WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Tom Udall, D-N.M., today announced the House Appropriations Committee has approved $26.4 million to support two initiatives at Cannon Air Force Base. Udall, who is a member of the committee, requested the money to continue Cannon's important role in keeping America safe.
"I am committed to doing what's right for Cannon Air Force Base, and I will always support its critical role in America's national defense," said Udall. "My goal is to make sure the base has all of the resources necessary to succeed, and my committee has approved key funding to help keep Cannon strong for years to come."
Udall, whose district includes Cannon Air Force Base, worked with the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (VA), Representative Chet Edwards (TX), to ensure the base received proper funding through this appropriations bill. As a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, Udall helped pass the legislation, including the Cannon funding, today. This $26.4 million for Cannon comes on top of the $8 million Cannon will receive as the result of supplemental appropriations legislation that Udall voted for last week.
The funding includes $18.1 million to construct a C-130 aircraft maintenance hangar. No facility currently exists at Cannon that can fully accommodate C-130 maintenance operations. This facility will provide the aircraft maintenance that will be needed for the 28 C-130 aircraft scheduled to be based at Cannon by 2011.
The legislation also includes $8.3 million to construct a Special Operations Forces Mission Rehearsal Training Facility. The facility will support the new CV-22 mission rehearsal and crew upgrade training. It is needed to achieve combat readiness for CV-22 aircrews, and to prevent the CV-22 full motion simulator being put into storage.
The Military Construction/VA bill also includes:
• Additional funding to modernize training facilities and make military housing more available and comfortable for our servicemembers and their families;
• Large increases in support for the VA, including funds to hire 1,400 new claims processors to reduce the backlog in VA claims;
• A provision increasing by 46 percent the reimbursement for VA patients who must travel to receive care;
• Language requiring the VA to provide help to veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental illnesses; and,
• A boost in resources for the Office of the Inspector General to ensure that our veterans are receiving the treatment they deserve.
Said Udall, "The legislation the Appropriations Committee passed today is more than a list of numbers; it is a statement of values. By passing it, we showed that we value the service of our men and women in uniform. We showed that we will honor the commitment we made to help them carry out their missions as they serve and to care for them when their service is over."
The Appropriations Committee also passed legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This bill provides funds to secure America's borders and keep Americans safe. This year's DHS funding bill would:
• Increase funding to fight fires by 167 percent over the president's request;
• Restore funding to provide law enforcement benefits for Customs and Border Protection officers;
• Double the president's request for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, which helps fund food banks in New Mexico; and,
• Boost support for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and target resources at dangerous criminal aliens.
"This legislation is essential to keeping Americans safe," said Udall. "With additional funding to prevent and fight fires, to reduce hunger, and to help secure our borders, this bill provides vital resources for New Mexico."