Weekly Democratic Address
December 4, 2020
Hello, Tom Udall here. I represent New Mexico in the United States Senate, and I’m the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
This is my final term here in the Senate. And I’m certainly not retiring and I intend to continue my public service. But I will be saying goodbye to the halls of Congress.
It’s been my honor and the honor of my lifetime to serve the people of New Mexico, fighting to protect our lands and waters, stand up for our communities, work with Indian Country, and reform our democracy so it answers to the people.
But right now, the Republican Senate just isn’t answering to the needs of the people.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the lives of more than 270,000 Americans. It’s left millions of Americans out of work, struggling to put food on the table. Businesses are shutting down, and hospitals are overflowing.
Right now, Americans are living through the worst stretch of this crisis. But for months, Senate Republican leaders have refused to come to the table, to negotiate the urgent emergency relief that is so desperately needed. That must change.
On the Indian Affairs Committee, I have the privilege of working with Tribes and Native communities from across the country on their very important priorities. They are on the frontlines battling this pandemic. It has been worsened by historic underfunding from the federal government – which has led to devastating health disparities.
Tribes and Native communities have weathered this crisis with strength and resilience, but the federal government must redouble its efforts to meet our trust and treaty obligations. I work closely with Senate Democrats to secure historic levels of funding for Tribes in the CARES Act. But that funding will expire in just a few short weeks if we don’t act.
We must provide fresh resources to the Indian Health Service. We must support Tribal governments’ emergency COVID-19 relief efforts as the pandemic surges across the country. And we must fully support IHS vaccine distribution, management, and monitoring throughout Indian Country.
I’m encouraged that bipartisan work is happening, and that the spirit of compromise is alive. With good-faith negotiations, we can come to an agreement. But we need to do much more to make sure Tribes and Native communities have the resources they need to beat COVID-19.
Our shared trust and treaty obligations demand nothing less.
Thank you so much. Cheers, take care.