New Mexico’s Congressional Democrats Respond to President Obama’s Announcement on Cuba Policy Changes and the Release of Alan Gross

New Mexico’s Congressional Democrats responded positively today to President Obama’s announcement on changes to the nation’s Cuba policy and to the release of Alan Gross.

U.S. Senator Tom Udall released a statement today on the president’s announcement that he has taken steps to normalize relations with the country of Cuba and has secured the release of American prisoner Alan Gross, who had been held in a Cuban jail since 2009. In November, Udall traveled to Cuba with Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) where they met with Cuban officials as well as religious and business leaders to discuss the impacts of the embargo and travel restrictions on American and Cuban families. Udall also visited Alan Gross in prison and expressed optimism that he would be released soon. Below is Udall’s statement:

“I am happy for Alan Gross and his family today, and we welcome him home after 5 years of incarceration in Cuba. I applaud the president in his efforts to return him to his family and for taking steps to normalize relations with Cuba. Now is the time to end the failed embargo against Cuba and to take steps to normalize relations. This is a sea change as our nation is finally embarking on a 21st century approach with Cuba, one that will open opportunities for New Mexicans and other American interests in Cuba. American citizens are the best diplomats of our values and I hope their future interactions shine through with the Cuban people. It is time to act, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the Obama administration, to build upon this announcement and move forward to lift the embargo on Cuba, which has only served to isolate the Cuban people and limit American opportunity.”

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) made the following statement today regarding President Obama’s announcement of changes he’s made to the economic and diplomatic relationship between the United States and Cuba, and the release of American prisoner Alan Gross, who had been held in a Cuban jail since 2009:

“Today marks a welcome change of course in our nation’s relationship with Cuba. I support the Administration’s decision to abandon an outdated Cold War policy of isolation that failed to advance America’s goal of an open and free society for the Cuban people. This new course is consistent with our national security interests, and will help make it easier for Americans to travel to Cuba and increase economic opportunities. But more importantly, I hope this change in course will lead to more progress in reversing the Cuban government’s history of suppressing the human rights and other civil freedoms of its citizens.

“The release of U.S. citizen Alan Gross is wonderful news. I’m pleased he is home safe and reunited with his family after five years of imprisonment.”

Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01) released the following statement in response to President Obama’s announcement about the relationship between the United States and Cuba.

“I am optimistic about the shift toward restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba and moving away from a policy that has failed on so many levels. During my visit to Cuba, I was struck by how the embargo, coupled with a dysfunctional economy, has hurt so many average Cubans. A more robust relationship will ultimately help people in both countries, and open the door to democracy in Cuba.

“However, I am concerned about the release of Cubans, who were convicted in American courts, as a condition or precursor to improving relations between with the U.S. and Cuba. I worry about the message that may send to other state actors around the world that are looking for leverage against the U.S.”

Doña Ana Democrats Mourn the Passing of State Representative Phillip M. Archuleta

Tuesday afternoon State Representative Phillip Archuleta (D-Doña Ana-36) passed away from complications of pneumonia.

Phillip_001aAs State Representative from his southern New Mexico district Phillip Archuleta was a leading champion for civil rights and equal treatment of all New Mexicans, for labor and working people, and for veterans.

As a legislator he fought for quality public education, equity in community services and infrastructure, and fair treatment for his community. He was an outspoken champion for the rights of Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers.

Representative Archuleta, who was himself disabled, was also a strong voice for the rights of disabled persons in the New Mexico State Legislature.

A native of Taos, New Mexico, Archuleta had lived and worked for more than two decades in Las Cruces. Prior to serving in the New Mexico State House of Representatives,  Archuleta worked in Labor Law Administration for the State of New Mexico Department of Labor.

His voice will be greatly missed.

The Democratic Party of Doña Ana County will post memorial information in the coming days.

Senator Tom Udall Welcomes Passage of Bill to Begin Reform of Federal Information Technology Systems

Udall authored reform legislation to improve how citizens interact with government, save billions of taxpayers’ dollars, increase transparency in IT purchasing

U.S. Senator Tom Udall, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, today announced that a bill he has helped champion in Congress, to begin needed reforms of federal information technology (IT) purchasing and management, has passed Congress as a part of major defense legislation.

The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) passed last week as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). FITARA is designed to improve the way citizens interact with the federal government, save billions of taxpayers’ dollars, and increase transparency in IT purchasing. The legislation includes major elements of a bill Udall introduced with Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), the Federal Information Technology Savings, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2013. The bill is set to be signed into law by the president.

The federal government spends approximately $80 billion annually on IT, yet those investments continue to underperform, often incurring considerable cost overruns and delays. FITARA will improve how the federal government acquires, implements and manages its information technology investments by giving agency Chief Information Officers (CIOs) more authority over the budget, governance, and personnel processes for agency Information Technology investments, and by improving transparency and review processes of agency IT investments.

“The number one way most Americans interact with the federal government is online, but our purchasing and management systems date back to the days of floppy disks and telephone modems, and it’s wasting billions of taxpayer dollars a year,” Udall said. “These reforms are badly needed to encourage innovation, save New Mexico taxpayers’ money and help avoid IT failures like the initial rollout of the website. I’m proud of the meaningful bipartisan work that went into this critical legislation, and I will continue to work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to push for the updates and investments needed to provide best service we can for the taxpayers.”

FITARA enhances agency CIOs’ authorities and strengthens key initiatives proposed in the administration’s 25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal Information Technology Management. Highlights include:

-More authority for chief information officers over the budget, governance and personnel processes for agency IT investments.

-Increased transparency for IT investments and a requirement that agencies review troubled investments.

-The bill directs the development of an enhanced government-wide software purchasing program that agencies may use to lower acquisition and management costs.

-Mandatory annual reviews all of agency IT investments to eliminate duplication and waste.

-Consolidates over 9,000 federal data centers.

Senator Tom Udall Secures Technology Transfer Provisions for N.M. Labs in Major Legislation

Provisions in defense and appropriations bills increase funding and direct Energy Department to emphasize tech transfer

U.S. Senator Tom Udall today announced that two major bills passed by Congress last week include key reforms he has championed to improve technology transfer at New Mexico’s national laboratories and create new businesses and jobs in New Mexico.

Udall is pushing the federal government to improve its tech transfer efforts to bring to market research being done at Los Alamos and Sandia national labs as well as White Sands Missile Range and the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base. In March 2014, he introduced the Accelerating Technology Transfer to Advance Innovation for the Nation (ATTAIN) Act to further improve DOE’s tech transfer program. While he will keep pushing for passage of the full bill, the two provisions approved last week will help implement elements of his legislation.

“Improving tech transfer is key to helping researchers get innovations from the lab bench to the marketplace. It’s one important way we can help create new businesses and high-tech jobs in New Mexico,” Udall said. “The Department of Energy hasn’t been doing nearly enough with tech transfer, but with the passage of these provisions, we’re making progress. These bills direct the Department of Energy to prioritize spending on technology transfer from our national labs and support pilot projects to encourage researchers to take the leap and create businesses based on their work.”

Udall pushed for the technology transfer provisions to be included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and in the so-called “omnibus” appropriations bill, which funds the federal government through September 2015, the end of the fiscal year. Both the NDAA and the “omnibus” passed Congress last week and are headed to the president for his signature.

Udall’s tech transfer amendment in the NDAA directs DOE to prioritize spending on energy technology commercialization from our national laboratories, and addresses issues also noted by the DOE Inspector General (IG). In a February 2014 report, the IG found that “instead of identifying and directing funds for the Commercialization Fund to the achievement of specified goals, the Department deployed a retrospective approach” by merely classifying existing spending as technology transfer to meet the Congressional requirement from the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

Udall’s provision in the “omnibus” appropriations bill directs $4.8 million to go to technology transfer at the Department of Defense, plus an additional $10 million for a regionally focused technology transfer innovation pilot program. The pilot will facilitate public-private ventures between the Department of Defense research and development centers and regionally focused technology incubators.

Weekly Address: Giving Thanks for Our Troops

In this week’s address, the President thanked the men and women in uniform who serve and sacrifice to protect the freedom, prosperity, and security that we all enjoy as Americans. On Monday the President will visit troops at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey and voice his appreciation in person for their incredible service.

These troops, as well as the many who are still overseas, have met every mission they have been tasked with, from bringing a responsible end to our war in Afghanistan, to working to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL, to saving lives by fighting to contain the spread of Ebola. During this holiday season, a time of blessings and gratitude, the President reminded everyone to find a way to thank and serve the members of the military who serve us every day.

Watch and share President Obama’s weekly address.

Senator Tom Udall to Join Senate Commerce Committee

Assignment positions Udall to fight for issues critical to N.M. communities: Trade, broadband Internet, space, technology transfer, consumer safety

Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall announced that beginning in January 2015 (the 114th Congress), he will return to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Udall will also serve on the Senate Appropriations, Foreign Relations, Indian Affairs, and Rules committees. Udall previously served on the Commerce Committee from 2009-2012.

“Returning to the Commerce Committee, in combination with my other committee assignments, puts me in an exciting position to fight for issues that will help create jobs and build New Mexico’s economy – from trade and transportation to technology and the rapidly evolving space industry.

“I believe New Mexico has all the building blocks for a strong high-tech sector, including our universities and research facilities, entrepreneurs and established companies that want to commercialize new technologies. Now is the time to encourage innovation and investments that will benefit our state and national economy for years to come.

“We are also at a critical point in the expansion of broadband Internet, which is vital for small business, education and health care, particularly in rural communities. I intend to use my position to step up the fight to ensure every community in New Mexico has high-speed Internet access.

“Finally, since my days as New Mexico’s Attorney General, I have worked to strengthen consumer protection. I’m proud of my contributions to keep drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel, improve youth sports safety, prevent cell phone ‘bill shock,’ and protect consumers from fraud, and the Commerce Committee gives me a position to fight to ensure New Mexicans have the tools they need to protect themselves and their families.”

The Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has broad jurisdiction over federal agencies and laws that govern aviation, communications, consumer affairs, highway and pipeline safety, railroads, science, and space policies.

Senator Martin Heinrich Delivers Floor Speech on Importance of Public Lands Package

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich delivered a Senate floor speech yesterday to highlight key conservation and energy bills he helped secure in the FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

“We stand on the cusp of passing one of the most significant pieces of public land legislation since 2009,” said Sen. Heinrich in his remarks. “None of this would be possible were it not for years of effort and support from the local communities that helped craft these bills.  Thanks to their work, New Mexico’s critical public land based economic engine will continue to grow in the energy, tourism, sporting and recreation sectors.”

Watch and share Senator Heinrich’s remarks.

Below are Senator Heinrich’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President, we stand on the cusp of passing one of the most significant pieces of public land legislation since 2009. I stand here to speak on behalf of this well-balanced package, which is absolutely critical for jobs across the western United States and particularly in my home state of New Mexico.

None of this would be possible were it not for years of effort and support from the local communities that helped craft these bills.

Thanks to their work, New Mexico’s critical public land based economic engine will continue to grow in the energy, tourism, sporting and recreation sectors.  And new wilderness and National Park Service units will continue to make New Mexico a unmatched destination for world travelers as well as for the local families that have known for centuries that New Mexico really is the Land of Enchantment.

Located in the Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico, the area known as Columbine-Hondo has been managed as a Wilderness Study Area since 1980.

Columbine-Hondo is cherished by all who know it and is a key attraction for the local tourism and outdoor recreation economy.  When I was a young outfitter guide and the Executive Director of the Cottonwood Gulch Foundation, Columbine Hondo was one of the spectacular destinations where our students backpacked, slept under the stars, and learned to navigate in the backcountry.

This area has some of the best elk, mule deer, and bighorn sheep habitat in New Mexico.  And people come from across the nation to experience a true wilderness elk hunt in its aspen and fir forests.  Fisherman will tell you that it is also home to some of the last, best habitat for our native Rio Grande cutthroat trout, which is coincidentally New Mexico’s state fish.

Columbine Hondo is home to the headwaters of the Red River and the Rio Hondo, both major tributaries of the Rio Grande, and the snowmelt from Lobo Peak and Gold Hill provide critical irrigation water to local acequia associations who carry on age-old agricultural traditions.

For millennia, these mountains, rivers, and wildlife have supported New Mexico’s traditional communities.  The first evidence of human habitation here stretches back 11,000 years, and nearby Taos Pueblo has been continuously inhabited for more than a thousand years.

Spanish settlers first came to the area in the 16th Century, and Hispanic families have relied on these mountains for their way of life ever since.

Today, Columbine-Hondo is a central attraction for visitors to Taos County, where outdoor recreation and tourism drive the local economy and contribute to a 68,000 job strong public land recreation industry in our state.

In addition to finally designating Columbine Hondo as wilderness, this package would also expand the Wheeler Peak Wilderness by approximately 650 acres while modifying a boundary in order to create a loop trail accessible by mountain bikes along the Lost Lake trail from Taos Ski Valley to the East Fork trail to Red River.

It has broad community support, including from the Taos Pueblo, local government leaders, hunters, fishermen, business owners, land grant heirs, ranchers, acequia parcientes, conservationists, mountain bikers, veterans, and many, many more.

In October, I joined the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Coalition, regional stakeholders, and local officials for a hike in the area to highlight conservation and water initiatives.

Local residents discussed why they support permanently protecting the Columbine-Hondo and what the area means to them.

Esther Garcia, an acequia commissioner and the former mayor of Questa expressed her support well when she said…

“Columbine Hondo is very important to all of us.  To preserve this beautiful wilderness area, we preserve our hunting, our piñon picking, our herb gathering.”
I want to thank all the residents of Taos County who have worked hard for decades to make this wilderness area a reality.

Also included in this public lands package, is a provision to transition the Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico to new management to increase public access.

This proposal was developed after extensive input from local residents, sportsmen, business owners, and elected officials and is supported by local chambers of commerce.

Together they decided that a National Preserve managed by the Park Service, with a mandate for hunting and fishing to remain central to the management of the area, was the best way to ensure expanded public access while preserving this incredible landscape for future generations.

The Valles Caldera is a crater created by a collapsed super-volcano, and is made up of cinder cones scattered throughout a deep grassy valley.

The Caldera is home to crystal clear trout streams and some of the best elk habitat in the state.

Since then, the Preserve has been managed by a Board of Trustees charged with generating enough revenue from user fees and other sources to make the Preserve financially self-sustaining.

This has led to drastically limited public access with relatively high entrance and permit fees, locking many New Mexicans out of this public land.

By shifting to Park Service management, we can open the Valles Caldera to the public while conserving the one-of-a-kind resources found there.

As someone who has been lucky enough to draw an elk tag in the Caldera, expanding hunting opportunities for the public is one of the primary reasons I’m supporting this proposal. 

The preserve model ensures that hunting and fishing remain central activities for the public to enjoy, and NPS management will help balance expanded public access with conserving the natural and cultural resources found in the area. 

Park Service management will also help bring more visitors and will raise the national profile of the preserve for visitors from outside of New Mexico.

The increase in visitors at the Preserve is expected to bring more than 200 jobs and $8 million in wages to the communities in the region.

That is great news for communities like Los Alamos, Española, and Jemez Springs.

We’ve seen elsewhere how protecting public lands spurs economic development.

According to Headwaters Economics, rural counties with protected federal lands, like national parks, saw a 345 percent increase in jobs over the last 40 years, whereas rural counties without protected lands saw jobs increase by only 83 percent over the same period.

I want to thank the local community and elected officials who have worked for decades to put this proposal together, as well as Senator Tom Udall and former Senator Jeff Bingaman for their leadership on this issue. 

We all stand on the shoulders of giants in this effort, as it was Senator Clinton P. Anderson of New Mexico who first proposed National Park Service management of the Valles Caldera in the early 1960s. 

Additionally, as the son of a Navy sailor who saw several of the early nuclear tests I am especially pleased to see that the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act, introduced by Senator Maria Cantwell is also included.  It will establish three different educational sites in Los Alamos, New Mexico; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Hanford, Washington.

Los Alamos, New Mexico has made invaluable contributions to our nation’s nuclear history.

These parks will conserve historic sites and artifacts that played a key role in the dawn of the nuclear era while telling the story of the creation of the world’s first atomic bomb and exploring its consequences for society.

And finally, I’d like to mention a provision in this package that will benefit New Mexico’s energy economy.

It is a bill which I co-sponsored, but that was authored and championed by my colleague Senator Tom Udall to ensure that the Bureau of Land Management has the staff it needs to streamline the oil and gas drilling permit process while strengthening the review system that helps meet important environmental and safety standards.

Thousands of jobs and a sizable portion of our state’s economy are supported by New Mexico’s oil and gas industry. Increasing cooperation among federal agencies and business is an important way to boost job creation and expand domestic energy production.

Like other Americans who value our shared lands as assets to be utilized, enjoyed and passed on to future generations, these are all things worth fighting for.

I’m committed to carry on my state’s rich conservation history and this legislation makes an enormous contribution to that ever-evolving story.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

Senator Tom Udall Urges Congress to Do its Work, Pass Bill to Fund Important Programs for N.M., Avoid Shutdown

Appropriations bill funds PILT, lab programs including B61, N.M. military bases, WIPP recovery, technology transfer, water projects and other priorities

U.S. Senator Tom Udall, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, welcomed the release of a so-called “omnibus” appropriations bill, which includes critical funding for New Mexico and keeps the government running through September 2015, the end of the fiscal year.

The bill funds many New Mexico priorities that Udall has fought for, such as the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which helps pay for local services New Mexicans rely on, including law enforcement, schools, roads and other needs. The bill also provides additional funding to continue cleanup 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 New Mexico’s Air Force bases; technology transfer to help stimulate job growth; rural N.M. water projects; and public lands programs.

Because a temporary spending measure expires on Thursday, the omnibus bill must be approved by the House and Senate this week or funding must be temporarily extended.

While the bill is vital for New Mexico communities, which depend on funding for PILT, the labs and bases, public lands agencies and many other programs, the omnibus also includes provisions tacked on at the last minute, which chip away at campaign finance reforms and Wall Street reforms intended to prevent a financial collapse like that in 2008.

Udall said he is continuing to review the last-minute additions to the bill before deciding how to vote, and he decried the so-called “riders” as well as threats by lawmakers to shut down the government over disagreements with the president’s executive action on immigration.

“This bill includes funding for programs that I fought for – to sustain jobs at New Mexico’s labs and bases, to continue cleanup from the radiation release at WIPP, and ensure New Mexico counties have funding they count on for schools, public safety, roads and so many other daily services,” Udall said. “I’m extremely disappointed that Congress has become so broken that it would hold vital regular funding hostage in order to pass gimmicks that unleash special interest spending to influence political campaigns and that weaken laws protecting our financial system.”

“One of Congress’s most important duties is to direct federal government spending, but it has now been several years since we passed regular spending bills,” Udall continued. “There was a time when an omnibus appropriations bill would have been a sign of a major breakdown. 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. I encourage my colleagues to work together – our economic strength and national security depend on it.”

New Mexico funding in the bill includes:

PILT - with $70 million included in a defense bill, which is also before Congress this 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.
The bill provides $320 million for WIPP, including the administration’s original funding request of $220 million. The additional $100 million is designated for cleanup from the radiological accident and equals the estimate DOE has provided for FY15 recovery activities at WIPP.

-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: $185 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, nation-wide program standardization, a complete understanding of military culture, and assured access to military installations.
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.
-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
-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
-Hazardous fuels reduction activities: $526 million total nationwide

-Wildfire suppression: $1.394 billion total for the Forest Service and DOI 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)
-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.

-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.

Senator Tom Udall Statement on Senate Intelligence Committee Report on CIA Interrogation Practices

Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall issued the following statement on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s review of the Central Intelligence Agency’s detention and interrogation program. A copy of the report is available HERE.

“The Senate investigators’ report documents the use of brutal interrogation techniques that I believe constitute torture and violate U.S. and international law. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, we compromised the values that make our nation great. This report underscores that torture is not only brutal and inhumane, it so often produces unreliable intelligence that it is also ineffective.

“The release of today’s report has been controversial, but it’s an important step forward in addressing a stain on our nation’s history. While we can understand the intelligence community’s desire to prevent another attack, a civilized nation should never resort to torture in the name of security. My hope is that this report informs future generations of Americans and ensures that we never undertake programs like this again.”

Senator Martin Heinrich Remarks On Release Of Report On CIA Detention, Interrogation Program

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, a member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, will deliver the following remarks today on the release of the executive summary and the findings and conclusions of the committee’s five-year review of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. Senator Heinrich has been a leading proponent of declassifying the report.

A copy of the report is available, HERE.

Senator Heinrich’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below:


Torture is wrong; it is un-American; and it doesn’t work.

Recognizing these important realities, the President signed an Executive Order in January 2009 that limited interrogations by any American personnel to the guidelines in the Army Field Manual, and reinforcing the commitment that prisoners in U.S. custody are entitled to rights under the Geneva Conventions.

This closed the book on the Bush Administration’s interrogation program.

But make no mistake. These weren’t just “enhanced interrogations.” This was torture.

Releasing the Intelligence Committee’s study of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program to the American people today will finally provide a thorough accounting of what happened and how it happened. In addition, I hope that this process helps to ensure that it never, ever happens again.

This was a grave chapter in our history. The actions taken under this program cost our nation global credibility and they put the lives of Americans at risk.

Some have suggested that releasing this report could put American lives at risk. Let’s be clear, it has been the use of torture that puts Americans unnecessarily in harm’s way.

There is no question that there will never be a “good time” to release this study. We all know that for months now terrorists in the extremist group ISIS have been kidnapping and barbarically killing innocent Americans because of what we, as a nation, stand for.

The response to their threats and terrorism should not be for us to change our American values. It should be to stand firm in our values and work with our allies to root out extremism and terrorism in all its forms.

The release of this study will finally let us face what was done in the name of the American people, and allow for future generations to use these findings to learn from the mistakes made by the architects of this program.

This is an objective and fact-based study. It is a fair study. And it is the only comprehensive study conducted of this program and the CIA’s treatment of its detainees in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks.

Today marks an enormous, if painful step in the right direction.

It is important to know that these torture methods were the brainchild of a few CIA officials and their contractors. When I joined the Intelligence Committee two years ago, I began to read the classified report material and was surprised to learn this. Frankly, it was not consistent with my assumptions. It wasn’t what my prejudices told me to expect. That is why a fact-based accounting is so very important.

Furthermore, it is important to know that at every turn, CIA leadership avoided Congressional oversight, and even worse, misled Congress.

The CIA deliberately kept the vast majority of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees in the dark on the interrogation techniques until the day the president revealed the detention and interrogation program to the world in 2006 – four years after it began.

Even then, misrepresentations to the Committee about the effectiveness of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program continued, in large part because the CIA had never performed any comprehensive review of the effectiveness of the interrogation techniques or the actions of its officers.

Myths of the effectiveness of torture have been repeated; perpetrating the fable that this was a necessary program that saved lives.

The Committee examined the CIA’s claims of plots thwarted and detainees captured as a result of intelligence gained through torture.

In each and every case, the Committee found that the intelligence was already available from other sources or provided by the detainees themselves before they were tortured.

However, we need to stop treating the issue of torture as one worthy of debate over its practical merits. This is about torture being immoral. Being un-American.

Reducing a human being to a state of despair through systematic subjugation, pain, and humiliation is unquestionably immoral.

It should never happen again with the blessing of the American government. As my friend and colleague, Senator Angus King said in an interview this morning, “This is not America. This is not who we are.”

The information in the study released today to the public will finally pull back the curtain on the terrible judgment that went into creating and implementing this interrogation program.

The decision to use these techniques and the defense of the program were the work of a small number of people at the CIA.

This study is in no way a condemnation of the thousands of men and women at this great agency who work tirelessly every day to protect and defend our nation from very real and imminent threats using lawful and effective measures.

In fact, the insistence that so many intelligence successes are the result of “enhanced interrogations” negates and marginalizes the effective work done by hundreds of other CIA officers not involved in these activities.

What this study does is to show that multiple levels of government were misled about the effectiveness of these techniques. If secretive government agencies want to operate in a democracy, there must be trust and transparency with those tasked with oversight.

As the Committee carries out future oversight, we will benefit from the lessons in this study. And I hope we never let the challenges of our difficult times used as an excuse to frustrate and defer oversight the way it was in the early years covered by this report.

Although President Obama ended the program by signing the Executive Order in 2009, any future president could reverse that order.

It is worth remembering that years before this detention and interrogation program even began, the CIA had sworn off the harsh interrogations of its past; but in the wake of the terrorist attacks against the United States, it repeated those mistakes by once again engaging in brutal interrogations that undermined our nation’s credibility on the issue of human rights, produced information of dubious value, and wasted millions of taxpayer dollars.

The public interest in this issue has centered on the personalities involved, and the political battle waged in the release of this study. But those stories are reductive, and I hope they will soon pass.

Because the story of what happened in the CIA’s detention and interrogation program — and how it happened — is too important, and needs to be fully understood so that future generations will not make the same mistakes our country made out of anger, fear, and expediency.

When America engages in these acts with authorization from the highest levels of government, we invite others to treat our citizens the same way.

This study should serve as a warning to those who would make similar choices in the future.

Let us learn from the mistakes of the past — and let us never, ever repeat these mistakes.

Before I close, I’d like to acknowledge that the Intelligence Committee’s study of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program represents many years of hard work by Members and staff who faced incredible obstacles in completing their work.

The fact that this study was finished is a testament to the dedication and focus of Chairmen Rockefeller and Chair Feinstein in deciding that oversight is our job, regardless of how long it takes.


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