NM Dems tout $1.5T spending bill

By:  Ryan Boetel

New Mexico Rep. Melanie Stansbury, D-N.M., said her very first actions as a congresswoman are reflected in the $1.5 trillion 2022 omnibus spending package that was approved by Congress last week.

Stansbury said she learned hours before her swearing-in ceremony June 14 that she would immediately need to submit proposals for federal funding for projects in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District for the upcoming fiscal year. She said none had been submitted to the Appropriations Committee on behalf of the district, which includes much of Albuquerque, because the post was vacant after former-Rep. Deb Haaland resigned to join the president’s Cabinet.

“And so we had a list of proposals that had been submitted by various towns, municipalities, community groups, to our office in the interim, before I was elected,” Stansbury said in an interview. “And so we took a stack of proposals that was probably about 50 proposals, and we very quickly sorted through them. And similar to what I did when I was a state legislator, we really prioritized public safety, economic development and abuse and community programs.”

Some of those projects in the district that are included in the bill are:

  • $1 million for a trauma recovery center in Albuquerque for victims of violent crime
  • $5.2 million for upgrades to the Moriarty Fire Station
  • $1 million for the Indian Pueblo Opportunity Center
  • $1.5 million for the University of New Mexico for health research facilities and equipment.

Stansbury said the spending package pieced together 12 annual bills and the votes were broken down into a $730 billion package for non-defense programs and $782 billion for defense programs. The latter also included a $13.6 billion aid for Ukraine, which includes money for emergency assistance for people fleeing the country, economic aid to the country and funding for enforcing sanctions against Russia.

“The reason why this budget is so important is this is Biden’s first budget, we are still operating on a continuing resolution that continues the spending from the previous administration. So the current budget doesn’t reflect any of the new priorities of this Congress and this president, or of the communities that we represent,” Stansbury said. “And so that’s why the budget at the macro level is so important for our country, because it is a reflection of where we’re at and our needs at the current moment.”

Sen. Martin Heinrich said there are more than 75 projects throughout the state that will receive funding if it is signed into law.

“We have been working hand-in-hand with communities in every corner of New Mexico to ensure that more federal dollars find their way to New Mexico,” he said in a statement.

Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández said some water projects in her primarily northern New Mexico district would get large amounts of money. The Eastern New Mexico Water Supply-Ute Reservoir was slated for $17 million and the Middle Rio Grande Project will get $30.6 million, according to a news release from her office.

The lone Republican member of the delegation, Congresswoman Yvette Herrell, didn’t announce any projects that will be funded in her district.

She was one of 171 members of the House who voted against the non-defense spending package and 69 members of Congress who voted against the defense spending.

Herrell said in a statement to the Journal that she wouldn’t support the “spending spree” given current inflation rates.

“Adding insult to injury, the security portion of this omnibus funded border security for eight different countries – and cut border security for the United States,” she said. “Nancy Pelosi gave Congress 12 hours to read a 2,700-page bill and created a dishonest ‘gotcha’ vote by dividing it into two votes, where if one portion failed, the entire package failed. I will not play her game, and I cannot in good conscience vote for bills that are a slap in the face to the hard-working families of New Mexico.”