signed by President Trump? Is there anything you would have done differently?

The House has passed excellent COVID relief bills, including the recent HEROES Act, providing wraparound, comprehensive assistance to Americans affected by COVID-19. This is sitting on McConnell’s desk. We need more relief for state, local and tribal governments; UI and SNAP extensions; funding for USPS.

What actions to restore the economy, if any, do you feel Congress should take once the outbreak has been contained?

I have worked tirelessly to support renewable energy efforts that will create high paying jobs, job training and fight climate change. Building our country back better means broadly investing in American crumbling infrastructure. Our economy can grow by us showing a vested interest in creating new conservation-oriented jobs.

What is your position regarding climate change? What actions should Congress take, if any, regarding the environment?

I focus my time on climate change because it is the greatest challenge of our time. We need to embrace my 30×30 resolution, preserving land and water by 2030 and pass the Thrive and 100% Clean Economy Acts. We should celebrate the Great American Outdoors Act and the ANTIQUITIES Act.

What is your opinion on energy initiatives that have been introduced both on the federal and state level such as the Green New Deal and the New Mexico Energy Transition Act?

I am an original cosponsor of the Green New Deal and I’m moving forward with a complement of legislation that supports its goals in a specific, achievable way. The New Mexico Energy Transition Act was an extremely important step. Climate change is real, we must take it on aggressively.

Fracking bans have been introduced in Congress by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren… Where do you stand on the issue?

The fossil fuel industry makes billions by putting our communities in harm’s way. We have a methane cloud above NM that can be seen from space, because the gas and oil industry refuses to clean up their mess. Extreme weather fueled by climate change creates massive droughts. I support a ban on fracking.

What is your position on the leasing of federal land for oil, gas and mineral development? Do you agree with the removal of energy development in a 10-mile radius around Chaco archaeological sites? Are there other areas of the state that should be considered for similar treatment?

As vice chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, and as someone who values public lands, I am a fierce advocate for protecting Chaco, and want to protect all our public lands. Public lands and sacred spaces belong to all Americans and should be respected as such.

What are the most important actions Congress should take regarding people now living illegally in the U.S.? What about for those who want to come in?

I’m fighting for comprehensive immigration reform providing citizenship pathways for undocumented immigrants and Dreamers. I support DACA/DAPA and expanding them into permanent pathways to citizenship. My HEAL Act must pass, and we need funding for asylum courts.

Do you believe the borders are secure enough? If not, what do you propose to increase security?

I believe in a secure border. I support making smart border investments that enhance safety and promote trade. Stealing $125 million from our military bases to pay for Trump’s wasteful, ineffective wall is not the answer; we should instead invest in personnel, incentives, technology, and equipment border/customs agents need.

Do you favor a federal ban on the sale of military style semi-automatic rifles? If so, what would you do about the millions of such weapons now legally owned by American citizens? What other, if any, gun law reforms would you support?

Yes. Among other bills such as funding the CDC to study gun violence and locking up weapons at home, I’m also an original cosponsor of the Assault Weapons Ban. Mass-shooting related homicides in the U.S. were reduced during the federal assault weapons ban of 1994-2004. We must enact gun buyback programs.

Federal spending plays an important role in New Mexico’s economy. What should be done to increase other economic drivers here?

We have the opportunity to lead by moving to 100% renewable energy. We must (fund) renewable energy research at our labs, supporting our growing tech industry and the film and brewery industries, supporting tech transfer to small businesses from our Labs, and by legalizing cannabis.

Congress passed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement as a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement. Are there any other trade initiatives you’d like to see Congress pass if you’re elected?

I would always seek ways to enable New Mexico manufacturing and business to create successful trade with other countries; however, any trade agreement must contain enforceable protections for our environment, and support of collective bargaining, fair wages and benefits for workers.

Do you favor or oppose a national single payer health system?

I was an original cosponsor of Medicare for All, and will continue supporting a national single-payer health care system. Families shouldn’t go bankrupt paying for health care. The pandemic has shown the gaping flaws in our broken health care system. Countries who have this model pay less for health care and have better outcomes.

Do you favor or oppose limits on late-term abortion, and do you believe tax dollars should or should not be used to fund abortions?

These decisions must not be made by politicians, but by women themselves. I support Roe v. Wade and all reproductive rights. I am proud of my endorsement from Planned Parenthood Action Fund. I oppose all restrictions on public funding that limit people’s ability to access contraception or abortion.

What should be done at the federal level to address the crisis of opioid addiction? Any other drugs?

Medicare for all. We must fully fund comprehensive and accessible addiction treatment, as well as behavioral and mental health care, fund drug courts and reform criminal sentencing laws. Many Veterans have asked me to support legalizing marijuana to provide alternative pain treatment and reduce our country’s dependence on opioid painkillers.

Why do you want to be a member of Congress?

I’ve spent my career fighting for the underrepresented. As a single mom, health care, childcare and food were precarious at times. I’ve fought for good-paying jobs, quality public education, affordable/accessible childcare and health care, and housing for our Veterans. My work isn’t finished and I’ll continue to deliver for all New Mexicans.

Personal background

1. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?

No

2. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?

No

3. Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony in New Mexico or any other state? If so, explain.

Over 35 years ago, I had two DWI convictions. I haven’t consumed alcohol since. It was a hard lesson, but one I took to heart and led me to where I am today. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by the unconditional love of family and friends, and a community that gave me a second chance.

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