U.s. Congress

The Alibi Endorses: Martin Heinrich

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U.S. Congress
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Job Description: Federal representative for New Mexicans living in the 1 st Congressional District. Drafts and votes on legislation.

Term: Two years, no term limit

Salary: $174,000

When we endorsed
Rep. Martin Heinrich in 2008, our one concern was his relatively brief political experience. But his first term laid those fears to rest. He’s pushed many bills with direct impact on New Mexicans and, though a freshman Congressman, he was appointed to the Armed Services Committee and the Committee on Natural Resources.

Two years later, he says people told him starting work in Congress would be “like drinking from a fire hose.” With so many problems facing the nation, there’s a lot to be done.

Heinrich got funding from the Department of Workforce Solutions to train New Mexico workers for jobs in clean energy. He authored legislation to help veterans register with the VA more easily and helped enact the new GI Bill, which ensures a full college education for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Heinrich co-sponsored the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He sponsored a tribal housing bill, which, if passed, will make it easier for people to get a mortgage on tribal land. He was also successful in including the reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act in health care reform.

When it comes to immigration, Heinrich supports comprehensive national reform that he describes as “tough and fair and practical.” He says if a person’s only crime is her immigration status, and if she’s willing to learn English and pay taxes, she ought to be allowed to eventually apply for citizenship. Illegal immigrants who are involved in crime, in his opinion, should be deported.

The Bush tax cut should be kept in place for middle-class families, he says, but allowed to expire for those whose annual income totals more than a quarter of a million dollars.

He supports the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which says states don’t need to recognize the marriage of same-sex couples performed in other states. In fact, Heinrich’s view of domestic partnerships is simple: “You can’t justify withholding legal benefits from any population.”

Heinrich’s a great congressman. He tells us something that sums him up perfectly: “I’m not a believer in big government or small government. I’m a believer in effective government.”

Alibi enthusiastically endorses Heinrich for Congressional District 1.

Why is
Jon Barela running for Congress? That’s what we’re trying to figure out. He says he’s unhappy with the way things are being run in Washington. Sure, OK, that’s what all candidates say. But why is this attorney—who’s heavily funded by the Republican Party and who’s been out of the politics game for decades—running now? Your guess is as good as ours.

That said, Barela’s got some things working in his favor. “I’ll always be an American and New Mexican before my party,” he says. “I’ll never put my ideology before the people of this district.” Some of his stances back up those declarations of independence.

On immigration, Barela supports a temporary guest worker program for illegal immigrants who are already in the country and aren’t involved in illicit activities. He also says he’s “not a fan” of Arizona’s SB 1070. The war in Afghanistan lacks a solid mission or exit strategy, Barela says, and we shouldn’t be there unless they are identified. And he’s a proponent of alternative energy—specifically, biofuels technology.

But the thing about Barela is that he lacks solid details on how to accomplish what he wants. He wants to help fix the economy, but his only real solution is to “cut spending,” and his only suggestion on how to do that is to not spend the remaining stimulus money. He says veterans’ services are “good, but we can do better.” Still, he can’t outline how.

We just don’t think Barela’s ready for Congress. When we have someone like Heinrich available, it doesn’t make sense to vote for anyone else.
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