Senate Appropriators Approve FY 2016 NNSA Funding Bill

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Publication date: 
28 May 2015
Number: 
72

Last Thursday the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill providing funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration.  Passed by a vote of 26-4, the $35.4 billion bill now moves to the Senate floor.  The House of Representatives passed its version of this bill on May 1. 

Total available FY 2016 funding for defense and nondefense programs across the federal government is essentially even with this year.  The House and Senate bills are up $1.2 billion over this year.

The Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee is chaired by Lamar Alexander (R-TN); Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is the Ranking Member.  Commenting on this bill, Alexander stated: “Governing is about setting priorities, and this legislation does just that by complying with the spending caps in the Budget Control Act while supporting energy, waterways and national security. The Appropriations Committee’s vote puts us one step closer to doubling basic energy research, strengthening and rebuilding our waterways and ports, removing major obstacles to the use of nuclear power, maintaining our nuclear weapons stockpile and cleaning up hazardous materials left over at Cold War facilities. This legislation is also proof that we are getting the Senate working again -- I thank Senator Feinstein for her cooperation on this legislation, and look forward to its consideration on the Senate floor.”

Senate Report 114-54 accompanying this bill, H.R. 2028, provides the appropriators’ funding and policy recommendations for programs within the National Nuclear Security Administration starting on page 96, with a funding table on pages 148-149.   Funding levels and excerpts from this report follow:

Total National Nuclear Security Administration:

The FY 2015 appropriation was $11,399.0 million
The FY 2016 request is $12,565.4 million, an increase of $1,166.4 million or 10.2 percent
The House bill provides $12,329.0 million, an increase of $930.0 million or 8.2 percent
The Senate bill provides $12,263.3 million, an increase of $864.3 million or 7.6 percent

Report language explained: “The Committee remains concerned about NNSA’s ability to concurrently execute multiple, highly complex life extension programs and construction projects, but is encouraged by the improved level of cooperation between NNSA and its primary customer, the Department of Defense.”

The report also discussed the Integrated University Program and cost estimating, about which the appropriators stated: “The Committee is concerned with the continued poor cost estimating by the Department, particularly within the NNSA. Despite this problem having been the subject of many reviews and studies over the past decade, the lack of progress shows that the Department does not understand the root causes, and has not implemented appropriate corrective actions.”

Within NNSA are the following selected programs:

Weapons Activities:

The FY 2015 appropriation was $8,180.4 million
The FY 2016 request is $8,847.0 million, an increase of $666.6 million or 8.2 percent
The House bill provides $8,713.0 million, an increase of $532.6 million or 6.5 percent
The Senate bill provides $8,882.4 million, an increase of $702.0 million or 8.6 percent

The report explains that the committee’s recommendation “fully funds all life extension programs and major alterations in the budget request, consistent with the plan of record approved by the Nuclear Weapons Council. NNSA needs to ensure that Life Extension Programs are completed on time and on budget to prevent impact on other high priorities, such as modernizing aging infrastructure, critical nonproliferation activities to combat nuclear terrorism, and naval nuclear propulsion.”

Regarding the National Ignition Facility: “The Committee supports ongoing efforts at NIF to operate more efficiently and expand the base of academic users in order to help attract top talent to stockpile stewardship. The Committee supports NNSA efforts to better coordinate diagnostic development efforts across national labs and universities for use at the major inertial confinement fusion facilities to make sure that critical diagnostics are available when needed”.

 

Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation:

The FY 2015 appropriation was $1,615.3 million
The FY 2016 request is $1,940.3 million, an increase of $325.0 million or 20.1 percent
The House bill provides $1,907.6 million, an increase of $292.3 million or 18.1 percent
The Senate bill provides $1,705.9 million, an increase of $90.6 million or 5.6 percent

Under the section entitled “Global Material Security” the report states: “To ensure vital core capabilities in this area are maintained, it is imperative that the U.S. Government retain requisite expertise in uranium science and engineering, with appropriate infrastructure (laboratories, small-scale processing capability, and equipment), and resources to support nonproliferation and counter-proliferation efforts.”

Regarding Moly-99: “The Committee remains concerned about the development of domestic supplies of the medical isotope Moly–99 on a schedule necessary to assure the public health and meet the expectations set forth in the Committee’s fiscal year 2015 report. Further, NNSA’s efforts to develop a domestic source of Moly-99 from other than high-enriched uranium should include, but not be limited to, low-enriched uranium and natural molybdenum. The Committee directs NNSA to submit a report to the Appropriations Committees by January 31, 2016 on ways it plans to assure the deployment of two or more domestic sources of Moly–99 into commercial distribution by January 1, 2019 or sooner.”

 

Naval Reactors:

The FY 2015 appropriation was $1,233.8 million
The FY 2016 request is $1,375.5 million, an increase of $141.7 million or 11.5 percent
The House bill provides $1,320.4 million, an increase of $86.6 million or 7.0 percent
The Senate bill provides $1,300.0 million, an increase of $66.2 million or 5.4 percent