Republican Rep. Steve Pearce was among those fiesty Freedom Caucus members who torpedoed the GOP’s Obamacare replacement bill 10 days ago, and last week the New Mexico congressman seemed unfazed by President Donald Trump’s subsequent Twitter threats.
“The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning, six days after the House GOP health care bill went down in flames. “We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!”
Pearce, a steady supporter of Trump generally, seems to hold out hope that Republicans will return to the health care issue in the weeks or months ahead, although both Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Trump have conceded defeat on their particular bill.
“The congressman was not offended by the president’s comments on Twitter,” Pearce’s spokeswoman, Keeley Christensen, said in an email Thursday night. “He makes his decisions based on what is best for New Mexico. He is optimistic that a solution is possible, and these discussions are ongoing.”
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Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s campaign for governor of New Mexico got a boost late Thursday when former U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman announced his endorsement.
“In my 30 years in the United Stated Senate, I saw some excellent leadership,” Bingaman said. “It was clear who was in politics for personal gain and who was really there for their constituents. So I can tell you with certainty: Michelle Lujan Grisham is a true leader who fights tooth and nail for New Mexicans in Washington. That is why I proudly support her for governor.”
Bingaman, who served 30 years in the U.S. Senate before retiring in 2012, also described Lujan Grisham as “a fierce advocate for women, kids, working families, underrepresented communities — anybody and everybody who needs a voice.”
Bingaman’s early endorsement in the 2018 race came as something of a surprise, but it can only help bolster Lujan Grisham’s campaign and standing among Democrats.
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Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, a Democrat whose northern New Mexico district includes some of the most severe and pervasive opioid addiction in the nation, last week asked former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for help.
Trump on Wednesday appointed Christie as chairman of a new White House commission to combat America’s opioid problem. In a letter to Christie sent Friday, Lujan noted that Congress this year is spending $500 million to help states with drug treatment and prevention programs. Lujan urged Christie to help make sure another half-billion dollars is appropriated for 2018.
“Multiple generations of Americans have been hurt by this crisis because we have historically failed to make the necessary investments in treatment and prevention,” Lujan said. “I stand ready to work with you on this important issue, but I feel strongly that the problem demands more than rhetoric and good intentions – we need action, and we need resources if we are to turn the corner on this crisis.”
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New Mexico’s U.S. senators continued to hammer on the Trump administration’s ties to Russia last week.
Sens. Tom Udall, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Martin Heinrich, who sits on the Intelligence Committee, both took to the Senate floor to issue dire warnings and call for independent investigations into the murky matter of Russia’s influence in the 2016 presidential election.
“Our democracy is under attack,” Udall declared at the outset of his Thursday floor speech before repeating his call for an independent federal commission, similar to the 9/11 Commission, to conduct an inquiry.
Udall said the commission should “fully investigate Russia’s interference with our election and investigate ties between the president, his family businesses or his close associates and Russia that may threaten our national security.”
“The American people are not fooled and they want Congress to get to the bottom of this,” Udall said. “We in Congress have a solemn duty to the American people to do just that.”
Two days earlier, Heinrich also declared that “we must get to the bottom of what happened.”
“I know the White House and some in Congress are furiously working to sweep this under the rug, but only the truth will serve as a public means to move past this crisis for our democracy,” Heinrich said, adding that he’s worried Americans are becoming “desensitized to the gravity of what we are confronting.”
“The president’s campaign officials are under investigation by the FBI for possible links with the Russian government, including whether they coordinated with one another to impact the presidential election,” Heinrich said.
“I don’t think it is hyperbolic to state that the fate of our democracy depends on our ability to thoroughly and carefully get to the truth here,” he added. “Until we are able to find out the full extent of Russia’s operations and ensure that we set up protections against similar actions going forward, our democratic institutions will remain vulnerable.”