The House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday approved about $425 million in funding above the president’s request for nuclear-weapons infrastructure in fiscal year 2022 — money that corresponding appropriations bills would not yet allow the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to spend.

The authorized funding came from an amendment to the committee’s 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) proposed by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), the ranking Republican on the committee. The amendment, easily adopted on a 41-17 vote, would boost allowable defense spending about $25 billion above President Biden’s request. As part of that, the NNSA overall would be authorized to spend more than $20 billion in fiscal year 2022, up from some $19.7 billion requested.

The NNSA is the part of the Department of Energy responsible for nuclear weapons maintenance and modernization.

Also during Wednesday’s marathon NDAA markup, which ran until 2:30 a.m. on Thursday, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) succeeded in amending the bill to prohibit the U.S. from deploying fewer than 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles but failed to amend the bill to add more than $50 million in requested funding to extend the life of the B83 megaton-class nuclear gravity bomb.

The full House and Senate had yet to schedule floor votes on their respective versions of the 2022 NDAA at deadline. In July, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved its own version of the 2022 NDAA, which also would authorize $25 billion more defense dollars than requested. Once approved by the full House and Senate, the two bills will have to be reconciled in a bicameral conference committee.

Rogers’ amendment in the House Armed Services Committee would, if signed into law, authorize the NNSA to spend an extra $76 million above the request on construction of the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and an extra $350 million about the request on infrastructure and operations: an account that pays for maintenance and repairs across the NNSA complex. 

Fourteen Democrats joined the House Armed Services Committee’s Republicans to approve the Rogers amendment.

The wrinkle in this bipartisan vote for more defense spending, at least for the NNSA, is that the full House and the Senate Appropriations Committee have already approved appropriations bills that do not include Rogers’ extra funding for NNSA infrastructure, including Y-12’s next-generation factory for producing nuclear-weapon secondary stages. 

The appropriations bills could be tweaked to accommodate the extra authorization in their own bipartisan conference committees, which are necessary to resolve the differences in the dueling spending proposals. At deadline, no appropriations conference had been scheduled because the full Senate had yet to approve any appropriations bills.

Meanwhile, as part of a package of noncontroversial bipartisan amendments, the House Armed Services Committee’s NDAA also mandates that the NNSA examine how it will deal with growing energy consumption needs created by supercomputers used to study the nuclear stockpile and examine how to “improve and more accurately represent project cost estimates.”

The amendments package also called on the Government Accountability Office “to issue recommendations on incentivizing disposition of radioactive sources,” and for the NNSA to write up a report detailing the benefit of competitively awarding management and operations contracts for its major nuclear-weapons sites.  

Other non-controversial amendments include the restoration of payments in lieu of taxes for the Savannah River Site in Aiken, S.C., something the Biden administration did not request for fiscal year 2022. The appropriations bills for fiscal 2022 also restored these payments, which are a way of compensating local municipalities near DoE host sites for having a large neighbor that can’t be taxed.

The House Armed Services Committee also weighed in, as part of a noncontroversial amendment, on what it expects to see in the Biden administration’s ongoing nuclear posture review. Nested within the larger national defense strategy expected to be published around January or so, the nuclear posture review could result in changes to deployed nuclear weapons that affect the ongoing 30-year modernization program that started in 2016.

According to the amendment, the Biden posture review should describe “the levels and composition of nuclear delivery systems required to implement national strategy” and “the nuclear weapons complex required to implement such strategy” plus “the active and inactive nuclear weapons stockpile required to implement such strategy, including with respect to the replacement and modification of nuclear weapons.”