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Politics Notebook: Heinrich no longer in NRA; ‘illegal alien’ change weighed

Sen. Martin Heinrich – once a member of the National Rifle Association who earned high marks on the powerful organization’s political scorecards – is no longer a member of the group.

“Common sense solutions require an ability to work across the aisle,” Heinrich said in a statement in response to my question about his NRA membership status last week. “As someone who has a true passion for hunting, I’ve found partnering with sportsmen’s groups to be a better fit in protecting the Second Amendment and the outdoor traditions I want to pass on to future generations.”

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich

HEINRICH: Got positive ratings from NRA in the past

The NRA gave Heinrich’s voting record on gun rights an A grade when he sought re-election to the U.S. House in 2010 and a “B” grade in 2012, when he ran for the Senate. Heinrich’s statement said he gave up his NRA membership “years ago.” His spokeswoman said that no one is sure when but that he could have left the group as long as five years ago.

On Monday, Heinrich and Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., voted for legislation that would expand background checks and allow the attorney general to ban gun sales to suspected terrorists, but the legislation failed. The NRA has consistently opposed limitations on gun ownership, making the organization a lightning rod in American politics, especially after mass shootings.

Heinrich and Udall have both announced support in recent years for background checks and other modest gun control measures, but they say they support Second Amendment rights generally. Both voted against an assault weapons ban in 2013.

“Illegal” shift: House Republicans want to prevent the Library of Congress from abolishing the term “illegal alien” from its bibliographic records, but Democrats in New Mexico’s congressional delegation say they support the library’s intent to make the switch.

The library wants to use the terms “non-citizens” or “unauthorized immigration” for cataloging and search purposes instead of “illegal aliens,” which some immigrant rights groups and others deem offensive. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Ben Ray Luján – all New Mexico Democrats – said they back the Library of Congress in the debate.

“Sen. Udall would oppose measures to politicize the Library of Congress’ decisions on what it believes are the best ways to catalog and index information to most effectively serve the researchers who use the library,” a Udall spokesman said.

Lujan Grisham noted that the library once used the subject heading “Negro, and now uses African American.”

Rep. Steve Pearce said in a statement, “This is not language I use,” referring to the term “illegal alien.” However, his statement indicates support for continued use of the term “illegal alien” by the Library of Congress unless Congress passes a law mandating a change.

“I would certainly review and consider any legislative proposal to change the language used throughout the United States Code,” he said. “Until a time when this can be accomplished, federal agencies throughout the government should be following the law and keeping uniformity in the legal code.”

Michael Coleman: mcoleman@abqjournal.com

 

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