New Mexico’s Congressional Democrats Back President Obama’s State of the Union Message

New Mexico’s Democratic Congressional delegation found plenty to support in Tuesday’s State of the Union Address by President Barack Obama.

U.S. Senator Tom Udall issued the following statement after attending the State of the Union address:

“Like many New Mexicans, I’m frustrated by the tough economic recovery. People in our state are still working to pull themselves out of the recession. Now is a time for bold but practical ideas that will support middle class families and ensure they can afford to buy a house and educate their kids. I was pleased tonight to hear the president pledge to roll up his sleeves to make real changes to support the middle class. I’ve been pushing to help high-tech businesses thrive and small businesses expand in New Mexico, and I was glad to hear the president endorse new support to boost innovation and reduce red tape.

“I applaud the president’s decisions to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors and help workers save for retirement. America was built on the principle that if you work hard you can build your way into the middle class. Yet today, too many workers have to take two or three jobs just to make the rent – leaving nothing left for a rainy day, much less retirement. Fair wages lead to healthier families and a stronger economy. Congress should take the next steps to raise the minimum wage for all workers and tackle the retirement crisis head on.

“The president is right that we still have a lot of work to do – to support energy independence, strengthen our workforce, protect our public lands, and fix our broken immigration system. Like him, I believe the slow pace and obstruction in Congress are holding us back. At the end of the day, the real solution is making the legislative process work the way it’s intended. I’m going to keep pushing for reforms that will cut the gridlock and ensure the Senate works for the American people again.”

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) released the following statement after President Obama’s State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress:

“President Obama’s call for bipartisanship and rewarding hard work goes hand in hand with New Mexico’s priorities and values.  We must be unwavering in our commitment to restore the basic bargain on which this country was built, that if you work and play the rules you can get ahead.

“And New Mexicans are no strangers to hard work, which is why I’m especially pleased with the president’s action to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors. No one who works full-time should have to live in poverty — this is especially critical for women, who make up a disproportionate share of minimum wage workers today. Our economy is stronger when we reward an honest day’s work with fair wages, which is why Congress should follow the president’s lead and raise the federal minimum wage across the board.

“I was encouraged by the president’s commitment to creating opportunities for small businesses to thrive, for students to get a quality education, for workers to get the training they need to succeed in today’s job market, for immigrants to have a fair path to citizenship, and for our nation to truly become energy independent. In New Mexico, these are the key ingredients to a strong economy and a thriving middle class.

“I will continue working with the Administration and my colleagues in Congress to advance these priorities for the American people.”

Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District released the following statement after President Obama delivered his State of the Union Address.

“President Obama spoke of the great promise of America and the essential role that a vibrant middle class plays in enabling our nation to achieve its full potential.  In declaring a time of action and signaling his determination to move our country forward, President Obama made it clear that the challenges facing our country and the American people can’t wait.

“With New Mexico facing high levels of poverty, too many hungry children, and so many of our friends and neighbors looking for work, the delays and gridlock of the past must remain in the past.  Last year was the least productive Congressional session of all time.  We cannot afford to have a repeat of that this year.  Rather than waste time trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and hold the debt limit hostage, House Republicans need to work with President Obama so that we can find common ground and make progress on jobs and the economy – not govern from one manufactured crisis to the next.

“President Obama offered a number of important proposals that will build a stronger middle class and provide opportunities to hard-working Americans, from raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers to making college more affordable and accessible.  These efforts are welcomed; however they are not a substitute for Congressional action.  President Obama is taking action because Congress has failed to act.  Congress must no longer turn a blind eye to the struggles of working people and the poor in America.”

Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01) released the following statement on President Obama’s State of the Union Address:

“I agree with the President that 2014 must be a year of action. And while we can point to recent bipartisan successes, we cannot stop until all New Mexicans and Americans have a fair path to economic security.

“There’s finally movement on bipartisan priorities that were stalled for far too long. Congress has passed a budget. We’ve passed an appropriations bill. We’re poised to pass a five-year farm bill. But before we pat ourselves on the back, we must recognize that there’s still much work to do.

“First, we must take immediate action to extend emergency unemployment insurance for the nearly 7,500 New Mexicans and 1.6 million Americans who have lost this vital lifeline. These are honest, hardworking people like my guest for tonight’s speech, Coby Messier, a long-term unemployed sheet metal worker from Albuquerque, and they don’t deserve to be left out in the cold. To help New Mexicans like Coby, we should also invest in workforce training so that more people who are ready and willing to work can obtain good-paying jobs.

“I applaud the President’s announcement that he will sign an executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour. This is an important step, but it’s not enough. Now it’s time for Congress to finish the job by raising the minimum wage for all American workers. In a state with one of the largest income inequality gaps, this will have an immediate impact and help lift hardworking New Mexicans out of poverty. Reducing income inequality also means ensuring women get equal pay for equal work and empowering America’s working women.

“And we should also make 2014 the year that we finally fix our nation’s broken immigration system. Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform with an earned pathway to citizenship. Our economy demands it, our businesses demand it and our future demands it.

“Through this renewed commitment to action, we can make important progress toward the goals we all share: creating good-paying jobs, growing the economy and strengthening middle class families in New Mexico and throughout the nation.

“But it’s going to require Democrats and Republicans to work together. During tonight’s speech, I sat with my fellow freshman class presidents, Luke Messer, a Republican from Indiana, and John Delaney, a Democrat from Maryland. It’s a small but significant sign that this freshman class is serious about finding common ground and working together on behalf of all Americans. The challenges facing New Mexico and the nation are too great and the stakes are too high for us not to act.”