The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved a fiscal 2012 spending package that would trim the White House's funding request for the National Nuclear Security Administration's weapons operations.
The fiscal 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations bill would grant the nuclear agency, a semiautonomous branch of the Energy Department, roughly $10.6 billion to carry out duties including maintaining the country's atomic stockpile and conducting nonproliferation operations around the world.
The Obama administration in February requested $7.6 billion for NNSA "weapons activities," which ensure the safety and reliability of the nation's stockpile, for the budget cycle that starts on Oct. 1. That figure marked a 10 percent boost from enacted levels for the present fiscal year.
The Senate panel approved spending $7.19 billion over the next year on that work, up 4 percent from the present budget cycle. The full House of Representatives in July approved $7.09 billion, a 3 percent increase.
The spending blueprint also provides about $2.4 billion for the agency's nonproliferation accounts, down from the $2.5 billion initially requested by the Obama administration for programs such as the Global Threat Reduction Initiative. That program aims to reduce and remove "high-priority" vulnerable nuclear material, such as highly enriched uranium, from overseas sites. It also converts HEU-fueled research reactors to use proliferation-resistant low-enriched uranium fuel.
House appropriators this summer approved a plan that would see nonproliferation activities receive slightly more than $2 billion.
The Senate measure in total provides roughly $31.6 billion in funding for the Energy Department, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Reclamation Bureau, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as multiple regional water and power authorities.
The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration. Ultimately, both Energy and Water appropriations bills must be reconciled in a conference committee before going to President Obama for his signature or veto.