Sen. Bingaman Speaks to State Legislators about Federal Funding Challenges

Sen. Jeff Bingaman

By Claus Whiteacre

Legislative members convened in the House chambers today to listen to an address by U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman.

Notably absent were some Republican senators, who remained in the Senate chamber and held an impromptu mini-caucus as Sen. Bingaman spoke.

In his address to state legislators, New Mexico’s senior senator spoke of the similarities between the challenges facing the New Mexico legislature and Congress in Washington D.C.

“New Mexico relies on both government and the private sector to create jobs.” said Bingaman.

Bingaman went on to list a large number of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects and the associated federal funds that have flowed into the state over the last couple of years.

While that funding will no longer be available, Bingaman assured the audience that New Mexico will continue to receive large amounts of
federal dollars, including money for the national laboratories to use to modernize the nuclear arsenal and comply with the new START treat and  funds for the Airforce Advanced Research Lab to develop “plug and deploy” miniature satellites.

The challenge will be to make sure that the work on energy research continues at the labs and does not get overshadowed by the lab’s new responsibilities, he said.

While most states are looking at losing military funding in the coming years, Bingaman said that New Mexico should see a steady and
continuing increase.

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Climate Change

Are you a New Mexican who’s confused about all the information swirling around out there about climate change and clean energy policy? Would you love it if you could learn more about these pivotal topics from people who really know what they’re talking about?

If so, than you should know about an event happening Friday, March 12 at 2 p.m. that will give New Mexicans the details they need to know about climate change.

As part of a national “Let’s Talk” initiative designed to connect campus to congress, professor Bruce Milne and the University of New Mexico’s Sustainability Studies Program will sponsor a statewide conference call with the offices of New Mexico Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall. The conversation on climate change is being coordinated by the Bard Center for Environmental Policy, located in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.

While the call is designed to connect campus to the Senate, any and all interested community members are welcome to send in their own questions and join the call too.

Friday’s call will begin with a briefing by a New Mexico student discussing current statewide engagement on campus with climate issues. Call conveners will then discuss positions on clean energy and climate policy from Senators Bingaman and Udall. After these two introductory briefings, they will then respond to student questions and concerns.

Anyone who is interested in being part of this critical educational dialogue on climate change should start by submitting questions to climate@bard.edu and then by calling (712) 432-3100, code 253385 at 2:00pm MST on Friday, March 12th. Those wishing to submit questions can also Click here.

For more information on the Let’s Talk initiative, follow the Bard Center for Environmental Policy’s Twitter feed and  Facebook page!

Waiting for the Wurst: NM bloggers on the Senate Health Care Reform Debate

sausagemakingAs the health care debate grinds us all down to a state of sullen apprehension, little consolation is to be had by once again citing the famous dictum, attributed to Otto von Bismarck, comparing lawmaking to the manufacture of bratwurst.

The Iron Chancellor certainly would have gotten a wry chuckle watching the United States Senate (aka “The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body”) do its best to fritter away America’s best chance in over a half century to enact comprehensive reform.

From New Mexico’s highly informed blogosphere, the reaction could best be described with words like despair, disgust, outrage and revulsion.

Non-partisan investigative journalist Heath Haussamen:

Our corrupt system gives corporations and other special interests undue influence that undermines the Constitution. The ongoing health-care reform debate in Washington proves the point…. I believe both parties, and the system in general, are corrupted by corporate and other special-interest money… The ongoing health-care reform debate in Washington proves the point. This discussion has been hijacked by a Republican Party that largely doesn’t want any reform – not because individual Republicans don’t see the need for reform, but because too many elected officials from that party are in the pockets of the status-quo health-insurance industry. Certain Democrats who are also in the pocket of the industry have also hijacked the debate.

The blogging conscience of NM’s progressive movement, Barb Wold:

The folks I talked with ran the gamut — from elected officials, to party people, to activists, from fairly moderate sorts to lefties. It didn’t matter. It was like someone had kicked them in the stomach, or they had awoken from a dream, or someone had died. It occurred to me that what really had died was trust in our government, trust in our Democratic President, trust in the political process, trust in our institutions. This latest disappointment is like the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Or in the words of Matt Reichbach, “progressives are pissed.”

For my part, the slow motion congressional train wreck in the making has sure dampened any holiday spirit I might have feebly mustered (Happy Festivus, anyone? Bah humbug! No health care  for you!)

As they would say in Boston, the Senate is a wicked pissah.

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