DOE Funding Bill Passes Senate Appropriations Committee, Senate

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Publication date: 
2 August 1995
Number: 
110

Floor

Yesterday, the Senate passed H.R. 1905, the Energy and Water
Development Appropriations bill for fiscal year 1996.  The bill,
which makes appropriations for the Department of Energy, made its
way through the Senate appropriations process quickly.  The Senate
Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee held its
mark-up of H.R. 1905 on July 25, the full Appropriations Committee
marked up the bill two days later, and floor consideration was
begun on July 31 and completed yesterday. 

Early reports indicate that several amendments to the bill were
approved on the Senate floor, altering it from the version passed
by the Senate Appropriations Committee.  In particular, DOE would
be allowed to allocate funds (of up to $56 million) for continued
operation of the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR) at Princeton,
while funding (of $12.5 million) for the gas turbine modular helium
reactor would be eliminated.  It is not clear whether TFTR
operations would be funded from new money provided to DOE or by a
reallocation of funds from other DOE programs.

Few details of the Senate-passed bill are available yet.  Below and
in subsequent FYIs, information is provided from the Senate
Appropriations Committee's version of the bill, and its
accompanying report, S. Report 104-120.  The Committee report
proposed to reduce funding for several DOE science programs,
including high energy physics and fusion, below the House's
recommendation (see FYIs #84, 85 and 100 for the House's actions.)
However, keep in mind that changes may have been made on the Senate
floor, and further details will be provided, if necessary, as
available. 

FUSION ENERGY:  The Senate Appropriations Committee had recommended
$225.1 million for the fusion program.  [House recommendation:
$229.1 million; Request: $366.1 million; FY95 funding: $372.6
million.]  It is not known whether the fusion total was increased
by the action on the Senate floor, or whether funds were simply
shifted.  The Committee report provides the following text:

"Consistent with the direction provided in the conference
report...for fiscal year 1995 (H. Rept. 103-672), the President's
Advisory Council on Science and Technology [PCAST] initiated a
review and evaluation of the fusion energy program.  In that
review...the PCAST panel recommended a stable level of funding of
approximately $320,000,000 per year.  A program funded at that
level would provide for a core research program, operation of the
Tokamak fusion test reactor [TFTR], and continued participation in
the ITER project.  While the Committee appreciates the efforts of
the PCAST panel, the resources to fund such a program are not
available....  The Committee provides funding to support a domestic
core physics research and development program [including continued
operation of the DIII-D and the Alcator C-Mod] following the
recommendation of the PCAST panel, and to continue the U.S.
participation in the engineering design activities phase of the
international thermonuclear experimental reactor [ITER] project, to
which the United States is committed through fiscal year 1998.

"The Committee has been advised that the administration will
develop a strategy for restructuring the fusion program at a
reduced level of funding using the PCAST panel report as the
framework....  [I]t is crucial that a restructuring of the fusion
program not undermine our credibility as a reliable international
partner."

ATOMIC ENERGY DEFENSE ACTIVITIES:  DOE supports some inertial
confinement fusion (ICF) research within its defense programs.  The
Committee makes the following recommendations for ICF, as well as
the National Ignition Facility.  "An appropriation of $240,667,000
is recommended for the Inertial Confinement Fusion
Program...[which] continues to be a major contributor to the
science and technology base supporting the nuclear deterrent..."
The report provides the full budget requests for the Nike laser at
the Naval Research Laboratory, and the Omega laser at the
University of Rochester. 

Regarding the National Ignition Facility, the report states, "The
Committee has restored funding for the national ignition facility
[NIF] deferred by the House Committee.  The NIF is a key facility
in maintaining the nuclear weapons science expertise required for
the stockpile stewardship program and supporting the weapons
effects testing.  An appropriation of $37,400,000 is recommended
for the NIF project, which is the same as the budget request."

BASIC ENERGY SCIENCES:  The Appropriations Committee recommended
$791.7  million for the BES program, equal to the House
recommendation.  [Request: $811.4 million; FY95 funding: $747.3
million.]  Within BES, funding is provided for Materials Sciences,
including design work on a spallation neutron source.  The report
says, "The Committee supports an appropriation for $8,000,000
[equal to the request] for research and development and conceptual
design activities for a new spallation neutron source."  DOE has
indicated that Oak Ridge National Laboratory would be the preferred
location for the new facility.  While the Committee Report
requested a competitive site selection process, this requirement
was apparently removed on the Senate floor.

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