WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) welcomed the bipartisan vote to pass the Senate’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24). Senator Heinrich secured key provisions to support New Mexico’s service members, military installations, national labs, and job-creating initiatives throughout the state. Senator Heinrich also joined U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) in securing the bipartisan passage of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendment.
"This bipartisan bill invests in the success of New Mexico’s national labs and military installations and will cement our state's leadership in national security and innovation,” said Heinrich. “I am especially pleased that the bill we passed includes the FEND Off Fentanyl Act to cut off the illicit supply of fentanyl that is coming into our communities from China and Mexico, and my bipartisan provisions to strengthen the Department of Defense's work on artificial intelligence.”
Heinrich continued, “I am also extremely pleased to welcome the passage of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendment. It’s been an honor to support this effort throughout my time in Congress, and I extend my congratulations and gratitude to Senator Luján on leading this effort to Senate passage.”
“Now that the Senate has passed a strong and bipartisan defense bill, I am focused on steering these important investments and provisions through negotiations and onto President Biden's desk," Heinrich concluded.
The NDAA sets the Department of Defense (DOD) spending levels and policies for the upcoming fiscal year and authorizes funding for the U.S. Department of Energy's nuclear weapons programs at Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories, as well as the Department of Energy's environmental cleanup programs including the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).
Senator Heinrich has long championed provisions that benefit New Mexico’s service members, national laboratories, and defense missions, including as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee from 2013 to 2020 and as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations’ Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee from 2021 to 2022.
Senate Defense Authorization Bill Highlights
Artificial Intelligence Provisions
Senator Heinrich, a co-founder of the bipartisan Senate Artificial Intelligence (AI) Caucus, successfully supported the authorization of over $719 million for AI in the FY24 NDAA. Senator Heinrich also led a provision to ensure that the Department of Defense is maintaining a strong AI workforce by developing career pathways for AI and data science professionals.
Additionally, Senator Heinrich, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) secured several other provisions related to identifying vulnerabilities in AI systems and supporting the Department of Defense Chief Digital and AI Office in its coordination of data sharing activities across military branches.
FEND Off Fentanyl Act
Senator Heinrich also successfully advocated for passage of the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, which was included in the Senate NDAA. Senator Heinrich has been fighting for measures to tackle the opioid epidemic
through this and other efforts. The FEND Off Fentanyl Act imposes new sanctions and cuts off illicit fentanyl at the source.
Extending and Expanding the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act
Senator Heinrich joined Senator Luján in successfully securing the votes to expand the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to include eligibility for downwinders and post-1971 uranium workers in New Mexico and other states and reauthorize the program through 2043.
Semiconductor Fabrication Facilities
Senator Heinrich joined Senator Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and others in securing a provision that would significantly ramp up semiconductor fabrication facilities funded by the CHIPS and Science Act. Intel Corp. currently employs 2,100 New Mexicans at their facility in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, which fabricates state of the art semiconductor chips.
New Mexico Military Installations and Programs
Senator Heinrich also secured the following additional programs and provisions related to New Mexico military installations.
Wyoming Gate Project at Kirtland Air Force Base
The NDAA includes $24.4 million to enhance the defense perimeter at Kirtland Air Force Base. The Wyoming Gate project was included in the Air Force's unfunded priorities list because it is a necessary element of the base's defense perimeter. This authorization corresponds with a request that Senator Heinrich championed to secure $24.4 million for the Wyoming Gate Project in the FY24 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill.
Joint Directed Energy Test Center Directed Energy Facility at White Sands Missile Range
The NDAA includes $5.5 million to construct a full-service Laboratory enclosure and an Operations and Administration Facility on the Campus of the High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility at White Sands Missile Range.
Laser Lethality Testing of Hypersonic Targets
The NDAA includes $5 million to support acquiring hypersonic targets to be utilized for the advancement of high energy laser capabilities. Testing for these systems is done out of the Solid-State Laser Testbed at White Sands Missile Range.
Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program
The NDAA authorizes $179.7 million for the Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program. Cannon Air Force Base, Melrose Air Force Range, and White Sands Missile Range utilize the REPI to prevent encroachment and preserve their testing and training missions. The program is critical to assisting military installations and ranges as they are increasingly impacted by extreme weather, flooding, wildfires, drought, and other threats to resilience.
Space Force Modeling, Simulation & Analysis Hub
The NDAA includes $15.5 million to create a U.S. Space Force modeling and simulation hub.
Fire Station at Cannon Air Force Base
The NDAA authorizes $5 million for a new fire station at Cannon Air Force Base.
New Mexico Army National Guard Rio Rancho Vehicle Maintenance Shop
The NDAA authorizes $11 million for the New Mexico Army National Guard to construct a new vehicle maintenance shop in Rio Rancho.
New Mexico’s National Laboratories and Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Senator Heinrich secured the following authorizations and provisions related to New Mexico’s national laboratories and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.
The NDAA authorizes $276 million for environmental cleanup efforts at Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories.
Los Alamos National Laboratory
The NDAA authorizes $1.76 billion for LANL’s ongoing research and development programs. The funding supports personnel, equipment, and other activities at LANL.
Sandia National Laboratories
Within the FY24 NDAA's $24.1 billion funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Sandia's funding supports and sustains its system integration, engineering, and science programs.
Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
The NDAA authorizes full funding of $464 million to operate the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, including $44.4 million to continue construction of additional ventilation for the mine and $50 million to continue work on a new utility shaft.
Advanced Simulation and Computing for Nuclear Stockpile Stewardship
The NDAA authorizes $792.5 million in funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Stockpile Stewardship Program. This Program ensures continued reliability and allows realistic simulations on supercomputers to understand how they would behave without explosive testing.
Los Alamos National Laboratory Transportation Infrastructure
To address difficulties addressing workforce transportation needs at LANL, Senator Heinrich authored report language included in the NDAA that directs the National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator to report to Congress on measures to implement alternative transportation approaches and ensure transportation challenges at LANL will not impede national security activities.
Santa Fe National Cemetery
Similar to legislation introduced
earlier this year, this amendment repeals a 1999 provision that allowed for the use of flat gravestones at the Santa Fe National Cemetery and studies the cost of replacing flat markers with uprights.
National American Indian Veterans (NAIV) Charter
that recognizes the mission of the National American Indian Veterans (NAIV) with a congressional charter, ensuring Native American veterans receive proper benefits and resources.