Rep. Tom Udall voted against the House Appropriation Committee's budget proposal for New Mexico's nuclear laboratories today, but the measure passed and will go to the floor for a full vote.
I approached the U.S. Senate candidate at the hearing to ask a couple of questions about the vote today and he said he wouldn't talk, but would issue a statement. When I asked why he was ducking my questions, he said "I'm not ducking you."
Huh? It was a little odd, because he's always made himself available to answer questions. Must be a touchy subject, ya think?
In any case, here's his official statement:
Today, U.S. Representative and Appropriator Tom Udall, D-N.M., released the following statement regarding his vote against the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water’s FY09 budget proposal:
“Throughout my career I have fought to protect Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories because of their critical role ensuring American security and the vital economic foundation they provide for New Mexico. As we look to the future, it is important that our labs are prepared to face the changing national security threats now facing our country.
“For more than a year, I have worked extensively with our labs to encourage growth in new areas of research as a way to ensure their long-term viability and to move towards the future. In addition to their indispensible role maintaining our essential nuclear arsenal, I believe the labs’ work should grow in the areas of nuclear nonproliferation, homeland security, counterterrorism, intelligence analysis and expanded energy research. We also must provide adequate funding for the cleanup of hazardous legacy waste from the labs.
“By collaborating with the lab leadership and the NNSA, I believe my goals of diversifying the labs and growing them in new areas are beginning to be realized. But there are still obstacles in our path.
“Today, the House Energy and Water Subcommittee’s Appropriations proposal was brought before the full committee for a vote. And although this legislation contains many good provisions, it does not provide a path to the future for our national laboratories, and I could not support it. This bill not only cuts critical programs that are essential to the strength of our labs and the security of our nation, it rescinds funding that LANL and Sandia have already been promised and have budgeted for the current fiscal year.
“New Mexicans understand well by now that this is only the beginning of the budgetary process for our labs. Like last year, I will work with my colleagues in the House and the Senate to make sure the final budget Congress produces protects our laboratories and ensures that the national security threats of today and of tomorrow are effectively addressed.
“As always, I will continue to stand up and do what's right for New Mexico’s national laboratories. For two generations, the work they do has been a safeguard of the American freedoms I've so strongly championed. By funding new research and development, we can spur job growth and create the critical national security jobs of the future at Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs. I will continue to fight every step of the way so our labs can rise to meet these new challenges.”