Contributed by anonymous:
Scooby, you may want to create a separate post for the budget info below. As an eternal optimist, I see the possibility of Miller pleading our case and bringing back $$$ to avoid further destruction of a 'significant treasure'.
Keep up the great work of running this site...
The Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee will delve into the nation's nuclear weapons complex in a hearing Wednesday.
The White House's 2009 budget request of $9 billion for the nuclear weapons complex and the national security component of the Energy Department takes up more than one-third of the total $25 billion budget request.
This year DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration announced a complex transformation that will significantly alter the size and location of the nation's nuclear weapons work. NNSA said the idea is to consolidate and shrink the size of the complex while also refocusing on the needs for the 21st century, including nonproliferation, terrorism and defense.
Part of this new vision for NNSA is a controversial new advanced nuclear warhead that DOE says will be easier to maintain, reliable and last longer. The department is asking for $10 million in 2009 to conduct further research on the "reliable replacement warhead" program after facing significant resistance to an $88 million request in 2008.
Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) has announced serious doubts about the new technology.
"There must be an authorization before this program continues," Dorgan said at last year's appropriation markup. "There are questions facing this country about what we expect to do in terms of nuclear weapons."
The subcommittee still funded the program at $66 million revealing ranking member Pete Domenici's (R-N.M.) support for the project.
But the House zeroed out the program and the advanced warhead ultimately was not funded in the 2008 omnibus appropriations bill.
Research on the reliable replacement warhead and other nuclear weapons work for NNSA takes place mainly at the national laboratories at Los Alamos and Sandia in New Mexico and Lawrence Livermore near Berkley, Calif.
The directors of each of these labs are scheduled to appear at the hearing, likely to testify about the quality of funding and their new work under the complex transformation -- which includes new infrastructure but also layoffs of 20 to 30 percent of the workforce over the next decade.
Congress has been critical of the lack of funding for the national laboratories and has appropriated money above the White House's request for the past several years. Dorgan has vowed to sustain appropriate funding for the labs which he described as a "significant treasure" for the country.
Domenici is sure to inquire about the $14 million cut to the Los Alamos laboratory 2009 budget request, although the Sandia site received a $25 million boost. The Lawrence Livermore laboratory was also decreased by $63 million in the 2009 request.
Schedule: The hearing is Wednesday, April 16, at 2 p.m. in 138 Dirksen.
Witnesses: Tom D'Agostino, administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration; George Miller, director, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Mike Anastasio, director, Los Alamos National Laboratory; and Tom Hunter, director, Sandia National Laboratory.
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