Thursday, June 28, 2012
Affordable Care Act Upheld by Supreme Court
The Health care reform act was challenged clear up to the US Supreme Court and the decision was rendered today. It is satisfying to know the highest court in the land upheld the constitutionality of this important legislation. The final deciding vote was cast by Chief Judge John Roberts, appointed by Bush 43.
This will not stop the republicans at all, in fact it will embolden them. As Pearce says at the end of these statements, "The House has scheduled a vote on the full repeal of ObamaCare during the week of July 9."
What a contrast of message from the R's to the D's about good news for the people of this Country.
Let's contribute to the State races for the NM House of Representatives. You know the SusanaPac is rolling in the dough today with this news. Please start with a contribution to my race for NM House District 30. Please go to this ActBlue link here, thank you in advance.
Below are the statements from all of NM Congressional leaders:
Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s CD-3 released the following statement today on the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act.
“For too long, families and small businesses in New Mexico have seen their health care costs skyrocket as they continue to pay more and receive less. The ranks of the uninsured grew while insurance companies continued to deny or drop coverage for those who needed it most. That is why President Obama and Democrats in Congress took action to pass health insurance reform that ends the insurance companies’ worst abuses, expands coverage, and takes steps to bring down costs for hard-working New Mexicans.
“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the law is an important victory for the people of New Mexico. Young adults will be able to remain on their parents’ insurance plan, those with pre-existing conditions will be assured that they will have health insurance, and seniors will continue to pay less for prescription drugs and receive free preventive care.
“It is now abundantly clear that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and that the people of New Mexico will continue to benefit from its many important provisions.”
Congressman Martin Heinrich (CD-1) Statement On Supreme Court Decision Upholding Health Care Reform
U.S. Senate candidate Martin Heinrich released the following statement today after the Supreme Court ruled the Affordable Care Act constitutional:
“The Supreme Court has spoken, declaring the Affordable Care Act constitutional. This decision means New Mexicans will continue to benefit from expanded access to quality, affordable health care.
“Now it’s time to move on to the major economic problems facing our country. Our focus needs to be on creating jobs and getting our economy back on track. The finger-pointing needs to end and Washington needs to get its priorities straight by cutting waste and ending the Bush tax breaks for millionaires and companies that outsource jobs, so we can focus on job creation and strengthening Social Security and Medicare."
Michelle Lujan Grisham Candidate for CD-1: Health Care Debate Must Shift to Controlling Costs
Congressional candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham, who has spent her career as an advocate for quality health care, said the Supreme Court’s decision today is a victory for the thousands of New Mexico families that deserve access to quality, affordable health care.
“This is a victory for New Mexico families because insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to people with asthma, cancer or heart disease, or force women to pay more for health care,” Michelle Lujan Grisham said. “This is a good first step toward reforming our broken health care system.
“However, there is still work to be done. When I get to Congress I will work to require health insurance companies to put patients before profits. We must control health care costs, improve quality and train more health care workers.”
Senator Udall Statement on Supreme Court’s Health Care Ruling Following the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:
"When Congress and President Obama first took up this issue, we knew it wouldn't be easy. The Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act is the best possible outcome for the American people. Today, quality, affordable health care is a major step closer to becoming a reality for millions of Americans who live one accident or diagnosis away from losing everything. For these families, health care is an economic matter with the very real consequences of life, death and bankruptcy. As a nation, and across New Mexico, we cannot afford to go back to just a short time ago when insurance coverage for all was further from reach, when children with cancer could be denied coverage, and when unemployed, recent college graduates would be kicked off their parents' insurance by age 22.
"We can still improve upon the law we've put into place, but today, New Mexico has already received more than $200 million in grants and loans to establish an insurance exchange, strengthen community health centers, train new health professionals and so much more. Since passing the law, more than 26,000 young adults under 26-years-old in our state have been allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance plans. Almost 20,000 New Mexico seniors on Medicare received a rebate to help cover prescription costs when they hit the donut hole in 2010. And 285,000 New Mexicans with private health insurance no longer have to pay a deductible or copayment for preventive care like physicals, cancer screenings and vaccinations. More is yet to come.
"Today's decision marks another turning point in our country's approach to health care equality. Now’s the time to put aside partisanship and work together to make our health care policy even stronger."
Republican NMCD-2 Rep. Steve Pearce issued the following statement:
Supreme Court Decision Allows for New Obamacare Tax on New Mexico Families
“I have long believed that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2011 was an unconstitutional overreach by the President. ObamaCare is a violation of our individual rights and an expansion of federal government power our nation’s founders would have found unfathomable.
“The Supreme Court, which has the responsibility of interpreting the law, found this overreach acceptable as a tax. While I do not agree, I respect its authority to make this interpretation.
“Since day one, the Obama Administration has denied that his law was a tax on the American people. Yet, the Obama Administration will claim victory, when all this law does is assess a greater financial burden on hardworking American families and small business owners.
“ObamaCare puts government bureaucrats between patients and their doctors, hurts small businesses and creates trillions in new government spending that will add a huge new weight to our already overloaded deficit.
“We need to get back to work on repealing this ‘tax’ and reforming our healthcare system. These reforms must be focused on protecting patient access to the care they need from the doctor they choose.”
The Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the law is constitutional. The House has scheduled a vote on the full repeal of ObamaCare during the week of July 9.
June 28, 2012 at 04:17 PM in 2012 Legislature Races, Healthcare, Michelle Lujan Grisham, NM Congressional Delegation, Obama Health Care Reform, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01), Sen. Tom Udall, Steve Pearce | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Senators Bingaman and Udall Stand Up for Public Health, Vote Against Toxic Legislation
The following is from the Sierra Club; Shrayas Jatkar, Organizing Representative
New Mexico Groups Thankful that Senate Decided to Affirm EPA Mercury and Air Toxics Standard
Today, June 20, 2012, Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall stood up for the health of New Mexico’ children, seniors, pregnant women, and other vulnerable populations by voting against Senator James Inhofe’s dangerous legislation that sought to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recently-finalized Mercury & Air Toxics Standard for power plants. Thanks in part to Senators Bingaman and Udall, the Senate rejected the measure. Had it passed, Senator Inhofe’s legislation would not only bar the implementation of these new safeguards, but would also prevent the EPA from ever issuing similar standards to protect New Mexico families and communities from toxic mercury in the future.
Mercury is a potent brain poison that threatens prenatal babies and young children, and is linked to severe learning disabilities, developmental problems, and lower IQ. Today’s vote on Senator James Inhofe’s CRA resolution, which was introduced two months ago, means that New Mexico children, seniors, families, and communities – particularly on the Navajo Nation – will continue to be protected from the harmful amounts of mercury, arsenic, acid gases and other toxics that pour out of dirty power plants. The Four Corners Power Plant near Farmington ranks among the worst coal-fired power plants in the nation for high levels of mercury emissions.
“By defeating this cynical measure, Senator Inhofe and his supporters failed to kill the EPA mercury and air toxic standard, which means thousands of Americans, particularly children, will thankfully continue to be protected under the standard,” said Dr. Robert M. Bernstein, an endocrinologist practicing in Santa Fe and President of the Physicians for Social Responsibility-New Mexico.
According to the EPA, the mercury and air toxics standard will save as many as 11,000 lives, prevent as many as 130,000 asthma attacks among children, and prevent as many as 4,700 heart attacks each year. In New Mexico, the new standard will prevent up to 24 premature deaths while creating up to $200 million in health benefits in 2016.
“I believe today’s Senate vote is a big victory for New Mexicans, and puts the health and welfare of our children and our communities ahead of polluter profits,” said Shrayas Jatkar with the Sierra Club in Albuquerque. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall should be commended for putting our children’s health first.”
Additionally, these protections make economic sense – for every dollar spent cleaning up dirty power plants, Americans are estimated to receive between $3 and $9 in health benefits in return. In total, that means as much as $90 billion in savings on health care costs each year.
“America should be at the forefront of public health and environmental protections, not subjected to polluters and their allies in Congress attempting to overturn landmark toxic safeguards,” said Sanders Moore with Environment New Mexico. “Thankfully, Senators Bingaman and Udall and the majority of the U.S. Senate stood with the American people and voted in favor of clean air and healthy families.”
Friday, June 01, 2012
Senator Udall: Almost $1.6 Million for AmeriCorps Jobs in NM
U.S. Senator Tom Udall on Wednesday May 30th, announced that New Mexico will receive almost $1.6 million to support AmeriCorps projects across the state.
The AmeriCorps grant comes from the Corporation for National and Community Service and will fund more than 282 positions in areas such as education, health and wellness and youth service programs.
"AmeriCorps allows members to engage in meaningful public service that will make a lasting difference in New Mexico," said Udall. "This funding will help AmeriCorps members gain valuable work and leadership experience in areas that face growing social and economic challenges."
AmeriCorps is a national service program that engages Americans of all ages and backgrounds in service to meet critical needs. Its members serve through thousands of nonprofit and faith-based organizations in rural and urban communities throughout the nation. Among other activities, AmeriCorps members tutor and mentor youth, expand health services, build affordable housing, run after-school programs, help veterans access employment and other services, respond to disasters, and recruit and train other volunteers.
AmeriCorps, which is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, engages 80,000 people each year in intensive, results-driven service through more than 14,000 organizations across the country. Since 1994, more than 775,000 Americans have provided more than 1 billion hours of service to their communities and country through AmeriCorps. Among other accomplishments, AmeriCorps members last year mobilized 3.4 million community volunteers, and tutored, mentored or served more than 3.5 million disadvantaged youth. Interested individuals can learn about available opportunities and apply online by visiting AmeriCorps.gov.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Senators Engage Air Force on Aggressive Kirtland Fuel Spill Cleanup
U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall are asking the Air Force to partner with county and state authorities to “conduct further scientific and technical analysis” to determine the scope of the Kirtland jet fuel leak and develop contingency plans for the continued safety of the drinking water.
The Senators, who met with Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Terry Yonkers in Washington last week for an update on the plume, wrote to him today in support of the Air Force’s goal to cleanup the spill and ensure the area continues to meet federal drinking water standards in the future.
“We welcome your goal to aggressively remove fuel to stabilize the spilled fuel plume by 2017,” they wrote. “We realize that significant uncertainties remain, but agree it is important to set a strong goal to ensure protection of drinking water.”
The lawmakers also recommended that the Air Force continue to work in cooperation with the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) and the New Mexico Environment Department to continue supporting area well monitoring, evaluating the nature of the plume, and regarding the progress of the cleanup efforts.
“We recommend the Air Force continue to work cooperatively with the New Mexico Environment Department to ensure that the full size, extent, and characteristics of the fuel spill are known,” the Senators wrote. “In the past several years, public estimates of the size of the spill have ranged from one million gallons to twenty-four million gallons. While cleaning up the spill is most important, such a broad range indicates that full characterization is incomplete. We urge the Air Force to take a precautionary approach and do what the appropriate scientific and technical experts recommend to characterize this spill.”
The full text of the letter is below: May 24, 2012
The Honorable Terry Yonkers
Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Logistics
1670 Air Force Pentagon, Washington, DC 20330-1670
Dear Assistant Secretary Yonkers:
Thank you for visiting with us last week to discuss the cleanup of the Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB) fuel spill in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We truly appreciate your ongoing attention to protecting the health and environment in and around KAFB.
We welcome your goal to aggressively remove fuel to stabilize the spilled fuel plume by 2017. We realize that significant uncertainties remain, but agree it is important to set a strong goal to ensure protection of drinking water. We also appreciate the fact that the Air Force is committed to working with the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) to ensure there are adequate contingency plans for safe and reliable drinking water in case any existing water wells are ever affected. To ensure success, it is critical for the Air Force to maintain focus on achieving this mission and devoting the financial resources necessary to do so.
We would also like to follow up on our meeting with some recommendations in order to assist in resolving this issue and protecting the groundwater supplies that provide New Mexico’s largest metropolitan area with drinking water. First, we recommend that the Air Force continue to work closely with the ABCWUA and assist them with the necessary resources to conduct further scientific and technical analysis of the size, extent, and characterization of the spill, along with the progress and effectiveness of the cleanup project. While we have no reason to believe that the Air Force’s studies are inadequate, additional analysis would be a great help in maintaining public trust during this project.
Second, we are aware that the Air Force is providing resources to ABCWUA to conduct monthly testing of water wells, which to date have shown no contamination. We urge continuation of this arrangement and expanding it if appropriate to ensure accurate information about the safety of groundwater and drinking water supplies.
Finally, we recommend the Air Force continue to work cooperatively with the New Mexico Environment Department to ensure that the full size, extent, and characteristics of the fuel spill are known. In the past several years, public estimates of the size of the spill have ranged from one million gallons to twenty-four million gallons. While cleaning up the spill is most important, such a broad range indicates that full characterization is incomplete. We urge the Air Force to take a precautionary approach and do what the appropriate scientific and technical experts recommend to characterize this spill.
Thank you for your service to our country and your personal dedication to this cleanup project. If we can assist you on this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Sincerely, Jeff Bingaman, United States Senator/ Tom Udall, United States Senator
Thursday, May 03, 2012
Bingaman, Udall & Luján Request Santa Clara Flood Preparation Assistance
In anticipation of the summer monsoon season, U.S. Sens. Jeff Bingaman, Tom Udall and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján are urging three federal agencies to commit resources to prevent catastrophic flooding in Santa Clara Pueblo that could occur as a result of the 2011 Las Conchas Wildfire.
In a letter to the Department of the Interior, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers the officials thanked the agencies for providing support in the aftermath of the Las Conchas Wildfire and asked them to quickly renew their efforts in order to protect the pueblo from this continued threat.
“Even a small rain event last summer led to intense flooding, the emergency evacuation of personnel in the canyon, the nearly complete destruction of the access road that runs up the canyon, and a Presidential Disaster Declaration,” they wrote. “A larger rain event would flood the pueblo itself, putting lives at risk, as well as hundreds of homes and the pueblo’s administration buildings.”
The Las Conchas Wild Fire stripped the Santa Clara Canyon of vegetation and hard-baked the soil, creating a dangerous funnel that routes surface water down the canyon toward the pueblo.
In the last 15 years, wildfires have burned more than 80 percent of the pueblo’s forest, resulting in the loss of natural resources, habitat and sacred sites.
- the Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies (FCCE) Advance Measures program, authorized by 33 USC 701n and implemented by the Army Corps of Engineers, allows for the funding of flood control work in anticipation of post-fire related floods in northern New Mexico;
- the Bureau of Indian Affairs has the authority and should identify funds so that the Santa Clara Pueblo can engage in critical long-term planning for recovery from the fire and subsequent flooding; and
- funding for repair and renovation of water control structures in and out of the Santa Clara Canyon, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency has under review, should be provided as soon as possible so that work can begin immediately.
The Santa Clara Pueblo has a long road ahead, but with your support, the lives and property of the people can be protected, while the mission of restoring the canyon and forest can go on.
Jeff Bingaman, United States Senator
Tom Udall, United States Senator
Ben Ray Luján, Member of Congress
Saturday, March 31, 2012
New Mexico’s Working Families Praise New Mexico’s U.S. Senators for Voting to End Billions in Special Oil & Gas Company Tax Breaks
From Organizers in the Land of Enchantment:
Reps. Luján, Heinrich Vote Against Oil & Gas Tax Breaks in Ryan Budget
The U.S. Senate failed to pass legislation Thursday by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) which would have cut $24 billion in tax breaks for the five richest oil companies and use the savings to pay down the U.S. debt and invest in wind power and energy efficiency. Organizers in the Land of Enchantment (OLÉ) praised New Mexico’s U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall for voting for the legislation.
Even though a majority voted to pass the bill, the nearly party line vote of 51-47 failed to muster the 60 votes needed to override a filibuster.
Also on Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (WI) budget which retains a decade of oil and gas industry tax breaks worth tens of billions of dollars. OLÉ applauds Congressmen Ben Ray Luján and Martin Heinrich for voting against continuing these taxpayer giveaways and expresses frustration that Rep. Steve Pearce voted for it.
Oil companies made $137 billion in profits last year, thanks to the high prices consumers paid at the gas pump. And despite nearly record high levels of drilling in the United States, gas prices are going up not down.
“We don’t have a problem with too little production; we have a problem with too much profiteering. And working families are footing the bill,” said Mathew Henderson, OLÉ Executive Director.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Senator Udall: Transportation Bill Good for America, New Mexico
On Wednesday March 14th, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) urged the House to act on legislation that passed the Senate overwhelmingly today to create jobs by revitalizing America’s thruways and bridges. The bill passed the chamber in strong bipartisan fashion by a vote of 74-22.
"There is no more certain way to create jobs than through the revitalization of America's roads, bridges and other vital infrastructure,” said Udall. “The bipartisan surface transportation bill the Senate advanced today will provide much needed certainty for state and local governments to plan ahead and further stabilize our economy."
The legislation includes $12 million for the next two years for Udall’s Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety Research initiative. This initiative was introduced with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) last March as stand-alone bill known as the “Research of Alcohol Detection Systems for Stopping Alcohol-related Fatalities Everywhere Act,” or “ROADS SAFE Act.”
“Too many innocent lives have been taken at the hands of drunk drivers,” Udall said. “With the advancement of technology in this day and age, we have the power to stop drunk driving before it starts by making sure would-be drivers can’t start a car if they are over the legal limit.”
The focus of the research that will be funded is to develop a passive alcohol detection system for vehicles to prevent any individual who is over the legal limit from being able to operate the vehicle. It has the backing of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the Century Council, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and many others.
Udall also reported on several other provisions he was responsible for including in the measure:
- A Rural Safety amendment, to ensure that vehicle crash rates are considered when states prioritize federal safety funding. Currently, in many cases, only the number of crashes is considered, which puts rural areas with lower total numbers of vehicles at a disadvantage.
- An amendment to give states the flexibility to spend funding on local and county roads within ten miles of the international border when 50 percent or more of the traffic is for federal purposes. This amendment addresses concerns expressed by Luna and Hidalgo counties regarding the increase in maintenance requirements on local roads due to the rise of border patrol activity in the area.
- An amendment to allow rural towns to invest their federal dollars to improve roads adjacent to their main streets. This provision gives small towns more flexibility to maintain their main street character while addressing congestion and accessibility concerns. Currently, small towns are faced with the choice of building expensive bypasses that direct traffic around the city, hampering main street and downtown businesses, or widening the main street itself, which also often has detrimental impacts on downtown areas.
- An amendment to ensure that non-motorized users of the transportation system (bicyclists and pedestrians) have a voice at the table during the development of safety, statewide and metropolitan area transportation improvement plans.
- Udall also reported improvements to the Tribal Transportation Formula, to avoid a 20 percent cut in funding to the Navajo Nation, which was included in an earlier version of the legislation. Instead, the Navajo Nation’s funding will remain stable and the Pueblos in New Mexico will receive a significant boost in funding.
Senator Udall: Contaminated Laguna Mine Proposed for ‘Superfund’ Cleanup Status
U.S. Senator Tom Udall, issued a statement on Tuesday, March 13th following the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to list the Jackpile-Paguate Uranium Mine in Cibola County to the National List of Priorities of Superfund sites.
Friday, February 24, 2012
Senators Encourage FCC Effort to Make Campaign Advertisements More Transparent
Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and seven other senators issued a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski yesterday encouraging swift implementation of a proposed rule to make political advertisements more transparent.
“With the 2012 election season already underway, citizens have a right to know who is purchasing public airtime to support or oppose candidates,” the senators wrote. “More people rely on TV stations for information than any other medium, making transparency in advertising critically important. However, the creators of campaign ads often hide behind confusing organizational names that do not provide adequate information about who is actually paying for the ads, or worse, can actually mislead the public about the identity or purpose of the advertisement.
“The online posting of information in broadcast stations’ political file cannot wait until months after the election; citizens deserve to know who is responsible for funding these advertisements today.”
This problem has become widespread in this election cycle with the Citizens United decision creating a proliferation of ads backed by opaque outside groups. A recent analysis by OpenSecrets.org found that, as of January, more than 95% of spending on the 2012 elections had been backed by outside groups as opposed to candidates and political parties. At the same point in 2008, the ratio was roughly 50-50.
The proposed rule would require broadcast stations to make files related to political advertisements available publicly online. The stations are currently required to make the files available to the public, but only in paper form. Additionally, the Senators requested that the information be posted in a searchable database to make it easier for voters to find information about the ads they are viewing.
In addition to Udall, the letter was joined by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Al Franken (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mark Begich (D-AK), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), and Jon Tester (D-MT).
The full text of the letter follows below and is available online here.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Udall Statement on Payroll Tax Holiday Extension
Short and pointed statement from Senator Udall:
U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) issued the following statement today on the Senate’s passage of a two-month payroll tax cut extension:
"New Mexico families are doing everything they can just to make ends meet right now and I refuse to sock them with a $1,000 tax increase at the beginning of the year. That's the only reason I supported this two-month payroll tax cut extension. It's a sad example of the dysfunction in Congress that we can't provide working Americans with more certainty at a time like this."
Bill That Funds N.M. Public Lands and Other Initiatives Sent to President
An excellent Christmas present for New Mexico. Should provide some jobs at least to get a few people working again.And if anyone has driven through some of our State Forest there is alot of downed and dead standing trees. The $402 million should help that hazardous condition within the state.
U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall voted for final approval of a spending measure that funds important public lands initiatives in New Mexico.
The Senate today approved the fiscal year 2012 Omnibus Spending Bill and will now send it to the President to be signed into law.
“By improving the health of our national forests and protecting our state’s public lands, the funding in this bill is an important investment in New Mexico and its people,” Bingaman said.
“New Mexico's public lands are an essential part of our heritage and provide a livelihood for folks across the state,” said Udall. “This bill provides critical funding to help sustain New Mexico's enchanting landscapes and special places.”
The bill included funding for the following New Mexico initiatives:
- $3.432 million for operations at the Valles Caldera National Preserve
- $3.4 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to acquire the Miranda Canyon property in Taos County by the Carson National Forest.
- $8.533 million for the Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Culture and Arts in Santa Fe.
- $40 million for the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Fund – a program that Senator Bingaman authored in 2009. Two New Mexico projects will benefit from this level of funding: the ongoing Southwest Jemez Project and a highly-ranked project in the Zuni Mountains within the Cibola National Forest will have a better chance at getting selected during the second round of national selections.
- $1 million for the Livestock Loss Demonstration Program. A portion of the funds will go to New Mexico to compensate ranchers for livestock depredations by Mexican wolves and other means of reducing conflicts between cattle and wolves.
Also at Bingaman and Udall’s urging, the final bill includes $402 million for the Forest Service’s Hazardous Fuels and State Fire Assistance programs, which help mitigate the risks of severe wildfires.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
N.M. Senators React to Report on Use of Chimpanzees in Research
U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall welcomed news that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will adopt new guidelines outlined in a new scientific report that greatly limit the circumstances under which chimpanzees can be used for research.
At the request of New Mexico’s senators and Senator Tom Harkin, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies undertook a comprehensive study about whether chimpanzees are still necessary for health research. The expert report, released publicly today, concluded that testing on chimpanzees is largely no longer necessary, however, very limited circumstances exist where it may still be beneficial.
On the heels of being briefed about the report findings on Tuesday, Bingaman and Udall wrote to the National Institute of Health Director Francis Collins urging the prompt adoption of the IOM's new recommendations. The senators also told Dr. Collins they hoped that, in light of the new report, the chimpanzees in Alamogordo will be excluded from further testing. The Senator's letter is at the end of this post.
The Animal Protection of New Mexico (APNM) has worked tirelessly for the stopping of the testing on Chimpanzees at New Mexico's Alamagordo Primate Facility . APNM's website states their mission: "APNM's mission is to advocate the rights of animals by effecting systemic change, resulting in the humane treatment of all animals."
Laura Bonar, APNM Program Director had this to say about the report, “This represents years of effort with many dedicated New Mexicans working together to protect these chimpanzees. It also shows the power of the people when working together in a meaningful way the success that can be achieved."
The Senator's letter follows:
December 14, 2011
Dear Director Collins:
We are writing regarding the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, “Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research,” which our offices were briefed on earlier this week. We appreciate the support you and the NIH staff have dedicated to this issue following our request for the study.
The IOM report recommends the National Institutes of Health adopt strict criteria for evaluating future proposals to use chimpanzees in biomedical, genomics, or behavioral research programs. These criteria would significantly reduce the need for chimpanzees in health research. We ask you to promptly adopt these recommendations.
In addition, we hope that you will find that the chimpanzees in Alamogordo Primate Facility (APF) should be excluded from research after you evaluate them in light of these new criteria. For example, the report notes that one of the few areas of biomedical research where chimpanzees may still be needed is to evaluate the effectiveness of prophylactic vaccines for the hepatitis C virus, the leading cause of liver transplants in the United States. However, many of the APF chimpanzees are already infected with the hepatitis C virus and therefore may not be suitable for evaluating the effectiveness of a prophylactic vaccine for this virus.
Although the report cautions against imposing an immediate ban on the use of chimpanzees in research, it clearly highlights that the need for using chimpanzees in testing has greatly diminished. Specifically the report states “[t]he present trajectory indicates a decreasing scientific need for chimpanzee studies due to the emergence of non-chimpanzee models and technologies.” With that in mind, we ask that you support funding for these technologies that further diminish the need to use chimpanzees in biomedical research.
Thank you for consideration of these matters.
Jeff Bingaman, United States Senator
Tom Udall, United States Senator