WASHINGTON – On Monday, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) addressed the Rotary Club of Albuquerque on New Mexico’s economic recovery made possible through investments he championed in the American Rescue Plan. He also laid out his priorities for the ongoing infrastructure negotiations in the Senate that can put the state – and all New Mexicans – on a long-term path for success.
“I’ve been focused ever since the onset of the pandemic on delivering the resources we need to protect the health of New Mexicans,” said Heinrich. “And I’ve fought for key support to help families and small businesses come out on firm footing on the other side of this crisis.”
Senator Heinrich championed the American Rescue Plan becoming law in March. The comprehensive relief package included targeted funding to assist local restaurants and area arts and performance venues, support for schools to safely reopen, and resources to implement a vaccination campaign across New Mexico. During his remarks, Senator Heinrich called on all New Mexicans to continue to get vaccinated.
“The evidence is clear that our vaccines work. And the more that all of us get vaccinated, the easier it will be to revive our economy, to get our kids back into classrooms, and move back toward a real sense of normalcy,” said Heinrich.
Senator Heinrich also provided an update on his efforts to secure forward-looking investments in New Mexico’s infrastructure, in climate action, and in families’ economic success as part of the ongoing negotiations on President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda in the Senate.
“We’re working on both a bipartisan infrastructure agreement that can hopefully get well over 60 votes in the Senate and a parallel track on the budget that will allow us to make long-term investments in climate, jobs, and in the economic health of our children and families,” said Heinrich.
Heinrich added, “These two packages are quite simply the greatest opportunities we may see in a generation to steer thoughtful investment to New Mexico.”
Senator Heinrich’s full remarks as prepared for delivery below:
I want to start by thanking Bert Parnall, Ken Gilman, Ann Singer, and all of the Albuquerque Rotary Club leadership for inviting me to join all of you today.
I’m guessing many of you know that one of New Mexico’s longest serving senators, and one of my role models for this job, actually got his start in public service through rising up in the leadership of the Albuquerque Rotary Club.
Clinton P. Anderson was the lead sponsor of the Wilderness Act and the lead sponsor of the Medicare Act among many other accomplishments in the Senate.
But before he ever ran for public office, he was elected as the President of Rotary International.
I’m sure that his commitment to serving New Mexicans lives on in all of your work with the Albuquerque Rotary today.
I’m looking forward to hearing some of your questions and ideas on where we should focus our energy during this pivotal time for New Mexico and our country.
There’s so much work to do as we rebuild in the short-term and set the foundation for long-term and sustainable economic growth in our state.
I’ve been focused ever since the onset of the pandemic on delivering the resources we need to protect the health of New Mexicans.
And I’ve fought for key support to help families and small businesses come out on firm footing on the other side of this crisis.
That includes targeted funding to assist our local restaurants and our local arts and performance venues that have taken such an enormous hit to their business model over this past year.
It also includes over a billion dollars to New Mexico’s public schools to help them reopen safely for in-person instruction and meet the needs of their students and staff.
I am confident—especially thanks to our vaccination numbers—that New Mexico is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel in this pandemic.
There are obviously still some worrying developments in terms of the Delta variant.
But the evidence is clear that our vaccines work.
And the more that all of us get vaccinated, the easier it will be to revive our economy, to get our kids back into classrooms, and move back toward a real sense of normalcy.
I will continue to do everything I can to keep the resources that we passed in the American Rescue Plan working directly in New Mexico communities.
And I will keep working to make even more forward-looking investments in our infrastructure and in our families.
Those of you who keep track of what’s going on in Washington probably know that the Senate is in the thick of hammering out two major pieces of legislation.
We’re working on both a bipartisan infrastructure agreement that can hopefully get well over 60 votes in the Senate and a parallel track on the budget that will allow us to make long-term investments in climate, jobs, and in the economic health of our children and families.
These two packages are quite simply the greatest opportunities we may see in a generation to steer thoughtful investment to New Mexico.
There are still a number of sticking points and negotiations ahead of us before we have final packages that can make it to President Biden’s desk.
But right now, I can say that I’m feeling optimistic that we will pass significant, forward-looking investments in our infrastructure and in our people.
And I’ll tell you that my focus has been on making sure we address the glaring infrastructure needs that are holding back our entire state.
We should refuse to accept a future that leaves so many of our fellow New Mexicans in the dark or without clean water.
I’m proud that the piece of the infrastructure bill that we passed out of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee earlier this month included full funding for important and long overdue water projects for Eastern New Mexico, the Navajo Nation, and the San Juan Basin.
Ensuring that every New Mexican has access to affordable and clean water supplies and to clean electricity must happen—and should have happened long ago.
We need to get that done.
We also need to invest in universal broadband deployment to make sure every New Mexico child can do their homework and every New Mexico business owner can reach customers online.
Now more than ever, we also need to set our sights not just on what is holding us back, but on what emerging opportunities can drive us forward.
As part of this effort, I’m not shying away from the difficult truth that we as a state need to come to terms with the global energy transition that is already upon us.
New Mexicans know that we need to confront the climate crisis that is threatening our state’s forests, agriculture and water resources.
Our water situation in New Mexico has become truly dire.
You can’t describe this as drought anymore, what we are experiencing is long-term aridification.
On top of that, in just the last month, we’ve seen unprecedented and deadly heat waves sweep across the intermountain west.
And it looks like we are in just the start of another devastating wildfire season through much of the West, though here in New Mexico our monsoons arrived just in time after several years of barely arriving at all.
We know that we need to confront this crisis.
And we need to make sure that New Mexico and other fossil fuel producing states are supported through place-based strategies that help us effectively manage this transition and successfully diversify our economies.
I’m working to pass legislation to address these challenges, including the Schools and State Budgets Certainty Act.
That bill would provide a predictable glide path for state, county, and Tribal governments to move away from their current over-dependence on federal fossil fuel revenues toward more sustainable sources of funding.
And I am proud to lead the Electrifying America’s Future Resolution and Zero-Emissions Homes Act, which lay out a bold and achievable vision for widespread electrification of parts of the economy currently dominated by combustion.
We can put millions of Americans to work electrifying the machines in our homes and buildings.
And as we clean up the grid we will power these new machines with clean and pollution free power—power that we will generate in New Mexico.
If we realize our full potential as producers and exporters of clean power, this transition will be one of our greatest opportunities to grow our state’s economy—particularly in our rural communities.
As part of the infrastructure negotiations, I’m especially focused on investments in the regional high-voltage transmission lines that are the missing link in allowing New Mexico to power much of our nation with clean electrons.
All while creating solid careers in the construction trades.
These careers will look a lot like the one my dad had.
And that job as a utility lineman afforded myself and my sisters ample opportunity to succeed ourselves.
Our ability to provide clean and renewable energy will become an increasingly powerful way to attract new businesses to our state.
It was a powerful motivator for Facebook to build its data centers in Los Lunas as just one example.
Another one of our state’s unique assets is our wide open landscapes.
We should be doing everything we can to expand our outdoor recreation economy that was one of the fastest growing job creators in our state before the onset of the pandemic.
It’s past time to rebuild and reopen that critical recreation infrastructure like campgrounds and trail systems.
I was proud to lead the bipartisan effort to pass the Great American Outdoors Act into law last year to do just that.
That new law will deliver more than $60 million over the next year for important work restoring access and recreation opportunities on New Mexico’s national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges.
In recent months I’ve also been proud to secure new public access to the Santa Fe National Forest in the Jemez and to the Sabinoso Wilderness in San Miguel County.
These new opportunities will put more incredible New Mexico landscapes on the map as must-see destinations for hunting, fishing, hiking, birding and camping.
Through my new role on the Appropriations Committee, I am also focused on delivering federal resources to New Mexico to strengthen our pivotal role in national defense.
Ever since I first came to Congress, I have made sure to fight for the critical research and national security missions at our national labs and military installations.
I am proud that since I started in the Senate, both Sandia and Los Alamos have grown their workforce substantially in our state.
Sandia grew to over 12,600 permanent employees in New Mexico last year.
To put that in perspective, just over 8,000 people were employed by Sandia in New Mexico in the year before Pete Domenici retired from the U.S. Senate.
I’m also proud to serve in a new leadership role this Congress as the Chairman of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee.
I’m building on the work that I was doing previously on the Armed Services Committee to strengthen the pivotal national role of New Mexico’s defense research labs and military installations.
That means supporting our existing testing and training missions at Kirtland, Cannon, Holloman, and White Sands.
But even more importantly, it means preparing and positioning our installations for emerging opportunities and forward-looking missions.
I’m particularly excited about the innovation ecosystem we have built both inside and outside the fenceline at Kirtland Air Force Base.
We’ve made Albuquerque the ideal place for innovators in emerging defense technologies like small satellites, directed energy, and hypersonics to put down roots.
You can see this in action in recent announcements that technology companies like Blue Halo and BlackSky are building new facilities in Albuquerque.
Our national labs will continue to support our nuclear deterrent while staying on the cutting edge of research and innovation in fields like materials science, quantum computing, cyber-security, and clean energy.
I will continue to do all I can to support their work and their important contributions to our state’s economy.
And I will also continue to look for ways to diversify our economy and grow new industries.
Of course the most important thing we can do to grow our state’s economy is to step up to the plate for our children and hardworking families who will always be the most important drivers of any future success.
I strongly believe that our children in New Mexico are just as capable, just as talented as children anywhere else.
But if we want them to succeed and thrive, we need to commit real resources to increase opportunities for them and their families.
There is no doubt that this past year has compounded so many difficulties that children and families in New Mexico have long faced.
But we have a real opportunity to address these challenges head-on and invest in the future of our children at the level they have long deserved.
Thanks to the major expansion of the Child Tax Credit Democrats passed as part of the American Rescue Plan, millions of families across the country started receiving tax credits this month to help with the costs of raising their children.
95 percent of New Mexico’s children will benefit from this expansion.
Experts say that the expansion of the Child Tax Credit could help cut the nation’s childhood poverty rate by half.
As I said earlier, the American Rescue Plan also delivered critical resources for our public schools.
And it included by far the most federal support for the child care sector since World War II, and expanded health care coverage for everyone—building on the strong foundation of the Affordable Care Act.
I’m also pleased that New Mexico has taken major steps at the state level to support our children’s future.
Our Legislature finally passed a Constitutional Amendment to invest a portion of New Mexico’s Land Grant Permanent Fund in early childhood education.
There is no greater investment that we can make in the success of our state than in the earliest years of our children’s development.
I’m leading the effort to ensure Congressional approval of this Constitutional Amendment.
I hope many of you will join me in encouraging voters to pass this game-changing investment in our kids’ future when it is on the ballot next year.
I hope all of you can see how committed I am to making smart investments in the long-term success of New Mexico’s diverse, creative, and resilient communities.
I strongly believe that if we make forward-looking choices in this pivotal moment that our state’s best days are right in front of us.