November 05, 2019

AUDIO: On ‘Tuesdays with Tom,’ Udall Highlights Major Wins for New Mexico in Bipartisan, Senate-Passed Interior & Environment Funding Bill

Udall: “The bill provides strong resources to protect our public lands and thriving outdoor economy, as well as for Native and rural communities”

AUDIO: Udall Holds Press Conference Call on Interior and Environment Funding Bill

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall, ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, held a press conference call for local reporters to discuss the Fiscal Year 2020 Senate funding bill for the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, which Udall helped author. The bill passed the Senate last week in an 84-9 bipartisan vote, and it includes major wins for New Mexico that Udall helped secure.

During the call, Udall highlighted the New Mexico priorities funded in the bill, including protections for Chaco Canyon and New Mexico public lands, and funding for Valles Caldera, PILT and PFAS cleanup, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, cave research in Carlsbad and the Gold King Mine clean up.

“I’m proud to have secured critical investments for New Mexico’s economy and communities in the Appropriations Committee -- investments that were included in several of this year’s funding bills,” Udall said. “…The bill provides strong resources to protect our public lands and thriving outdoor economy, as well as funding key programs for Native and rural communities… The bill [also] contains many New Mexico priorities, including protecting the greater Chaco Canyon area from oil and gas development, funding for Valles Caldera and funding to clean up PFAS contamination around the state.”

Udall continued, “The bill rejects the deep cuts proposed by the Trump administration that could have devastated New Mexico – our public lands and our environment. Moving forward, I’ll keep fighting to reject the Trump administration’s short-sighted and dangerous cuts to our interior and environment programs. 

“The next step is these bills need to get through the House and get onto the president’s desk,” Udall concluded. “I’ll work hard to get these investments signed into law to benefit our economy and way of life in New Mexico.”

Listen to the audio HERE.

Below are Udall’s remarks:

0:00 Thank you all for joining us on this call.

0:09 I want to focus on some big wins for New Mexico today that just passed the Senate.

0:15 I’m proud to have secured critical investments for New Mexico’s economy and communities in the Appropriations Committee -- investments that were included in several of this year’s funding bills. 

0:27 As the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior and Environment – where the Interior funding bill is written – I helped write a bipartisan bill that benefits and strengthens New Mexico.

0:41 This Interior bill is incredibly important for New Mexico. I want to tell you about a few of our victories:

0:48 The bill provides strong resources to protect our public lands and thriving outdoor economy, as well as funding key programs for Native and rural communities.

1:00 The bill contains many New Mexico priorities, including protecting the greater Chaco Canyon area from oil and gas development, funding for Valles Caldera and funding to clean up PFAS contamination around the state. 

1:16 The bill rejects the deep cuts proposed by the Trump administration that could have devastated New Mexico – our public lands and our environment. 

1:25 The funds in this bill will support the Land and Water Conservation Fund and will protect and manage national parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands.

1:36 As wildfires grow ever more severe, this bill means that the Forest Service will not be forced to raid non-fire programs to pay for firefighting needs … without knowing whether those funds will be repaid.

1:50 It also provides vital resources to our counties by fully funding the Payments in Lieu of Taxes program — a program that supports over $40 million dollars per year in local government services in New Mexico.  

2:04 This bill provides a critical boost to local arts and humanities programs -- that create countless jobs and ensure economic vitality in communities in New Mexico.

2:18 And the bill contains no new anti-environment policy riders. We need to be vigilant to protect our clean air and water.

2:27 I am pleased that we successfully kept out new funding requested by the administration for the Interior Department reorganization – including no additional resources to implement the ill-advised relocation of the Bureau of Land Management.

2:43 Moving forward, I’ll keep fighting to reject the Trump administration’s short-sighted and dangerous cuts to our interior and environment programs.

2:54 In addition to the major wins in the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, I also worked for an agriculture funding bill that gives support to a range of New Mexico’s farming communities – including acequias, land grants, veterans, beginning farmers, and those that may be socially disadvantaged – and other rural communities.

3:16 And, I’m proud to have helped secure a transportation and housing bill that makes smart investments in technology to reduce DUI accidents, protects funding for Amtrak’s Southwest Chief route, and invests in infrastructure and housing in New Mexico and Indian Country.

3:36 The next step is these bills need to get through the House and get onto the president’s desk. I’ll work hard to get these investments signed into law to benefit our economy and way of life in New Mexico.

3:53 Udall takes questions.