WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) successfully included several key provisions in the fiscal year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to strengthen national security and New Mexico's military bases, and boost the economy. The NDAA sets the Department of Defense (DOD) spending levels and policies for the upcoming fiscal year.
"New Mexico's military bases are home to thousands of men and women who dedicate their lives to the safety and security of our great nation," said Sen. Heinrich. "This bill supports their work by strengthening the partnership between the film industry and New Mexico's military ranges, maintaining the formerly endangered ORS mission at Kirtland Air Force Base, and funding military construction projects that serve our servicemen and women while putting our building trades sector to work. New Mexico is at the forefront of protecting our nation and spurring innovation, and these investments will ensure that tradition continues."
Heinrich fought to include the following provisions in the FY15 NDAA:
Military Equitable Reimbursement Act (S. 1669): Senator Heinrich introduced a bill with Senator Vitter (R-La.) that would allow the DOD to retain payments for costs incurred during support of non-governmental film productions. Currently, DOD units can accept reimbursement for expenses associated with the use of military assets for production. However, due to ambiguity in existing law, there is uncertainty about whether DOD components, including installations like White Sands Missile Range, are eligible to keep these payments. As a result of Senator Heinrich's legislation, military installations will be able to retain payment.
Operationally Responsive Space (ORS): Authorizes $20 million to continue the ORS program at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque. Since elected to Congress, Senator Heinrich has worked to keep the ORS office at Kirtland Air Force Base and continue small satellite research and development by rejecting multiple proposed terminations. He's been an effective advocate for maintaining funding and supporting additional missions for ORS. In 2014, the Air Force selected a payload for the ORS-5 satellite, Space Situational Awareness, and funding is included in the NDAA to continue that program in FY15. Senator Heinrich has also sent a letter to Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James requesting funds in FY16.
Air Force T-1A Aircraft Modernization/Replacement: Senator Heinrich worked with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to support language in the NDAA requiring a report on the options to modernize or replace the Air Force's aging fleet of 178 T-1A Jayhawks. Pilot training is critical for maintaining the most advanced and capable Air Force in the world, and Very Lightweight Jets have the potential to provide a state-of-the-art training platform while saving significant taxpayer dollars-all while creating good-paying manufacturing jobs in New Mexico. Senator Heinrich also sent a letter to Air Force this year in support of Very Lightweight Jets.