WASHINGTON — When President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address next week, a joint session of Congress will convene to watch.
But Rep. Steve Pearce, a New Mexico Republican, won’t be among the lawmakers present.
On Tuesday, he tweeted a partial explanation:
Public hearing on the chicken is the same day as the State of the Union. Itâ€™s more important to be in NM, standing with you.— Steve Pearce
The “chicken” in question, the lesser prairie-chicken, is a candidate to be listed as a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — and the public hearing to evaluate that proposal in New Mexico will be held concurrently with the president’s State of the Union address.
“The hearing date has long been on the congressman’s calendar, since before the announcement of the State of the Union address,” Eric Layer, Pearce’s spokesperson, said. “This is a very important issue to New Mexico. New Mexico jobs, as well as millions of dollars in state revenue for education, are at stake over this decision. Rep. Pearce believes that it was important to stand with his constituents at the hearing.”
Pearce has opposed adding the bird to the list.