Leger Fernández’s PFAS & RECA Amendments In National Defense Authorization Act, Secures $2.5 Million For UNM

U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Thursday, the House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that included two of Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández’s (D-NM) amendments.

The first encourages the Air Force to use existing authority to acquire property and provide relocation assistance to those impacted by PFAS contamination.

The amendment also requires a report detailing contamination sites, acquisition, and relocation status.

The second amendment extends an apology to the individuals and families exposed to radiation from nuclear tests by the federal government in states like New Mexico, Utah, and Idaho.

WATCH: Rep. Leger Fernández floor speech on her RECA amendment HERE. 

The NDAA also included a $2.5 million investment championed by the congresswoman to support directed energy research and education for workforce development at the University of New Mexico. 

“Not only does the National Defense Authorization Act take key steps towards improving the quality of life for our brave servicemembers, it also upholds our values and allows us to take the steps necessary to help communities negatively impacted by our defense work,” Leger Fernández said. “The honorable thing is to admit wrongdoing and take the steps necessary to make things right. I’m proud to have secured two amendments centered around doing right by our communities. Further, the funding secured for UNM will provide our students with the workforce development they need to continue contributing to New Mexico’s science and innovation economy. I look forward to getting this to the President’s desk and signed into law.” 

“The University of New Mexico is a nationally-recognized leader in directed energy academics, research, and workforce development. We are grateful for the important work being done by Congresswoman Leger Fernández to incorporate additional support for directed energy programming in this national defense authorization legislation. The Congresswoman’s legislative action is key to empowering collaborative efforts in New Mexico Congressional District 3 that are working to advance research, technology, and economic development in the directed energy space. UNM is proud to join Congresswoman Leger Fernández in recognizing the increasingly critical role played by directed energy for national security, both at home and abroad,” UNM President Garnett S. Stokes said.

In addition, the Congresswoman also supports the following NDAA provisions:

  • Historic changes to improve the ability of servicemembers, women in particular, to report and combat sexual assault, including the creation of an independent Office of the Special Victim Prosecutor within each Service.
  • An amendment to connect cannabis companies to the banking system to cut down on risks like theft and money laundering. 
  • Authorizes $50 million in aid for local educational agencies with military dependent students, and $20 million for local educational agencies eligible to receive a payment for children with severe disabilities.
  • Increases the allowable parental leave for primary and secondary caregivers including foster parents.
  • Establishes a $15 minimum wage for covered DOD service and construction contracts.

Background on PFAS Work:

Rep. Leger Fernández has been working on PFAS contamination issues closely. In response to the PFAS contamination at Highland Dairy, which continues to suffer devastating economic consequences of the 2018 contamination caused by Cannon Air Force Base, she secured an amendment in the PFAS Action Act. It would ensure that the EPA’s testing regime and risk communication strategy consider the dangers of PFAS to water used for agricultural purposes in addition to drinking water.


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