Commentary: Congressman Ben Ray Luján addressed New Mexico Democrats at the party's convention on Sunday - the final stop of his statewide listening tour that took him to nearly 20 of New Mexico's counties to meet with hundreds of supporters and voters in their communities and homes.
Excerpts of Luján's remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:
"We’ve come a long way together. Two years ago, when we last gathered, you and I - we looked around and saw the middle class being left behind.
"Women's health and freedoms at risk. We saw the needs of the 99 percent put aside for the wants of the 1 percent. Climate change deniers were calling the shots. We saw threats to our Democracy, our health care. We saw Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security under assault. Women’s rights, human rights, equal rights, and voting rights under attack.
"But that has changed! Together we worked side by side! We now have Xochitl Torres Small! Deb Haaland! And Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Lt Gov. Howie Morales! And together we flipped the United States House of Representatives!
"In our first hundred days, House Democrats voted and passed legislation to overturn Citizens United, we voted to restore the Voting Rights Act, and to end gerrymandering. HR 1 - legislation I helped shepherd through the House - is the most sweeping good government bill Congress has ever considered.
"While the Equal Pay Act was passed more than 50 years ago, women still make 80 cents for every dollar men make. That is why we passed the Paycheck Fairness Act to end pay discrimination. We passed the Violence Against Women Act, to protect women from domestic and sexual violence.
"For the first time in 25 years, Congress passed legislation to address gun violence. Democrats believe in science and that the climate crisis is real. It’s why I’ve signed onto the Green New Deal and am working on a clean energy standard to ensure that Congress acts on solutions.
"And when we return D.C., we will pass the DREAM Act. We will pass the Equality Act, which will outlaw discrimination against people because of who they love or how they identify. We will pass legislation to lower the costs of health care, to lower the cost of prescription drug prices. Our Democratic majority will be recognized for championing health care at a time when congressional Republicans are trying to tear it down each and every day.
"So, as you can, see, the people’s house, the Democratic House is doing big things. But we have a problem in the Senate. We have a problem with Mitch McConnell. Every single piece of progressive legislation the Democratic House sent to the Republican Senate has been dead-on-arrival. Mitch McConnell is refusing to allow a vote on any of it.
"Instead, he’s working to pack the courts with extreme and right-wing judges. Judges that want to strip away the right to vote, the right to choose, the right to clean air and clean water, the right to health care. Enough is enough.
"...New Mexico let's join together. Because when we stand together and work together we win together! The pride that I have to call New Mexico home, is not simply words, it’s who I am, it's apart of me. The work ethic that I have learned and the importance of character and integrity has been passed down for generations. This is why I am passionate to live up to my father's challenge to make a difference every day. This is why I am passionate to make a difference. Just like you.
"My name is Ben Ray Luján, I’d be honored to earn your vote and support for the U.S. Senate."