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Udall outlines defense bill

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U.S. Senator Tom Udall last week joined the Senate in overwhelmingly approving a major defense bill by a vote of 84-15. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes provisions that will support jobs and strengthen New Mexico’s military bases, small businesses and federal defense installations, including Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). 

The NDAA is legislation, which sets the fiscal year 2014 defense policy and directs funding levels for the Department of Defense and the national security programs under the Department of Energy.  

Among the highlights:

• The Los Alamos National Labs Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project (CMRR). The amended provision would provide LANL with the flexibility to continue to provide essential national security support and ensure that scientists and engineers have the necessary infrastructure to carry out their work safely, while addressing some of the concerns raised in response to the original CMRR proposal. 

• Full funding for the national labs and a provision emphasizing that the B61 Life Extension Program (LEP) remains an important part of ther nation’s stockpile stewardship program and must remain fully funded and on schedule to maintain the safety, security and credibility of the nation’s nuclear deterrent. 

The NDAA authorized funding for the Department of Energy’s national security programs, including full funding for the national labs to carry out their stockpile stewardship programs. 

• National labs weapons activities: $7.9 billion, which was over $40 million above the president’s request.

• B61 LEP: $537 million for both Sandia and Los Alamos national labs.• LANL TRU waste facilities: $26.7 million to help prepare LANL (TRU) waste for disposal at WIPP. 

• LANL TA-55 reinvestment project second phase: $30.6 million to enhance safety and increase the life expectancy of the PF-4 facility, which is responsible for plutonium operations and other aspects of the stockpile stewardship program.

• LANL Radioactive Liquid Waste treatment facility upgrade: $55.7 million. 

 • LANL cleanup: $234.7 million and WIPP: $219 million.