New Mexico's federal representatives gathered for their annual lunch with business and community leaders Thursday, discussing, among other issues, the state's economy, the future of the federal labs here and the current state of Congress, which they agreed is strained, particularly when it comes to immigration.
The annual panel hosted by the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce this year took a slightly different tone as U. S. Reps. Steve Pearce, the lone Republican delegate, and Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, are also opponents in the race for governor.
U. S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, a Democrat also on the panel, said New Mexico is in a " state of emergency" with child wellbeing and poverty.
Pearce called New Mexico " a truck stuck in the ditch." Once it gets pulled out, it will run great, he said.
But getting the economy functioning requires stability and predictability, Lujan Grisham said, and that is far off as long as Congress continues its dysfunction and the White House " is not negotiating in good faith" on issues.
" We can't move the needle," Lujan Grisham said of the intensely negotiated immigration issue.
Pearce said immigration reform is stalling because of filibusters and other political games in the Senate. Luján pinned the blame on the unwillingness of House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to put bills up for debate.
The panel mostly agreed on issues facing New Mexico, with the starkest difference arising between Lujan Grisham and Pearce regarding the future of the federal science and military installations in the state, including Sandia National
Laboratories and Los Alamos Laboratory.
" We need to be a good host, not always compliant, but a good host," Pearce said, adding that state leaders need to acknowledge the real possibility that other states could successfully woo the labs and functions.
Lujan Grisham dismissed that idea, saying " those labs are not going anywhere."