July 23, 2020

Udall Votes for National Defense Bill with Important Wins for New Mexico

Legislation includes Udall’s MOMS Act to provide maternity leave to the National Guard and Reserve moms

Udall also supported amendments to stop endless wars and rethink growth of defense budget at a time of pandemic and economic crisis

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) joined the full Senate in voting to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes important priorities that Udall championed for New Mexico families. The legislation includes Udall’s Mothers of Military Service (MOMS) Leave Act, a pay raise for service members, authorizing for funding for COVID-19 vaccine research and pandemic response, and support for New Mexico’s federal installations and bases, and funding for environmental cleanup. The bill also preserves civilian control over the budget for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

“New Mexico has always made major contributions to the national defense, and I’m proud that several New Mexico priorities I fought for passed the Senate as part of the defense bill. This bill will support our national defense and our communities at a difficult time for families across our state,” Udall said. “In particular, I am thrilled that my legislation was included to make sure that military moms who are Members of our National Guard and Reserves get the same paid maternity leave as their counterparts in other military branches. In addition, the bill gives a well-deserved pay raise to our men and women in uniform. I’m also pleased that it authorizes funding to bolster our search for a COVID-19 vaccine, and our response to this pandemic, and that the bill supports our state’s bases, labs, and environmental cleanup efforts.  I am also relieved that we were able to reverse a misguided effort in the bill that would have reduced accountability and DOE’s authority over the nation’s nuclear security program in favor of the Pentagon.”

“While I supported the final bill, I am disappointed that my amendment to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan did not pass and I believe that we should rethink our funding priorities related to our defense budget. That’s why I supported Senator Sanders’ amendment on this topic,” Udall continued. “With millions out of work and inequality worsening, now is the time for our nation to truly invest in our people, our priorities, and our values. By directing just the last few years’ worth of military budget increases to domestic priorities, we could do so much good for struggling New Mexicans and Americans, while still maintaining the highest military budget in the world by far. We need to treat the current pandemic and deep economic recession like the crisis it is, and realize that our society needs to put people back to work and grow the economy, invest in our kids’ education and our teachers, and provide health care, housing and food for families that have been left behind.” 

Udall championed the following provisions of the national defense bill: 

- The Mothers of Military Service (MOMS) Leave Act, with Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kansas): This legislation will ensure that women serving in the U.S. National Guard and Reserve can take maternity leave without worrying about how it will affect their military service. For more information click HERE.

- Pay Raise for the Troops: The bill authorizes a three percent pay raise for men and women in uniform. 

- Authorizing Funding for COVID-19 Vaccine Research and Pandemic Response: The bill authorizes $44 million for vaccine and biotechnology research supported by DOD, provides reserve retirement relief for service members affected by the COVID-19 stop movement order, directs the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to provide a briefing on the effect of non-essential training reductions on the morale and readiness of military personnel, implements a pilot program on civilian and military partnerships to enhance interoperability and medical surge capability and capacity of the National Disaster Medical System, which will provide training, expand capacity, and establish a framework for well-coordinated federal response to pandemics and other threats. 

- Los Alamos National Lab Clean-Up: The president’s FY21 budget had proposed cutting funding for LANL cleanup from $220 million this year to only $120 million for fiscal year 2021. The NDAA restores funding to $220 million.

- Civilian Control Over NNSA: An amendment from Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) was included that amends provisions which would have reduced DOE’s control over its own budget and eroded civilian control over the nuclear security complex.