The most pressing issue facing New Mexico right now is the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has had on small businesses and communities across our state. It is critical that we’re finding ways to work together to stop the spread of COVID-19 while staying safe and healthy and supporting our small businesses and economy.
In Congress, I’ve reached across the aisle to find those solutions, working with Democrats, Republicans, and President Trump to pass the CARES Act which provided Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for thousands of businesses across our state. And when those loans weren’t reaching our smallest small businesses fast enough, I called for increased transparency into the lending program to ensure that the businesses on New Mexico’s Main Streets were getting their fair share.
I’ve also worked with Republicans to support our rural healthcare providers who are on the frontlines by fighting to ensure that they have enough testing, personal protective equipment (PPE), and supplies to effectively fight the spread of COVID-19. And through the passage of four relief packages, I’ve helped secure millions of dollars in relief funding for our rural hospitals giving them the support they needed to keep their doors open and to safely serve their community.
There is still a long way to go in our battle against COVID-19, though, which is why I am keeping up the fight and advocating for policies that will allow us to recover faster. That starts with an infrastructure plan that puts Americans back to work helping to rebuild our roads and bridges and improving broadband and cell phone coverage in every corner of the country. It’s also why I’ve called for the creation of a task force that ensures our rural communities get their fair share and are not left behind in the COVID-19 recovery.
We need to create an economic foundation that gives everyone a fair shot at the American Dream. For too long, we’ve had politicians in Washington who didn’t understand our local priorities. That is why in Congress, I stood up to my party and urged leadership to pass the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, an improvement on NAFTA negotiated by President Trump and Congressional leaders, that would help our state’s agricultural industry as well as its trade economy. It’s also why I’ve fought to protect our state’s energy industry from a complete ban on fracking because I know that if we stop fracking today we’ll have to close our schools tomorrow. It is critical for New Mexico’s future that we remain a net energy exporter.
I have spent my career delivering for southern New Mexico. I fought to protect water for our farmers, to bring new funding and support to New Mexico State University—from STEM education to energy research—and to increase broadband throughout our rural communities. I also worked to protect our public lands because I know that our parks and public lands are not only what makes southern New Mexico so beautiful, but they also serve as a significant economic driver for our communities.
I will continue to fight for living wages for hard working New Mexicans and work with stakeholders to provide incentives to attract businesses that offer good-paying jobs. I’ll support investment in 21st century infrastructure, from safe roads to broadband and cell phone service. I’ll find creative ways to streamline interaction with government agencies, so New Mexico businesses can operate as efficiently and effectively as possible. And I’ll continue to fight for funding for workforce training and development programs that connect K-12 students to local universities, education programs, and local businesses to prepare New Mexico’s students for the jobs of the future, right here at home.
Everyone should have access to quality, affordable healthcare. I’ll always put southern New Mexicans first — and that’s exactly what I’ve done in Congress, taking on the pharmaceutical companies to lower the cost of prescription drugs, standing up for our veterans by working to fix the VA, and protecting and strengthening Medicare.
We deserve an advocate who understands the unique healthcare needs of rural communities. I’m proud to have brought Democrats and Republicans together to introduce legislation to reduce the doctor shortage in rural America and improve telehealth services, because an expecting mother shouldn’t have to drive hours for every single prenatal appointment and veterans shouldn’t have to get on a bus in the middle of the night to get to a doctor’s appointment in Albuquerque the next day.
And now, during this unprecedented time, it is critical that we provide support and relief to our rural hospitals that are on the frontline of this pandemic. That is why I’ve introduced bipartisan legislation that would ensure 20% of all healthcare relief funding goes to our rural providers. It’s also why I’ve fought to ensure that rural providers have the testing, PPE, and resources they need to keep their communities safe and defeat COVID-19.
Our immigration system is broken—politicians use it as a talking point instead of trying to solve the problem. I’m working with everyone to fix that. That’s why I brought Democrats and Republicans together to work on legislation to provide more funding, tools and technology to border patrol agents, and am fighting to ensure all vehicles crossing the border are scanned to crack down on smugglers, drug dealers, and human traffickers. By using New Mexican ideas, we are creating solutions that will help keep our southern New Mexico communities safe.
Having grown up and worked along the border, I also know that a fundamental part of our border security is a clear and moral immigration system. We need a border that is both strong and vibrant. That’s why I was proud to vote for bipartisan legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for DREAMers. It’s also why I introduced legislation to expand and streamline access to work visas that would support and grow our agricultural workforce.
Our veterans have sacrificed to serve this country and defend our freedom. It is our duty to honor veterans by providing them with the comprehensive services they were promised and deserve. I am fighting for a VA that is fully funded, fully staffed, and accessible to veterans wherever they are. That means making sure all veterans have more accessible transportation options available to them to VA clinics or their preferred healthcare provider through an integrated veteran’s healthcare system. It means that the VA is actively reaching out to veterans to ensure that they are getting the services they need and expanding its telehealth services, which I’ve co-sponsored legislation to do.
It also means ensuring that veterans have access to the most up-to-date and effective treatments, including for mental health conditions like PTSD and depression. Mental health treatment must be a priority if we are to reduce the staggering number of veteran suicides which is why I introduced legislation that would help to better identify veterans at risk of suicide so that they can get the care they need.
It is critical we provide better transition services to service members as they return to civilian life and their communities. Our veterans need to understand the resources that are available to them, and we need to provide a full suite of services, including actively connecting veterans to job opportunities and programs that combat homelessness.
Quality education will allow us to break the cycle of poverty and enhance our communities. As a product of Las Cruces Public Schools and the daughter of a teacher and National Education Association member, I will always be a strong advocate for public education and will keep fighting to ensure that every student—regardless of income, location, or background—has access to an excellent education.
In Congress, I’m working to level the playing field because in southern New Mexico we face some unique challenges in providing strong public education to our rural and diverse communities. These unique challenges need targeted solutions. That’s why I’ve worked to address critical physical and digital infrastructure needs in our public education system by supporting measures that would invest in new schools to replace outdated ones and build out our broadband network bridging the digital divide. It’s also why I’ve fought to protect mandatory funding for Hispanic serving institutions (HIS) as well as to broaden the applicability of Pell grants so that they can be used for vocational training programs. Moving forward, I’ll continue to work to advocate for more federal investments so states can increase pay for teachers and reduce class sizes so every child has the chance to learn. Finally, I’ll invest in early childhood education and work toward universal access to Pre-K for all New Mexican families.