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New Mexico Telegram » Delegation, Featured » Lujan slams “piecemeal” funding bills, says shutdown harmful to Indian Country

Lujan slams “piecemeal” funding bills, says shutdown harmful to Indian Country

Ben Ray Lujan largeRep. Ben Ray Lujan again came out strongly against a “piecemeal” approach to legislation for funding the federal government.

The federal government has been shutdown for over a week; Republicans have attempted to pass pieces of legislation that would fund small portions of the government while they seek concessions on the Affordable Care Act for fully funding the government.

Lujan says that this isn’t a viable way to govern and that it is harmful to Native Americans on reservations. New Mexico has a relatively large population of Native Americans, especially in Lujan’s 3rd Congressional District.

“It’s time for House Republicans to stop playing political games and allow a vote on a clean funding bill that will reopen the government,” Lujan said in a statement. “Their cynical piecemeal approach picks winners and losers while failing to fund all of the areas that are critical to families in Indian Country.

“Voting on short-term funding for Impact Aid and Head Start ignore the fact that sequester cuts to vital education programs have seriously harmed Native American students,” Lujan continued. “Rather than take steps to end the shutdown and find a solution that ends the sequester, House Republicans continue to bend to the extreme elements in their party, leaving tribal communities to pay the price.”

Recently, Navajo Nation President Ben Shelley said the shutdown could effect the Navajo tribal government if it continues.

“Nearly all of our offices remain open for the Navajo Nation government. Although many of our programs receive federal funds, our government is open and continues to serve the Navajo people, including all Navajo Nation Tribal Parks,” Shelley said.

“However, we urge lawmakers in Washington to come to a solution because the Navajo Nation will eventually begin to experience effects if the shutdown continues.”

Just yesterday, the Republican Party of New Mexico issued a statement calling on the Senate to act on one of the bills that would fund a small portion of the government.

“The House of Representatives passed multiple bills to avert a shutdown—all of which were refused by the Democrat-controlled Senate,” state Republican party chairman John Billingsley said in a statement. “The House has also passed numerous other measures over the last few days to fund critical services, including cancer research, veterans’ benefits, National Guard and Reserve paychecks, low-income women and children nutrition assistance, emergency and disaster recovery, reopening of national parks, and back-pay for furloughed employees.”

While some Republicans had expressed interest in passing a “clean” funding bill — that is a bill to fully fund the government without delaying the Affordable Care Act or adding any other items the vote — Speaker of the House John Boehner said he did not believe a clean funding bill would pass the House.

Rep. Steve Pearce, the lone Republican in the New Mexico delegation, has said he want to end an “exemption” for Congress and congressional staff along with the funding of the government. Various fact checkers have said that such an exemption does not exist. The Washington Post recently tracked the myth from a headline in Politico, which the news site backed away from in subsequent reporting, to Fox News and other conservative news outlets.

The other members of the New Mexico delegation are Democrats and have voted against most of the piecemeal legislation; the bill to pay for backpay for the hundreds-of-thousands of furloughed workers passed the House unanimously and is headed to the Senate. The White House supports the bill.

Written by

Matthew Reichbach has blogged about New Mexico politics since 2006. Matthew was a co-founder of New Mexico FBIHOP with his brother and part of the original hirings at the groundbreaking website the New Mexico Independent. Matthew has covered events such as the Democratic National Convention and Netroots Nation. In addition to politics, Matthew is an avid sports fan, especially of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and TV fan.

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