Senator Tom Udall Udall Joins Senate in Passing Major Appropriations Bill, which Supports N.M. Economy & Jobs

U.S. Senator Tom Udall joined the full Senate yesterday in voting 72-26 for a major appropriations bill that will support New Mexico priorities, and help grow the New Mexico’s economy and sustain jobs. The Omnibus Appropriations bill, which passed the House 359-67 on Wednesday, now must be signed into law by the president.

Udall, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, fought successfully for increased funding for New Mexico’s national labs, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), construction at military bases, veterans, water programs and many other priorities that will help support the economy, high-quality jobs, and the quality of life in New Mexico’s communities. He also turned back an attempt to cut the B61 Life Extension Project (LEP), which is conducted at both of New Mexico’s national labs to safely secure and extend the life of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile.

“I’m extremely pleased that Congress was able to come together with strong bipartisan votes and pass the omnibus bill, and I’m confident the president will move quickly to sign it,” Udall said. “Today, Congress is making decisions we were sent here to make. This bill is extremely important to New Mexico, which hosts labs, military bases and other federal installations that keep our nation secure. These installations provide high-quality jobs and support for the state’s economy, which is still rebuilding after the recession.”

“As a U.S. Senator for New Mexico, I’m focused on fighting for policies and funding that will help keep our state strong,” Udall continued. “And as a member of the Appropriations Committee, I’m pleased that I was able to secure increased funding for the safety and security of the nation’s nuclear deterrent, along with increased funding for cleanup at the national labs and at WIPP. I’m also very glad we successfully reversed an attempt to cut funding for the B61 LEP. Cutting the B61 LEP would have harmed our effort to keep our nuclear weapons stockpile safe and secure, and put jobs at risk at our national labs.”

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, health care, and eduction programs and put jobs and families at risk across New Mexico at a time when the economy is still struggling.

Earlier, Udall delivered a speech on the Senate floor about securing funding for New Mexico in the omnibus. Watch and share today’s video.

Key funding for New Mexico includes:

National lab cleanup: $250 million ($12 million above FY2013)
B-61 Life Extension Project (LEP): $537.044 million
WIPP cleanup: $222 million ($12 million above the president’s request, plus an additional $5 million for security)
Military construction at New Mexico bases:
Cannon AFB: $28.6 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 Project (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 follows:

Sandia National Laboratories (SNL):
-B61 Life Extension Program: $537 million* (*B61 LEP split between LANL and SNL)
-Readiness in Technical Base and Facilities: $115 million
SNL total specified funding: $652 million
(Total does not include funding from general DOE accounts)

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL):
-Readiness in Technical Base and Facilities: $214 million
-TA-55 Reinvestment Project Phase II LANL: $30.679 million
-Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility LANL: $45.114 million
-LANL cleanup: $$224.8 million ($5 million above the president’s budget request)
LANL total specified funding: $514.6 million
(Total does not include funding from general DOE accounts)

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant:
-WIPP cleanup: $216 million (which is $12 million above the president’s request)
-WIPP security: $5 million
WIPP Total: $221 million
(Total does not include funding from general DOE accounts)

Kirtland Air Force Base:
-Kirtland Operational Responsive Space: $10 million
-Kirtland Directed Energy/Laser programs: $153 million
-Kirtland tech transfer: $2.6 million
-Nuclear Systems Wing & Sustainment Center: $30.5 million
Total Kirtland programmatic and construction funding – $196 million

Cannon Air Force Base construction:
-144-room dormitory: $22 million
-Satellite dining facility: $6.6 million
Total Cannon AFB military construction funding – $28.6 million

Holloman Air Force Base construction:
-F-16 Aircraft Covered Washrack and Pad: $2.25 million
-Defense Logistics Agency at Holloman AFB to replace the hydrant fuel system: $21.4 million
-Tri-Care Management Activity at Holloman AFB (to replace the medical clinic): $60 million
Total Holloman AFB construction – $83.65 million

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.