GOP lawmakers call for “extraordinary special session” to distribute relief funds

Politics - Government

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Monday night, House Republicans are calling for an emergency session to allocate $1.75 billion in federal pandemic relief. It’s been a battle for months over who is in control of the money. The legislature had approved a bill that broke down how it should be spent.

However, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham vetoed it saying it’s the governor’s job, not lawmakers to divvy up federal funds. House Republican Whip, Rod Montoya (R-Farmington), is calling for an ‘extraordinary session’ which would need support from three-fifths of the legislature.

“What we’re doing here is setting precedent for any governor…Republican, Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, if we have any federal dollars that come in, we’re setting the precedent that even though it’s going into the general fund that legislators have no role in appropriating federal dollars and that’s just ridiculous,” said Rep. Montoya.

Montoya says the session would allow lawmakers to either override the governor’s vetoes or facilitate between the legislature and the governor. The governor’s office sent the following statement Monday:

First I want to make sure to clarify that it falls to the executive to appropriate federal funds, not the legislative branch – for your reference, the state Supreme Court’s decision that federal contributions are not a proper subject of the Legislature’s appropriative power, and that the Legislature’s attempt to control the use of such funds infringes “the executive function of administration,” can be found here: State ex rel. Sego v. Kirkpatrick, 1974-NMSC-059, 86 N.M. 359, 524 P.2d 975 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); see also Coll, 1988-NMSC-057, at ¶ 23.

The governor has talked to all legislative leadership, including the Republican leadership, about some aspects of the federal spending she plans to prioritize. Information on the administration’s plans for the federal funds will be coming soon and we look forward to allocating them to effective and impactful use benefitting New Mexicans across the state.

Nora Meyers Sackett, press secretary for the Office of the Governor

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