Annual Defense Bill Passes Senate, Heinrich Announces Significant Gains For National Labs, Military Installations, Defense Industry, And Border Security

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, voted for the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which passed the Senate by a vote of 85 to 13. Senator Heinrich secured key provisions in the legislation to benefit New Mexico's men and women in uniform, military installations, national laboratories, border security, and job creation throughout the state.

The bill sets the Department of Defense spending levels and policies for the upcoming fiscal year and authorizes funding for the 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).

"New Mexico plays an essential role in our national security and defense and is at the forefront of cutting-edge research and development," said Sen. Heinrich. "I'm proud to fight for provisions included in this bipartisan bill that support our servicemembers and military families, strengthen our border security, and make investments in our state's military installations and national laboratories. By authorizing these critical investments in job-creating initiatives, our economy and entire nation stand to benefit a great deal."

The following list includes many of the programs and provisions Senator Heinrich advocated for during the bill writing process that were included in the NDAA:

NEW MEXICO'S MILITARY INSTALLATIONS AND RANGES

Military Construction Projects:

Cannon Air Force Base North Fitness Center: $21 Million
Holloman Air Force Base Hazardous Cargo Pad and Taxiway: $10.6 Million
Kirtland Air Force Base Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) Simulator: $7.3 Million

TOTAL: $38.9 Million

Research & Development at Kirtland's Air Force Research Laboratory: Heinrich included a provision to increase the maximum allowable percentage to be used by laboratory employees for high-risk, high-reward basic and applied research at Department of Defense laboratories from 3 percent to 4 percent and makes permanent the existing "Section 219" authorities, which allows the Department of Defense to invest a percentage of its basic research budget in internally directed R&D. The program advances the frontiers of science and engineering, invests in critical national security missions, and helps recruit and retain the best and brightest staff.

Accelerated Hiring at Kirtland's Air Force Research Laboratory: Heinrich successfully passed an amendment that directs the Comptroller General to conduct an assessment of different hiring structures at Department of Defense laboratories across the services and recommend ways to accelerate the hiring process.  Heinrich recently sent a letter noting that it often takes over a year to hire individuals and that 25 percent of Air Force Research Labs' billets in New Mexico remain vacant. 

STARBASE: Heinrich successfully passed an amendment restoring $25 million for the continuation of the STARBASE program that didn't receive funding in the President's budget.  In New Mexico, the Department of Defense STARBASE program is hosted by the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base and has served nearly 8,000 5th grade students.  STARBASE is a highly effective program run by our dedicated servicemembers and strengthens the relationships between the military, communities, and local school districts.  The program allows students to participate in a 25-hour hands-on curriculum where they solve scientific challenges related to aerospace.  Since its inception in 1991, over 825,000 students have benefitted from the STARBASE program, including 45,000 last year. 

Joint Directed Energy Program Office: Heinrich increased the responsibilities and authorities of the Joint Technology Office in New Mexico to focus on transitioning directed energy technologies rather than its original mission of coordinating basic research and development. Heinrich also re-designated the office as the “Joint Directed Energy Program Office” and increased its funding by $5 million.    

Increased Flexibility in Management of Working Capital Funds: Heinrich included a provision directing the Department of Defense to ensure working capital funded facilities like White Sands Missile Range are allowed to provide services to all other Department of Defense organizations and all other federal organizations.

Space Test Program at Kirtland Air Force Base: Heinrich supported $27 million for the Space Test Program at Kirtland Air Force Base.  Since 1965, the Space Test Program (STP) has conducted space test missions for the purpose of accelerating Department of Defense space technology transformation, while lowering developmental risk.  STP serves as the primary access to space for the Department of Defense space science and technology community. 

Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) at Kirtland Air Force Base: Heinrich provided an increase of $10 million to accelerate development of the Space Situational Awareness ORS-5 mission bringing the total budget in fiscal year 2017 to $18 million.

Restoration and Modernization (R&M) Funds for White Sands Missile Range: Heinrich passed an amendment requiring the Department of Defense to develop a new model for restoration and modernization funding due to deferred work and the existing backlog of R&M projects at unique testing ranges like White Sands Missile Range.  Currently, Army installations receive a single pot of money for maintenance to be used as garrison commanders prioritize, but only 5 percent of that can be used for R&M, leaving little flexibility for older installations to replace and modernize infrastructure needed to be efficient and cost-effective.

Reimbursement Process for White Sands Missile Range: Heinrich successfully passed an amendment that requires the Department of Defense to report on how to facilitate the reimbursement process for White Sands Missile Range and other Major Range Test Base Facilities (MRTFBs).   Currently there is little flexibility for MRTFBs to be funded by a training unit that pays for MRTFB resources or services.  These resources and services could include fuel and fuel delivery, exercise design, instrumentation set up and operation, tactical system performance data collection, safety, and data analysis.

Space Situational Awareness Technology at Magdalena Ridge Observatory: Heinrich successfully passed an amendment expressing support for the development of new space situational awareness technologies and directed the Department of Defense to develop plans by December 31, 2016 on how it intends to demonstrate a proof-of-concept capability of intensity interferometry. This technology would allow for a passive technique to be used when interrogating any geosynchronous object instead of using ground-based illumination techniques that currently exist. The Department of Defense and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology have built the underlying infrastructure for this capability at Magdalena Ridge Observatory.

White Sands National Monument Crash Cleanup: Heinrich cosponsored an amendment to clarify the authority to perform environmental cleanup on other agency's land in the case of aircraft crashes like the 2014 crash on White Sands National Monument.  The amendment seeks to ensure expeditious cleanup of any similar crash in the future. 

German Air Force and other Partner Nations at Holloman Air Force Base: Heinrich successfully passed an amendment requesting the Department of Defense to explore ways in which the German Air Force can continue its presence at Holloman.  Heinrich also included language directing the Department of Defense to examine training opportunities with other partner nations that would utilize the weather, terrain, airspace, and infrastructure available at Holloman Air Force Base, should the Department of Defense and German Air Force not be able to extend its contract at Holloman.

HIGH-TECHNOLOGY DEFENSE INDUSTRY

Directed Energy Weapons Systems Acquisition Act of 2016: Heinrich's bipartisan bill, S. 2778, the Directed Energy Weapon Systems Acquisition Act of 2016, is included in the NDAA. The bill will accelerate the transition of high-technology weapon systems from research and development to full-scale acquisition programs.

Rapid Prototyping of Directed Energy: Heinrich provided an increase of $25 million exclusively dedicated to transitioning directed energy technologies that have proven capabilities such as Counter-Electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile (CHAMP), High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD), and other systems.

Cyber Security at Department of Defense Critical Infrastructure: Heinrich successfully included an amendment requiring the Secretary of Defense to identify and evaluate cyber vulnerabilities at critical Department of Defense infrastructure and develop a plan for risk mitigation.  Military installations across the United States are vulnerable to cyber-attacks.  High-tech industry partners like Intel have developed hardware and software to enhance cyber security at installations worldwide.  Heinrich also increased funding for this purpose by $25 million.   

Remotely Piloted Aircraft Automatic Takeoff and Landing Control System: Heinrich supported a provision for the development and integration of MQ-9 automatic takeoff and landing control system to support the growing Remotely Piloted Aircraft enterprise. 

Radiation Detection Technology: Heinrich passed an amendment urging the Department to expedite and complete the fielding of modern radiation detection equipment for the Army. The amendment seeks to address the Army's critical remaining shortfall in existing radiation detection equipment and follows Heinrich's recent announcement for Aquila, a New Mexico-based company, to manufacture dosimeters for the National Guard.

Expeditionary Equipment at Forward Operating Bases: Heinrich passed an amendment that directs the Department of Defense to prepare a report on how the military services can broaden the use of Basic Expeditionary Airfield Resources (BEAR) expeditionary energy systems. These technologies reduce the energy footprint required on forward deployed operating bases, which can also reduce the risk to servicemembers on fuel resupply missions. The BEAR mission unit is headquartered at Holloman Air Force Base.

Navy Laser Weapon System Demonstration: Heinrich successfully passed an amendment commending the Navy for initiating and funding the Laser Weapon Systems Demonstrator (LWSD) and urged the Department of Defense to seamlessly transition the LWSD to a shipboard weapons system following sea-based testing and to a formal maritime laser acquisition program.

NATIONAL SECURITY LABORATORIES

NNSA Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD): Heinrich included a provision that removes the overhead burden on NNSA labs for LDRD that currently double-taxes Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory.  LDRD is a strategic research and development program that is critical to maintaining the scientific vitality of the national laboratories. 

NNSA Albuquerque Complex Project: Heinrich supported $15 million to build a new Albuquerque NNSA Complex that will replace the existing outdated and inadequate 50-year old facility. 

Life Extension Programs: Heinrich supported full funding of the Life Extension Programs executed by Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories. 

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Environmental Cleanup: Heinrich provided an increase of $10 million for cleanup.   

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP): Heinrich included a provision requiring quarterly reports on progress at WIPP and increased funding for WIPP operations by $10 million. 

Microlab Technology Commercialization: As Heinrich authorized in last year's NDAA, the committee urges NNSA to continue to support developing "microlabs," such as Sandia's proposed Center for Collaboration and Commercialization (C3) in Albuquerque, to help create an environment that nurtures collaboration and entrepreneurship at the labs. 

BORDER SECURITY

Night Vision Southern Border: Heinrich successfully passed an amendment urging the Secretary of Defense to accelerate the transfer of excess night vision technology for border security enhancement to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). On a recent visit to New Mexico's southern border, Heinrich was informed about CBP's shortfall in night vision goggles.   

Predictable Funding for the National Guard Counterdrug Program: Heinrich cosponsored an amendment directing the Department of Defense Comptroller to coordinate with the National Guard to develop a process to ensure more consistent and predictable funding to mitigate gaps or delays in drug interdiction and counter-drug activities.  Each year, the New Mexico National Guard does not receive funding until late in the year and faces unstable and unpredictable funding levels.  Heinrich's amendment seeks to resolve the issue and enable additional personnel on New Mexico's border for extended periods of time.