WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, voted for the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and announced amendments he secured in the bill that benefit New Mexico's military installations, national laboratories, and job creation throughout the state.
The bill passed the Senate Armed Services Committee in June and passed the full Senate today by a vote of 89-8.
“New Mexicans go above and beyond to support our state’s military bases, test ranges, and defense laboratories. Through my role on the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am committed to making sure our military takes full advantage of the unrivaled resources, terrain, and expertise that New Mexico offers in service to our national security,” said Senator Heinrich. “I am proud to have authored significant resources and programs to position each of New Mexico’s military installations for missions of the future, while strengthening our core missions. This defense bill will bring major benefits to our economy and strengthen New Mexico's position as a leader in national security for years to come.”
The NDAA 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).
Amendments secured by Senator Heinrich include:
Authorizing Construction of NNSA’s Office Building in Albuquerque: Senator Heinrich successfully passed an amendment with Senator Tom Udall that will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to break ground and begin construction of a $174,000,000 NNSA Office Building in Albuquerque. Specifically, the Heinrich amendment allows the USACE to use multi-year appropriations to execute incrementally-funded, fixed-price construction contracts, which requires explicit authorization from Congress. The bill authorizes $98,000,000 in fiscal year 2018 to begin construction of the new office complex.
Creating an Aircraft Technician Career Pipeline at New Mexico Universities and High Schools: Senator Heinrich successfully passed an amendment with Senator Udall to help address the Air Force’s shortage of aircraft maintainers and technicians as part of their work to welcome the additional F-16’s and personnel to Holloman Air Force Base. Specifically, Senator Heinrich’s amendment would create a $5,000,000 pilot program to help universities like New Mexico State University and Alamogordo Public Schools educate and train students to become future aircraft technicians. In hearings before Senate Armed Services Committee, the Air Force has testified of a major shortage in aircraft technicians nationwide. For years, Senator Heinrich has worked to move the F-16s to Holloman Air Force Base, citing its unmatched airspace, the base's existing mission as a premier F-16 training location, and a surrounding community that is ready and eager to welcome the new squadrons, service members, and families. Last summer, he sent a letter urging the U.S. Air Force to relocate operational F-16 squadrons to Holloman AFB and expand Holloman's mission to include new F-16 formal training units. Senator Heinrich recently advocated for the resources needed to relocate the two additional F-16 training squadrons to Holloman in a Senate Armed Service Committee hearing on the U.S. Air Force budget and priorities.
Requiring the Trump Administration to Justify Consideration of Shifting LANL’s Plutonium Capabilities: Senator Heinrich successfully passed an amendment with Senator Udall to force the Trump Administration to meet a number of necessary requirements, including certification from the Secretary of Defense, before it moves pit production to any location other than Los Alamos National Laboratory. Specifically, the Heinrich amendment requires NNSA’s long-pending Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) on plutonium pit production to be reviewed by the Nuclear Weapons Council to ensure it meets the requirements of the Pentagon from a cost, schedule, and capability perspective. The findings would then be reviewed by the DoD’s Cost Estimating and Program Evaluation (CAPE) office and the independent Government Accountability Office (GAO) for concurrence.
Senator Heinrich also offered the following amendment:
Building a Rapid Prototyping Satellite Manufacturing Capability at Kirtland Air Force Base: Senator Heinrich introduced an amendment that would require the Operationally Responsive Space office at Kirtland Air Force Base to build a rapid prototyping satellite manufacturing capability. Senator Heinrich saved the ORS office from closure three years ago and has since provided significant funding for the continuation of multiple ORS missions. Senator Heinrich believes that a robotic rapid prototyping capability is necessary for the ORS office and that it is important to invest in long-term infrastructure to help ORS meaningfully address threats in space.
A list of many of the programs and provisions Senator Heinrich advocated for during the bill writing process that are included in the NDAA is available here.