Ben R. Luján

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Ben R. Luján
Ben Lujan official photo.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Mexico's 3rd district
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 2009
Preceded by Tom Udall
New Mexico
Public Regulation Commissioner
from the 3rd district
In office
2005–2008
Preceded by Jerome D. Block Sr.
Succeeded by Jerome D. Block Jr.
Personal details
Born Ben Ray Luján
(1972-06-07) June 7, 1972 (age 42)
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Political party Democratic
Residence Nambé, New Mexico
Alma mater New Mexico Highlands University
Occupation Congressman
Religion Roman Catholic
Website Ben Ray Luján for U.S. Congress

Ben Ray Luján (born June 7, 1972) is the U.S. Representative for New Mexico's 3rd congressional district, serving since 2009. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district is based in Santa Fe, the state capital, and includes most of the northern portion of the state.

Early life, education, and early career[edit]

Ben Ray Luján was born in Santa Fe to Carmen and Ben Luján, but currently lives near Nambé, New Mexico. His father, Ben Luján, was the speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives[1] and his mother is a retired administrator with the Pojoaque Valley school system. He has Lujan family members on both sides of his family, including cousin Michelle Lujan Grisham, and is a distant cousin on his mother's side to Manuel Lujan, Jr., former Republican congressman and Secretary of the Interior. Manuel Lujan's sister was his second grade teacher.[2]

After graduating from Pojoaque Valley High School, he attended the University of New Mexico and later received a degree from New Mexico Highlands University.[3] Luján has held several public service positions. He was the Deputy State Treasurer and the Director of Administrative Services and Chief Financial Officer for the New Mexico Cultural Affairs Department prior to his election to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.

Public Regulation Commission[edit]

Luján was elected to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) in November 2004. He represented PRC district 3 which encompasses northeastern, north central and central New Mexico. His served as chairman of the PRC in 2005, 2006 and 2007. His term on the commission ended at the end of 2008.[3]

Luján is a strong supporter of renewable energy. He helped to increase the Renewable Portfolio Standard in New Mexico that requires utilities to use 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. Luján also required utilities to diversify their renewable use to include solar, wind and biomass.[3]

Luján joined regulators in California, Oregon, and Washington to sign the Joint Action Framework on Climate Change to implement regional solutions to global warming.[4] While at the PRC, Luján helped develop legislation to prohibit insurance companies from denying individuals coverage for preexisting conditions.[citation needed]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Elections[edit]

2008

In 2008, Luján ran to succeed U.S. Rep. Tom Udall in New Mexico's 3rd congressional district. Udall gave up the seat to make what would be a successful bid for the United States Senate.

On June 3, 2008, Luján won the Democratic primary, defeating five other candidates. His closest competitor, developer Don Wiviott, received 26 percent to Luján's 42 percent. This victory was tantamount to election in this heavily Democratic district.

Luján faced Republican Dan East and independent Carol Miller in the general election and won with 57% of the vote compared to East's 30% and Miller's 13%.[5]

2010

Luján won re-election against Republican nominee Tom Mullins.

2012

Luján won re-election against Republican nominee Jefferson L. Byrd.

Tenure[edit]

Lujan has been a strong proponent of health care reform, including a public option. In October 2009, Lujan gave a speech on the House floor calling for a public option to be included in the House health care bill saying “We need a public option - we must demand a public option.”[6]

In June 2009, Lujan voted for an amendment that would require the Secretary of Defense to present a plan including a complete exit strategy for Afghanistan by the end of the year; although, the amendment did not pass.[7] In September 2009 Lujan wrote a letter urging the Obama administration not to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan. Lujan drew on conversations he had with U.S. General Stanley McChrystal and Afghan president Hamid Karzai, when he visited Afghanistan in August 2009, in the letter.[7]

Energy Independence[edit]

He has been active in environmental regulation and increased renewable energy production by 20% in New Mexico.[8] He is one of the leaders on energy regulation in Congress as Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ Green Economy and Renewable Energy Task Force he emphasizes the input of the Hispanic Community in the furthering of clean energy policy.[8] Luján has initiated several pieces of legislation regarding renewable energy such as the SOLAR Act and he co-authored the Community College Energy Training Act of 2009. He also supports natural gas usage and the New Alternative Transportations to Give Americans Solutions Act of 2009.[8] Luján has very high ratings with interest groups such as Environment America and the Sierra Club. His intent not only lies in the advancement of renewable energy policy, but also the involvement and education of the community (particularly the Hispanic Community) in the benefits of renewable energy.[7]

Improving Schools[edit]

Ben Ray Luján’s positions on Public Education Teaching Profession are fully supported by the National Education Association.[7] Schools in New Mexico need to lower their dropout rates and increase performance so Rep. Luján supported the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to ensure teachers’ presence in the classroom and to invest in school improvements.[8] He is a strong proponent of globalization of the economy, and he is committed to the United States being a strong asset to that economy. In order for this to happen, he believes higher education needs to be made available to all and therefore he supports student loan reform. He cosponsored the STEM Education Coordination Act in an effort to produce more scientists and innovators in the United States to strengthen our nation’s contribution to the global economy.[8]

Fighting for Indian Country[edit]

Representative Luján considers tribal sovereignty very seriously and has fought hard to preserve it. He has tried to increase funding for BIA and IHS in the Recovery Act. Luján also ensured that the Indian Healthcare Improvements Act was taken into account in the health insurance reform.[8] Luján rose in opposition to the Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012 and was in favor of preserving sacred Native American ground versus bulldozing it.[7] Congressman Luján worked to create bipartisan agreement to pass the legislation enabling tribes to directly request disaster assistance from the president.[7] Lujan district contains 15 separate pueblo tribes as well as tribal lands of the Jicarilla Apache Nation and Navajo Nation.[9] In February 2009 Lujan introduced a series of five water accessibility bills that, along with improving access to water for the many communities in the district, would also give federal funds to Indian tribes. Along with Harry Teague (D-NM) and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) Lujan sponsored an amendment to the House health care bill that would extend the current Indian Health Care system until 2025.

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus Memberships[edit]

Legislative history[edit]

In 2011, Rep. Luján became a co-sponsor of Bill H.R.3261 otherwise known as the Stop Online Piracy Act.[10]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Tom Udall
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Mexico's 3rd congressional district

2009–Present
Succeeded by
Incumbent
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Blaine Luetkemeyer
R-Missouri
United States Representatives by seniority
244th
Succeeded by
Cynthia Lummis
R-Wyoming