The House Armed Services Committee approved more scrutiny of a planned nuclear-weapon-core factory on Wednesday, but otherwise appeared set at deadline to authorize the large funding increase requested by the Department of Energy for civilian nuclear weapons programs.

The directive is part of an amendment to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act proposed by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), chair of the Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee. The measure, approved 31-25, would require the Department of Energy to conduct an independent cost estimate of the planned Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility (SRPPF).

When the estimate is done, the Secretary of Energy — who may not delegate the task — would have to either certify that she or he is 90% confident in the estimate, or come up with a new plan for building the planned pit factory. DoE’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) will build the facility.

The amendment, which reserves the job of certifying DoE’s confidence in the proposed SRPPF cost estimate to the secretary of energy alone, follows an internal DoE budget debate in which NNSA Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty’s request that the White House seek roughly $20 billion for the weapons agency prevailed over Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette’s preference to seek around $17.5 billion for NNSA.

NNSA plans to build SRPPF by converting a canceled plutonium recycling plant at the Savannah River Site in Aiken, S.C., for a new nuclear weapons mission — making the cores of warheads for the next generation of silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Cooper’s amendment might not have legs.

The House Armed Services Committee fought hard last year to slow down some of the procurement needed for the U.S. nuclear modernization regimen that began in 2016, and their efforts went for naught in a conference with the GOP-controlled Senate. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the House Armed Services chair, said Wednesday from the dais that he won’t fight that fight again — at least not this year.

That much was evident from the decision, announced last week before the markup, that the House Armed Services Committee would authorize the NNSA’s requested budget. The Senate Armed Services Committee authorized the same level of NNSA spending in June, and the full Senate was debating the upper chamber’s version of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act at deadline for Defense Daily.

Both bills include the roughly $440 million requested for SRPPF in 2021, up from some $410 million this year. It would also authorize more than $835 million for pits at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where the NNSA is upgrading the existing PF-4 Plutonium Facility to be the companion pit factory to SRPPF. That would be nearly $530 million more than the 2020 appropriation.

The NNSA wants both SRPPF in South Carolina and the upgraded PF-4 to combine for 80 pits annually by 2030. Los Alamos would start up first, casting 10 pits in 2024, then ramping up to 30 pits annually by 2026. SRPPF would start casting pits in 2030, at 50 a year. The NNSA says each plant could make 80 a year alone by 2030, under current projects, but studies funded by the agency have raised alarms about whether that is really possible on such a short timeline.

Both plants will initially make pits for W87-1 warheads, the planned tips of the silo-based Ground Based Strategic Deterrent missiles that the Air Force wants, by 2030 or so, to replace the existing Minuteman III fleet on a one-for-one basis. NNSA has said the first Ground Based Strategic Deterrent missiles might use existing warheads from Minuteman III missiles.

If the House committee’s authorization becomes law, and congressional appropriations committees actually provide the funding, the NNSA would get more than a 20% increase year-over-year, compared with the $16.7 appropriation for fiscal year 2020.

Media have reported that the full House Appropriations Committee planned to mark up an Energy and Water spending bill with the NNSA’s budget on July 10. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), chair of the Appropriations energy and water subcommittee in charge of writing that bill, has said she will not fund the NNSA’s request.