Melanie Stansbury Has Hit the Ground Running as NM-01’s New Congresswoman

A look into Melanie Stansbury’s first few months in Congress


Courtesy of Sweet William Photo

New Mexico 1st Congressional Representative Melanie Stansbury.

Melanie Stansbury is currently serving as the US representative for New Mexico’s First Congressional District. Elected in June 2021, Stansbury filled the seat of fellow Democrat Deb Halland, President Biden’s Secretary of the Interior, and has impacted the community positively primarily through environmental policies. During her short period thus far in the House of Representatives, she has held committee assignments in both the Committee of Natural Resources and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. She is particularly focused on efforts to address hunger, food, and water insecurity as well as conservation and climate change and economic development and recovery. She also advocates on many progressive issues such as reducing economic inequality, budget reconciliation, a federal assault weapons ban, and canceling student loan debt.

“the challenge we’re facing is how we manage our water going forward so that we can continue cultural practices, agriculture, and survival of our communities.””

— Melanie Stansbury

This September, Stansbury, a former local legislator, and scientist, was awarded a top distinction by the U.S. Water Alliance for her work on water policy. She understands the importance of the conservation of water especially in a state that receives as little rainfall as New Mexico and says that “the challenge we’re facing is how we manage our water going forward so that we can continue cultural practices, agriculture, and survival of our communities.” She is conscious of water’s importance not only as a day-to-day necessity, but also sees it as “part of [New Mexico’s] culture, identity, and way of life.” Recently, she has worked on securing a $200 million reconciliation irrigation infrastructure package for 18 Pueblos, that farm along the Rio Grande. Stansbury sees this package as an opportunity for Congress to continue to fund major projects that will help people for decades to come, and also understands that the decline in water is only going to get worse over the next ten to twenty years. She is working to encourage communities to adapt to completely new hydrologic conditions than the original infrastructure was built for. The irrigation systems, acequias, and public water systems depend on snowmelt and spring runoff, but with the dwindling snowfall each year, a change must be instated. She is also hoping to get a $280 million funding package authorized to address the changes that need to be made in order to keep our state and this country healthy and functioning at a high level. It is about passing infrastructure and creating jobs and while the price tag is quite large, Stansbury is committed to action and is not concerned with the number. She is eager to expand healthcare, provide universal childcare and free community college, and address real, substantive climate change policy. While the package has not yet reached the finish line, she is confident about its ability to create change and knows it will make a lasting impact on the longevity of our community.
Although Stansbury has only been in office for about four months, she has created and proposed excellent methods of change regarding environmental issues and women’s issues, as she recently voted in favor of the Women’s Health Protection Act, a response to the Senate bill(SB8) preventing access to abortion in Texas. She believes that reproductive justice is a human right and a social justice issue. The ability of individuals to make decisions about their own bodies and access health care is fundamental to their self-determination and well-being. Stansbury looks to amplify New Mexican voices and bring them to Washington D.C. as she continues her term as well as continue to shed light on the importance of protecting our dwindling natural resources.