ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A Republican congressional candidate in New Mexico endorsed a slimmed-down federal COVID-19 rescue package and challenged the state's Democratic governor to provide residents with more discretion to reopen the economy.
Michelle Garcia Holmes made the comments at a rally Wednesday in support of President Donald Trump's bid for re-election in Albuquerque's South Valley area in which only a small portion of participants wore face masks that are required at public gatherings. Garcia Holmes kept a mask around her neck for occasional use.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was scheduled to testify Thursday remotely to a congressional committee about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on her state government's budget and critical needs for federal aid to states to ensure economic recovery.
The GOP’s proposed $500 billion, slimmed-down COVID-19 rescue package was headed toward a procedural vote Thursday, but a Democratic filibuster is assured. Democrats say the GOP bill is far too small and leaves out important priorities, including hundreds of billions of dollars for state and local governments, along with other provisions in the House Democrats’ $3.5 trillion relief bill that passed in May.
“I believe the Senate has put together a very good package,” said Garcia Holmes, a former police detective who is running against first-term U.S. Rep. Debra Haaland in the 1st Congressional District the encompasses Albuquerque. "I think it’s time to start getting the American people back to work and start moving forward and jump back in to Trump’s economy."
The political rally was part of a three-day tour by Garcia Holmes and other GOP political candidates and officials in a pink bus emblazoned with the slogan “Women for Trump.”
A small share of people wore masks as more than 100 people gathered shoulder-to-shoulder inside a Trump campaign office to listen to speeches by GOP Chairman Steve Pearce and anti-abortion activist Elisa Martinez.
Democratic Party Chairman Marg Elliston later called it irresponsible and dangerous for the GOP to hold such events without encouraging masks and social distancing. A statewide emergency heath order mandates masks in public and prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people.
New Mexico is anticipating a $990 million general fund deficit for the coming fiscal year, starting June 30, 2021, to meet annual spending obligations of $7.2 billion.
Without additional federal support, that would exhaust financial reserves that were built over the past three years.
To meet current-year spending obligations, lawmakers tapped $750 million in federal pandemic relief funds and agreed to spend $1 billion in state financial reserves.