Alexander Votes to Fund Key National Priorities Within Bipartisan Budget Act Spending Limits

Says legislation includes new funding for Chickamauga Lock; Oak Ridge; Ft. Campbell; the Nashville federal courthouse; and Mississippi River dredging

Posted on December 18, 2015

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2015 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today voted for the fiscal year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill, saying it funds many important national priorities and complies with spending limits required by the Bipartisan Budget Act.

“For those concerned about the federal debt, which includes me, this is not the part of the budget driving the federal debt. This one-third of the budget is rising at about the rate of inflation. It’s the other roughly two-thirds—mandatory entitlement spending—that’s sky-rocketing out of control. Sen. Corker and I have proposed legislation that would reduce the growth of mandatory entitlement spending.”

“This appropriations bill includes new funding for several national priorities in Tennessee: rebuilding the Chickamauga Lock; $430 million for the $6.5 billion Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex; research and development at Oak Ridge National Laboratory; infrastructure at Ft. Campbell; construction of a new federal courthouse in Nashville which is the federal judiciary’s No.1 national courthouse construction priority; as well as increased funding for dredging the Mississippi River in Memphis.

“For the first time in six years, the Republican Senate majority moved all 12 appropriations bills to the Senate floor – all within the spending limits set by the Budget Control Act and the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015– after careful consideration by the subcommittees and the full appropriations committee. Unfortunately, the Democratic leaders blocked bringing 10 of those bills to the Senate floor, which effectively left 70 other senators out of the deliberation process. This should never happen again,” Alexander said.

The 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill includes all 12 appropriations bills, including the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill, which Alexander drafted.

The bill includes funding for the following national spending priorities in Tennessee:

  • Sufficient funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue construction of Chickamauga Lock in fiscal year 2016. Based on current estimates for the first three Inland Waterways Trust Fund priorities, there should be up to $29 million available to continue construction on Chickamauga Lock, which is the fourth priority in the list of projects Congress agreed upon. This builds on the $3 million used to restart construction on Chickamauga Lock last year.
  • An additional $430 million for the $6.5 billion Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex, which will continue to keep this project on time and on budget.
  • $2.1 million to operate and maintain the Memphis Harbor, McKellar Lake project through the Mississippi River and Tributaries funding.    
  • $2.8 million of construction funding in the Mississippi River and Tributaries construction funding to continue building flood control levees in West Tennessee along the Mississippi River.
  • $1.24 billion for advanced computing, including both the Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration.  The Office of Science’s Advanced Scientific Computing Research Program, which supports the new Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is funded at $621 million. “Once again, the world’s fastest supercomputer will be at Oak Ridge National Laboratory,” Alexander said.
  • Funding for nuclear infrastructure at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, including hot cells and isotope production facilities. Many of the isotopes produced at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are not available anywhere else, and are necessary to support medical treatments, oil and gas exploration, and deep-space satellites, among other priorities.
  • Funding for a new mercury treatment facility in Oak Ridge, and for cleanup of nuclear facilities that are no longer in service.
  • $12.553 million is included in the bill to construct the U.S. Special Operations Forces Company Headquarters and new classrooms at Ft. Campbell.
  • $188.4 million to fund the construction of the new federal courthouse in Nashville. The Nashville federal courthouse has been on the Administrative Office of the Courts’ Five-Year Plan for 18 years and ranks No. 1 on the federal judiciary’s nationwide priority list.
  • $70 million to operate and maintain the following navigation projects: Wolf River Harbor, the Tennessee River, and the seven locks and dams located in Tennessee.

Today, the Senate passed the fiscal year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill by a vote of 65 to 33. The House passed the bill by a vote of 316 to 113.

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