Senators from four states have joined forces to form a caucus dedicated to advocating for U.S. national laboratories, including those overseen by the National Nuclear Security Administration.

Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), James Risch (R-Idaho.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) announced the creation

of a new Senate National Labs Caucus on May 25.

The Department of Energy operates a network of 17 National Laboratories that conduct research in an array of technology sectors from energy production to advanced computing, high-energy physics, nuclear security and non-proliferation, materials science, and biosecurity. The semi-independent National Nuclear Security Administration builds, maintains and studies the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile at several of DoE’s labs.

“The National Lab Network conducts cutting-edge research to advance and deploy technologies that are critical to maintaining sustainable economic growth in the U.S. and safeguarding our national security,” the lawmakers said in a statement announcing the new caucus. “The Senate National Labs Caucus will coordinate with its counterpart in the U.S. House of Representatives to identify bicameral legislative opportunities that elevate the labs’ visibility and meet national energy and security objectives.”  

The Senate National Labs Caucus will initially focus on organizing events and briefings to inform caucus members and their staff on the National Laboratories’ capacity to support national science and technology priorities and serve as an open forum to identify bipartisan initiatives to maintain and extend U.S. leadership in critical scientific sectors, the four senators said in a “dear colleague” letter inviting other lawmakers to join the new caucus. 

“As the U.S. navigates rapidly evolving energy markets and global defense landscape, the National Labs Caucus will ensure that a key component of our nation’s research capacity is focused on strategic, bipartisan priorities,” the caucus co-chairs said.

This story first appeared in Defense Daily affiliate publication Weapons Complex Morning Briefing.