Heinrich Secures Key Advancements For New Mexico In Annual Defense Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the conference committee that negotiated the final bill, voted for the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Senator Heinrich secured key provisions in the legislation to benefit New Mexico's men and women in uniform, military installations, national laboratories, and job creation throughout the state. 

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). 

“Over several years on the Armed Services Committee, I have secured major advances in defense bills to strengthen New Mexico’s military installations and to prepare them for missions of the future. I am proud to have authored a number of provisions in this year’s defense bill that make critical investments and strengthen New Mexico’s military bases, test ranges, and laboratories,” said Senator Heinrich. “Whether it is bolstering our Air Force’s flying missions, saving a major space mission at Kirtland, fighting for our national labs, increasing testing at White Sands Missile Range, or launching a new Directed Energy Weapons program, I am constantly working to keep our country safe, while creating jobs in the state. This bill will provide major benefits to our local economies and reinforce New Mexico's strong position as a leader in national defense. I will continue fighting for forward-looking investments and policies that will build a foundation for our military as a whole, and ensure our installations in New Mexico have strong, sustainable national security missions for years to come.”

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

NEW MEXICO MILITARY CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS

New Mexico National Guard  

$8.6 million to build a new National Guard Readiness Center in Las Cruces.  The funding will help build a 35,000 square foot readiness center to serve the Army National Guard's C Company, 3rd Battalion, 140th Aviation Regiment, which operates and houses four UH-72 Lakota helicopters at the Las Cruces International Airport.  The new building will be built on National Guard land near the airport and provide aviators a dedicated readiness center.  The building will include additional hangar space and room for training.     

Holloman Air Force Base 

$121 million to welcome 2 additional F-16 training units to Holloman Air Force Base.  The funding invests in live, virtual and constructive training ranges and ensures high quality and realistic training for our Holloman’s newest Airmen. The funding supports training ranges, squadron operations, flying hours, and base operations support to accommodate the additional aircraft and personnel.   

$4.25 million to build a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Fixed Ground Control Station Facility (FGCS).  An adequately sized and configured facility is required to accommodate the installation of 10 new Block 50 FGCS and supporting equipment into a single facility. The facility will house each FGCS in its own mission room and provide communications rooms for connectivity to each squadron operations center.

Cannon Air Force Base 

$42 million to build new facilities for combat arms training and maintenance (CATM) and a new cargo pad area.  The cargo pad will be designed to support the loading and unloading of munitions simultaneously on two C-130s, or one C-5, C-17 or Boeing 747 aircraft.  Construction of the new cargo pad requires the relocation of the current CATM facilities. 

$8.228 million to build a new facility for Special Operations Forces C-130 Aircraft Ground Equipment (AGE).  The AGE is required on the southeast side of the base to maintain all assigned powered and non-powered aircraft support equipment. The AGE facility must support all assigned C-130 aircraft maintenance and 525 pieces of equipment.

Kirtland Air Force Base  

$9.3 million to build a new fire station that will replace the undersized, deficient, and outdated fires station built in 1955.  The new fire station will include three high-bay drive-through apparatus stalls and will be capable of accommodating modern fire fighting vehicles and equipment.  The proposed location of the facility will better serve the southeastern part of Kirtland Air Force Base and reduce response time to critical high-value facilities including Kirtland's underground munitions storage complex and the mission-critical hot cargo aircraft loading pad.

FUNDING FOR NEW MEXICO’S NATIONAL LABORATORIES AND WASTE ISOLATION PILOT PLANT

Los Alamos National Laboratory Plutonium Mission

Heinrich supported full funding and reasserted the Senate Armed Service Committee’s strong support to maintain Los Alamos National Laboratory’s (LANL) role as the nation’s Center of Excellence for Plutonium Research.  The bill authorizes $210 million—an increase of $25 million over fiscal year 2017—for plutonium research activities and an additional $181 million for construction related to replacing the outdated Chemistry and Metallurgy Research (CMR) building at LANL. 

Requiring the Trump Administration to Justify Consideration of Shifting LANL’s Plutonium Capabilities

The bill includes an amendment Senator Heinrich successfully passed 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. In addition, if a final decision is still not made 150 days after the president has signed the bill, the existing strategy to upgrade plutonium facilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory will continue to be implemented as planned. 

NNSA Albuquerque Complex Project

Heinrich authorized $98 million to start construction of a new Albuquerque NNSA Complex on Eubank Blvd to replace the existing outdated and inadequate 50-year old facility.  The project is estimated to cost around $200 million and take about four years to complete. The new building will house up to 1,200 federal employees. To reduce contracting costs, the bill also includes Senator Heinrich’s amendment that authorizes the Army Corps of Engineers to use multi-year appropriations to award a single, incrementally funded, fixed-price construction contract. Construction is planned to begin early next year.

NNSA Employee Recruitment and Retention

The bill includes the amendment Heinrich authored that extends for an additional 10 years NNSA’s personnel management system that has been used successfully on a trial basis for the past 10 years. The temporary personnel system has enhanced the recruitment and retention of federal employees of the Department of Energy’s NNSA. NNSA needs to attract highly technical employees to manage critical national security programs, including about 800 based in New Mexico. Key advantages of NNSA’s personnel system include helping attract and retain top talent by offering competitive salaries, reducing attrition rates, and properly rewarding high-performing employees.

Life Extension Programs 

Heinrich supported full funding of $1.7 billion to continue the Life Extension Programs as executed by Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories.  The effort will maintain the existing weapons stockpile and assure safety and security.  

General Plant Construction Projects at DOE Facilities

The bill includes a provision to help expedite small construction projects and facility upgrades at DOE facilities, including Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories and WIPP.  The ceiling cost allowed for these expedited construction projects is raised from $10 million to $20 million. 

Los Alamos National Laboratory Environmental Cleanup 

The bill authorizes $191.6 million for soil and water remediation and removal of radioactive waste.  Funding is included again this year to address the hexavalent chromium plume in groundwater in Los Alamos.

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

The bill authorizes $323 million, an increase of $25 million over last year, to operate the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) and to begin construction of additional ventilation for the mine.   The Secretary of Energy is directed to develop a strategic plan for disposing of all of the transuranic waste currently expected to go to WIPP.

Requiring certification of sufficiency of Safety Board’s Budget

The bill includes an amendment Senator Udall successfully passed with Senator Heinrich that requires the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board to certify each year that the president’s budget request is sufficient to conduct its congressionally required oversight and safety reviews. 

HEINRICH PROVISIONS – NEW MEXICO’S DEFENSE R&D LABS, TEST RANGES, AND INDUSTRY

Directed Energy Weapons System Prototyping and Demonstration Program

Heinrich included bill language (Section 215) in the final conference report that establishes a new program at the Pentagon to accelerate the transition of directed energy weapon systems to the military.  Specifically, the provision authorizes a total of $100 million to be used only for the purposes of prototyping and conducting demonstrations of high energy laser and high power microwave weapons systems that are beyond the beginning stages of basic and applied research.  The Heinrich provision designates the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Development as the official with principal responsibility for development of directed energy weapons at the Pentagon and that the official works with the Joint Directed Energy Transition Office to execute the program.  

Heinrich has been the leader in Congress and the Senate Armed Services Committee in developing directed energy weapons and has argued for the potential of these systems as it relates to providing our military with new technologies that can offset the gains of adversaries.  Heinrich has argued that laser weapon systems can help intercept inexpensive UAV’s, rockets, artillery, mortars, as well as short and medium range ballistic missiles.  Heinrich has also argued for accelerating the development of a boost-phase high-energy-laser missile intercept capability for adversary Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM’s).

The state of New Mexico is home to significant research laboratories, industry, and test ranges that are leading the nation’s effort to develop high-energy-laser and high-powered-microwave weapon systems.

Restoration and Modernization Funds for White Sands Missile Range

Heinrich successfully raised the percentage of funds to be used to replace aging infrastructure at 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 Restoration and Modernization (R&M), leaving little flexibility for older installations to replace and modernize infrastructure needed to be efficient and cost-effective.  The amendment increases the percentage from 5 percent to 7.5 percent. 

HEINRICH PROVISIONS - NEW MEXICO SPACE MISSIONS

Operationally Responsive Space at Kirtland Air Force Base 
Re-designated as the “Space Rapid Capabilities Office” 

The final conference report re-designates ORS as the Space Rapid Capabilities Office, which will report to Air Force Space Command, headed by a Four Star General.  In previous years, ORS had been reporting to a subunit of Space Command, Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) in California.  The budget for the new Space RCO has also been significantly increased from $8 million last year to $87.57 million in this bill.  

Heinrich previously saved the Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) mission at Kirtland Air Force Base from elimination and has consistently worked to increase funding for the continuation of ORS, which is a critical small satellite mission.  This year, Heinrich welcomed the Air Force’s re-commitment to the ORS mission and continued responsive space efforts including the building of a cloud characterization satellite for the military.

Space Test Program at Kirtland Air Force Base

The final conference report authorizes $25.39 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. 

STARBASE Program 

Senator Heinrich successfully restored $25,000,000 in the Conference Report for the continuation of the STARBASE program. The Trump Administration had proposed terminating the program. In New Mexico, the DoD 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.