Dec 14, 2007
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman today applauded the final passage of a bill that authorizes spending at New Mexico’s two national laboratories and defense installations.
The bill, called the fiscal year 2008 Defense Authorization Bill, sets funding levels for the Waste Isolation Pilot Project, Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories, and New Mexico’s military bases. The authorization bill is required before funding can be appropriated.
“This is a good bill for New Mexico because it supports the very important work done at our military installations and our national laboratories,” Bingaman said.
The bill, which can now go to the White House for signature, contains the following:
Cannon Air Force Base
$1.68 million for a new hanger for AC-130 Air Force Special Operations Command aircraft as part of the transition of Cannon to its new mission on Oct 1
$7.5 million for a flight simulator facility for AC-130 aircraft
“Now that Cannon has an important new mission, we need to ensure it is ready for the transition. This legislation will make that possible,” Bingaman said.
Kirtland Air Force Base
$1.8 million for a jet fuel handling facility
$11.4 million for a Pararescue/Combat Rescue Officer (PJ/CRO) School building
$3.7 million for a Pararescue / Combat Rescue Officer logistics building
$42.7 million for the Space Vehicle Facility. As part of the 2005 BRAC to move to consolidate facilities for the Air Force Research Laboratories Space Vehicles Directorate from Hanscom Air Force Base to Kirtland.
“This bill makes a major investment in Kirtland, helping ensure the base is fully prepared for its missions,” Bingaman said.
The bill increases the budget of the Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Program Office to $93 million from $87 million for work on additional launch and space vehicle research as well as satellite sensors.
White Sands Missile Range
$71 million for the construction of buildings for the Combat Engineering Battalion that is coming to WSMR from Fort Sill at the end of 2008.
“WSMR is essential to our national defense efforts. This legislation will help guarantee it can grow to meet our future needs,” Bingaman said.
The bill also authorizes a $7.5 million increase for the High Energy Laser Test Facility at WSMR, bringing its operating budget to $10.3 million. And it directs the Secretary of the Army, the Director of the Test Resource Management Center and the Director of the High Energy Laser Joint technology Office to jointly report to Congress on a long-term funding plan to maintain adequate personnel, equipment and facilities to maintain its world class status as a unique Department of Defense asset to test high energy lasers.
Bingaman also said he is pleased the bill authorizes funding that will help ensure that Holloman Air Force Base receives the F-22A, or Raptor, in a timely fashion. Specifically, the bill sets the funding level for the purchase of 20 F-22A at $3.737 billion, ensuring that Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska receives the Raptors that have been assigned to it. Holloman is next in line to receive the F-22A.
“This bill will help us ensure that F-22As headed for Holloman will be delivered in a timely fashion,” Bingaman said.
Other Department of Defense issues relevant to New Mexico, and authorized under the Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Agency:
$6.5 billion for maintaining the stockpile
$1.809 billion for stemming the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
$95.5 million for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Replacement Facility construction at LANL
$26.7 million for the radioactive liquid waste treatment project to safely treat radioactive wastes for disposal at Waste Isolation Pilot Project
$49.5 million in upgrades to safeguards for storing nuclear materials at LANL
$13 million for heating system upgrades at Sandia
$139.4 million for clean up funding at LANL
$219.7 million for WIPP
The bill also authorizes $66 million for the Reliable Replacement Warhead and limits funding for design, definition and cost analysis only. The conferees expressed concern that RRW was moving forward too quickly and is worried about the effects that moving forward will have on maintenance of the existing stockpile.