Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Pete Domenici today confirmed that President Bush has signed into law the FY2002 Defense Authorization Bill, a significant national security policy bill that will have ramifications for the lives of New Mexicans involved in defense work.
President Bush on Friday (Dec.28) signed the bill, which establishes national security policies and authorizes funding levels for the Pentagon in 2002.
“I celebrate the good things in this bill for New Mexico, such as the language to ensure that ailing uranium miners are compensated for their national security-related work. But I’m wary of other provisions, such as the base closure provisions,” Domenici said.
“Overall, this new law supports my efforts in the appropriations process to see that defense work at New Mexico facilities, including our national laboratories, are sufficiently supported,” he added.
Domenici is a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee that produced the FY2002 Defense Appropriations Bill, a $317.5 billion measure passed in early December with a $20 billion “September 11 emergency response” supplemental appropriations package to boost national defense and homeland security. (The programs authorized in this bill must ultimately be specifically funded in the Defense Appropriations Bill.)
Among other things the Defense Authorization Bill authorizes, at the insistence of the Bush administration, a new base closure and realignment (BRAC) process in 2005. “It remains to be seen whether the Armed Services committees efforts to clean up the BRAC process will work.
“We’ll see, and at the same time continue to build up the unique capabilities of our Air Force bases in New Mexico. Those bases, and White Sands Missile Range, are doing great work now. Any fair and unbiased review will not reveal any of them as big BRAC targets,” Domenici said.
During negotiations to finalize the bill, Domenici was part of a successful New Mexico congressional delegation effort to remove the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons complex, including Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories, from the new BRAC process.