More to Come...
Our country needs to expand Medicare for ALL!
Healthcare is a human right, and the implementation of universal healthcare is a first step in addressing racial and ethnic inequities systemic in our society.
The pandemic has laid bare the inequities in our healthcare system, and it is immoral that we tolerate a system that has devastated poor people and people of color. Too many people are suffering and dying needlessly because quality healthcare is not available to them.
America’s private, for-profit health system is failing to provide basic medical care and improve our population’s health, and it excludes anyone who can not afford to pay to simply survive.
No one should be poor because they are sick, nor sick because they are poor.
About Medicare: Medicare is an efficient system that has well-served our nation’s elderly for generations, and it’s common sense to build on a program that works.
The Congressional Budget Office recently published a report showing that Medicare for All would reduce health spending.
A Medicare for All system will increase efficiency and cut out administrative expenses in our health system, including administrative costs, CEO pay, insurer-sponsored lawsuits, and providers’ compliance overhead.
A larger Medicare pool could also negotiate down the prices of prescription drugs and healthcare equipment, and tackle markups on basic goods and services.
I will fight for a Medicare for All system that provides medical services to everyone and that also ensures that all medical care workers, from janitors, to nurses to doctors are fairly compensated for their heroic work.
Medicare for All would also benefit the economy. Employees and families shouldn’t lose health coverage when they lose their job. The way it is now, all employers are struggling under the weight of ballooning insurance costs — effectively a tax which drives up labor costs and drives down employment. We must reduce the economic insecurity, instability, and burden of our current system.
In Congress, I will strive towards passing legislation that protects our air, land, water, and biodiversity.
We also must address climate change and the environmental disasters that it causes. Everyday that passes without aggressive action on the environment is an opportunity we lose for our future generations.
In the NM State Senate I have pushed against the Oil and Gas Lobby for a pause on new fracking permits so that we can regulate a dangerously under-regulated industry.
I have fought against an oil industry backed “Produced Water” bill that opens a path towards allowing the oil industry to use toxic and fracking wastewater on crops with inadequate water quality standards or regulation.
In the 2021 NM Legislative Session I am the lead sponsor of a Joint Resolution to pass and adopt a Green Amendment to our State Constitution, which will ensure that all residents of our spectacular state have a right to clean air, water, and land and cultural rights.
Climate Change: Addressing Climate Change is a global, federal, state and local issue and it will take bold action and innovative collaboration to accomplish a meaningful burning of greenhouse gas emissions. New Mexico presents many opportunities for change. New Mexico’s already warm, arid climate poses challenges for ensuring an adequate supply of clean water; protecting forests, ecosystems, and wildlife; sustaining our state’s agricultural heritage; and protecting human health and safety. Climate change will dramatically accelerate the problems posed to natural ecosystems and human society.
Air: With a methane cloud now measuring over 2,500 square miles, New Mexico’s atmosphere now has the largest area of elevated methane concentration ever measured in the U.S. While I’ve advocated for better regulations at the state level, I will also fight to implement stronger national standards that reduce oil and gas methane emissions. Reducing local pollution levels, such as methane, VOCs, particulate matter, and other harmful substances also tends to correlate with progress on climate. Having served on the Albuquerque Air Quality Control Board, I know about writing federal laws that can be implemented at the state and local levels.
Land: We have a moral obligation to preserve our treasured public lands for future generations, and we have a calling to protect our environment for the sake of our collective public health. In New Mexico, produced water spills have poisoned our land. In the 2021 NM Legislative session I have worked with local environmental groups to introduce amendments to strengthen what is currently a weak and insufficient “Produced Water Act.”
Water: Access to clean water is a universal right. From stopping the threat that fracking poses to our water supplies to rebuilding our wastewater treatment plants and water lines, I will fight to bring federal resources to help rebuild the water infrastructure of New Mexico. In the 2021 Legislative Session, I am supporting an increase in resources to the State Engineer, whose office is charged with preserving and allocating water quality, as well as the Environmental Department. These vital departments are severely underfunded and their budgets should reflect the value we place on the environment.
In New Mexico fracking is causing a crisis. It threatens to deplete our precious water supply and also poison it with naturally occuring radiation and toxic chemicals that are in the toxic waste known as produced water. The produced water amendments that I am introducing this session will require tracking of the water from source to ultimate disposal, will provide consequences for spills, and provide resources to the Oil and Conservation division for technology assistance to publish information on produced water. Finally, it requires the Environment Department to use the best available science as it studies whether produced water could ever be reused safely outside of reuse in the Oil and Gas industry.
Biodiversity: Preserving our globe’s precious biodiversity is crucial for ensuring our long -term health and well being. We need to reign in the corrupting influence of companies like Monsanto, whose pesticides are deteriorating populations of essential pollinators. As an example, I will support the Saving America’s Pollinators of 2019 introduced by Representative Blumenhaeur. I look forward to working with more environmental groups focused on this and other biodiversity issues that we face.
I support the Green New Deal because we must usher in a new energy future that:
Ensures that our energy is not only clean, but also affordable.
Holds polluting companies accountable for their negative impacts on our land, water, air, and health.
Will increase the supply of affordable energy and improve the resilience and security of the power grid.
Will bring sustainable job opportunities and economic development to communities.
Challenge the exploitative model of the fossil fuel industry that leaves communities with little economic benefit and major environmental damage.
Our most important and precious resource is our children. The federal government has an obligation in funding to ensure that all children receive an appropriate education so that they can thrive.
I support adequate funding for early childhood education, K-12, and higher education.
I know our educators are the best source of information about learning objectives and methods and that they should be well paid for their highly skilled craft.
Our education system must be tailored to meet children where they are; this includes multi-cultural and multilingual education.
Lawmakers should set policy direction, provide adequate funding, and not micromanage public education. Leave teaching to the experts: teachers.
We need to provide universal broadband coverage to all of the U.S. so that students in underserved and rural areas and their families can access the internet that so many of us take for granted.
Free College, University, and Trade Schools for ALL
The valuable and potentially life changing experience of a college education should be universally available to any student who wants to pursue it. Unfortunately, the average price per semester of a college education has tripled in the last 30 years, while the average hourly wage of a college graduate has only increased by $1. Students are graduating with tens of thousands of dollars of student debt and are unable to get jobs that will help them pay off that debt.
There are also many racial and class disparities that exist throughout higher education. We need to close these gaps and ensure all people, no matter their race, income, zip code, or immigration status receive a high quality education.
In Congress, I will join efforts to:
Guarantee tuition and debt-free public colleges, universities, HBCUs, minority- serving institutions and trade-schools to all by passing the College for All Act to provide at least $48 billion per year to eliminate tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities, tribal colleges, community colleges, trade schools, and apprenticeship programs.
Cancel all student loan debt for the some 45 million people who owe about $1.6 trillion and place a cap on student loan interest rates going forward at 1.88 percent.
Invest $1.3 billion every year in private, non-profit historically Black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions such as the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute on Albuquerque'sAlbuquerque's Westside.
End equity gaps in higher education attainment.
Ensure students are able to cover non-tuition costs of attending school by: expanding Pell Grants to cover non-tuition and fee costs, tripling funding for the Work-Study Program, and more.
I support all relief efforts that are based on the best available and evolving evidenced -based scientific knowledge about COVID-19.
As we start to turn the corner, we need to support individuals and businesses with appropriate and accessible healthcare and economic assistance to build our economy to be stronger and more resilient than it was before.
Stimulus Checks: We need to ensure all people who have lost their jobs and livelihoods are able to make ends meet by providing regularly dependable and meaningful stimulus checks.
Vaccine: The distribution of the vaccine must follow medical guidelines to protect our most vulnerable residents first. After that, we must make the vaccine free and available to everyone.
Pandemic Response Unit: In Congress, I will fight to ensure that a Pandemic Response Unit is reinstated and appropriately funded. One of the many travesties of the Trump Administration was its harming of public health by disbanding the CDC Pandemic Response Unit.
Universal Healthcare: The pandemic has revealed the many inequities in our health system and the uneven impact of the pandemic across communities of color. This is another reason we need to expand our existing Medicare system to all people.
Gun safety is a particularly important issue for me. As the executive director of a domestic violence service agency, I served on the NM Intimate Partner Death Review team and I have come to know all too well about the dangerous combination of domestic violence and guns in a home. I understand that the Second Amendment, like all individual rights, is a balance between the right and public safety, and there is still much we can do to curb gun violence in our communities while maintaining this balance.
In the New Mexico State Senate:
Co-sponsored the New Mexico Gun Safety and Domestic Violence Bill, which passed and was signed by the governor in 2019.
I also championed the Emergency Protection Order Act which gives law enforcement, with court permission, a tool to remove weapons from an individual who poses a threat to themselves and/or others.
I supported the requirement that all transfers of guns be run through a federal database search to insure that felons and individuals convicted or with pending domestic violence restraining orders cannot purchase firearms.
In the upcoming session I plan to introduce a Secure Storage bill to encourage gun owners to ensure their weapons are in secure storage and that they prevent individuals who should not have access to firearms, such as domestic violence abusers from having access to their firearms. This will prevent needless accidental household deaths and will keep guns out of the hands of those who are prohibited by law from having access to firearms.
In addition to common-sense gun safety regulations such as those we passed in New Mexico, in Congress:
I will seek to overturn the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a 2005 law that extends immunity to gun manufacturers for the harm caused by the weapons they produce. It is unconscionable that a whole industry that manufactures inherently dangerous objects bears no responsibility for negligently, recklessly, or even intentionally causing harm to individuals hurt by their products.
I will support legislation to mandate universal, centralized and effective background checks prior to gun transfer.
My door will always be open to Tribes and Nations and Indigenous people and I will work hard to ensure respect and collaboration to strengthen the sovereignty and independence of tribal governments. I worked closely with the founding director of the Southwest Indian Law Clinic, Christine Zuni Cruz, to maintain the Center’s funding and its independence when I served as Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs at UNM law school.
The Navajo Nation has been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. This is due to long-standing health disparities such as disproportionate rates of pre-existing health conditions and chronically underfunded federal and Tribal healthcare facilities. I will continue to push for emergency relief for the Navajo Nation to not only address this health crisis but to ensure that the Dineh are able to rebuild their economy, water and electricity infrastructure, housing, and their health infrastructure so that they are stronger and more resilient than they were before the pandemic.
Indigenous people are the original caretakers of the land, their rights and their culture must be protected. Our country has a lot to learn from indigienous practices and culture about respect for our land, water, and air. We must work in partnership with them to preserve our fragile environment.
We must respect the nation to nation treaties that we have entered with tribes and nations. I believe in preserving sovereignty, returning religious and cultural sacred sites to their original caretakers, and returning cultural treasures to their original creators among other important issues.
In Congress, I will sign on to sponsor the Native American Language Resource Center Act to create a center for the stabilization and preservation of Native languages. This is an important initiative that Representative Haaland has introduced. As we lose a language, we lose a way of thinking and organizing what we experience. Language is fundamental to the preservation of culture.
Missing and Murdered indigenous Women: Representative Haaland has led the way to focus on the neglected pandemic of missing and murdered indigenous women. She is championing eight important bills including the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that center the experiences and needs of native women with regard to abuse and exploitation. These bills tackle the issue comprehensively, focusing on funding, law enforcement training, prevention programs and services, research, and study. I will strive to continue the efforts that she has started.
I have collaborated with the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women and Tewa Women United. I understand how important it is to follow the voices and leadership of Native women in crafting solutions to problems affecting their families and communities. I understand that jurisdictional complexities often leave Native women unprotected by law. I will partner with and follow the lead of Native women leaders to continue this important initiative.
Our federal immigration laws need to be consistent with our constitutional values, and we need to treat all individuals with dignity and respect.
As Associate Dean of the UNM School of Law, I expanded our clinic’s work in providing legal aid to immigrants and other under-served New Mexicans. More recently, I led a non-profit organization that focused on holistically serving survivors of domestic violence with a focus on immigrant communities around Central New Mexico. I know the terror Trump’s immigration policies caused in our communities.
We must get children out of cages and reunite them with their families.
We must stop the horrific excesses of ICE and reverse the hateful and racist immigration policies instituted by the Trump regime.
We must all fight for humane immigration reform that provides legalization and a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants that are currently contributing to our economy and the social fabric of our country. Our federal immigration policies should strive to bring the undocumented community out of the shadows, reunite families, and provide protections to exploited immigrant workers.
I support policies like the DREAM Act that will give our young people an opportunity to live and work without fear of deportation, and will also pay dividends to our state’s economy.
In Congress, I will work towards rewriting immigration policies to honor the values of our constitution as well as human rights. We must honor our history as a country of immigrants.
In the New Mexico State Senate, Senator Linda Lopez has been a champion for racial justice for years. When I joined the state senate, she had a strong ally in me, and I have consistently pushed this important agenda alongside her and under her leadership. I support a bill she is sponsoring that will require a racial impact statement to be prepared for certain types of legislation and agency action.
In 2019, I participated in a legislative tour of state prisons around the state, and it was obvious that there is overrepresentation of people of color in the prisons. When the State Sentencing Commission testified before a hearing, I asked for the data about racial composition of people being held in the state prisons. To my shock I learned that the State of New Mexico does not have that data and does not collect racial or ethnic data about the people within the prisons. I worked with the Sentencing Commission to draft a memorial to ensure that such data is obtained and collected, based on self-identification. Since it is an enormous technological endeavor, the work continues, and I ask them about it at every hearing in which they appear. I recognize that collecting data is a very modest step, but this data is necessary to begin the important work needed in order to address racial disparities in our criminal justice system. We have a long way to go.
In 2020, We worked with a coalition of African-American women to center their lived experiences with regard to discrimination based on hair texture, cultural hair styles or protective hairstyles. With the leadership of Representative Sheryl Williams-Stapleton, and Senator Harold Pope, I am honored to co-sponsor the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act along with Senator Linda Lopez. We have worked with a coalition of African-American women and community leaders on a bill that will ensure protection against discrimination based on race- based hair styles by extending protection to hair texture, cultural hair styles and protective styles such as braids, locs, twists and knots. I am delighted that the federal CROWN Act passed in the House in September 2020 and that the City Council has passed a local CROWN Act.
Throughout my life, as a Latina, I have seen racial and ethnic disparities in virtually every aspect of life. In whatever my career capacity at the time, I have tried to address the disparities in my corner of the world. I will be a champion for addressing racial justice initiatives in Congress. As I always do, I will ensure that my office is racially and ethnically diverse. Also, I expect to assume some leadership on these issues in the Congressional Progressive Caucus and work collaboratively to move a racial justice agenda in housing, the environment, criminal justice, banking, education, immigration, voting rights, and other areas of institutional racism.
Law Enforcement Reform
The murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Eric Garner, Philondo Castile, Stephon Clark, Alton Sterling, Elisha Lucero, Antonio Valensuela and other people of color at the hands of police officers have shaken our collective confidence in the people who are entrusted to keep the peace in our communities. Communities of color have long distrusted law enforcement because of the long history of violent encounters with police, racial profiling, and discriminatory treatment. The Movement for Black Lives has invigorated a new generation in taking action and fixing these inequities in society.
My father was a deputy sheriff in Valencia County, and while it was not Andy Griffith’s town of Maybery, he was a local Hispano from Valencia County, and he knew many of the community members he was charged with protecting and serving. In his honor, in 2020, I introduced SB 100, a police accountability bill that would bring responsibility, transparency, and timeliness to the investigation and prosecution of cases involving police actions that result in great bodily harm. I will again introduce the Bill in the 2021 session after improving it with input from the New Mexico State Police and the Attorney General’s Office.
As a member of Congress, I will support continued efforts to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act into law, which would:
1) ban chokeholds;
2) end racial and religious profiling;
3) eliminate qualified immunity for law enforcement;
4) establish national standards for the operation of police departments;
5) mandate data collection on police encounters;
6) reprogram existing funds to invest in transformative community-based policing programs; and
7) streamline federal law to prosecute excessive force and establish independent prosecutors for police investigations.
We set a dangerous precedent when we allow the government to murder its own citizens. This is why I believe we should abolish the death penalty.
Nobody should profit from the incarceration of another human being. This is why I am adamantly against private prisons. Currently, we have a broken criminal justice system where the law is enforced disproportionately which makes the profit of incarcerated people morally bankrupt. We must transform our approach to punishment and rehabilitation in a way that is productive, and not extractive. When in Congress, I will strive to ban private prisons and demand equal justice under the law for all.
Women & Family Issues
I have been a longtime advocate for women and girls. From my time teaching a “Women and the Law” course, to working to eliminate domestic violence in New Mexico as the head of Enlace Comunitario, I have been devoted to championing women’s and children’s rights. As the former head of an anti-domestic violence agency, ending violence and in particular violence against women, is a deeply personal challenge that II will continue to fight for in Congress.
I will work to expand federal funding for improved testing, better tracking of rape kits, and robust services for survivors.
I will work to eliminate the statute of limitations on sexual assault cases, and will use Congress’ oversight role to hold the Department of Justice accountable on these issues.
I will work to build on the Violence Against Women Act’s (VAWA) successes and devote additional federal resources so that local law enforcement can adequately tackle the challenge of keeping survivors and families safe.
Women and all people should be in control of our own bodies and their own healthcare decisions. The personal and private healthcare decisions that a woman chooses to make are not the government’s business. I support Roe v. Wade. In 2019, I voted to repeal the unconstitutional and archaic New Mexico state law that criminalizes doctors who perform abortions and women who obtain abortions.
In Congress, I will continue my life-long fight for women’s rights.
I will fight to protect a woman’s right to healthcare services, including access to critical preventative care services like mammograms and ovarian cancer screenings, access to clean and safe abortion care, and access to contraceptives.
I will fight pregnancy discrimination that too often is forgotten as an essential part of reproductive freedom.
I will also fight for:
Paid family leave,
Closing the gender wage gap,
Child care affordability for working families,
Passing the FAMILY ACT, which would create a national insurance program offering families up to 12 weeks of paid leave.
When it comes to drug policy, I support regulation and rehabilitation instead of criminalization. Such an approach would reduce dangerous drug smuggling, violence and associated illegal activity.
I support the legalization of cannabis in the United States and I have twice voted in favor of the legalization of the recreational use of cannabis in my role as a State Senator on the Public Affairs Committee in the New Mexico State Senate.
I supported the Bill that was recently passed in the NM state House that contains retroactive expungement of criminal records of any and all incarcerated individuals who were arrested or convicted for using or possessing cannabis, as well as other measures to address the fact that criminalization of cannabis has had a disproportionate impact on people of color.
In Congress, I plan to push for removal of cannabis from Schedule 1 in the Federal Schedules of Controlled Substances Act. When cannabis is removed from Schedule 1, each state may decide for itself how to address the public's demand for legalized recreational cannabis. It will also permit cannabis growers and distributors to use federally insured banks, which will in turn reduce the potential for money laundering.
Substance abuse disorders are primarily caused by social conditions and are treatable. When we have an economy that is inclusive of everyone having a living wage and opportunities to prosper, when we can provide affordable housing to all, and when we have a fully universal healthcare system that is free to and includes mental health services and domestic and sexual assault violence prevention and social services, then, we will have addressed many of the root causes of substance abuse disorders.
Our LGBTQIA+ family, friends, and neighbors all over America are still being discriminated against when it comes to housing, employment, and other facets of life. In a country that prides itself on acceptance, equality and inclusion, we cannot tolerate discrimination against any person based on their sexuality or gender identity.
I fully support the Equality Act (2020) introduced by Representative David Cicilline as the most comprehensive legislation to address LGBTQIA+ issues. This bill, if passed, would amend the Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes so that individuals who are discriminated against have access to the courts for redress. It also provides sweeping reforms that work to insure inclusion and prevent harm to LGBTQIA+ individuals.
LGBTQIA+ children are more likely to face bullying in school and are more at risk for self-harm and suicide.
I support resources and legislation to end this bullying and to support and help these children.
I also support banning the psychologically damaging and psudeo-scientific practice of ‘conversion therapy,’ which continues to harm far too many LGBTQIA+ people.
Voting is the foundation of our democracy. During the Trump presidency, we saw that protecting voting rights has become more critical than ever. As a law professor, I taught courses on election law, and I believe deeply in an individual’s right to access the vote and the power to create change that the vote carries with it. The one person, one vote doctrine is an important guide for fairness.
We need to be vigilant about protecting our right to vote. Attempts to cut back on early voting, to require discriminatory voter identification, and to place barriers to registration are all voter suppression techniques that need to be fought vigorously. As the Republican Party has failed to win popular electoral majorities, they’ve unleashed assaults on ballot access and election integrity at all levels of government. Federal action is urgently needed to stop this threat to democracy and ensure that all eligible voters have access to the ballot.
In Congress, I will support:
A reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, to restore federal voting rights enforcement that is still in tatters following the Supreme Court’s misguided case Shelby County v. Holder in 2013.
Legislation to ensure that Congressional apportionment follows the Constitution’s imperative to count all persons, regardless of race, national origin, or citizenship status.
Legislation designed to end partisan gerrymandering.
As a U.S. Representative, I will work to restore voter protection by championing the Voting Rights Amendment Act, which has bipartisan support and would restore protections in states with a recent history of discrimination.
I will use my legal experience to ensure that all eligible people have equal access to the ballot box and that our elections are free from fraud and corruption.
Big money in elections is corrosive to democracy, allowing political influence to be bought, and undermines the principle of one person, one vote. While valid first amendment principles must be balanced against the public interest in reducing corruption and preserving democratic principles, money is no substitute for speech.
A constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and empower federal and state governments to regulate campaign finance fairly, reasonably, and equally.
Public financing of campaigns that adhere to democratic principles.
Increased transparency, especially with so-called ‘public interest’ expenditure committees
Maintaining and enforcing individual contribution limits and strict reporting requirements.
We must keep the issue of money in politics at the forefront of our Democratic discourse, reform the laws to end the corrosive effects of Citizens United, and end unlimited and undisclosed money in our democracy.
I pledged from my initial entry into politics to not take any corporate PAC money, NRA money, or any money from the fossil fuel industries that pollute our air and water. Here is a link to my campaign finance disclosures:
And here is my statement about raising funds during the 2021 legislative session while I am running for Congress:
The outsized influence of money in politics undermines public confidence in our political system. I am committed to significant campaign finance reform and to overturning the Citizens United Supreme Court decision which held that money is speech and that corporations have free speech rights, thus unraveling decades of campaign finance restrictions.
Despite the fact that state law permits sitting legislators to raise funds for a federal race during the period of time that they are prohibited from raising money for state races, I believe that doing so undermines public confidence in the legislative process. So, in addition to my pledge to take no money from corporate PACs, the NRA, and Oil and Gas, I will not ask for money for my Congressional campaign from lobbyists (professional or citizen) who are lobbying for legislation before the New Mexico state legislature during the period that state legislators are prohibited from asking for contributions. This follows the legislative objective of stopping the spectre of those with legislation being heard by the legislature offering contributions to legislators, or worse, legislators asking for contributions from those with legislation pending before them.
I will accept small dollar contributions for my Congressional race from individual contributors who normally do not have a powerful voice in the legislature or the halls of Congress. My allegiance is and always will be to people and their needs and not corporate greed.
I want to demonstrate that politicians can run a different kind of campaign for public office.
As we rebuild our economy after the devastation caused by the pandemic, we need to think about resilience and diversity. We need bold, comprehensive economic solutions that:
Expand economic opportunities to all New Mexicans,
Reduce income and wealth inequality,
Support small business growth,
Support workers’ right to organize and collectively bargain,
Diversify our economic drivers,
Expand good paying jobs.
In Congress, I will fight for robust infrastructure investments that repair our faltering roads and bridges and bring new, quality, and high paying jobs to New Mexico. That is why I support the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ plan laid out in the 21st Century New Deal for Jobs Act.
I will fight to bring federal resources to expand our growing clean energy and high tech economy here in New Mexico. These investments will put thousands of New Mexicans back to work in good-paying jobs. With our world-class universities, national labs, unique arts and culture, and military installations combined with federal investments, New Mexico can lead in the 21st-century economy.
I will ensure that our rural communities and small towns get their fair share of community development and infrastructure investments. The lack of basic internet access in our rural communities is outrageous. I will work hard to support state efforts to expand rural broadband access by fighting for federal resources.
Supporting New Mexico Small Businesses
Our small business community is the backbone of our economy, and we need a small business champion who will ensure that our local economy receives the investments our state needs to thrive.
Ensuring that publicly supported infrastructure projects are fair to our local businesses and their workers and that our regulatory environment is fair to consumers and small businesses.
Fighting to simplify small business regulations and working to ensure that New Mexico’s economy gets its fair share in federal investments and small business grants and loans to help our local economy thrive.
I will support expanding successful programs like the Small Business Innovation Research Program and the Small Business Technology Transfer Program, which enable businesses to grow.
Too often our small businesses don’t get a seat at the table so that their concerns are addressed so that they can thrive. The construction of Albuquerque Rapid Transit on the historic route 66 through the middle of Albuquerque and the pandemic devastated small businesses in my senate district. I have strongly supported state legislation to send them a lifeline.
As the former executive director of a non-profit, I know the challenges of balancing a budget and ensuring that 30 employees and their families receive decent pay and benefits. Lowering labor costs and overhead through healthcare reform will relieve a major burden on small employers, providing them the flexibility needed to attract, keep, and train a stable workforce.
Holding Wall Street Accountable
The lack of regulation on Wall Street is out of control. For our economy to thrive, we need to hold Wall Street accountable. I support:
More oversight of Wall Street, more resources for regulators investigating financial crimes and - if warranted - criminal prosecutions of financial industry executives who break the law.
Legislation to restore the wall between commercial and investment banking (Glass-Steagall) to protect families’ government-guaranteed deposits from being used for Wall Street speculation.
It is also important that the state should invest a portion of the interest on its massive “rainy day” funds in our children and the substantial needs within our state and not in Wall Street. I often say, “Invest in need, not corporate greed.”
Progressive Tax Policy
I believe in tax policy in which those who can afford to pay the most actually pay their fair share. The tax code should be simplified and clarified and made more fair. It does not make sense to tax labor at a higher rate than investment income. This is a prime example of a regressive tax policy. The ultra-wealthy should pay their fair share by paying a small tax on their wealth as well as on their income. This will assist us in obtaining the resources we need for programs we need to grow the economy, protect the environment and address income inequality.
I would support a wealth tax on the top 0.1 percent – those who have a net worth of at least $32 million. These initiatives could fund housing, college education, and cancellation of student debt.
In addition, I would support a financial transaction tax that would impose fractions-of-a- percent tax on trades for stocks, bonds and derivatives.
It is time that we reverse the Trump tax cuts for the wealthy and for corporations. We have watched aghast as the wealthy in this country become wealthier, and the poor become poorer. We need to eliminate tax laws that support the discredited “trickle down” economic policies that pretend that everyone benefits when the wealthy sector of our society get tax breaks and bail-outs.
Historically, we have seen too many trade deals lower the labor and environmental standards that workers in all countries deserve. Having co-taught a course on NAFTA at UNM law school during a summer program in Guanajuato, Mexico, I understand that fighting for fair trade deals is fundamentally about fighting for jobs, workers’ standards of living, the environment and building a sustainable economy that benefits us all. We must also consider consumer standards and protection as we negotiate these deals.
I will stand up for New Mexican workers and support only fair trade deals that protect our jobs, working conditions and the environment. While trade is important to our economy, too often, multinational trade deals have not done enough to protect workers.
I will oppose any and all trade deals that don’t put the interests of workers first and those that don’t prioritize combating climate change.
Labor & Worker's Rights
History has taught us that unions help lift people out of poverty; unions did that for my family.
The decline of union membership for generations has had predictable consequences: the erosion of workers’ wages and rights.
All people should be able to secure economic security and dignity through work.
All workers must have a meaningful right to organize, so they can empower themselves to demand better working conditions, increased wages, and benefits such as paid sick leave and time off. The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the urgency for protections for essential, frontline workers.
Historically, labor protections have excluded jobs and employment that heavily employ racial minorities and women, helping drive the racial and gender wage gaps.
I will fight to expand the right to organize to groups such as farmworkers and domestic workers, who have been left behind for nearly a century.
I support further reforms to the National Labor Relations Act to make it easier for employees to unionize, protect them from employer retaliation, and pre-empt states’ ability to pass so-called right to work laws which infringe on workers’ rights and reduce unions’ membership and capacity.
I fully support S. 2810/H.R. 5728: Workplace Democracy Act, introduced by Sen. Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Pocan (D-Wis.), which would preserve workers rights to join labor organizations and to collectively bargain.
$15 Minimum Wage
Given the gross inequality in our country, we need to immediately raise the minimum wage to a living wage of $15/hr, and index it to the consumer price index to account for inflation. All around New Mexico, we see the effects of persistent poverty caused by low wages. Full-time workers can’t afford the basic necessities of rent, food, transportation, or healthcare, and families with children don’t have enough to survive and don’t have adequate opportunity. Poverty hurts society and increases crime.
While experience with increased minimum wages in cities and states across the country shows that people are better off and employment doesn’t suffer, we can’t afford to wait another 13 years to raise the minimum wage.
Keeping wages low limits workers in their healthcare, education, housing and other opportunities. These low wages hurt families with children whose opportunities are limited by poverty. I will support the Raise the Wage Act.
Our Constitution requires that war be pre-authorized by Congress. For decades, presidents have not followed this constitutional provision before pursuing military actions or hostilities.
I support the repeal of the 2001 Authorized Use of Force Act (AUMF), passed in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
I support the passage of Representative Markey and Lieu’s bill to restore a check on the president by requiring prior authorization of Congress before the use of a nuclear weapon. Here is an op-ed I wrote about this issue in 2017.
I support a 10% decrease in military spending to address the pandemic’s economic fallout for the U.S. poor and middle class. Our military needs should be able to be satisfied without the waste and excessive benefits to private military contractors presently included in the military budget.
I will always vote to oppose unnecessary wars and the killing of civilians. I support the U.S. cessation of its support of the Saudi war on Yemen. I support a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops in Afghanistan. I support a legislative investigation into the Trump-sponsored CIA death squads of non-combatants in Afghanistan as recently reported.
Military Bases: I have a deep connection to the military bases in NM. My grandfather was a custodian at Sandia Base, my three uncles on my mother’s side, all worked there in unionized construction jobs there, and now I have cousins, nieces, nephews and friends in important positions there. I don’t like it that they perceive more support from Republican administrations, than Democratic administrations. We need to change that perception.
I support the use of our labs and bases for non-military challenges that face our country and will always protect them and advocate for them. Our labs and bases have already worked on advances in environmental protection and public health. The scientists and staff are a brilliant national resource.
Our country has great potential in our military infrastructure to advance our society in the sectors that we need it the most. We are well-prepared to respond to military and terrorist threats.
Now we need to turn to the real and significant challenges facing us: global pandemics, climate change, income and wealth inequality, racial injustice and poverty.
My father was an Air Force veteran and I have many relatives who have proudly served in the military. They swore an oath to defend this nation and in some cases made the ultimate sacrifice in order to defend our nation, just like so many in our communities. A perfect example of that is our hometown hero in Valencia County, Daniel Fernandez who threw his body onto a grenade in order to save his troops during the Vietnam war. We all have a moral obligation to honor their sacrifice and service. This includes caring for the children, the spouses, and loved ones who strive to keep the memory of their children alive, while at the same time survive the loss of their loved one. We must provide high-quality essential care to so many who suffer from the effects of war, like those who may suffer from paralysis, loss of a limb, hearing, eyesight, those who suffer from PTSD, a traumatic brain injury, or any of the myriad of injuries and disabilities that resulted from their service.
We must also provide a path to citizenship for undocumented veterans who have so bravely offered their lives to protect our country, including the undocumented veterans who were deported by the Trump administration. We must also address veteran homelessness and end the tragic crisis of veteran suicide. Veterans deserve and should receive the benefits that they are entitled to receive without delay and consistently on time. The Veterans Administration must be strengthened and not privatized.
In Congress I will:
Work to eliminate the VA benefits backlog, fully fund the VA, and reverse the privatization of services for veterans and ensure that the many vacancies in the VA are filled.
Fight to ensure the undocumented veterans who were deported and the many undocumented veterans who have served our country have a smooth path to citizenship and receive all the benefits they should be afforded for their honorable service.
Expand the VA’s Caregivers Program as well as make sure mental health services for veterans are included.
Work closely with veterans groups and colleagues, who are veterans to ensure that their sacrifice is honored.
With great power comes great responsibility. The internet has powered some of the greatest advances in human history. However, this powerful technology requires coordinated federal steps to ensure the protection of ordinary citizens, our infrastructure, and democracy.
As we continue to build out our country’s digital infrastructure, we must ensure there are provisions to protect our infrastructure from cyber attacks. This includes protecting smart grids, dams, public utilities, and much more. Our federal government has an obligation to ensure that our communities are safe.
We must take action to mitigate the corrosive effects of disinformation on social media. With the great benefit of increased interconnectivity, we must ensure that social media companies find ways to keep their platforms safe, while at the same time protecting our freedom of speech.
We must have the power and control over our own data. We must have clearer public understanding about how our data is used, and we must have a right to be forgotten on the internet. Leaving so much personal and sensitive data in the hands of reckless internet companies is dangerous. We must empower and protect consumers by making it a right to control your own data on the internet.
I was reared on a small rural farm in Los Chavez, New Mexico. I know how hard it is to go out in the bone-chilling cold to break the ice in the trough so that the cattle, sheep, and pigs can have water. I also know the spectacular beauty of lying in an alfalfa field with its sweet aroma and staring up at the stars at the wonder of our universe as you hear the sounds of the animals and insects at night. The acequia system that I grew up with has proven to be important infrastructure in keeping our small farms productive in New Mexico.
Traditional farming in New Mexico, as a way of life, is in grave danger of being lost. The move to agribusiness and the many barriers to young people to enter the agriculture sector has meant that the average age of traditional farmers is over 60.
Meanwhile, our larger farmers and ranchers have been hit by drought rising costs and lower wholesale prices for their meat and produce. Chile and pecan farms have been deeply affected by drought and are likely to continue to suffer as our climate continues to change. Meanwhile our water infrastructure needs significant work. COVID-19 has made the work even more difficult and destabilized markets.
The following are some of the policies I will support to address the real needs of farmers and ranchers in our state.
We can address the challenge of affordability of land by prioritizing conservation models that keep farmland affordable for generations to come, creating tax incentives for farmers who sell their land to a beginning farmer, and improving access to credit and capital for farmers and ranchers.
We must ensure that Broadband internet service is available in every corner of the state, so that farmers and their children have access to the newest and best resources and communication options.
We should help young farmers by adding young farmers to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program or offer low-interest refinancing through the USDA. Of course, universal loan forgiveness would address this problem and solve many others. See above.
We should increase funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) to train the next generation of farmers, while also enacting comprehensive immigration reform that provides a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s undocumented farm workers.
A universal healthcare system, in a Medicare for all model would remove a huge financial burden from farmers and ranchers and enhance their competitiveness.
We should prioritize climate-smart conservation programs that promote soil health and resilience, increase beginning farmer access to these programs, and provide adequate staffing and technical assistance for farmers.
We must significantly increase support for programs that help historically underserved farmers and ranchers gain access to land and government services. For farmers of color and indigenous farmers, the disappearance of family farms has not simply been economic, but systemic. These farmers have faced disproportionate rates of land loss, and the drop in numbers of their farms over the last century has been attributed in part to decades of discriminatory practices by the USDA, which the department itself has been forced to admit and begin to address.
Finally, I plan to address the lack of medical facilities and health providers in rural parts of the country by pushing for federal funds to be directed towards supporting and growing the offering of state of the art healthcare facilities to all rural corners of our country.
Transparency at all levels of government is essential to a well-functioning democracy. I strongly believe that corruption grows in the dark. During the 2020 NM Legislative Session, I was able to be a part of changing a Senate Rule that has previously limited press ability to take video in Senate committee meetings. After having to enforce the rule when a Republican Senator invoked it while I chaired a meeting, I was able to join Senator Jeff Steinborn to introduce a rule change to ensure that the press could come freely into committee rooms to take video and pictures. Our Rule passed unanimously in the Senate and now allows for full media photography access to Senate hearings.
I will demand that Inspection of Public records Act (IPRA) requests are taken seriously and that the public will have access to the information they need, especially related to legislation.
I will fight for opening meetings and I will continue to communicate freely with the media.
Regulating Church Political Activity: Johnson Amendment
Unfortunately, in New Mexico, we have seen a dramatic increase in certain churches using their sacred houses of worship to push their political views. This is unacceptable and there must be accountability. Followers of any religion should be able to worship in peace, and have the protection of being in a nonpartisan environment. Churches have non-profit status because of the Constitutional principle of church and state. Churches must adhere to these rules to avoid the Constitutional problem of having the government violate the Constitutional prohibition of “Establishment of Religion”.
With dark money influencing our elections at a rate unseen in history, we must also stand up against religious organizations that violate their tax exempt status by engaging in politics from the pulpit. Churches, and other religious organizations are not required to disclose their donors which makes pastors that break the rules governing tax exempt status, funnels for unknown money sources attempting to influence our elections. We must have transparency about the source of any and all money in politics.
In Congress, I will work to:
Ensure that federal regulators and the IRS have the resources they need to enforce the Johnson Amendment to ensure no tax exempt organization is getting away with unduly and illegally influencing politics.
Ensure that all complaints made in my district and the State of New Mexico are taken seriously.
Action Alert: Anyone who believes that churches are violating the rules that govern their tax exempt status, which precludes them from engaging in political activity.should know that they can report this fraud (or any other tax fraud) to the IRS.
Here is the link to the IRS tax fraud reporting page: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/how-do-you-report-suspected-tax-fraud-activity
And here is a link directly to the form for submitting a tax exempt organization complaint: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f13909.pdf