U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich Secures Major Wins For New Mexico In Annual National Defense Spending Bill

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich

From the Office of U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich:

  • National Defense Authorization Act heads to President’s desk for signature

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced provisions he secured in the fiscal year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that support New Mexico’s men and women in uniform, military installations, national laboratories, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), and job-creating initiatives throughout the state. The bill includes an amendment sponsored by Sen. Heinrich to establish the nation’s first U.S. policy on cyber warfare.

The bill passed the full Senate Wednesday, clearing its last hurdle before going to the President to be signed into law.

“New Mexicans make tremendous contributions to our national security and work at the forefront of cutting-edge research and development in the defense industry,” Sen. Heinrich said. “This bipartisan bill makes major investments to ensure our Armed Forces are equipped with the most modern technology so we can stay ahead of our adversaries.”

The NDAA sets the Department of Defense spending levels and policies for the upcoming fiscal year and authorizes funding for the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons programs at Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories, as well as the Department of Energy’s environmental cleanup programs including the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

“I am proud to have authorized funding for military constructions projects that will modernize infrastructure at White Sands Missile Range, Holloman Air Force Base, and Kirtland Air Force Base.  New Mexico is the Center of Excellence for small satellites and for directed energy weapons, and this bill increases funding and streamlines authorities to bolster those missions,” Sen. Heinrich said. “This bill also increases investment in Los Alamos’ plutonium mission and provides funds to build a new NNSA Complex in Albuquerque that will house up to 1,200 employees.  These provisions, among many others, will benefit our economy and further New Mexico’s strong position as a leader in national security for years to come.”

Sen. Heinrich led a bipartisan group in securing an amendment to establish the nation’s first U.S. policy on cyber warfare, which was amended and included in the final bill.

“Much like our nuclear deterrent, a strong cyber doctrine by the United States government serves as a deterrent, which is not only necessary, but critical to our nation’s survival in the digital age,” Sen. Heinrich said. “This Administration is not taking the cyber threat seriously enough. The lack of decisive and clearly articulated consequences to cyber-attacks against our country has served as an open invitation to foreign adversaries and malicious cyber actors to continue attacking the United States. I’m proud to have helped lead a bipartisan effort to establish the nation’s first U.S. policy on cyber warfare. Our adversaries need to understand the boundaries of what is acceptable in the cyber domain, as well as the circumstances under which we would utilize offensive capabilities to retaliate against cyber-attacks.”

List of many programs and provisions Sen. Heinrich secured in the FY19 NDAA:

New Mexico Military Construction Projects

Holloman Air Force Base

Senator Heinrich secured $85 million to construct a new MQ-9 Formal Training Unit (FTU) Operations Facility to house three MQ-9 Attack Squadrons at Holloman Air Force Base.  The squadrons are the training units for new pilots and sensor operators for the MQ-9 Reaper remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA). The RPA mission is one of the fastest growing missions in the military, and this new facility represents a significant investment by the Air Force that will enable Holloman Air Force Base to meet the growing demand for pilots and sensor operators.

White Sands Missile Range

Senator Heinrich secured $40 million to construct a new Information Systems Facility at White Sands Missile Range. This is the first major military construction project in direct support of testing and evaluation at White Sands in nearly 20 years. This badly needed facility will replace a facility that was built in 1962 and allow White Sand to better use their current information technology by consolidating existing systems, currently located in ten separate buildings, into a single state of the art, purpose-built facility.  Consolidating information systems will significantly improve their ability to develop and test next generation weapon systems while also providing the infrastructure necessary for future modernization and expansion.

Kirtland Air Force Base

Senator Heinrich secured $7 million for critical upgrades to Wyoming Gate at Kirtland Air Force Base. These upgrades are necessary to bring the gate into compliance with current anti-terrorism and force protection standards for military facilities.

Funding for New Mexico’s National Laboratories and Waste Isolation Pilot Plant 

Los Alamos National Laboratory Plutonium Mission

Senator Heinrich supported full funding to maintain Los Alamos National Laboratory’s (LANL) role as the nation’s Center of Excellence for Plutonium Research.  The bill authorizes $361 million-an increase of $140 million over fiscal year 2018-for LANL’s plutonium research and pit production.  The increased funding supports personnel, equipment and other activities in PF-4 to meet pit production requirements by 2026.  The bill authorizes an additional $235 million for construction related to replacing the outdated Chemistry and Metallurgy Research (CMR) building at LANL.

Specifically, the bill reaffirms the requirement for production of 30 plutonium pits per year at LANL by 2026, and requires DOE to submit a plan for implementation within 180 days.  The also bill requires a short-term independent review of NNSA’s recent Engineering Analysis of options to meet the Pentagon’s requirements for production of up to 80 plutonium pits per year by 2030.   The Engineering Analysis was the primary basis for NNSA’s recommendation to split the production of plutonium pits between LANL and South Carolina.  

Senator Heinrich continues to raise concern that halting the long-planned modular expansion of LANL’s facilities for plutonium pit production will set back our military’s life extension programs and stretch the lab’s existing facilities and workforce to its limits.  The results of the independent review are expected to be submitted to Congress by April 15, 2019.  The bill further requires DOE to submit an alternative plan for meeting DoD’s requirements if the proposal to shift production to South Carolina will not be completed by 2030.  Finally, the bill requires the Chairwoman of the Nuclear Weapons Council to certify each year that the NNSA’s strategy is on track to meet the military’s requirements by 2030.

NNSA Albuquerque Complex Project

Senator Heinrich authorized $48 million to continue construction of a new Albuquerque NNSA Complex on Eubank Blvd to replace the existing outdated and inadequate 50-year old facility.  The project is estimated to cost around $174 million and take about four years to complete. The new building will house up to 1,200 federal employees. Only July 2, Senator Heinrich joined with NNSA Administrator Gordon-Hagerty at the official groundbreaking ceremony for this important project.

Life Extension Programs

Senator Heinrich supported full funding of $1.9 billion to continue the Life Extension Programs as executed by Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories. The increase of $180 million over FY18 will maintain the existing weapons stockpile and assure safety and security.

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Environmental Cleanup

The bill authorizes the full $191.6 million request for soil and water remediation and removal of radioactive waste. Funding is included again this year to address the hexavalent chromium plume in groundwater in Los Alamos. Senator Heinrich is working with Senator Udall to increase the funding in the DOE appropriations bill to $220 million for LANL cleanup, $29 million above the request.  

Radiation Hardened Microelectronics

Senator Heinrich included a provision that assures Sandia Labs continues to be the nation’s center for the specialized microelectronic systems used in every nuclear weapon.  The facility is over 30-years old and key infrastructure systems must be repaired or replaced. The provision directs the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to develop a strategy within 6 months to upgrade Sandia’s unique MESA Complex for both research and production of strategic radiation-hardened microelectronics.  To support future life-extension efforts, the required upgrades must be completed by 2025.

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP)

The bill authorizes $403 million, an increase of $80 million over last year, to operate the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), including $84 million to continue construction of additional ventilation for the mine and $47 million to address the backlog in critical infrastructure improvements and repair.

New Mexico’s Defense R&D Labs, Test Ranges, and Industry

As Ranking Member of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, Heinrich increased R&D spending by over $600 million in funding for science and technology programs.

Joint Directed Energy Test Center

Senator Heinrich’s amendment to support modernizing directed energy test infrastructure at White Sands Missile Range was included in the final conference report.  The High Energy Laser System Test Facility (HELSTF) at White Sands was built in 1975, but the technology has seen significant advancements over the course of four decades. As directed energy weapon systems mature, the need to validate their performance becomes increasingly important. Heinrich included language noting that the workload and number of directed energy demonstrations and exercises have increased significantly since 1975 and that the projected workload for fiscal years 2018-2022 for HELSTF is large and growing, and has expanded to include high-powered-microwave testing.  Heinrich secured an increase of $15 million to upgrade the DE infrastructure at HELSTF. 

High Powered Microwave Research

Senator Heinrich’s amendment to authorize the Joint Directed Energy Transition Office (JDETO) to engage in basic and applied research of high powered microwave (HPM) capabilities was included in the final conference report.  Currently the JDETO only engages in High Energy Laser research.  This new authorization will allow the office to support the development of an effects database, common models, and predictive capabilities for High Powered Microwave technology capabilities. 

Radiation Detection Technology

Senator Heinrich included an amendment in the Senate Report that urges the Army to conduct a rigorous, fair and open competition for its radiation detection system to ensure the very best dosimeter is developed and selected for deployment to soldiers worldwide in order to increase unit and individual survivability. Senator Heinrich also approved language that requires a report on chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear equipment shortfalls at the United States Forces Korea. The amendment seeks to ensure the Army modernizes its radiation detection equipment and follows Heinrich’s recent announcement for Aquila to manufacture dosimeters for the National Guard.

Expedited Access to Technical Talent

Senator Heinrich’s amendment to require the Secretary of Defense to establish multi-institution consortia, cooperative agreements, and task order contracts with universities to facilitate expedited access to university technical expertise in the areas of space, infrastructure resilience, photonics, and autonomy was included in the final conference report.  University task orders will allow the Defense Department to enable easier and faster collaboration with universities rather than using traditional contracts.  In doing so, the provision will enable experts at New Mexico’s universities to collaborate with DoD research labs, like the Air Force Research Lab at Kirtland Air Force Base.  The provision also extends the sunset until 2022 to provide sufficient time to analyze the effectiveness of the university task orders.

Improve Direct Hire Authority at Department of Defense Labs and Test Ranges

Senator Heinrich supported bill language that extends and enhances existing direct hire pilot programs at Department of Defense laboratories and test ranges in order to make them more competitive employers.

New Mexico Military Personnel

Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Community Challenges

Senator Heinrich included an amendment in the Senate Report directing the Comptroller General of the United States to complete a report on the Air Force’s plan to improve services at RPA bases, as well as the service’s plans to implement a sustainable combat-to-dwell policy. New Mexico’s Holloman Air Force Base and Cannon Air Force Base both have significant RPA missions. The Senate Armed Services Committee continues to be concerned that a lack of support services, increased stressors, and unsustainable combat-to-dwell ratio have a negative effect on the Air Force’s ability to meet retention goals for RPA pilots and sensor operators.

National Guard Counter-Drug Program

Senator Heinrich authorized $137.2 million for the National Guard Counter-Drug Program as a valuable component of the broader Department of Defense Counter-Drug program. These funds will better enable our National Guard forces to combat drug trafficking contributing to the growing drug epidemic.  Specifically, $20 million is authorized to combat opioid trafficking and abuse.

Department of Defense Support to Local Education

Senator Heinrich supported a $50 million increase for the continuation of a Department of Defense (DoD) assistance program for local schools attended by children of military and DoD civilian families.  Senator Heinrich authorized $10 million in impact aid for local schools that provide support to DoD children with severe disabilities.

New Mexico Space Missions

Space Rapid Capabilities Office (Sp-RCO) at Kirtland Air Force Base

Senator Heinrich successfully saved and helped resurrect the Operationally Responsive Space office at Kirtland Air Force Base, which has now grown to a $371 million program and serves as the linchpin of our nation’s responsive space architecture.  Heinrich fought in 2014 to save the Operationally Responsive Space mission, which was recently re-designated as the Space Rapid Capabilities Office (Sp-RCO), and has consistently worked to increase funding for this critical small satellite mission. 

This year, the final conference report authorizes $371 million in funding for the program, a significant increase from last year’s $87.57 million, in order to continue responsive space efforts.  The bill also includes reforms to the office to replicate the culture and processes of the current Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, which is considered the gold-standard for enabling rapid requirements validation, funding, and execution.  These changes will bolster New Mexico’s role as the small satellite center of excellence for the military.

Space Test Program at Kirtland Air Force Base

Senator Heinrich authorized $25.62 million for the Space Test Program at Kirtland Air Force Base. Since 1965, the Space Test Program (STP) has conducted space test missions for the purpose of accelerating Department of Defense space technology transformation while lowering developmental risk. STP serves as the primary access to space for the Department of Defense space science and technology community.

Small Satellite Modular Arrays

Senator Heinrich included an amendment in the Senate Report that encourages the Air Force to explore modular arrays that combine separate power subsystems into a more efficient and cost effective integrated system in order to accelerate the deployment of small satellites. SolAero Technologies in Albuquerque is currently an industry leader in manufacturing solar panels for space power applications. 

Laser Communications

Senator Heinrich included an amendment in the Senate Report that supports the Air Force’s efforts to develop laser communications systems that enable the demonstration of secure, covert, anti-jam, very high data rate transmissions and urges the Air Force to budget for laser communications in future planning. Applied Technology Associates in New Mexico is an industry leader in laser communications. 

Spaceport America New Mexico

Senator Heinrich led a coalition of bipartisan senators to include an amendment in the Senate Report that encourages the Air Force to utilize spaceports for future missions. The provisions states that spaceports, including Spaceport America in New Mexico, are “available to help meet the requirements for the national security space program for the DoD, Air Force Space Command, the Space Rapid Capabilities Office, and Missile Defense Agency. The committee also notes that such spaceports improve the resiliency of U.S. launch infrastructure and help ensure consistent access to space to support national security space priorities.”  The provision further expresses that “The committee believes it is also important for the Department to diversify its launch options and capabilities to include inland sites. Significant investments have been made at inland spaceports, which already have the infrastructure in place to accommodate smaller space launches for the Department.” Lastly, the Heinrich amendment directs the Air Force to conduct an assessment of emerging commercial small launch providers to determine what payloads are appropriate for launch, and a plan for utilizing emerging commercial small launch providers in future launches at inland launch sites.

New Mexico Military Energy Resilience

Energy Resilience and Efficiency for the Military

Senator Heinrich has long been concerned regarding the vulnerabilities of cyber-attacks, physical attacks and severe weather, which threaten the military’s ability to recover from multi-day utility disruptions that impact mission assurance, including infrastructure beyond just task-critical assets, on its installations.

Senator Heinrich led efforts to address these concerns by authorizing an increase of $2 million for the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP), for a total of $42 million, to identify and demonstrate existing energy storage technology to improve installation energy resilience.  Heinrich also authorized an increase of $10 million to the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP), for a total of $86.5 million, to develop improved energy storage and control technology.

Senator Heinrich authorized an increase of $5 million, for a total of $45.6 million to address urgent concerns regarding energy resilience on military installations.  Specifically, Heinrich increased the Operational Energy Capability Improvement Fund (OECIF) and directed the Department to use the funding to address energy production, tactical microgrids, and alternative energy storage solutions.

Senator Heinrich led efforts to increase funding for the Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program (ERCIP) by authorizing an increase of $48.4 million to expand energy conservation construction programs to include energy resiliency, security, and conservation projects.

Additional Heinrich Provisions

Cyber Doctrine

Senator Heinrich’s amendment to establish a policy for the United States Government as it relates to Cyber Deterrence was included in the final conference report. Senator Heinrich led a bipartisan group in March 2018 urging the President to expedite completion of a national cyber deterrence strategy. To date, a national policy and strategy has not been released.  In the March 2018 letter, Senator Heinrich and 13 bipartisan members of the Senate Armed Services Committee declared: “The lack of decisive and clearly articulated consequences to cyber-attacks against our country has served as an open invitation to foreign adversaries and malicious cyber actors to continue attacking the United States.” The bipartisan provision included in the conference report will establish the nation’s first U.S. policy on cyber warfare. 

Light Attack Aircraft

Senator Heinrich supported an increase in funding for the United States Air Force to begin procurement of light attack aircraft and associated long-lead material. Developing a fleet of low-cost light attack aircraft will allow the military better conduct air operations in permissive environments and free our more capable fighters to deter our near-peer adversaries.

Ballistic Missile Boost Phase Intercept

Senator Heinrich authorized an increase in funding for the Missile Defense Agency’s technology maturation initiatives in order to achieve a demonstration of a 500 kilowatt laser and a best of breed one megawatt laser capability by 2024. Developing these advanced laser systems will enable the development of an effective boost phase intercept capability for ballistic missile defense.

AC-130J High Energy Laser

Senator Heinrich authorized $34 million for continued development of the AC-130J High Energy Laser (HEL) program, but raised concerns about the shortfall in funding for this program in budget plans for future years. Senator Heinrich included language in the Senate Report that requires the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to submit a plan for fully funding the AC-130J HEL program in fiscal years 2020 to 2022 along with the Department’s budget request for fiscal year 2020.

Global Engagement Center

Senator Heinrich supported a provision to extend the authority for the Department of Defense to transfer up to $60 million to the Department of State’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) through fiscal year 2019. The GEC is intended to rapidly and decisively respond to adversary messaging and communication. 

Crash Cleanup at White Sands National Monument

Senator Heinrich’s amendment was included in the final conference report to provide explicit authority for an agency or department to incur expenses or reimburse the direct costs for any service relevant to the cleanup of an air, ground, or sea vehicle crash or other accident when that event occurs on the property of another federal agency. This amendment is in response to Holloman Air Force Base’s crash of a QF-4 on a heavily travelled part of White Sands National Monument on February 7, 2014. 

Rapid Innovation Fund

Senator Heinrich supported language making the successful Rapid Innovation Fund a permanent authority in the United States Code and clarifying that the program can be used to continuously solicit ideas for technologies that need funding to cross the “Valley of Death,” rather than only looking for ideas on a scheduled, periodic basis. Through this fund, eligible technologies can receive up to $3 million in funding over two years. This issue was a theme of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee hearing, at the request of Senator Heinrich, with Dr. Michael Griffin on technology transfer challenges.


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