After personal reflection on this day we’ve all been awaiting for years, we also offer an update on the New Mexico legislative session, including new Senate Committee membership. Today’s post is short because the focus of our energy is on preparation for the legislative session.
We Turn the Page…Finally
We approach this day with an odd emotional cocktail, a mix of trepidation, sadness, relief, and hope.
- Trepidation over the security of our Capitol and the safety of the President and Vice President-elects. While Trump will be gone today, the genie is out of the bottle and the white supremacist terrorists that Trump and the alt-right media have emboldened will be with us for a very long time, a constant threat to our future.
- Sadness, because while we have somehow survived, so many have not. More than 400,000 Americans have died from COVID, and millions remain out of work, many of them on the verge of homelessness. The litany of moral offenses we’ve endured is endless.
- The sense of relief is palpable, as the pettiness and hate is about to be shown the door. At last, we will be free of the spiteful, ignorant Trump administration.
- And so, mixed with trepidation, sadness, and relief is a feeling that has been largely absent for four years: hope. As we’ve recounted these last few days, Biden is not FDR and some of his appointments have raised concerns of strong ties with neoliberal policy advocates. But we’ve seen other signs, signs of someone who actually cares about the lives of common people, the essential workers, and our communities of color. And so, at least for today, I choose hope.
No need to go over what we’ve endured, but if you want to review the past four years, Heather Cox Richardson does a very good job of rehashing, beginning with the Muslim ban and ending with pardons, the 1776 Commission, and revoking the Executive Order 13770, an order on ethics Trump signed when he first took office. Revoking this order will allow those who have served in his administration to cash in with lucrative lobbying gigs. So much for draining the swamp.
But it is January 20, and we are turning the page.
Reports yesterday continued to provide indications that things will be different under a Biden administration: Biden has indicated that the border wall project will cease immediately, as will the historic repaving of US history, the 1776 Commission. Reviewing the entire Commission report would be cruel and unusual punishment. Imagine US history as told by Confederate apologists. But this brief piece tells you all you need to know.
Other reports indicate that Biden will end the XL pipeline, reverse the Muslim ban, create a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants, raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and offer almost $2 trillion in COVID relief. Again, at least for today, I choose hope.
News In Brief.
As we’ve reported over the last few days, there is encouraging evidence that there will be more than just neo-liberal proponents among his cabinet.
From Axios. “Biden picks Warren allies to lead SEC, CFPB.” Biden has selected FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra to be the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Obama-era Wall Street regulator Gary Gensler to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Both picks are progressive allies of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and viewed as likely to take aggressive steps to regulate big business.
From The Washington Post: “Biden to sign a blizzard of executive orders starting Wednesday that will reverse Trump’s policies” The Post provides an excellent summary of the executive orders that Biden intends to sign today. With the stroke of a pen, it will direct our nation to reverse a litany of offenses that compromised the health and security of so many Americans and soon-to-be Americans.
From The Washington Post: “The Trump administration bailed out prominent anti-vaccine groups during a pandemic.” I almost posted this yesterday, but it seemed you had more than enough to digest. This is staggering: The COVID Relief bill passed in December included $850K in funding to anti-vaccine groups who will use those funds to undermine efforts to vaccinate our nation. Today we turn the page.
From NM Political Report. “Guv quietly looks to expand export markets for natural gas.” This lays out a plan for NM to partner with Baja California to funnel our fracked gas to Baja to be processed and distributed. This is a clear indication of the Governor’s priorities and it is not to effect a just transition, at least not yet. Rather it appears her plan is to drain every last drop of economic benefit from our oil fields, the future of our grandchildren be damned.
Yesterday’s first day of the session went smoothly, except for a technical glitch in the Senate that delayed the opening by 45 minutes. Nonetheless, far more was accomplished in the first day than is typical, with scores of bills introduced, Sen. Mimi Stewart formally elected Senate Pro-Tem, House Rep. Egolf re-elected House Speaker along party lines (45-25), and committee members and chairs selected in both chambers.
In the Senate, most committees look far more manageable than in past years, with the infusion of seven new Democrats and the exit of five highly conservative Democrats. While most of the chair appointments went as expected, particularly good selections include Sen. Benny Shendo to lead the Senate Tax, Business, and Transportation Committee, and Sen. Shannon Pinto to head Senate Indian, Rural, and Cultural Affairs. The Senate Tax, Business, and Transportation Committee will be a far more workable replacement for Corporations and Transportation (which was chaired by Sen. Clemente Sanchez).
Unfortunately, there is one glaring challenge for advancing progressive legislation, at least if it requires funding: the Senate Finance Committee. Senate Pro-Tem Stewart appointed Sen. George Muñoz as chair of Senate Finance. Muñoz is an ally of former Finance Chair Sen. John Arthur Smith, and a strong fiscal conservative with banking ties. In addition, the membership of the committee includes some of the more moderate Senate Democrats. Senator Muñoz needs but one Democrat to side with him and the four GOP Senators to block legislation. And then, of course, Muñoz has the power as chair to simply not assign a bill for a hearing if he sees he doesn’t have the votes to block the bill. Below are all of the Senate committee appointments.
Chair: Mimi Stewart (D)
Vice Chair: Peter Wirth (D)
Members: Gregory Baca (R), Craig Brandt (R), Joseph Cervantes (D), Katy Duhigg (D), Siah Correa Hemphill (D), Linda M. Lopez (D), George Muñoz (D), Cliff Pirtle (R), Benny Shendo (D)
Chair: Liz Stefanics (D)
Vice Chair: Antoinette Sedillo Lopez (D)
Members: David Gallegos (R) – Ranking Member, Joseph Cervantes (D), Carrie Hamblen (D), Steven Neville (R), Harold Pope Jr. (D), William Soules (D), Gregg Schmedes (R)
Chair: William Soules (D)
Vice Chair: Harold Pope Jr. (D)
Members: Steven Neville (R) – Ranking Member, Craig Brandt (R), Martin Hickey (D), Gay Kernan (R), Michael Padilla (D), Shannon Pinto (D)
Chair: George Muñoz (D)
Vice Chair: Nancy Rodriguez (D)
Members: William Sharer (R) – Ranking Member, William Burt (R), Pete Campos (D), Jacob Candelaria (D), Crystal Diamond (R), Roberto “Bobby” Gonzales (D), Siah Correa Hemphill (D), Jeff Steinborn (D), Pat Woods (R)
Health & Public Affairs:
Chair: Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D)
Vice Chair: Bill Tallman (D)
Members: Gregg Schmedes (R) – Ranking Member, David Gallegos (R), Stuart Ingle (R), Brenda McKenna (D), Antoinette Sedillo Lopez (D), Liz Stefanics (D)
Indian, Rural & Cultural Affairs:
Chair: Shannon Pinto (D)
Vice Chair: Leo Jaramillo (D)
Members: Ron Griggs (R) – Ranking Member, Brenda McKenna (D), Joshua Sanchez (R), Benny Shendo (D)
Chair: Joseph Cervantes (D)
Vice Chair: Bill O’Neill (D)
Members: Cliff Pirtle (R) – Ranking Member, Gregory Baca (R), Katy Duhigg (D), Daniel Ivey-Soto (D), Linda M. Lopez (D), Mark Moores (R), Mimi Stewart (D)
Chair: Daniel Ivey-Soto (D)
Vice Chair: Katy Duhigg (D)
Members: Stuart Ingle (R) – Ranking Member, Gregory Baca (R), Linda M. Lopez (D), Mark Moores (R), Bill O’Neill (D), Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D), Cliff Pirtle (R), Mimi Stewart (D), Peter Wirth (D)
Tax, Business, & Transportation:
Chair: Benny Shendo (D)
Vice Chair: Michael Padilla (D)
Members: Gay Kernan (R) – Ranking Member, Craig Brandt (R), Ron Griggs (R), Carrie Hamblen (D), Martin Hickey (D), Leo Jaramillo (D), Joshua Sanchez (R), Bill Tallman (D), Peter Wirth (D)
Today, we will be toggling between inauguration and review of bills as we need to be ready by tomorrow when House Committees will begin hearing bills. Stay tuned!
In solidarity and hope,
Paul & Roxanne
Categories: Election, Political Reform & National Politics