The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News
FYI Number 62: June 14, 2007 (Excerpts)
The language in yesterday's Statement of Administration Policy issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regarding H.R. 2641, the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill could not be clearer: "if H.R. 2641 were presented to the President, he would veto the bill."
Congress and the Bush Administration are headed toward a fiscal train wreck because of a fundamental disagreement about the level of discretionary spending in the upcoming fiscal year. While there was a fair amount of grumbling and some creative bookkeeping in previous years, the Republican leadership was able to keep total spending within the parameter set by President Bush. As fully expected, the new House and Senate Democratic leaders disagree with the Administration about the level of FY 2008 discretionary spending. (This spending is in contrast to mandatory spending for entitlement programs and interest on the national debt.)
"NATIONAL NUCLEAR SECURITY ADMINISTRATION (NNSA): The Administration appreciates the Committee’s support for the important work of NNSA. Of particular note is the Committee’s support for the vital work of the Administration’s priority non-proliferation programs.
"The Administration notes the Committee’s continued interest in the effort to eliminate 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium through the creation of mixed oxide fuel. However, the reduction of $284 million would result in the termination of construction and procurement activities for the MOX facility and in lay-offs of approximately 500 contractor employees. In addition, the Administration disagrees with the Committee’s decision to change the structure of the fissile materials disposition program, which involves interdependent facilities that should be managed in one program.
"The Administration understands the need to work with the Committee on a plan for transforming the nuclear weapons stockpile and complex that is aimed at assuring bipartisan support. However, the Administration strongly opposes the Committee’s decision to eliminate funding for the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW). Congress has consistently supported this vital effort to modernize the nuclear weapons stockpile. Failure to continue the program will contribute to increasing concern about weapon performance/reliability and may in turn require the maintenance of a larger size stockpile than was contemplated with RRWs.
"The Administration strongly opposes the reduction for Weapons Activities of approximately $600 million from the President’s request. At the lower funding level, activities and programs critical to transform the nuclear weapons complex and allow it to become more cost-effective and responsive to rapidly changing requirements will be severely curtailed."
The House may consider H.R. 2641 as early as today or tomorrow. While passage is expected in the House, the final bill's parameters will not be settled until a way can be found to bridge the $22 billion gap between the White House and the Democratic congressional leadership on total spending for FY 2008.
Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics