January 13, 2014

Udall Secures Funding for N.M. Priorities in Omnibus Bill to Help Support Economy, Jobs

WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall announced funding in a major appropriations bill that will help a number of New Mexico priorities, and support the state's economy and job growth. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Udall fought for New Mexico's national labs, military facilities, water projects and other federally funded programs. He secured significant increases in funding in several cases - for example, cleanup at the labs and WIPP each will receive increases over FY2013 levels and above the House-passed appropriations bills.

In addition, Udall successfully fought to include full funding for the B61 Life Extension Program (LEP) at the national labs, turning back an earlier attempt in the Senate to cut the program, and eliminating proposed new restrictions on funding. The labs' work on the nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship program was funded at $537.044 million. More information is available HERE on Udall's fight against cuts to the program.

"My top priority in the U.S. Senate is to fight for policies and funding that will grow our economy and support high-quality jobs in New Mexico," Udall said. "I'm pleased I was able to secure increased funding for the safety and security of the nation's nuclear deterrent, along with cleanup at the national labs and at WIPP, which are critical to New Mexicans and to our national security. I'm also very pleased that we were able to reverse an attempt to cut funding for the B61 LEP. A cut would have harmed our effort to keep our nuclear weapons stockpile safe and secure, and it would have put jobs at risk at our national labs."

"I fought for funding in this bill that will allow new construction on our military bases. These projects will support readiness, improve the quality of life for airmen and their families, and keep our bases and surrounding communities strong," Udall continued. "And I'm very pleased that, among the many programs that will benefit New Mexico, the bill includes funding for important water projects across the state, and supports border security, drug enforcement, veterans, and programs that build a stronger workforce."

The Omnibus Appropriations Funding Bill is the first new appropriations bill since fiscal year 2012, and it allows federal agencies to make adjustments to programs and plan ahead for the first time in two years. It rolls back across-the-board sequestration cuts that have threatened important national defense programs and put jobs and families at risk across New Mexico at a time when the economy is still struggling.

"Sequestration was incredibly damaging to New Mexico, and would have cost us jobs and scarred our economy had another round of cuts gone into effect in 2014," Udall said. "I fought hard as a member of the Appropriations Committee to roll back the damaging sequestration cuts this year. With this bill, I'm optimistic that Congress is on the right track, working together and keeping faith with New Mexicans and all Americans."

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich added:

"This agreement undoes some of the damaging cuts caused by sequestration and shows that Congress can work together in a bipartisan, bicameral way that puts the needs of the middle class first," Heinrich said. "I'm pleased this proposal includes the necessary resources New Mexico's national labs need in order to continue their important work and cutting-edge research. This agreement also includes provisions to strengthen our military installations' critical national security missions, increases funding for cleanup efforts at LANL and operations at WIPP, and supports jobs in New Mexico, which has always been my number one priority. I'd like to thank Sen. Udall for his strong leadership on the Senate Committee on Appropriations and I look forward to continue working together to build a stronger economy that works for every New Mexican."

The bill must pass the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives before it can be signed into law by the president.

Key funding for New Mexico includes:
National lab cleanup: $250 million
B-61 Life Extension Project (LEP): $537.044 million
WIPP cleanup: $222 million
Military construction at New Mexico bases:
Cannon AFB: $34.1 million
Holloman AFB: $2.25 million
Kirtland AFB: $30.5 million
Restoration of Operational Responsive Space at KAFB (ORS): $10 million
New Mexico Army Corps of Engineers projects (see below)
New Mexico Bureau of Reclamation projects (see below)
High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) funding: $238.5 million (nationwide)
Customs and Border Protection (CBP), including 2,000 new Customs and Border Protection officers: $10.58 billion (nationwide)

More detail on N.M. funding follows (a comprehensive list of funding for New Mexico will be posted on Udall's website tomudall.senate.gov/appropriations as the information becomes available):

National labs
Los Alamos National Laboratory cleanup: $224.8 million ($12 million above FY2013 funding).
B61 LEP: $537.044 million (for Sandia and Los Alamos national labs)

WIPP cleanup: $216 million ($12 million above the president's request).

New Mexico's Military Bases
Construction: $66.85 million, distributed among the following:
Cannon Air Force Base: $34.1 million
-Airmen and Family Readiness Center: $5.5 million
-Dormitory (144 RM): $22 million
-Satellite Dining Facility: $6.6 million

Holloman Air Force Base
-F-16 Aircraft Covered Washrack and Pad: $2.25 million

Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB)
-Nuclear Systems Wing & Sustainment Center: $30.5 million

Defense Logistics Agency Construction at Holloman AFB:
-Replace Hydrant Fuel System: $21.4 million

Service Member Health Care Construction:
-Holloman Air Force Base: Medical Clinic Replacement: $60 million

Funding for N.M. Department of Defense programs:
-Restoration of Operational Responsive Space at KAFB (ORS): $10 million. The bill restores funding to the ORS program, and includes language Udall requested criticizing the Air Force's efforts to cut the program from its budget. The program is an important pathfinder to fielding future satellite capabilities at an affordable cost.
-Advance Spacecraft Technology: $68 million, which is $8 million higher than the House markup. This funding supports New Mexico Tech's Magdalena Range Observatory, which works to increase situational awareness in space.
-Directed energy technology at KAFB: $112.845 million
-High Energy Laser research at KAFB: $40.217 million
-High Speed Test Track at Holloman Air Force Base. The bill also included language at Udall's request encouraging the DOD to provide ground test range upgrades that provide low-vibration Mach 3 speeds for testing of advanced missiles and their components, launch vehicles, or other space systems. High Speed Test Tracks provide significant missile and missile component validation, which can eliminate costly air-launched vehicle testing.

WaterSMART programs: $59 million, including $19 million for grants as requested by Udall. The grants for water efficiency will be available on a competitive basis, and states, Indian tribes, irrigation districts, water districts and other organizations can apply. The bill also retains Udall's language to promote an innovative voluntary water leasing arrangement on the Middle Rio Grande during times of drought.

The bill includes funding for the following Army Corps of Engineers projects:
-Espanola Valley, Rio Grande and Tributaries, NM - $300,000
-Rio Grand Basin, NM, CO, and TX (Sec. 729) - $300,000
-Abiquiu Dam, NM - $2,772,000
-Cochiti Lake, NM - $3,241,000
-Conchas Lake, NM - $2,143,000
-Galisteo Dam, NM - $822,000
-Inspection of Completed Environmental Projects, NM - $30,000
-Inspection of Completed Works, NM - $676,000
-Jemez Canyon Dam, NM - $1,533,000
-Rio Grande Endangered Species Collaborative Program, NM - $2,500,000
-Santa Rosa Dam and Lake, NM - $1,280,000
-Scheduling Reservoir Operations, NM - $547,000
-Two Rivers Dam, NM - $735,000
-Upper Rio Grande Water Operations Model Study, NM - $1,438,000

The bill also includes funding for the following Bureau of Reclamation projects:
-Navajo-Gallup - $60.497 million
-Taos Settlement - $4 million
-Aamodt Settlement - $4.66 million
-Rio Grande Pueblos - $0.25 million
-Eastern New Mexico Water Supply - Ute Reservoir - $0.65 million
-Upper Colorado River Basin Fund - $15 million
-Middle Rio Grande Project - $25.93 million
-Carlsbad Project - $3.57 million

Border/Law Enforcement
CBP: $10.58 billion, an increase of $715 million above fiscal year 2013 post sequestration.
-This level funds 21,370 Border Patrol agents nationwide, sustaining the increased levels approved in the fiscal year 2010 Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, sustains 21,775 CBP officers currently working at our 329 ports of entry today, and funds 2,000 new CBP officers to be hired throughout fiscal year 2015.

High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas: $238.5 million nationwide. The HIDTA program provides assistance to federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States, including New Mexico.

VA claims backlog: Udall fought for a plan focusing on 10 specific initiatives to help relieve the backlog of VA claims and conduct efficient oversight of the work the VA undertakes. More information about the details of this plan is available HERE.

Rural health care: Udall fought for a provision in the bill directing the VA to conduct a full assessment of all VA Community-Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) in rural and highly rural areas, including an explanation of expansions and improvements needed to ensure the clinics meet applicable and health care-related legal requirements.

Employment and Training: $13.1 billion toward expanded employment and training services for transitioning service members, veterans with disabilities, and their spouses and caregivers.

Burn pit registry outreach programs: One year ago, Udall passed into law a bipartisan bill to create a registry of service members exposed to hazardous pollutants as a result of open-air burn pits used in Iraq and Afghanistan. The omnibus appropriations bill includes language suggesting measures to increase outreach and information about the registry and potential health consequences of exposure to open-air burn pits. More information about Udall's work to establish a registry of service members exposed to these pollutants is available HERE.

Rural and tribal veterans: Udall fought for provisions that encourage the VA to work with state, local, and tribal governments to better accommodate veterans in rural areas who wish to submit claims yet lack adequate Internet access. It also encourages the VA to work with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and local libraries to help veterans access online resources.

Public Lands
The following funding will promote and protect economic development on New Mexico's public lands:

Federal Wildland Fire Management funding: $3.9 billion nationwide for firefighting and hazardous fuels reduction activities on federal lands, including funding for the U.S. Forest wildfire preparedness and fire suppression operations, the Department of Interior's wildfire operations, FLAME Wildfire Suppression Reserve funding, emergency wildfire suppression funding, and Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration funding.

Agriculture and Nutrition Programs
Rural development: Udall fought for a provision directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to focus development and agriculture programs on small, rural, "frontier" communities. The bill includes language requested by Udall that underscores the need for USDA Rural Development to focus efforts and investment in New Mexico and the nation's smallest and most rural communities. These "frontier communities" often don't have the personnel to compete with larger communities for rural development loans and grants.

Alfalfa research: A Udall-authored provision would fund research to improve alfalfa yields, develop new alfalfa and forage uses for bioenergy, and to find new storage and harvest systems.

Water and wastewater grants: $1.752 billion for the national water and waste disposal program, an increase of $248 million above fiscal year 2013. This program often utilizes loan-grant combinations, and this level of funding will assist approximately 980 rural communities in obtaining clean water and sanitary waste disposal systems.
-Set-aside for Native American communities and Colonias: $66.5 million nationwide. These funds help border communities and Native American communities pay for all or part of the cost of water and waste disposal facilities.
-Circuit Rider Program: $15 million nationwide. This program provides funding for technical assistance for the operations of rural water systems. Through contracting, the Rural Utilities Service assists rural water systems with day-to-day operational, financial, and management problems.