WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate approved a Defense Appropriations Bill on Friday with language favorable to keep Cannon Air Force Base intact until the Pentagon looks for a new mission for the base.
The a final defense budget bill now awaits House input.
The language introduced into the bill by U.S. Sens. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., prohibits the Pentagon from withdrawing any assets from Cannon until the Secretary of Defense certifies to Congress that he has sought a new mission for the base.
“This provision will, by law, keep the F-16s at Cannon and trigger a process wherein the Pentagon must steadfastly search for a new use for the base,” said Domenici, who as a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee will serve on the conference committee to reconcile differences in the Senate and House versions of the bill.
The Base Closure and Realignment Commission placed Cannon into enclave status in August. Along with the enclave status, the commission directed the Secretary of Defense to find a suitable new mission for Cannon by 2009 or close the base permanently.