Senators: Cannon funds being improperly withheld

Freedom Newspapers

Federal construction funds awarded to Cannon Air Force Base by Congress are being improperly withheld by the government, according to a press release from Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M, and Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.

More than $9 million earmarked for construction of an airmen’s center, complete with a dining hall, a postal center, and a laundry exchange at the base have been frozen by the defense department, the press release said.

“Knowing that a new mission will be found at Cannon, there’s no reason to hold back on releasing this funding. This airman’s center will certainly be needed to accommodate the troops associated with the new mission selected for the base,” Bingaman said via the release.

The funds were set aside for the base long before it was targeted for closure in the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process, according to the senators.

A federal commission directed the Air Force to find Cannon a new mission by 2010 or the base would be shuttered. The decision put Cannon into enclave status.

The New Mexico senators fought and won legislation that assured funding for military construction projects at Cannon despite its enclave status.

The legislation was included in the 2006 Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affair Appropriations Act which states funding should not be withheld from military installations in enclave status.

The funding freeze is in direct defiance of the act, according to the senators.
“It is clear Cannon Air Force Base has enclave status…,” reads a letter the senators sent to the Secretary of the Air Force Wednesday.

“Thus, we believe it is inappropriate for the Department of Defense to withhold the funds appropriated for military construction at Cannon,” the letter said.