Udall: Senate approves key defense legislation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, today reported that the Senate has passed key defense legislation that includes significant funding for New Mexico’s military installations and national laboratories that provide critical support of the nation’s defense.

The 2010 Defense Authorization Bill, which passed the House earlier this month, was approved by the Senate 68-29 and now goes to the president for his signature. Defense spending must approved through this authorization bill before funding can be released; the spending bills that fund the activities authorized in this measure move through Congress separately.

“The funding priorities outlined in this legislation will support key defense initiatives in New Mexico that are vital to the safety and security of our country,” Udall said. “New Mexico has a long and storied history of service in the nation’s defense, and this bill reaffirms our state’s unique leadership role in maintaining our national security.”

The legislation includes:

• $73.8 million for Cannon Air Force Base

• $58.4 million for Holloman Air Force Base

•$22.5 million for Kirtland Air Force Base

• Funding authorization for Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory

The bill also requires the Secretary of Defense to develop a transition plan for the Air Guard from F-16 and F-15 fighter aircraft to F-35 and F-22 aircraft. The 150th New Mexico Air National Guard, also known as “the Tacos,” is in the midst of a transition from its current mission. This language will ensure we do not lose the important skills and service offered by the men and women of the 150th.

Finally, at the request of New Mexico’s senior Senator Jeff Bingaman, the legislation calls for the National Nuclear Security Agency and the Department of Energy to develop a long-term plan that will allow major facilities at NNSA sites, such as the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center, to be used for other DOE research programs