Domenici to Serve on Conference Panel to Gain Final Agreement on Bill

Contact: Chris Gallegos, 202-224-7082

WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 1, 2002 -- U.S. Senator Pete Domenici today lauded Senate passage of a national defense spending bill that includes an estimated $296 million in funding he sought for Defense Department work in New Mexico, including $10 million for a microelectronics testing program at New Mexico Tech in Socorro.

Domenici, who serves on the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, voted with the Senate to approve (95-3) the FY2003 Defense Appropriations Bill, a massive $355 billion bill for national defense work next year. Domenici will serve on the conference committee responsible for reconciling differences in the House and Senate versions of this bill.

"New funding to back New Mexico's national defense work appears to be well on its way. I will work in conference to protect what is important to defense work in our state. Since our national security is a top priority, I fully expect that we can, and should, get a final agreement on the bill early in September," Domenici said.

"Funding included in the bill for New Mexico will primarily be utilized to support our state's national defense work that is geared in a large way toward improving national security and building on our ability to fight the war on terrorism," he said.

Domenici noted that the bill provides for a 4.1 percent across-the-board pay increase for military personnel, and up to 6.5 percent for selected grade pay raises. It also provides $15 billion for Defense Health Care, as requested by the President.

At Domenici's request the bill includes $10 million to support the MicroElectronics Testing, Technology & Obsolescence Program (METTOP) program at New Mexico Tech. The funding is provided within the Defense Micro-Electronics Activity account to establish METTOP within Tech's Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center (EMRTC). The METTOP funding will allow New Mexico Tech to expand its RDT&E capabilities to exercise virtually any microelectronic component used in military, space, and commercial applications.

The specific purposes of the METTOP include the verification of complex software models, the determination and documentation of large variations in microelectronic device responses to various environments, and the tracking and documentation of changes in the manufacturing processes of various microelectronic devices used in military, space, and commercial programs.

Domenici said he hopes the final Defense Appropriations Bill negotiated with House negotiators will retain New Mexico-related funding not in the Senate bill, but included in House version. These items include: $30 million for the Magdalena Ridge Observatory, $6 million for the Geosynchronous Laser Imaging Testbed (GLINT), $3 million for the Holloman High Speed Test Track, $3 million for the UAV Technical Analysis and Applications Center that involves the NMSU Physical Science Lab, and $5 million for the Institute of Complex Additive Systems Analysis (ICASA).

Domenici noted that Congress and the White House have expressed a desire to expedite the consideration of this $355 billion national defense spending bill. This funding level is $35.4 billion more than the FY2002 funding level.