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VIDEO: Heinrich Questions Defense Secretary Nominee On New Mexico Priorities, Defense Modernization

Senator Heinrich is asking that Secretary-designate Austin look into the recent Space Command basing decision, prepare plans for PFAS remediation among other action, if confirmed

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) participated in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to consider the nomination of retired U.S. Army General Lloyd Austin to be Secretary of Defense.

In the hearing, Senator Heinrich, who has served as Ranking Member of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee and is the co-founder of the Senate Space Force Caucus, stressed the importance of prioritizing defense modernization to ensure that the U.S. military has the infrastructure and capabilities in place to successfully prepare for, and respond to, U.S. adversaries for generations to come. Austin agreed with Senator Heinrich’s direction and responded that “we absolutely have to invest in the capabilities that will make us relevant, not in the last fight, but in the future fight.”

VIDEO: Heinrich Questions U.S. Secretary of Defense Nominee General Lloyd Austin [HD DOWNLOAD LINK HERE]

In addition, Senator Heinrich requested that, if confirmed, Austin closely review the merits of the Air Force’s recent selection of Huntsville, Alabama to host the new U.S. Space Command headquarters over other candidates that included Albuquerque. Senator Heinrich has expressed concerns over the rushed process and has noted that it was not in line with the deliberate approach that the U.S. Air Force has taken in the past with such consequential basing decisions. Regardless of the final basing decision for the headquarters of Space Command, Senator Heinrich remains committed to supporting all of the core military space assets, missions, and organizations currently based in New Mexico.

Senator Heinrich also pressed Austin on the importance of prioritizing plans for clean-up and remediation of PFAS chemical contamination and working to correct the disastrous impacts it has left on drinking and agricultural water in affected areas. Senator Heinrich been a leader on PFAS efforts to address and clean up contamination sites that include dairy farms in New Mexico that have been upended by PFAS contamination from nearby Cannon Air Force Base.

If confirmed, Senator Heinrich has also asked that Austin work to ensure that Los Alamos National Laboratory is able to complete its mission of producing 30 plutonium pits by 2026.

Senator Heinrich has long-championed support for New Mexico's men and women in uniform, military installations, national laboratories, Artificial Intelligence, and job-creating initiatives throughout the state.