Luján Statement on Senate Passage of Defense Authorization Bill

Washington, D.C. –  Today, U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) issued the following statement after voting to pass the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that authorizes $886.3 billion for New Mexico’s military bases, national labs, and servicemembers.

The NDAA sets the spending levels and policies for the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Energy (DOE), including national security programs at Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories, as well as DOE environmental cleanup programs.

“From New Mexico’s four military bases, to our two National Laboratories, and brave servicemembers stationed across the world – this defense authorization delivers a strong investment that ensures the Land of Enchantment remains central to our country’s national security efforts,” said Luján. “Today, I was honored to join the Senate in passing this legislation that delivers funding to further environmental cleanup efforts and funding to boost the research and development capabilities of our National Labs. This reauthorization also provides critical investments to New Mexico’s military bases, ensuring our troops are well equipped and prepared.”

“For New Mexico veterans, I was proud to secure two additional provisions to improve Native veterans access to their benefits, and to study the costs of installing traditional, upright grave markers at the Santa Fe National Cemetery,” Luján continued. “Overall, this reauthorization makes clear – our servicemembers represent the very best of our country. They deserve the much-needed pay raise and additional defense investments that embolden our military capability and boost morale, ensuring our armed forces are ready to protect and defend the American people.

Key provisions Luján secured in the 2024 Defense Authorization Act:

The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments

  • This bill updates the current RECA program by expanding the geographic downwinder eligibility to include then-residents of Colorado, Idaho, Montana and New Mexico.  This legislation also expands eligibility for certain individuals working in uranium mines, mills or transporting uranium ore. In addition, this legislation increases the amount of compensation an individual may receive and extend the RECA program another 19 years following enactment.

Santa Fe National Cemetery

  • Similar to legislation introduced earlier this year, this amendment repeals a 1999 provision that allowed for the use of flat gravestones at the Santa Fe National Cemetery and studies the cost of replacing flat markers with uprights.

National American Indian Veterans (NAIV) Charter

  • Legislation that recognizes the mission of the National American Indian Veterans (NAIV) with a congressional charter, ensuring Native American veterans receive proper benefits and resources.

New Mexico Military Installations And Programs

Wyoming Gate Project at Kirtland Air Force Base 

  • $24.4 million to enhance the defense perimeter at Kirtland Air Force Base. The Wyoming Gate project was included in the Air Force’s unfunded priorities list because it is a necessary element of the base’s defense perimeter.

Joint Directed Energy Test Center Directed Energy Facility at White Sands Missile Range 

  • $5.5 million to construct a full-service Laboratory enclosure and an Operations and Administration Facility on the Campus of the High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility at White Sands Missile Range.

Laser Lethality Testing of Hypersonic Targets 

  • $5 million to support acquiring hypersonic targets to be utilized for the advancement of high energy laser capabilities. Testing for these systems is done out of the Solid-State Laser Testbed at White Sands Missile Range.

Fire Station at Cannon Air Force Base 

  • $5 million for a new satellite fire station at Cannon Air Force Base.

New Mexico’s National Laboratories

Environmental Cleanup 

  • $276 million for environmental cleanup efforts at Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories.

Los Alamos National Laboratory 

  • $1.76 billion for LANL’s ongoing research and development programs. The funding supports personnel, equipment, and other activities at LANL.

Sandia National Laboratories 

  • $24.1 billion funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Sandia’s funding supports and sustains its system integration, engineering, and science programs.

Advanced Simulation and Computing for Nuclear Stockpile Stewardship 

  • $792.5 million in funding for the NNSA’s Stockpile Stewardship Program. This Program ensures continued reliability of the stockpile and allows realistic simulations on supercomputers to understand how they would behave without explosive testing.

Los Alamos County Land Transfer

  • To address the lack of available land for commercial and residential needs in Los Alamos County, we included report language in the NDAA that directs NNSA to brief the defense committees about potential land conveyance from LANL to the County or San Ildefonso Pueblo.

Los Alamos National Laboratory Transportation Infrastructure 

  • Improves workforce transportation needs at LANL, ensuring transportation issues will not impact LANL’s missionwork.

Additional Provisions

Pay Raise

  • Provides for a 5.2 percent pay raise for both military servicemembers and the DOD civilian workforce.


  • Fully funds and extends the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) through fiscal year 2027 and streamlines the acquisition of defense stocks related to Ukraine and authorizes additional munitions for multiyear procurement contracts.



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