Last Friday, the Chamber held the first event in its annual Congressional Series with U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-NM3) and Deb Haaland (D-NM1) at the Isleta Resort and Casino, featuring a panel discussion moderated by Albuquerque Journal editor-in-chief Karen Moses and a question and answer session with audience members.
Covering topics ranging from trade deals and immigration to education reform and nuclear weapons development, the Representatives offered candid thoughts and strongly worded rebukes to federal policies and the Trump Administration.
“If we have laws to protect asylum-seekers and protect refugees, we need to enforce those laws,” first-term Representative Haaland said in response to a question regarding immigration, while Representative Luján cited inadequate pay and resources for personnel serving on the border.
Luján also spoke out strongly against the threat by President Trump to impose escalating tariffs on Mexico in response to the immigration issue, saying that such an action is “jeopardizing all of the work that can be done” on a new USMCA trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. While expressing support for a new trade deal with the United States’ two largest trade partners, both Representatives called for strong environmental and labor protections to be explicitly included in the USMCA.
Representative Luján — who is the fourth-highest ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives and has announced that he will run for retiring U.S. Senator Tom Udall’s seat in 2020 — refused to explicitly call for the impeachment of President Trump, only saying that all options needed to be available for Congressional oversight of the executive branch and calling for further investigations to be conducted.
The Representatives also touched on the significance to the state’s national laboratories of the federal directive to create more nuclear cores to upgrade and replace the nation’s stockpile of nuclear arms, and Representative Luján signaled support for a call by Chamber Board member Sherman McCorkle for greater support of technology transfers from the federal research facilities to the private sector.
Luján also supported Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s call to tap the Land Grant Permanent Fund for early childhood education funding in response to a question from Chamber President and CEO Terri Cole on education policy.