Senator Udall Urges Congress to Stop Playing Games, Pass a Responsible Budget for New Mexico

‘New Mexicans are eager for solutions. And they are tired of these political games that threaten jobs and weaken our economy’

U.S. Senator Tom Udall, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, delivered a speech on the Senate floor about the impact a potential government shutdown would have in New Mexico. With less than one week left until government funding runs out, Udall urged Congress to pass a temporary funding extension and begin bipartisan budget negotiations he’s long called for.

“Have we forgotten what happened two years ago? The people of my home state of New Mexico have not. We were badly hurt by the shutdown then. And we would be now,” Udall said. “Shutdowns mean lost jobs and lost revenue — all in the face of a struggling economy.”

Many of New Mexico’s 29,500 federal employees — including workers at Los Alamos, Sandia and the state’s military bases — would jeopardize their paychecks and the important national security work they do if the government does not pass a funding bill by Oct. 1.

“In Los Alamos and Sandia, our DOE labs are working on modernizing aging nuclear weapons systems to keep them safe and secure. It is foolish to cause unnecessary disruption to projects of this significance where there is no margin for error,” Udall said.

“Each of these labs employs thousands of people, many of them scientists at the top of their field. Why would we threaten their paychecks and the important national security work that they are doing? The three air force bases in New Mexico — Cannon, Kirtland, and Holloman — all serve a variety of unique national security missions for our country. White Sands Missile Range is unlike any facility in the country. It provides critical research and testing for future technologies,” Udall added. “Shutdowns and sequestration send a terrible message to the men and women at these facilities. It limits their effectiveness. And harms the economies of nearby communities — like Clovis, Albuquerque, Alamogordo, and Dona Ana County. Shutdowns mean lost jobs and lost revenue, all in the face of a struggling economy.”

“The people of my state work hard. Many are still struggling,” Udall continued. “The economy of New Mexico has not recovered completely from the recession. New Mexicans are eager for solutions. And they are tired of these political games that threaten jobs and weaken our economy.”

As lead Democrat on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, Udall also discussed the need to finally end devastating across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration. Those cuts have badly hurt maintenance at our national parks, basic water infrastructure, critical Tribal programs like the Indian Health Service and other priorities.

“A shutdown is a disaster. Sequestration is just a slower-moving disaster. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Bandelier National Monument, Tent Rocks National Monument, Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Refuge — and many other sites — are key economic assets,” Udall said. “We can’t keep asking them to do more and more on less and less. Yet, without a sensible budget, that’s exactly where we’re headed.”

Finally, Udall highlighted the need to save the nation’s premier federal conservation program — the Land and Water Conservation Fund — before it expires on Sept. 30. The LWCF has helped fund conservation and open space programs in New Mexico from Valle de Oro to Valles Caldera. In New Mexico, “the program has been a tremendous success and had a tremendous impact,” Udall said. “LWCF allows us to leverage today’s resources to protect vital lands and waters for future generations. Allowing the law to expire breaks that compact. It doesn’t make any sense, and it doesn’t have to happen.”