Heinrich Fights To Include Key Provisions For New Mexico In National Defense Bill, Urges Solution To Harmful Sequester Cuts

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, voted to pass the conference report for the fiscal year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act. Senator Heinrich worked to secure key provisions for New Mexico's men and women in uniform, military installations, private industry, national laboratories, and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). The NDAA conference report passed the Senate with a vote of 70 to 27.

The NDAA sets spending levels and policies for fiscal year 2016. NDAA is an authorization bill, but the measures will need to be funded through separate legislation in the appropriations process.

"New Mexico plays a critical role in our national security and defense, and is consistently at the forefront of research and development that contribute immensely to our country's safety. This legislation supports our servicemembers and military families, and makes important investments in our state's military installations, supporting our state economy as well," said Sen. Heinrich. "However, it's extremely disappointing that an agreement has not been reached to provide sequester relief for defense and non-defense programs. We still must find a solution to the damaging impact sequestration has had on our military readiness and vital domestic programs."

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

New Mexico Military Construction Projects:

$3 million for Holloman Air Force Base, Marshalling Area Arm/DE-Arm Pad. This project is to construct a marshaling area required for additional aircraft to accommodate the F-16 mission.

$12.8 million for Kirtland Air Force Base Space Vehicles Component Development Lab. This project will construct a high-tech, state-of-the-art facility to support space vehicles component development, replacing eleven substandard, inadequate and obsolete facilities.

$7.8 million for Cannon Air Force Base, Construct AT/FP Gate-Portales. This project is to construct a new entry control gatehouse and vehicle inspection station that comply with antiterrorism/force protection criteria.

$20.4 million for Cannon Air Force Base Construct Pumphouse and Fuel Storage. This project will construct additional operating fuel storage and truck fillstands to support immediate refueling requirements at Cannon AFB.   

$11.56 million for Cannon Air Force Base SOF Squadron Operations Facility. This project will construct an operations and training facility for instructors to plan, teach, and critique combat crews on special operations forces.
 
$13.146 million for Cannon Air Force Base SOF ST Operational Training Facilities. This project will construct a facility to accommodate pre-deployment training requirements for special operation forces.

Microlab Technology Commercialization Act: Senator Heinrich's bill to accelerate technology transfer by establishing off-campus microlabs that would serve as the "front-door" to national laboratories was included in the authorization act. The microlabs would give academia, local government, businesses owners, and communities direct access to equipment, facilities, and personnel of national laboratories. 

Remotely Piloted Aircraft Missions at Holloman and Cannon Air Force Base: Due to RPA pilot shortfalls and the increased workload facing our nation's RPA airmen, Heinrich included language requiring the Air Force to submit a report on remotely piloted aircraft career field manning policies and actions the Air Force will take to rectify personnel shortfalls, to include recruitment/retention bonuses, incentive pay, use of enlisted personnel, and increased weighting to remotely piloted aircraft personnel on promotion boards.  This is a critical issue in New Mexico, which hosts the nation's premier RPA training location.  Senator Heinrich also sent a letter to Secretary Carter  urging action to rectify personnel shortfalls on September 1, 2015     

Directed Energy Initiative: Heinrich supported the establishment of a new $400 million initiative to maintain and enhance the military technological superiority of the United States by accelerating the fielding of certain technologies with an emphasis on Directed Energy. $200 million of the $400 million would be authorized specifically for Directed Energy.

58th Special Operations Wing / 150th Special Operations Wing, Kirtland Air Force Base: Heinrich included language providing temporary relief to the Tacos to ensure additional New Mexico Air National Guardsmen can provide pilot training on CV-22s where there currently lacks legal authority and a lengthy and burdensome waiver process is required.

Operationally Responsive Space: Heinrich continued his fight for small satellite programs to support our nation's responsive space capabilities by increasing funding for ORS by $14 million to match the previous year's funding levels.

Medical Evaluation Parity for Servicemembers Act: Key elements of Heinrich's bill to improve the way the military identifies and assesses mental health issues were included in the authorization act. The language requires a report from the Secretary of Defense  regarding the feasibility of  establishing a preliminary mental health screening. Heinrich introduced the bill earlier this year with U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), which is endorsed by over 40 military, veteran and mental health advocacy groups.

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant: Heinrich included language requiring quarterly reports to Congress on recovery activities at WIPP.

Laboratory Directed Research and Development: Heinrich increased the maximum percentage each laboratory director may set aside for Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) from 6 to 7 percent of the lab's budget. The Department of Energy's discretionary LDRD program advances the frontiers of science and engineering, invests in critical national security missions, and helps recruit and retain staff for national laboratories. The language was modeled after legislation Heinrich introduced with U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.).

Cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL): Heinrich supported $180.6 million for LANL cleanup, which is needed to protect groundwater and help resume the safe processing of transuranic (TRU) waste containing nitrate salts. 

Life Extension Programs: Both Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs are instrumental in carrying out programs to maintain our nation's nuclear weapons stockpile. The authorization act fully authorizes the president's request for ongoing Life Extension Programs.

DoD Laboratory Infrastructure Modernization: Heinrich supported a pilot program authorizing the use of $150 million for construction of laboratory facilities in order to support Kirtland Air Force Bases' Air Force Research Laboratory and White Sands Missile Range's Army Research Lab.