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Dems blast Pearce for missing vote on vets program

September 14, 2018

The state Democratic Party blasted Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce for missing a congressional vote Thursday on a $147 billion package to fund veterans programs, among other things, and possibly avert a federal government shutdown.

The state party in an email blast sought to contrast the vote Thursday with a Pearce event earlier this week at which he unveiled his platform for veterans issues, claiming he “couldn’t find time to … ensure that [veterans] can access critical health care,” a contention to which the Pearce campaign objected. The campaign of U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Pearce’s Democratic opponent in the New Mexico gubernatorial race, also chimed in.

State Rep. Harry Garcia, D-Grants, said Pearce had “shamefully pandered” to New Mexico veterans by “using veterans” in announcing his platform addressing veterans issues at an event in Albuquerque on Tuesday.

“Even worse is he skipped today’s vote to keep our VA functioning in favor of campaigning for governor,” said Garcia, a veteran and Lujan Grisham supporter who is co-chairman of Veterans for Michelle.

A Pearce campaign spokesman called those claims a “smokescreen for [Lujan Grisham’s] weak voting record supporting veterans funding and her current lack of a plan for New Mexico’s veterans.”

Pearce, the spokesman pointed out, voted in favor of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs appropriation bill when it came before the U.S. House in June. Lujan Grisham voted against the bill at that juncture but voted in favor of the package Thursday.

The congressman was not in Washington because he had previously committed to an appearance Thursday at the Domenici Public Policy Conference in Las Cruces, the spokesman said.

“Steve Pearce strongly supports fully funding our nation’s obligation to veterans and has a proven track record supporting VA funding in Congress,” spokesman Kevin Sheridan said. “It is a shame that Lujan Grisham and [New Mexico] Democrats would attack a distinguished war veteran for recognizing not only the loss on 9/11 but the selflessness of every American who answered the call to respond to those attacks.”

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