N.M. Congressional Democrats Fight To Include $2.5 Billion For New Mexicans Impacted By Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fires In Government Spending Proposal
WASHINGTON – As Congress finalizes negotiations on a stopgap government funding bill, U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.) and Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.) are fighting for $2.5 billion to support New Mexico residents and business owners impacted by this year’s Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon fires. New Mexico’s Congressional Democrats are working to include the funding, along with the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act, in a Continuing Resolution proposal to ensure the federal government remains funded.
The Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act is led by Senator Luján and Representative Leger Fernández, and co-sponsored by Senator Heinrich and Representative Stansbury. While Senate Democrats are fighting for inclusion of the bill in the funding legislation, Senate Republicans have not yet agreed. This proposal still must be voted on in both the Senate and the House this week.
“The Hermit’s Peak and Calf Canyon fires have had an immeasurable impact on lives, livelihoods, and cherished landscapes. As the fires spread and in their aftermath, we witnessed as the people affected worked day and night to save their homes and their neighbors. They have embodied the tenacity and resilience that is characteristically New Mexican – and now they need the resources to right the wrongs of these fires. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I am working to pull every lever possible to deliver the resources these New Mexicans need and deserve. With many negotiations still ahead, I’m proud to be working with our Congressional Delegation and Democratic leadership in the Senate and House to do everything we can to get this funding across the finish line,” said Heinrich, a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations.
“New Mexico experienced the largest wildfire in state history that was started by the federal government and wreaked havoc on homes, businesses, and communities. The federal government has a moral obligation to make New Mexicans whole and help communities recover and rebuild. As the Senate sponsor of the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act, I am glad that this vital legislation will be included in the upcoming continuing resolution,” said Luján. “I am grateful for the partnership of Rep. Leger Fernández and our delegation colleagues. As we work to keep the government funded this week, we will continue fighting hard to get this legislation across the finish line.”
“Yesterday, I heard stories from students, ranchers, acequia members and families who shared how the fires and floods ravaged their treasured places where they expected to see future generations thrive,” said Leger Fernández. “I’ve seen the damage, felt the pain, and heard the sorrow. But I was also inspired by the strength of those affected by the fires. I’ve been carrying their stories; their hopes and their hardship with me to Congress. I vowed that I would pursue every possible opportunity to seek justice and we successfully passed the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act twice through the House. We know that including it in the budget is difficult. Yet justice is on our side and the stories of our New Mexican fire survivors resonate in the halls of Congress.”
“The inclusion of the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon relief funding in the budget proposal is an important step forward to heal the wounds the fire caused. Many families have lived in these areas for hundreds of years and we are fighting to make sure they can continue to live, work, and learn there for generations. We are hopeful the budget proposal will pass with the funding intact, but understand there are many uncertainties. While we monitor final passage of the budget proposal, I will not let up my fight to get compensation for our fire victims signed into law,” concluded Leger Fernández.
“The inclusion of funding in the continuing resolution to help those impacted by the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon fires is a major victory for New Mexico. While our communities are resilient, the federal government has a responsibility to address the harm caused by the largest wildfires in New Mexico’s history,” said Stansbury. “We have worked shoulder-to-shoulder with our delegation and the administration to secure the resources New Mexicans need to rebuild, and I am proud that this funding is included in the must-pass funding bill announced today. We will do everything we can every day to get this over the finish line to ensure New Mexicans are made whole again.”
Beginning April 6, 2022, the Hermit’s Peak Fire started as a result of an approved prescribed fire plan ignited by the U.S. Forest Service fire personnel in the Santa Fe National Forest. Hermit’s Peak Fire subsequently merged with the Calf Canyon Fire – a holdover fire from a prescribed pile burn conducted by the U.S. Forest Service – to become the largest fire in New Mexico’s history. The Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fires resulted in evacuations of more than 25,000 individuals in San Miguel and Mora Counties, destroyed 900 homes and structures, and scorched 341,735 acres (534 square miles) of land.
The Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act would require FEMA to design and administer a program to fully compensate those who suffered personal injury or business, income, and financial losses resulting from the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire.