Legislation Heading for President's Desk Contains Millions of Dollars for Fort Carson Construction, Udall-Backed Provisions to Cut Costs and Improve National Security
Mark Udall, chairman of the U.S. Senate Strategic Forces Subcommittee and a senior member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, welcomed the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2014, a bill on which he played a major role. The bill, passed late Thursday, fully authorizes funding for numerous military construction projects at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs and includes Udall-sponsored provisions to combat sexual violence in the military and restrict the Army's authority to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in southern Colorado.
As the chairman of the U.S. Senate Strategic Forces Subcommittee, Udall championed a number of other provisions that will better protect the United States from ballistic missile threats, modernize our nuclear command and control systems, reduce costs by increasing efficiency in defense space programs, and take steps to control the international proliferation of cyber weapons.
"The National Defense Authorization Act is critically important for our nation and for the thousands of military personnel who call Colorado home. With our six major installations and tens of thousands of troops, military civilians and defense professionals, Coloradans are justifiably proud of our state's contributions to national security and thankful for the billions of dollars in economic activity generated by our bases and defense missions," Udall said. "This bipartisan bill, which is a strong example of how members of Congress can partner together across the political aisle, helps to ensure that our national military policies remain in line with our strategic interests while also strengthening defense missions based across the state. The work that my colleagues and I have done on this bill will pay dividends for our country, our troops and for Colorado."
The bill, supported by a bipartisan coalition in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, authorizes $242 million for military construction projects at Fort Carson and fully funds the safe disposal of chemical weapons at the Pueblo Chemical Depot. The bill also contains other Udall-authored provisions that will:
Push military commanders to prosecute sexual predators rather than allowing them to be discharged from the military in lieu of court martial;
Ensure better access to qualified forensic nurse examiners for military sexual assault survivors;
Control costs for nuclear modernization programs in the National Nuclear Security Administration; and,
Require the U.S. Air Force to study the risks for military pilots associated with older ejection seat technology.
The Udall-written language barring the expansion of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in southern Colorado reinforces the U.S. Army's recent and ground-breaking decision to withdraw its land acquisition waiver for the site. The Army's decision, spurred on by Udall's leadership, effectively ends the uncertainty that has plagued farmers, ranchers and residents in Las Animas and Otero counties.
Udall has been a steadfast champion of Colorado's interests in the annual defense authorization act. Udall successfully included several critical provisions in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, including amendments to reinforce the Department of Defense's efforts to develop and use innovative alternative fuels and to study the cost and logistics required to clean up abandoned uranium mines.
Udall, who also serves on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, is a vocal proponent of pursuing a smart, but tough, national security policy.