Alexander Chairs Successful House-Senate Conference on First Three Appropriations Bills

Posted on September 10, 2018

“Boy Scouts shouldn’t get a merit badge for telling the truth, and senators shouldn’t get an award for passing an appropriations bill: that’s what we are supposed to do. But, it is worth noting that for the first time in nearly 10 years these appropriations bills are on time, and they are also within the budget. They will help to keep our country first in science, technology, supercomputing, and will build the ports and waterways that create jobs,”-- Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)

WASHINGTON, September 10, 2018 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander today released the following statement on the agreement reached by the House-Senate “Conference Committee,” which Alexander chaired, including work over the past several weeks to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the first three fiscal year 2019 appropriations bills:

“Boy Scouts shouldn’t get a merit badge for telling the truth, and senators shouldn’t get an award for passing an appropriations bill: that’s what we are supposed to do. But, it is worth noting that for the first time in nearly 10 years these appropriations bills are on time, and they are also within the budget. They will help to keep our country first in science, technology, supercomputing, and will build the ports and waterways that create jobs,” said Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Chairman of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee.

This first appropriations package includes the fiscal year 2019 Energy and Water Development, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Legislative Branch Appropriations bills. 

The Senate and House of Representatives could vote on the conference report as soon as this week, and then the legislation will go to the president’s desk so it can be signed into law.

Alexander, who chairs the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, said the Energy and Water Development portion of the bill funds Tennessee priorities including construction of Chickamauga Lock in Chattanooga, funding for Oak Ridge National Laboratory, including supercomputing, and the Y-12 National Security Complex.

“I’m glad we were able to continue the good work the Senate and House have done so far to restore regular order to the appropriations process and set priorities within the budget limits. These are important bills for Tennesseans—I worked hard to include up to $117.7 million in the Senate bill to continue construction of Chickamauga Lock in Chattanooga, to continue record funding for the agency that funds our 17 national laboratories -- including Oak Ridge National Laboratory—and to support weapons programs that are vital to our national security and the important work at Y-12.” 

Alexander helped manage Senate passage of this appropriations package, including his subcommittee’s Energy and Water Development appropriations bill.

The legislation includes the following priorities:

 

  • The bill restores significant cuts made in the president’s budget request by providing an additional $2.314 billion to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, bringing the Corps’ budget up to $6.999 billion –a record funding level in a regular appropriations bill.
  • For the fifth consecutive year, the bill makes full use of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund revenues for water infrastructure projects, including up to $117.7 million to continue construction of Chickamauga Lock in Chattanooga.
  • The legislation provides $2.125 million for dredging at Memphis Harbor McKellar Lake.
  • The bill provides funding that exceeds the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) spending target established by the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014.  This is the fifth consecutive year the bill has met or exceeded the HMTF spending targets. 
  • The U.S Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which supports basic science and energy research and is the nation’s largest supporter of research in the physical sciences, is funded at $6.585 billion, an increase of $325 million above last year, and also a new record funding level.
  • The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) is funded at $366 million, record funding in a regular appropriations bill and an increase of $12.7 million above enacted.  ARPA-E was created by the 2007 America COMPETES Act to invest in high-impact energy technologies, and the President’s budget request recommended termination of the program.
  • The bill provides $1.659 billion for high performance computing, including $935.5 million within the Office of Science and $723 million within the National Nuclear Security Administration.
    • This amount includes $676.7 million from the Office of Science and the NNSA to deliver at least one Exascale machine in 2021 to reassert U.S. leadership in this critical area.
    • It also includes $200 million for the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, an increase of $37.5 million above last year.
  • The bill continues to support advanced manufacturing, and includes $25 million for the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility to support the development of additive manufacturing processes, low-cost carbon fiber, and other advanced manufacturing technologies. 
  • The bill includes a total of $15.2 billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration, including $1.9 billion for the six life extension programs, which fix or replace components in weapons systems to make sure they're safe and reliable.
  • The Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex is funded at $703 million, which will continue to keep this project on time and on budget, with a completion year of 2025 at a cost no greater than $6.5 billion.
  • The legislation sends a strong signal about our support for developing new technologies that will support the next generation of nuclear power plants. The bill includes $112 million for Advanced Reactors and $100 million for Small Modular Reactors.
  • The bill also provides $47 million for research and development to support existing nuclear reactors, $27.6 million for the Center for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and $30 million for the Transformational Challenge Reactor.
  • The bill advances efforts to clean up hazardous materials at Cold War-era sites. The bill provides $7.2 billion to support cleanup efforts, which is $578 million above the president’s budget request.  Included in this amount is $646 million for cleanup at the East Tennessee Technology Park, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Y-12 National Security Complex.
  • The bill also continues to fund the regional commissions, which the administration proposed to eliminate, including $165 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission and $25 million for the Delta Regional Authority.

 

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