September 12, 2019

Udall Secures Key Provisions to Strengthen New Mexico’s Economy and National Security in Defense Funding Bill

Udall voted against advancing the bill further until DOD funds are protected from being diverted to president’s border wall

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, secured provisions benefiting New Mexico’s economy, military bases, men and women in uniform, military families, and national security priorities in the funding bill for the Department of Defense (DOD) for Fiscal Year 2020. However, Udall opposed advancing the Fiscal Year 2020 Defense Appropriations Bill to the Senate floor, until the funding in the bill is protected against being diverted to the president’s border wall. President Trump has already raided nearly $6 billion in 2019 DOD funds, including $3.6 billion in military construction funding—$125 million of which had been allocated to New Mexico facilities—in an unprecedented abuse of transfer authorities that is being challenged in both Congress and in federal courts. 

“The men and women in uniform serving at New Mexico’s military bases, and the civilians working to support them, deserve only the best,” Udall said. “I’m proud to have helped secure strong investments in this bill to strengthen our bases and support our service members and military families, while also energizing New Mexico’s economy. This bill includes funding that will grow and support New Mexico’s thriving space economy, and invests in tech transfer and continuing to diversify New Mexico’s economic base. The bill also continues my work to ensure veterans who have been exposed to burn pits get the treatment and research they deserve. And it includes provisions to hold the administration accountable on its response to PFAS exposure in our communities. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I’ll keep fighting for these kinds of investments that are good for service members and good for our economy, but we need to protect the national security funding in this bill from being diverted to the president’s pet project. I’m disappointed that Senate Republicans blocked our amendment to protect DOD funding in committee today, and I do not support advancing this otherwise good bill until that serious defect is resolved.”

Highlights of the bill that Udall fought for include:

SPACE

$80.5 million for advanced Spacecraft Technology, including $10 million for Ground Based Interferometry. The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMT) / Magdalena Ridge Observatory (MRO) conducts research in Amplitude Interferometer Research for Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) Space Situational Awareness (SSA)

$168.5 million for Space Technology, including $30 million for a Tactical Small Satellite Data Layer to leverage emerging technology to incorporate autonomous machine-to- machine interfaces, distributed encrypted comms, cloud processing, and Artificial Intelligence in both space and ground segments us in small satellites, and adding $45 million for Resilient Space Structure Architecture that creates a space architecture that can be launched quickly, at a lower cost, and the technology can be refreshed frequently.

 Inland Launch: included language directing a study of the feasibility, potential benefits, and risks, and cost estimates of establishing an inland testing and space corridor for hypersonic testing and space launch. Spaceport America in New Mexico is a Federal Aviation Administration licensed spaceport with inland launch and potential point-to-point transportation from orbit. 

DIRECTED ENERGY & ELECTRONICS

 $24 million for Directed Energy Prototyping. This funds efforts to address the capability of near peer competitors with new technologies such as directed energy prototyping, which is being carried out at Kirtland Air Force Base. The funding includes $13 million for Low Cost Counter Unmanned Aerial System Targeting Solutions to produce a low cost, networked multi-faceted and multi-sensor architecture to conduct more effective and efficient detection, identification, and management and mitigation of swarming UAS threats.

$146.5 million in major test and evaluation for High Powered Microwave testing capacity at U.S. Major Range and Test Facility Bases (MRTFBs), including New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range which plays a key role in research and development of this technology.

$8 million for the development of a Cyber Kinetic Combat Environment to address training shortfalls in the electronic warfare or Radio Frequency (RF) injection of cyber in a kinetic combat environment. New Mexico Tech is a leading developer of this type of training environment.

TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER

$27.6 million for Air Force RDT&E Technology Transfer. The three-fold mission of Technology Transfer is: (1) integrate advanced commercial-sector technologies into Department of Defense (DoD) systems, particularly from non-traditional defense contractors; (2) convey DoD-developed technologies to industry to make these technologies available for military acquisition; and (3) establish collaborative Research and Development (R&D) projects with the private sector for cost-sharing of new dual-use technology development. Technology transfer is critical for New Mexico’s economy.

BURN PITS

Strong funding for Peer Review Medical Research Program. Udall secured inclusion of burn pits, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis in the program. Udall has championed the causes of veterans exposed to open-air burn pits, including spearheading establishment of the first open-air burn pit registry. 

PFAS

PFAS provisions for both drinking and agricultural water contamination. Directing the service secretaries to keep the congressional defense committees apprised of their plans to use their authorities to address PFAS contamination.

CIVIL AIR PATROL

Added $9.03 million to Civil Air Patrol for a total of $39.1 million in funding. The New Mexico Wing Civil Air Patrol is headquartered at Kirtland Air Force Base.