Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who this year secured full construction funding for a crucial defense-uranium plant in his home state, on Monday announced he will leave the Senate after 2020.

Alexander chairs the crucial Senate Appropriations energy and water subcommittee, in which capacity he is the gatekeeper for upper chamber funding of the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration: the civilian agency that maintains U.S. nuclear warheads, helps procure nuclear reactors for naval surface and submarine vessels, and processes uranium for use in weapons and warships.

Should Republicans retain control of the Senate after the 2020 elections, and be in a position to back-fill Alexander’s spot with one of their own, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and John Kennedy (R-La.) are tied for seniority on the full Appropriations Committee, among members who do not already chair one of the panel’s 12 subcommittees. Of the pair, only Kennedy serves on the energy and water subcommittee now.

In DoE’s 2019 spending bill, Congress provided the roughly $700 million the Trump administration sought for the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) being built at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

After multiple trips to the drawing board, and amid a federal lawsuit by anti-nuclear groups, the National Nuclear Security Administration shouldered UPF into its construction phase in late March.

Alexander, not among the Senate’s loudest voices on nuclear weapons, followed up the agency’s move by delivering every penny the White House sought for UPF — effectively freezing out maneuvers by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to secure more money for a competing nuclear-security construction project, the now-canceled Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility in South Carolina.

UPF is a must-build component of the roughly $1 trillion nuclear modernization and maintenance plan the Obama administration laid out in 2016, and which the Donald Trump administration bolstered in February with its 2018 Nuclear Posture Review.