May 04, 2017

Udall, Heinrich Secure Vital Funding for NM Priorities in Budget Bill

Appropriations bill includes funds for labs and bases, wildfire suppression, PILT, LWCF, and other initiatives that support families and jobs in New Mexico

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations committee, and U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich joined the full Senate in voting 79-18 for an omnibus appropriations bill to fund the government through September 2017. The U.S. House of Representatives approved the bill yesterday, and the president is expected to sign it into law.

The bill includes funding for several critical New Mexico priorities that Udall and Heinrich fought for, including: New Mexico’s national labs and military bases, emergency wildfire suppression, Gold King Mine cleanup efforts, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), Tribal programs, national parks and public lands, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), water projects, health and education programs, and other critical initiatives that support jobs and economic development across the state.

Udall, the lead Democrat on the Appropriations subcommittee overseeing funding for the Interior Department, the EPA and arts and humanities programs, said: “This bill will drive economic growth in every corner of our state and support New Mexicans in all walks of life – without diverting a single penny to fund President Trump’s ineffective and unnecessary border wall. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I’m proud to have fought to secure strong funding for critical New Mexico priorities, particularly $407 million in new emergency funds to fight the increasingly severe wildfires that continue to threaten New Mexico and the Southwest. We also won a big victory for arts and humanities programs, which are critical engines of economic growth in New Mexico, by increasing funding for the NEA and NEH even as President Trump is vowing to close them down. At the same time, this bill includes essential resources for our national labs, military bases, and public lands, and it invests in the health and education of Native Americans and families across the state. This budget agreement funds critical initiatives that make New Mexico healthier, safer, and more economically competitive, and I’m proud to have helped it get over the finish line.”

Udall announced earlier this week that funding for several New Mexico Department of the Interior-related priorities had been included in the bill. As the ranking Democrat on the Interior and environment appropriations subcommittee, Udall also led the effort to remove harmful anti-environment provisions known as "riders," which would have weakened bedrock environmental laws.

Heinrich said: “This bipartisan agreement makes robust investments in our economy and will create and preserve jobs in New Mexico at a time when we truly need them. New Mexico’s national laboratories, military bases, and WIPP will all receive critical federal investments. I am proud that I was able to help secure funding for the rapid production and procurement of the Department of Defense’s first-ever directed energy weapon system. With our state’s unique expertise in directed energy work, this funding will jumpstart the deployment of this critical technology and bring more high-paying jobs to New Mexico. I am pleased that we were able to reinstate year-round Pell Grants giving students the opportunity to go to college without being crushed by debt. The bill includes federal dollars for LWCF, emergency firefighting, Gold King Mine cleanup, and our rural counties will receive full finding for PILT to pay for essential services like schools, roads, and public safety. Importantly, all of this was achieved without providing any funding for President Trump’s proposed border wall. I will continue to fight alongside Senator Udall to make sure we’re making smart investments in New Mexico.”

Heinrich secured provisions in the bill from his proposal to reinstate year-round Pell Grants for college students in New Mexico and across the country.

New Mexico funding and other highlights of the bill include:

WILDFIRES, GOLD KING MINE, LWCF and PILT
Emergency Firefighting — The bill provides $4.2 billion for wildland fire management activities at the Forest Service and Interior Department. This includes $2.05 billion for wildfire suppression for the agencies to respond to forest fires, which with carryover balances fully funds estimated firefighting needs. Udall secured a total of $407 million to be used on an emergency basis in order to prevent the agencies from resorting to borrowing from non-fire accounts and having to put ongoing restoration, construction, and acquisition projects in jeopardy of permanently losing funding and momentum. The bill also provides an increase to hazardous fuels reduction programs, including $390 million for the Forest Service and $180 million for the Interior Department, which is a total of $25 million above the enacted level.

Gold King Mine Cleanup — The bill provides $4 million for a long-term water quality monitoring program, and directs the EPA to continue to work in consultation with affected states and Tribes on that effort. Additionally, a recent legal decision has left many stakeholders concerned that they will not be compensated for property damage, business losses, and other negative financial impacts. The bill directs the EPA to explore all legal and financial recourses that could compensate individuals for such damages and, if available, ensure that recourses will be extended to individuals located in all areas impacted by the spill in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and the Navajo Nation. The agency is required to report to the committees within 60 days of enactment on the details and timeline for such efforts, including plans for stakeholder engagement in all areas affected by the spill.

Land and Water Conservation Fund — The bill provides $400 million to the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service for the four land management agencies to acquire and conserve lands and provide assistance to state and non-federal partners. This includes $5.48 million in New Mexico acquisitions, including $1.25 million for Rio Grande del Norte and $750,000 for Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, and $3.48 million for Brazos Cliff through the Forest Legacy program.

Payments in Lieu of Taxes — The agreement fully funds $465 million for payments to counties through the Payments in Lieu of Taxes program. The amount provided supports the Department of the Interior’s updated estimates to fully fund payments in fiscal year 2017.

NATIONAL LABS, NNSA, and WIPP
Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories — Facilities operations at both labs remain stable. LANL will receive $196 million for operations, and Sandia will receive $118 million. Operations funding is only a fraction of NNSA funding for the labs, and most of the funding will be determined through site splits for the various weapons activities and work for others done at the labs.

WIPP and Los Alamos Cleanup — The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is funded at $324 million, which includes $4.86 million for security and $26.8 million for the settlement with the state of New Mexico over the 2014 radiological incident. Los Alamos cleanup is funded at $194 million, a $9 million increase.

NNSA — Overall, the National Nuclear Security Agency is funded at $12.938 billion, a $412 million increase over fiscal year 2016.

NNSA Weapons Activities — The bill funds the overall weapons program at $9.318 billion, a nearly $400 million increase.

NNSA Nonproliferation Activities — The bill funds nonproliferation activities at $1.902 billion.

Technology Transfer — Includes support for technology transfer at the Department of Energy requested by Udall and Heinrich by increasing the flexibility of federal matching funds to more appropriately meet the needs of emerging businesses.

Life Extension Programs (LEP) across the NNSA
-B61 LEP — $616.079 million
-W76 LEP — $222.88 million
-W88 LEP — $281.123 million
-W80-4 LEP — $220.253 million

LANL CMRR — The bill provides $159.615 million to continue work on the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) project at LANL and replace the capabilities at the aging CMR facility.

MILITARY BASES and DEFENSE
Military Pay Raise — The bill fully funds a 2.1 percent pay raise for military and civilian employees.

Air Force Technology Transfer — The bill includes $8.368 million for defense-related technology transfer and continues Udall's work to increase technology transfer from defense labs, including the Air Force Research Laboratory, which has a location at Kirtland Air Force Base.

Operationally Responsive Space — The bill includes $18.421 million to support the ORS mission at KAFB AFRL. This is a significant increase and important for continued work on micro satellites.

Space Test Program — The bill includes $42.070 million to support research and development activities related to space at KAFB AFRL. STP is responsible for all Defense Department space test missions and is charged with lowering developmental risk for space programs. ORS and STP have been working together to increase the fielding of smaller modular micro satellites and lower technological risk on future space missions.

Compact Laser Weapon System — Includes $16.7 million to rapidly build and deploy five high-energy-laser weapon systems to protect forward-operating-bases from explosive drones, harnessing New Mexico’s expertise in directed energy in the fight against ISIS. The funding marks the first-ever urgent production and deployment of a directed energy weapon system to the battlefield.

Active Primary Mirrors for Directed Energy Weapon Systems — The bill includes $42.3 million to support the Directed Energy High Energy Laser Research program at KAFB AFRL. This funding will support investments in programs, such as the high-power deformable mirrors used for increasing the efficiency and reach of directed energy weapons.

Advanced Spacecraft Technology — The bill includes over $71 million for continued work on multiple AFRL programs including ground based surveillance of spacecraft and laser communications with space assets.

Test and Evaluation Support — The bill includes over $676 million to support the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center at Kirtland Air Force Base.

Defense Production Act — The bill includes over $64 million to support key energy programs in DoD, including the development of new fuels to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

CHAMP — Includes over $49 million to help the Air Force create an additional operational prototype of the Kirtland-produced Counter-Electronics High Powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP).

PARKS and PUBLIC LANDS
Key Funding for National Parks — The bill provides a 3 percent increase for national parks, including $56 million in new funding to address the National Park Service’s estimated $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog.

National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities — The conference agreement provides $149.8 million each for the NEA and NEH to support arts and humanities programs, an increase of $1.9 million each above the enacted level.

Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge — $3.063 million to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to complete the visitors center.

Old Santa Fe Trail Building — $4.77 million for the National Park Service to fund critically needed renovations of the historic structure.

Valles Caldera National Preserve — The bill provides $3.34 million for operations, including an additional $1.5 million to continue stewardship contracts.

Manhattan Project National Historical Park — $691,000 to expand park operations, an increase of $350,000 above last year.

Bureau of Land Management Foundation — The bill authorizes the creation of a BLM Foundation, similar to the Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the National Park Foundation, to support BLM actives across the BLM’s mission areas, including conservation of national monuments restoration of lands. The bill also directs the first funding for the foundation, of $8.5 million.

TRIBAL SERVICES
Tribal Health and Education Priorities — The agreement provides important increases for the Indian Health Service (+5%) and Bureau of Indian Affairs (+2%) to meet the nation’s trust responsibility for serving American Indian and Alaska Native health and education needs. Contract support costs are fully funded, and the agreement provides a $22 million boost for construction and maintenance for Tribal health facilities. The bill continues to support important funding for construction and maintenance of Bureau of Indian Education funded schools. This construction funding will support campus-wide replacements for 10 BIE schools, including four in New Mexico. The bill also provides $2 million to increase capacity at BIE and Tribal schools for development and implementation of Native American language immersion programs.

Indian Health Services Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program — The bill provides $13 million in new funding for IHS substance abuse programs, with $2 million in new funding for detoxification services provided by partner facilities, such as the one in Gallup, N.M. It also provides a $12 million increase to improve mental health services for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Tribal Energy Programs — Provides $16 million for the DOE’s Office of Indian Energy Policy to support energy development in Indian Country, and provides $9 million in new funding for a loan guarantee program to support the development of commercial renewable energy projects.

Tribal Broadband — Provides a $2 million increase from last year for expanded broadband capabilities throughout the Bureau of Indian Education.

Native American Housing Block Grant — The bill provides $654 million for the Native American Housing Block Grant, a $4 million increase from FY2016.

Tribal Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing — The bill provides $7 million, an increase of $1.8 million, for the Tribal HUD-VA supportive housing program to offer rental assistance and supportive services to Native Americans veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Institute of American Indian Arts — $3.5 million increase to provide forward funding for IAIA.

HEALTH and EDUCATION
National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The bill provides an important $2 billion increase for NIH, totaling $34.1 billion. This includes $352 million from the 21st Century Cures Act. In fiscal year 2016, New Mexico received $99.7 million in NIH funding, supporting an estimated 1,531 jobs in New Mexico.

Heroin and Opioid Addiction Treatment and Prevention — The bill provides $160.5 million to help states and local communities in the fight against heroin and illegal use of opioids, a $35.5 million increase over fiscal year 2016 level. This includes $10 million in grant funding for statewide anti-heroin task forces as part of the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program.

Pell Grants — The bill maintains $22.5 billion in discretionary spending for Pell Grants in fiscal year 2017 and authorizes year-round or summer Pell grants, benefiting roughly 1 million students nationwide, and many in New Mexico. Importantly, the bill maintains Pell reserve funding, which the president had proposed for elimination.

Federal TRiO programs — The bill provides an additional $50 million over enacted levels totaling $950 million. TRiO serves low-income, first-generation students across the nation in earning a college degree. There are over 30 programs in NM successfully serving students.

Telehealth — The bill provides an additional $1.5 million for telehealth programs, which support the delivery of health care in rural areas.

WATER PROJECTS
Bureau of Reclamation — The bill provides $1.317 billion for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation to improve the management of water resources for 31 million people in 17 states, and to mitigate the impact of recent droughts in Western states. This is $42 million more than the FY16 funding level.

Army Corps of Engineers — The bill provides $6.038 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, $49 million more than FY2016. The bill sets aside $10 million to reimburse communities that have already put forward more money than was required to commence water projects, with priority for reimbursing those communities that reinvest funds in future water projects.

Specific funding for New Mexico includes:

United States-Mexico Transboundary Aquifer Survey — $1 million to continue developing a scientific foundation for state and local officials to address pressing water resources challenges in the United States-Mexico border region.

Drought Funding — The bill provides $140 million in drought funding.

WaterSmart Program — The bill funds $24 million in WaterSmart grants, which support local water management projects including watershed management, basin studies and drought planning and response.

XVI Water Reuse Program — The bill provides $34.4 million for the XVI Water Reuse program and increases funding for desalinization research.

Aamodt Water Settlement — $6.379 million.

Navajo-Gallup Water Settlement — $87 million through the Bureau of Reclamation for the construction of the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project and the historic 2010 Navajo Nation Water Rights Settlement Agreement. The project will supply water to the eastern portion of the Navajo Nation, the southwestern portion of the Jicarilla Apache Nation and the city of Gallup, serving the future water needs of approximately 250,000 people..

Tribal Partnership Program — $1.75 million, an increase of $250,000 from FY2016, to allow the Army Corps to work collaboratively with Tribes to study the feasibility of water resource projects.

Bureau of Reclamation, Operations and Maintenance — The agreement secures $36.7 million to build, maintain and operate projects in New Mexico, reflecting the president’s budget request. The funding for individual projects is:
-Carlsbad Project: $4.139 million
-Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Supply: $1 million
-Middle Rio Grande Project: $25.865 million
-Rio Grande Project: $5.406 million
-Rio Grande Pueblos Project: $300,000

Army Corps of Engineers, Operations and Maintenance — The bill provides $18.55 million, to fully fund the Corps operations and maintenance of several New Mexico projects to assure New Mexicans receive flood protection, water delivery and maintain our responsibility to keep a healthy and functioning ecosystem. The funding for each project is includes:
Abiquiu Dam — $3.263 million
Cochiti Lake — $3.452 million
Conchas Lake — $3.137 million
Galisteo Dam — $772,000
Inspection of completed works — $650,000
Jemez Canyon Dam — $1.085 million
Santa Rosa Dam and Lake — $1.712 million
Middle Rio Grande Endangered Species collaborative program — $2.367 million
Scheduling Reservoir Operations — $213,000
Two Rivers Dam — $599,000
Upper Rio Grande Water Operations model study — $1.3 million

AGRICULTURE & RURAL DEVELOPMENT
Water and Waste Disposal loans — After calls from the Trump administration to eliminate this program, Water and Waste Water loans, which are critical to a number of rural New Mexico communities, will receive stable funding at $1.25 billion, while general Water and Waste Disposal grants will be increased by $27.6 million to $392 million in this agreement.

NRCS Conservation — After a number of years of cuts, the bill increases funding for private land conservation by $14 million, bringing total funding to $864 million. These programs help New Mexico famers implement conservation practices on their farms to help conserve water, protect soil and assure that farmers have the tools needed to remain productive in the future. The Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations account is funded for the first time since fiscal year 2010 at $150 million. This program is used to help implement watershed improvement areas to prevent flooding, erosion, and other conservation measures.

Agriculture Research — New Mexico’s universities are some of the leading agricultural research institutions in the country, and they count on USDA dollars for funding. The Agricultural Research Service, USDA’s in-house research arm, is funded at $1.17 billion, $26 million more than the fiscal year 2016 level. The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, USDA’s premier competitive research fund, received $375 million, $25 million more than the fiscal year 2016 level. The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program is funded at $27 million, $2.3 million more than the fiscal year 2016 level.

Margin Protection Program for Dairy Producers — The agreement includes language encouraging the Secretary of Agriculture to use all available methods, including the use of the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act, to provide immediate assistance to dairy producers who are financially struggling due to lower milk prices, until such time as a revised safety net program can be provided.

Provides proper oversight to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in SNAP — The bill directs USDA to work with states to make sure they are complying with the required deadlines and providing the necessary information to assure the law is being followed and there is no falsification of SNAP (food assistance) implementation data. This will help to address the ongoing reporting and fraud issues in New Mexico.

Rural Development — This bill makes key investments in rural business, including rural business development grants at $24 million and guaranteed business and industry loans at $920 million. Value-added market development grants are increased from $10.75 million to $15 million -- this program has been successfully used by a number of New Mexico producers to create jobs in New Mexico.

LAW ENFORCEMENT and PUBLIC SAFETY
Addressing Violence Against Women — The bill contains $481.5 million for grants provided by the Office on Violence Against Women, the highest funding level ever.

BORDER
Smart Border Security — The bill specifically rejects the Trump administration’s request for new construction funding for a border wall and a deportation force, but includes $1.5 billion for technology improvements and to repair existing border fencing and add new technology, such as drones and sensors.

No Cuts to Local Law Enforcement — No restrictions on federal funding for so called “sanctuary cities.” The Trump administration is seeking to cut federal public safety funding from cities and police departments that focus their limited resources on stopping crime and working with immigrant communities, rather than acting as federal immigration agents.

SCIENCE and SPACE
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) — This bill provides $19.7 billion $350 million more than the fiscal year 2016 enacted level. New Mexico is home to NASA facilities outside Las Cruces. The bill provides $19.3 million for the Flight Opportunities Program, an increase that will help fund suborbital flights for research, testing and educational purposes including out of New Mexico's Spaceport. The bill provides $18 million for the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and $40 million for the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program. The bill preserves Senate report language directing NASA to allocate the entire $40 million to consortia-led institutions in each state, such as the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium (NMSGC) led by New Mexico State University. NMSGC funds engaging research activities for high school students, including rocket launches from Spaceport.

National Science Foundation (NSF) — The National Science Foundation (NSF) is funded at $7.47 billion, $9 million more than the fiscal year 2016 level. The NSF provides grants for basic research at New Mexico's universities and supports science facilities such as Socorro's Very Large Array, the most advanced radio telescope array on Earth. The bill incorporates Senate report language sought by Udall emphasizing the importance of NSF support for radio astronomy including the including the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and for transitioning older research facilities such as the National Solar Observatory (NSO) telescope in Sunspot, N.M., to university consortia or other non-federal entities as new NSF facilities become operational.

Support for small manufacturers — The bill provides $130 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), which supports local New Mexico MEP offices in Albuquerque and Farmington that work with small companies across the state to increase their efficiency and competitiveness.