Senators fight for Cannon funding

Freedom Newspapers

U.S. Sens. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said Wednesday they continue to seek up to $68 million in funding for military construction at Cannon Air Force Base to support the new Air Force Special Operations Command mission.

The senators offered three amendments to a defense policy bill on Wednesday intended to clear the way to meet “unfunded requirements” at Cannon to support the new mission, according to a news release they issued. The Senate is expected to debate the FY2008 Defense Authorization Bill (S.1585) through next week.

The first amendment would authorize $68 million for all AFSOC military projects in an “unfunded requirements” list at Cannon, including:

• $31 million for C-130 fuel cell and corrosion control hangars;

• $17.5 million for an unmanned aerial vehicle squadron operations building and ground control stations;

• $12 million for an MC-130 squadron operations building; and

• $7.5 million for a CV-22 simulator facility.

The cost of the amendment would be offset from Air Force operations and maintenance accounts, the release said.

The two subsequent amendments specify authorizations for the $31 million C-130-related hangars and $7.5 million for the CV-22 simulator facility.

According to Domenici spokesman Chris Gallegos, the priority is to secure the $68 million in funding, but if the first amendment is met with resistance, the senators can push separately for top-priority projects in the subsequent amendments.

“Sen. Bingaman and I will work together to have one or more of these provisions added to this defense bill. Their acceptance would make it possible for the appropriations committee to direct actual funding for these AFSOC projects,” said Domenici, who serves on the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

Funding for two projects has been recommended in the president’s budget request and included in the Senate FY2008 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill:

• $7.5 million to construct an MC-130 flight simulator facility, and

• $1.7 million to alter an existing hangar to accommodate C-130s.

The bill also adds $855,000 for planning and design work on a $31 million hangar project needed to support AFSOC aircraft, according to the release.