Lawmakers urge Biden to continue to invest in New Mexico military bases

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – President Biden’s speech Wednesday was largely focused on the economy and infrastructure – but New Mexico’s congressional delegation doesn’t want him to forget about our military bases.

4 Investigates team first told you about the U.S. Air Force plan to transfer at least 300 Special Ops personnel from Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis to one near Tucson, Arizona.

Our congressional leaders are concerned about what that means for the base moving forward.

“Those bases that have very future focused missions are going to be around forever and ever effectively,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich.  

Heinrich knows how important it is for New Mexico’s military bases to be looking forward.

“In 1996, when there was a BRAC process that was looking at Kirtland Air Force base for potential closure, and I think what the entire community and state learned from that process is if you’re attracting future focused missions, that’s not a concern,” said Heinrich.  

It appears members of New Mexico’s Congressional Delegation have a similar optimism for Cannon Air Force Base in eastern New Mexico.

In a letter to Biden, they’re asking the commander-in-chief to find new ways to utilize the base after Air Force leaders confirmed plans to relocate a special operations unit out of New Mexico.

They’re urging him to consider the hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars used to upgrade the base over the year, and the base’s notable impact on the local economy.

“You’ll understand what I mean, in that there’s nothing to be concerned about, and the future is bright,” said Clovis Mayor Mike Morris. 

Clovis city leaders say the relocation will not happen until 2027, and there are no plans to close the base. But there is optimism about what could replace the special operations unit.

“I think we could be on the winning end of those and see that and see Cannon receiving new missions, and new investment and those kinds of things,” said Morris. 

Heinrich says those new investments are crucial to securing new missions. He’s already working to secure millions of dollars in federal funding for projects at White Sands Missile Range, Kirtland Air Force Base, and even new buildings at Cannon Air Force Base.

“Really just creating the infrastructure for those bases to remain competitive, and to be able to attract missions,” said Heinrich. 

It’s too early to know what kind of missions could be coming to New Mexico.

Heinrich suggests they could be space-focused, but says that work starts now.

“As long as we invest in that infrastructure, those missions will be attracted to those spaces,” said Heinrich.