Rep. Haaland Secures New Mexico Jobs, Military Housing Protections, Contamination Cleanup, Climate Change Provisions in NDAA

Rep. Deb Haaland

Published June 13, 2019

WASHINGTON — After a 21-hour, U.S. House Armed Services Committee markup to address the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-01) secured provisions that bolster New Mexico jobs, military housing protections, contamination clean up, and military resilience in the face of climate threats. At the markup, the full committee considered each subcommittee’s proposals, the Committee Chair’s report, and member amendments. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Haaland focused on ensuring the priorities of the New Mexico were included in the NDAA that will head to the floor.

“New Mexico is home to many jobs, military families, and installations that rely on the National Defense Authorization Act for support. But, at the moment military families are struggling with unsafe military housing conditions, many New Mexicans don’t have access to the good paying jobs on base and at the labs, and our military readiness is threatened by climate change. My goal this year was to ensure we had a strong bill that would support our military families, address climate threats to our military readiness, and support the jobs that New Mexico’s military installations and national labs provide,” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland. “After a long markup process, I’m pleased to say that many of the priorities I’ve worked on and supported are included in this bill which will meet the needs of our state through the next year.”

One of Haaland’s top priorities is to ensure New Mexicans have the skills needed to take advantage of good paying jobs in the state so young people can stay in the state when they are finished with school. Last week, she and the New Mexico delegation introduced the Department of Energy National Labs Jobs ACCESS Act, which connects local high schools, higher education institutions and job training programs to military installations and national labs for job training purposes. Haaland introduced an amendment to ensure the NDAA included those pieces to fill the skills gap for good paying jobs in New Mexico, and that amendment was included in the final version of the NDAA that will move the House Floor.

As the daughter of Marine Corps and U.S. Navy veterans, Haaland knows the sacrifices military families make for the country. After hearing about unsafe housing conditions from Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB) families, Haaland demanded answers during a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness hearing that covered the mismanagement of housing programs for military families. She later introduced a comprehensive bill along-side U.S. Senator Warren (D-Mass.) to address unsafe military housing. Several provisions from that bill were included in the NDAA last night.

The New Mexico Air National Guard has requested an aircraft to enhance their mission, and Haaland has been working through her position on the committee to move that priority forward. Her amendment to request a report of additional options for achieving deployable flying missions at each Air National Guard organization throughout the country is a step needed to fill the need at Kirtland Air Force Base.

The Department of Defense has identified climate change as a threat to military readiness, but a recent report noted that the department’s preliminary assessment of climate change effects at military installations relied on past experience rather than an analysis of future climate change vulnerabilities. During a House Armed Services Committee hearing in March, Haaland questioned Department of Defense officials on climate change impacts on military housing and readiness. She later cosponsored legislation introduced by Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX) that would require the Department of Defense to adapt to climate change threats, and that language was included in the NDAA.

Haaland, one of the first Native American women serving in Congress, is a staunch advocate for tribes and meaningful tribal consultation. Upon recognizing that impacts to tribal lands and communities were not considered before planning Department of Defense construction projects, she introduced an amendment that would require the department to prove they have already begun the tribal consultation process upon requesting funds for projects. Haaland used the debate opportunity to inform members about the unique status tribes hold in the U.S. Constitution. 

As part of Haaland’s commitment to take care of military families, protect and grow New Mexico jobs, and tackle climate change, the following provisions were included in the NDAA which will now move to the House Floor:

Supporting Jobs at New Mexico Military Installations and National Labs

  • Targeted apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs that utilize local high schools, community colleges, universities, and other higher education institutions and workforce intermediaries, working in partnership with local military installations, national laboratories and National Nuclear Security Administration sites, to fill skills gaps in critical sectors of the workforce, so New Mexicans have access to good paying jobs. 
  • Combat mission helicopter simulator to enhance Kirtland Air Force Base training operations
  • Require a report of additional options for achieving deployable flying missions in each of the 54 National Guard organizations;
  • Replacement to Kirtland Air Force Base helicopter storage facility
  • Air Force plan to leverage commercial investments to integrate launch capabilities for small satellites and space assets for the Department of Defense and Kirtland Air Force Base
  • Establishment of the White Sands National Park in the State of New Mexico

 

Housing Protections for Military Families

  • Require the military services to implement a tenant bill of rights for military residents of privatized military family housing;
  • Establish tracking and accountability mechanisms for military family housing complaints;
  • Direct Secretaries of the military departments on the manpower requirements and execution plan to staff military housing offices and headquarters to fill gaps in oversight personnel;
  • Assess mold mitigation and remediation efforts in military housing units

 

Contamination Cleanup for New Mexico Communities

  • Requirements for Kirtland Air Force Base to report the progress made to remediate contaminated soil and groundwater and detail the Air Force plans to engage and coordinate with local water utility authority, State environmental agencies, and surrounding communities;
  • Study on best practices for cleanup and disposal of PFAS-contaminated groundwater, soils, and filters and gaps;
  • Periodic health assessments and physical examinations provided by the Department of Defense include specific information related to exposure to burn pits, toxic airborne chemicals, and other airborne contaminants;
  • Blood testing for each Department of Defense firefighter during the annual physical exam to determine and document potential exposure to PFAS chemicals;
  • Assistance for New Mexico dairy farmers affected by PFAS contamination

Military Resilience Facing Climate Change Threats

  • Updates to building practices and standards to promote military installation resilience, energy and climate resilience, and cyber resilience;
  • Study on 10 most vulnerable military installations within each service based on the effects of sea-level rise, flooding, drought, desertification, wildfires, and thawing permafrost; mitigations that may be necessary to increase installation resiliency; and an estimate of the cost of mitigations;
  • Briefing on efforts and opportunities to reduce expenditures on, and waste from, single-use plastics within the armed forces

Tribal Protections

  • Updates to Department of Defense tribal consultation measures, so that impacts to tribal communities from Department of Defense construction projects are considered earlier in the approval process

Military Sexual Assault

  • Utilizing best practices to standardize sexual assault prevention and response training across services

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