In the News
Posted on August 27, 2018
The Knoxville News Sentinel: Lamar Alexander, Marsha Blackburn tour ORNL, champion record funding
By Tyler Whetstone
August 27, 2018
OAK RIDGE – A trio of congressmen announced Monday their pleasure that the laboratories at Oak Ridge National Laboratory will be fully funded in the 2019 budget. For the fourth year in a row, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which contains ORNL’s budget, has been funded at a record level.
The nearly 16 percent increase brings the budget up to $6.65 billion.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. and Reps. Chuck Fleischmann and Marsha Blackburn were joined by State Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, for the announcement.
“That’s encouraging news, it ought to be encouraging, not just to our country, but for the people who live and work here,” Alexander said. “All of us are proud to represent a community that’s of such vital importance to our nation’s economic growth, to our national defense structure and our future and it’s our commitment to keep moving ahead with that.”
Blackburn, who is on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and who is running to fill a soon to be empty U.S. Senate seat, said the work done at ORNL and Y-12 is “vitally important” and said it’s Congress’ goal to make sure workers and researchers have the resources needed to compete on a worldwide scale.
Proposed decrease turns to increase
President Donald Trump proposed a decrease in Department of Energy funding in his budget, but Congress overruled him and funded the operations and then some.
“In the end, Congress makes the decision on how the money is spent,” Alexander said when asked about the president’s budget. “Whether it’s President Trump or President Obama, we haven’t always agreed with what they’ve recommended for Oak Ridge.”
Alexander said an area the president and he agree on is on supercomputing, which Trump included in his budget.
“Congressman Blackburn and I plan to continue to talk to him about making science technology (and) supercomputing a part of his America First agenda,” he said. “And if he continues to sign appropriations bills like the last two he’s signed we’ll continue having record funding for the Oak Ridge facilities.”
Both Alexander and Fleischmann, whose district includes Oak Ridge, said Y-12’s Uranium Processing Facility and mercury treatment plant are running on budget and running on time.
“I am pleased with the progress … but I’m going to keep my eye on it,” Alexander said
Blackburn comes in midst of senate campaign
Blackburn hasn’t joined Alexander and Fleischmann for visits to Oak Ridge for at least the last several times the two have visited and held media availability, but Blackburn wasn’t running for senate then and now she is.
She was asked about her race against former governor, Democrat Phil Bredesen. The two have agreed to a Sept. 25 debate at Cumberland University in Lebanon.
“We feel like the campaign is just going really, very well. Everyday we’re meeting Tennesseans from all across the state and they are stepping up and helping us,” she said. “The best thing I can say is we’re working every day to get our message out and earn the votes. We plan to do that and win on Nov. 6 and join Sen. Alexander in the Senate.”
She also said she hopes both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, along with senators, would come campaign for her in the state.