The Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved Lisa Gordon-Hagerty to be the full-time administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).
President Donald Trump nominated Gordon-Hagerty, a current government consultant and former civil servant, on Dec. 19. If confirmed by the full Senate, she would be the first woman and the fifth person to lead the semiautonomous Department of Energy branch in its 18-year existence.
The Senate had not scheduled a vote on Gordon-Hagerty’s confirmation at deadline Tuesday for Weapons Complex Morning Briefing. An aide to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said by email Tuesday the Senate was debating immigration reform this week and that he had no timetable for Gordon-Hagerty’s confirmation vote.
The NNSA manages nuclear stockpile, nuclear nonproliferation, and naval reactors operations for the Department of Energy. Its proposed budget for the next fiscal year, $15 billion, would represent roughly half of DOE’s entire funding.
Last week, in a mostly cordial confirmation hearing, Gordon-Hagerty said ramping up production of plutonium pits — the fissile cores of nuclear weapons — would be her top priority if she is confirmed to lead the NNSA. The agency has not made a war-ready pit since 2011 and must scale production up to 80 pits a year by 2030 to meet the Pentagon’s needs under a nuclear modernization and maintenance program started in 2016 by the Barack Obama administration.
The NNSA was slated to make pits in yet-to-be-built facilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, but last year said it was considering relocating production to the Savannah River Site in Aiken, S.C. On Monday, Steve Erhart, acting NNSA administrator, said the agency would produce 30 pits a year at Los Alamos, but that the remaining 50 might be made somewhere else.