The House Appropriations energy and water development subcommittee would deliver an emphatic “no” to the Trump administration’s 2020 budget request for the National Nuclear Security Administration, if a $15.9 billion nuclear-weapons budget unveiled Tuesday becomes law.
The proposed National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) budget would if signed give the semi-autonomous DoE branch around $15.9 billion for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1: a year-over-year funding increase of about 4.5% that would be some 3.5% less than the White House’s request of $16.5 billion.
That makes for a roughly $600 million gap between what the House panel chaired by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and the Trump administration think NNSA should get for 2020.
At the same time, the subcommittee Kaptur leads has proposed giving DoE’s Environmental Management office, which cleans up former nuclear-weapon sites, around $700 million more than the Trump administration sought for 2020.
Bill language and a press release from Kaptur did not explain exactly which programs would not get the funding the White House requested. However, DoE’s lead House appropriator spent several hearings in April fretting over the roughly 12% increase the Trump administration sought for NNSA Weapons Activities, even as it proposed cuts for other DoE programs, and for the NNSA’s Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation budget.
NNSA’s Weapons Activities office would get about $11.75 billion under Kaptur’s budget, up 6% from 2019 but some 5% less than the White House requested. Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation would get about $2 billion in 2020, up about 7% from 2019 and 4% more than requested.
NNSA Naval Reactors would receive about what the White House sought: $1.6 billion. That is down some 9% compared with 2019 as the agency finishes development of the nuclear reactor to power future Columbia-class submarines.
The House Appropriations energy and water development subcommittee is set to vote on the proposed energy and water development appropriations act in a meeting Wednesday at 12:00 p.m. Eastern time. Kaptur or other subcommittee members could divulge further details of their proposed NNSA budget then. The subcommittee planned to webcast the markup.
In Tuesday’s press release, Kaptur mentioned only one NNSA program by name: the Surplus Plutonium Disposition project the agency has proposed to replace the canceled Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility as a means of disposing of 34 metric tons of surplus weapon-usable plutonium at the Savannah River Site in Aiken, S.C. The press release did not say how much money the Surplus Plutonium Disposition project would receive in 2020; the White House sought about $80 million
The subcommittee will not release the line-by-line details of its proposed NNSA budget until a day before the full Appropriations Committee marks up the year’s annual energy and water budget bill. The full Committee had not scheduled its markup at deadline for Defense Daily.