WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich's (D-N.M.) key provisions to strengthen national security and New Mexico's military bases, and boost New Mexico's economy were included in the final passage of the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA sets the Department of Defense (DOD) spending levels and policies for the upcoming fiscal year. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 89 to 11 and now goes to the President for his signature.
"Passing the National Defense Authorization Act reflects a commitment to military readiness and upholding our responsibility to our service members and their families," said Sen. Heinrich. "Furthermore, it has significant positive implications for New Mexico given our state's pivotal role in our national security. I'm pleased that this bill includes provisions I fought for, including maintaining the ORS mission at Kirtland Air Force Base, funding military construction projects that serve our troops and create jobs, and strengthening the partnership between the film industry and New Mexico's military installations. These investments will continue New Mexico's tradition of protecting our nation and spurring innovation."
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.