Thursday, April 08, 2010
Rep. Martin Heinrich Discusses Issues, Legislation with Local Bloggers
Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01) reached out to meet with local bloggers for a full hour on Tuesday to discuss issues and answer questions about current and upcoming legislation in the U.S. Congress. I had to miss the session due to a sudden attack of a haywire sciatic nerve, but Mary Ellen attended and passed along her notes and observations to me. She reports that it was a valuable opportunity to personally engage with the Congressman and do some in-depth back and forth in a relaxed setting.
The conversation began with talk about the fire that was going on in Albuquerque's bosque near the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Rep. Heinrich noted that the removal of invasive salt cedar by the Army Corps of Engineers and the city's Open Space Division, which he championed when he was still a Albuquerque City Councilor, made for a healthier bosque so that the fire was easier to control.
Climate Change: Talk turned to climate change and how it could create serious problems challenging U.S. security in the future, according to global modeling. Rep. Heinrich noted there was finally movement within the Senate to pass a national renewable energy bill. The Waxman-Markey legislation that passed in the House calls for a 20% boost in the use of renewable energy in the U.S. He noted that China is investing huge sums of money in green energy development -- about $12 million an hour. He stressed that we need a big push to process solar energy to meet the public demand and that BLM land in New Mexico and elsewhere would be excellent sites for solar collection.
Health Insurance Reform: Rep. Heinrich talked about the passage of health insurance reform and noted that Republican talking points are spreading misinformation about the financial and economic impacts of the legislation in an already dangerous economy. He said there is a lot of hypocrisy involved in their spin. For instance, Republicans are pretending to be the protectors of Medicare when, in reality, they would like to privatize it and issue vouchers instead. Rep. Heinrich contrasted the diversity of viewpoints on reform on the Democratic side with the lock-step, echo chamber response of the Republicans.
Financial Reform: Heinrich predicted that financial reform would be next on the agenda in Congress, with action switching to the Senate. He noted that the House passed a reform bill last year that received little attention because all eyes were on the raucous health care debate that was occurring at the time. There are high hopes that legislation to reform the practices of Wall Street will pass before November. He said there is a good chance that some moderate Republicans will vote for it. The bill includes provisions to regulate hedge funds, derivatives and uninsured credit default swaps, as well as increase the transparency of derivatives markets -- all elements in the creation of the banking and Wall Street crises we're still feeling around the globe.
Jobs Bill: Rep. Heinrich praised the Senate for passing a jobs bill. The House had passed its jobs bill months ago.
Iraq: Rep. Heinrich said he was pleased that there has been significant progress in ramping down our troop levels in Iraq, as promised by President Obama. He also noted that procurement contracts for services in Iraq and Afghanistan are for the most part no longer granted on a sole source basis as they were in the Bush years. Competitive bidding is now the order of the day, which saves money and improves the quality of services.
Immigration Reform: Rep. Heinrich said he was less than optimistic about a comprehensive immigration reform bill emerging from the Congress before the November election, although he said such legislation was long overdue. It's one of the most complex and controversial pieces of legislation, and it will impact many other areas of policy. He expects action on this issue next year.
Mexican Border: Asked about his views on increasing violence on our southern border with Mexico, Heinrich said he was more concerned about Mexico as a whole, having never seen such a level of violence in North America in the modern era. He said he was worried about the entire nation of Mexico -- not just the conflicts on the border -- and stressed that the U.S. has a vested interest in the security of our neighbors.
House Resumes Tuesday: Rep. Heinrich will return to Washington next Tuesday after this spring break. It will continue to be a busy time in the Congress, with much unfinished business to be completed this year and going forward into President Obama's second year. He emphasized the importance to holding on to our Democratic majorities in the House and Senate if we want to see progress continue on the many pressing and complex issues we face. Amen to that!
Good that Heinrich is reaching out. So much on his plate and ours. Thanks for the report.
Posted by: Jamie | Apr 8, 2010 1:48:49 PM
I wanted to add a personal note of gratitude to Rep Heinrich and his staff. Thank you for all you are doing.
The office was a buzz with activity for us in CD1. And the Congressman was so articulate and up to date and educated about every issue we brought up. I was totally impressed.
I have decided to double down in efforts to get Rep Heinrich in for his second term. He has grown so much with the position. Along with his staff, what an undertaking it was for this group of people to start this intense job. They went from 0 to 100 mph. Having so much at stake, all of our interests in CD1.
Thank you Rep Heinrich and staff!
Posted by: mary ellen | Apr 8, 2010 2:54:53 PM
I am wondering about the invitation. To whom was it offered, do you know?
Posted by: ched macquigg | Apr 8, 2010 6:07:08 PM