U.S. SENATE News:
- Appropriations bill funds PILT, lab programs including B61, N.M. military bases, WIPP recovery, technology transfer, water projects and other programs
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich joined the full Senate in voting 56-40 for a so-called “omnibus” appropriations bill to fund the government, including critical New Mexico programs, through September 2015, the end of the Fiscal Year.
The bill includes full funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which helps pay for law enforcement, schools, roads and other local government services New Mexicans rely on. It also provides more than $100 million in additional funding to continue recovery from the radiation leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), as well as continued work on the B61 Life Extension Project (LEP) at Los Alamos and Sandia national labs; construction and projects at Kirtland and Cannon Air Force bases; technology transfer to help stimulate job growth; rural water projects; and public lands programs.
UDALL: “This bill includes critical funding for New Mexico, to sustain our national labs and military bases, continue recovery at WIPP, and ensure New Mexicans can count on basic government services like schools, public safety, roads and so many other needs. I’m extremely disappointed that this bill also contains measures that weaken campaign finance laws and roll back Wall Street reforms. Our duty is to the American people—not Wall Street billionaires and bankers. But at the end of the day, I could not risk a government shutdown. I will continue to do everything I can as a member of the Appropriations Committee to get Congress back to working for New Mexico and the American people. The American people deserve better than this broken process. They deserve a Congress that works—that is open and deliberate—not last-minute deals and gimmicks for special interests. We cannot keep getting in just under the wire.”
HEINRICH: “After careful consideration of this bill, I’ve decided that the good outweighs the bad. New Mexico relies heavily on these federal investments. Home to military bases, national laboratories, and WIPP, our state serves the nation in many ways. Federal dollars help fund critical education initiatives, infrastructure projects, and other vitally important economic drivers. This appropriations bill also includes funding for our nation’s response to the Ebola epidemic and to combat the threat presented by the terrorist organization ISIL.
“It is very unfortunate that the bill includes policy riders that I don’t support and which don’t belong there – including ones that would open the floodgates to special interest money influencing our elections and undo reforms to protect hardworking taxpayers from having to again bailout Wall Street bankers. I’m also opposed to an amendment that could compromise the retirement security of hardworking families. While I’m pleased that PILT funding was included in the final package, I will continue to push for full and dedicated funding for Secure Rural Schools to give our counties the budget certainty they need. Our economy desperately needs long-term stability. It doesn’t need another government shutdown. We must continue to work together and be willing to compromise in order to get things done for the American people and New Mexico.”
New Mexico funding in the bill includes:
PILT: with $70 million included in a defense bill, which passed Congress last week, and $372 million in the omnibus, the PILT program is funded at $442 million. The total will be divided according to a formula determined by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Last year, New Mexico counties received $37 million.
WIPP, LOS ALAMOS AND SANDIA NATIONAL LABS
- -WIPP: The bill provides $324 million for WIPP, including the administration’s original funding request of $220 million. The additional $104 million is designated for recovery from the radiological accident.
- -B61 Life Extension Project: $643 million. Both Los Alamos and Sandia national labs are instrumental in carrying out this program, which maintains our nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile while allowing for the eventual elimination of the nation’s largest warhead, the B83. The bill fully funds the B61 LEP for FY15 and supports recent job increases at Sandia. The funding is a direct result of Udall’s successful fight against an attempt in FY14 to cut the program.
- -LANL Cleanup: $190 million.
- -LANL Recapitalization: $22.7 million for 10 projects plus $23 million for TA-55 Reinvestment Project Phase II and III LANL
- -Sandia National Laboratory Recapitalization: $30.8 million for seven projects.
- -Technology Transfer: $4.8 million for technology transfer at the Department of Defense, $2.1 million above the president’s request, plus an additional $10 million for a regionally focused technology transfer innovation pilot program, requested by Senator Udall. The pilot will facilitate public-private ventures between the Department of Defense research and development centers and regionally focused technology incubators.
- -Cannon Air Force Base: $23.3 million for a Squadron Operations Facility
- -Kirtland Air Force Base High Energy Laser: $14 million for high energy laser research initiatives, $1.0 million more than the president’s request for work that will partially be done at KAFB.
- -Kirtland Air Force Base Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Office: $20 million. The ORS Office is responsible for responsive space capabilities that enable rapid deployment of military resources all around the world. Senator Udall secured this funding, not included in the president’s request, to complete the development, launch, and operations of the ORS mission and to support the integration of ORS approaches across the space capabilities in the Air Force.
- -DOD Starbase Funding: $25 million increase in funding for STARBASE, a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education program for fifth graders. Senator Udall succeeded in pushing for this civilian program that provides 25 hours of engaging STEM instruction. The technology-rich military environment allows students to experience first-hand “real-world” application of STEM skills. The DoD STARBASE Program creates an unequaled bridge between the U.S. Military and STEM education with local school students that is achieved through strong civilian/military leadership involvement, state of the art curriculum and technology, nationwide program standardization, a complete understanding of military culture, and assured access to military installations.
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS (VA)
The legislation includes a total of $159.1 billion, $1.8 billion above the enacted fiscal year 2014 level.
- -VA Medical Services: $45.2 billion – providing care and treatment for approximately 6.7 million veterans. This includes: $7.2 billion in mental health care services; $133 million in suicide prevention activities; $229 million for traumatic brain injury treatment; $7.4 billion in homeless veterans treatment, services, housing, and job training; and $250 million in rural health initiatives.
- -Rural health: $209 million to help address new costs related to the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 including hiring medical staff, expanding facility capacity, and allowing rural veterans to seek care outside the VA system.
- -Oversight: To help address issues related to the “wait list” scandal at the VA in New Mexico and elsewhere, Senator Udall pushed for additional funding for the VA Office of Inspector General. The agreement increases funding by $5 million over the fiscal year 2014 level to provide the resources necessary to continue the Office’s audits of hospital appointment scheduling and lapses in patient care. The legislation also includes language directing the VA Office of the Medical Inspector to report on problems or deficiencies in the implementation of its recommendations, and on any violations of law by VA employees.
- -Advance Funding for Veterans Medical Programs: $58.7 billion in advance fiscal year 2016 funding for the VA. This funding will provide for medical services, medical support and compliance, and medical facilities, and ensure that our veterans have continued, full access to their medical care.
- -Navajo-Gallup Project: The bill provides $81 million for the construction of the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project and the historic 2010 Navajo Nation Water Rights Settlement Agreement. The project will supply water to the eastern portion of the Navajo Nation, the southwestern portion of the Jicarilla Apache Nation and the city of Gallup, serving the future water needs of approximately 250,000 people.
Other Water Settlements
- -Aamodt: $3 million
- -Taos Pueblo: $4 million
- -Middle Rio Grande: The bill includes a provision encouraging development and implementation of the Water Acquisition Program along the Middle Rio Grande and San Juan Chama Projects and the Physical Habitat Restoration and Management efforts along the San Acacia Reach consistent with fiscal year 2014 activities.
BUREAU OF RECLAMATION
- -Westwide Drought Response: $50 million for drought response in Western states.
- -Reauthorization of Reclamation States Emergency Drought Relief Act of 1991 (a provision from Udall’s drought bill, the New Mexico Drought Relief Act of 2014)
- -Secure Water Act: The bill increases the authorization from $200 million to $300 million (also a provision from Udall’s New Mexico Drought Relief Act of 2014).
- -Rural Water Projects: $31 million in discretionary funds for rural water projects, which may be used to fund projects like the Eastern New Mexico-Ute Pipeline.
The bill also includes specific funding for the following Bureau of Reclamation projects in New Mexico:
- -Carlsbad Project: $4,139,000
- -Middle Rio Grande Project: $22,735,000
- -Rio Grande Project: $5,406,000
- -Rio Grande Pueblos Project: $650,000
- -Tucumcari Project: $34,000
- -Navajo Indian Irrigation Project: $3.4 million
ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS
- -Tribal Partnership Program: $2.5M
- -Espanola Valley, Rio Grande & Tributaries: $300,000
- -Rio Grande Basin, NM, CO, and TX (Sec. 729): $300,000
- -Middle Rio Grande Flood Protection, Bernalillo to Belen: $276,000
- -Abiquiu Dam: $2,794,000
- -Cochiti Lake: $3,587,000
- -Conchas Lake: $2,794,000
- -Galisteo Dam: $1,150,000
- -Inspection of Completed Environmental Projects: $30,000
- -Inspection of Completed Works: $654,000
- -Jemez Canyon Dam: $1,392,000
- -Rio Grande Endangered Species Collaborative Program: $2,492,000
- -Santa Rosa Dam and Lake: $1,594,000
- -Scheduling Reservoir Operations: $330,000
- -Two Rivers Dam: $797,000
- -Upper Rio Grande Water Operations Model Study: $1,289,000
WILDFIRE SUPPRESSION AND PREVENTION (nationwide)
- -Hazardous fuels reduction activities: $526 million
- -Wildfire suppression: $1.394 billion total for the Forest Service and Department of the Interior to respond to forest fires.
- -Aircraft acquisition to enhance firefighting capacity, effectiveness: $65 million
- -Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Fund: $40 million for ecological restoration treatments of forests. This helps prevent fires and make healthy watersheds. Two projects in New Mexico are ongoing (Zuni Mountain and Jemez Mountains)
FINANCIAL SERVICES AND GENERAL GOVERNMENT (nationwide)
- -Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB): $7.5 million for the PCLOB to help ensure that federal laws and policies related to terrorism appropriately consider privacy and civil liberties. These resources, $4.4 million more than the fiscal year 2014 enacted level, will enable the PCLOB to pursue its mission without delay.
LAW ENFORCEMENT (nationwide)
- -10 temporary federal judgeships extended for one year, including one in New Mexico.
- -Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP): $375 million, $8 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. This includes $245 million for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Program and $93.5 million for the Drug-Free Communities program.
- -State, Local, and Tribal Law Enforcement: $2.3 billion to support state and local law enforcement with the tools they need to fight violent crime and gangs. This amount is $55 million more than the fiscal year 2014 level and includes funding for key grant programs, such as $376 million for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants, $180 million for Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) hiring grants, $430 million for Violence Against Women Act programs and $252 million for juvenile justice and mentoring grants.
- -Heroin Crisis: $7 million to fund a new program within the COPS Office for anti-heroin task forces. Competitive grants will be awarded for drug enforcement, including investigations and activities related to the distribution of heroin or unlawful diversion and distribution of prescription opioids. The agreement calls on the DOJ to take the lead in convening experts in the law enforcement, medical, public health and educational fields to develop a comprehensive government-wide solution for this crisis. The bill also provides funding for OJP grant programs available to state and local governments for residential drug treatment ($10 million), prescription drug monitoring ($11 million), and drug courts ($41 million).
- -Funding for 35 new Immigration Judge Teams allowing Executive Office for Immigration Review to adjudicate up to 39,000 more cases annually.