Bush Signs Bill Funding NM Tech Research, July 24, 2001

Bill Includes Domenici Language on MRGCD Loan Payments

CONTACT: Chris Gallegos (Sen. Domenici's office)
(202) 224-7082

WASHINGTON, D. C., July 24, 2001 -- U.S. Senator Pete Domenici said a bill signed today by President Bush includes a directive he authored to force the Pentagon to release funding important to Defense Department blast research being conducted at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro.

(Also see website for EMRTC.)

President Bush signed the $6.5 billion FY2001 Supplemental Appropriations Bill today while in Kosovo visiting American troops. The bill makes additional funding available this fiscal year for national defense and other federal government needs.

Domenici, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee and its subcommittee on defense, reported that the new law includes a provision he secured authorizing the Defense Department to release $3 million approved by Congress last year for the Blast Visualization and Blast Modeling research program. New Mexico Tech is heavily involved in the research for blast mitigation, and is a primary recipient of funding for this effort.

"The fact that the Pentagon is now authorized and directed to release this funding is good news for this project and for New Mexico Tech's involvement," Domenici said. "I've seen some spectacular explosive demonstrations at Tech, and believe the school has the knowhow to advance our national security."

The Defense Department's Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) Visualization and Blast Modeling for Force Protection project is designed to rapidly integrate COTS technology currently used by CIA/OTA, tailor the technology to meet force protection challenges, and provide the resulting package to military force protection units.

The project provides a process and system by which military planners can quickly comprehend risks from explosives and other threats, and also allows quick production of new and accurate blast models for specific or unique structures. The resulting capability will help military planners and decision makers understand the risks and support the analysis and planning of security provisions to increase force and facility protection. Congress approved the funding last year as part of the FY2001 Defense Appropriations Bill.

Elsewhere, the bill includes Domenici-authored language authorizing the prepayment of a Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD) loan with the Bureau of Reclamation, and compels the Bureau to accept the payment. The language was also supported in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Heather Wilson.

"There's no question now that the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District can pay off its debt early if it so wishes," Domenici said.

In May, the MRGCD offered to pay off the $2.4 million balance of its $15.7 million zero-interest loan with the Bureau for the San Juan-Chama diversion program. The loan was initially issued in 1951 and amended in 1963. However, the Bureau refused the payment with an explanation that the agency did not have the authority to accept accelerated or lump sum payments on its loans.