House appropriators move to reduce defense nonproliferation funding
House appropriators would reduce fiscal 2013 spending on defense nuclear nonproliferation efforts controlled by the National Nuclear Security Administration to below the spending request--whereas Senate appropriators, although they move money around between programs, would still appropriate the overall requested amount.
The House Appropriations marked up the spending bill (H.R. 5325) that includes Energy Department (of which the NNSA is an autonomous part) programs on April 25, while the Senate marked up its version (S. 2465) on April 26.
House appropriators, in the report accompanying their bill say their mark would fully fund core nonproliferation activities and reduce non-core programs, including fissile materials disposition funding line and the domestic uranium enrichment research development and demonstration program that's a part of the nonproliferation and international security funding line. In the latter case, House appropriators say they approve $100 million in spending, $50 million below the request. The reason they cite for the lower amount is cost growth associated with the mixed-oxide fuel production facility at the Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C.
If the NNSA "is unable to contain the escalating costs of the ongoing MOX project, funding for other priorities, such as the uranium enrichment project, will be severely limited," House appropriators warn.
Senate appropriators, meanwhile, say the NNSA shouldn't use any nonproliferation and verification research and development money to fund the domestic uranium enrichment research, development, and demonstration project under this account. "Rather, the committee recommends transfer authority to the Secretary of Energy of up to $150,000,000," the Senate report states.
International nuclear materials protection and cooperation, Senate appropriators add, should get $57 million more than requested for a total of $368 million--despite an apparent lack of NNSA confidence in a program known as Second Line of Defense. The program, which seeks to strengthen foreign government's ability to stop trafficking in radioactive materials is undergoing a "strategic pause." The Senate report states the program is effective, a statement echoed in the House report.