From left, U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) host a meeting Tuesday with Air Force Special Operations Command Commander Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind at Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, Courtesy/Heinrich Office
From the Office of U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich:
CLOVIS – U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) convened Tuesday a meeting with leaders of the U.S. Air Force, including Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Dr. Ravi Chaudhary, Air Force Special Operations Command Commander Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind, and Cannon Air Force Base Leadership, to discuss investments and forward-looking missions at Cannon Air Force Base (CAFB).
Watch meeting video here.
“Today we secured a commitment that Cannon Air Force Base will remain a stronghold for the Air Force well into the future. The importance of Cannon to Clovis, Curry County, and New Mexico cannot be overstated. Cannon is also indispensable to our national security. With the New Mexico Congressional Delegation and our strong local partners in Clovis, I will continue to advocate at the highest levels to strengthen our investments and long-term commitment to Cannon’s future success,” Sen. Heinrich said.
Sen. Luján said, “Cannon Air Force Base is a stronghold for our national security and to the community of Clovis and Curry County. The New Mexico Congressional Delegation and I maintain support for our Armed Forces and the four military bases that call New Mexico home. I remain committed to working with the Air Force, the administration, and local partners to secure more resources for Cannon.”
Clovis Mayor Mike Morris said, “This meeting came about as a result of the senators’ leadership. You had willing and committed partners come together with the General, the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, and our two United States Senators to have a real conversation about the importance of Cannon Air Force Base to Clovis and Eastern New Mexico. What we came away with is a long-term commitment; literally, that was the phrase used by the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force. We know we can’t rest on that. We have to continue to work and make sure that the men and women of AFSAC are going to be at home in Clovis. But it means so much to know that we have a committed partnership at all levels.”
During their time in Congress, Heinrich and Luján secured more than $660 million in military construction funding to modernize the facilities and infrastructure at Cannon. They also joined the entire New Mexico Congressional Delegation in calling on the Defense Health Administration to improve access to critical medical care at Cannon for service members and their families. The senators have also worked to deliver historic federal infrastructure investments for Clovis and surrounding communities, including $322 million in federal resources to support the completion of the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System.
Over the past several months, Senators Heinrich and Luján, U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.), and Clovis Mayor Mike Morris have engaged directly with Air Force leadership to advocate for its continued investment in CAFB and defend against efforts to relocate assets and service members from CAFB.
Earlier this month, Senator Heinrich hand delivered a letter to President Joe Biden upon his arrival in Albuquerque, urging his Administration to prioritize continued investment in CAFB.
In July, Senators Heinrich and Luján, Rep. Leger Fernández and Mayor Morris responded to the U.S. Air Force’s announced decision to relocate seven MC-130J aircraft and around 300 to 350 service members, designated as the 6th Special Operations Squadron. The Squadron is scheduled for relocation from CAFB to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz., in the upcoming fiscal years, the exact timeline of which is yet to be determined.
In June, Senators Luján and Heinrich and Representatives Leger Fernández, Melanie Stansbury and Gabe Vasquez wrote to the Defense Health Agency to encourage improved medical support at CAFB and review any barriers that limit medical services hiring or contracting.
Last month, the Senate passed the FY24 National Defense Authorization Act. It included provisions secured by Senators Heinrich and Luján to authorize $5 million for a new fire station at CAFB. While not included in the bill, Senators Heinrich and Luján introduced an amendment that would have prohibited any funds from being used to relocate units from CAFB to Davis-Monthan.
In June, the Senate Appropriations Committee, which Sen. Heinrich is a member of, passed the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies FY24 Appropriations Bill. It included $2 million in funding Senators Heinrich and Luján secured to plan and design a fire station and emergency communications center at CAFB.
In December 2021, Sen. Heinrich, then-Chairman of the Military Construction Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, secured $5 million in planning and design funding for a 192-bed dormitory at CAFB.