Sen. Martin Heinrich welcomes restored funding for $50M White Sands Missile Range project

By:  Algernon D'Ammassa

WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE – Construction of a new information systems facility at the U.S. Army's largest U.S. installation was supposed to commence in 2019, until the Trump Administration diverted its funding for the border wall instead. 

Last week, New Mexico's senior senator said funds to replace the nearly 60-year-old facility have been restored, including an additional $13 million over what had been appropriated in 2018. The construction is now estimated at over $50 million.

In a statement, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, a Democrat, called the project "the first major military construction project in direct support of testing and evaluation at White Sands in nearly 20 years."

The installation declined to discuss the project because the contracting is in an early stage.

The new ISF was designed to replace a fire-damaged facility built in 1962 and include contemporary data processing and digital as well as telephonic and radio systems for  installation-wide communication infrastructure and support for missile and weapon testing with new equipment valued at $32 million. 

Before the construction broke ground in 2019, former President Donald Trump declared a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border in order to appropriate $8 billion for border wall construction. Trump took the action after Congress did not authorize the $5.7 billion he had requested for the wall, one of his signature policy goals.

The diversion affected $3.6 billion Congress had appropriated for military construction projects, including $187.5 million for projects at New Mexico installations. 

"It was an honor to use that responsibility to ensure this much-needed facility can replace an outdated complex built in 1962," Henrich said in a statement.

Trump's successor, President Joe Biden, paused nearly all border wall construction on his first day in office in January and later rescinded Trump's national emergency declaration.