Twenty-one lawmakers on Monday said President Obama cannot draw from a plutonium-conversion plant’s construction fund to keep the project on hold.
The Energy Department’s 2015 budget proposal calls for pausing work on the unfinished plant, which would convert bomb plutonium into mixed-oxide reactor fuel at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The MOX facility construction began after Washington and Moscow agreed to begin in 2018 to eliminate plutonium from their stockpiles.
Congress “explicitly” designated funds in fiscal 2014 for “construction” of the facility, the legislators said in a letter to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. Missive signers included South Carolina’s seven House representatives, as well as lawmakers from Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington state.
“The funds were not authorized or appropriated for cold-standby, and we request they be used only for construction as Congress intended,” the letter says. “The intent of Congress is being ignored and as a result we may see a usurpation of Congress’ power of the purse.”
The lawmakers added they had “never seen” how the Army Corps of Engineers determined that the MOX plant would cost $30 billion to build and maintain, and they pressed for disclosure of the calculations.
“Moreover, we request a study to analyze the cost associated with placing MOX into cold-standby, which is estimated to be between $700 and $900 million,” they wrote.
Meanwhile, construction of the MOX facility is proceeding, using current-year funds, the Augusta Chronicle reported on Monday.
“We continue building the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility under our [fiscal year] 2014 budget and direction,” Kelly Trice, president of Shaw Areva MOX Services, said in a statement to site workers.
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Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.
“My view is, first you get them to laugh, then you get them to listen," says Michelle Obama in a new profile in Variety. "So I’m always game for a good joke, and I’m not so formal in this role. There’s very little that we can’t do that people wouldn’t appreciate.” According to writer Ted Johnson, Mrs. Obama has leveraged the power of pop culture far beyond her predecessors. "Where are the people?" she asks. "Well, they’re not reading the op-ed pieces in the major newspapers. They’re not watching Sunday morning news talk shows. They’re doing what most people are doing: They are watching TV.”
The FBI and other US security agencies are currently investigating a series of computer breaches found within The New York Times and other news organizations. It is expected that the hacks were carried out by individuals working for Russian intelligence. It is believed that these cyber attacks are part of a "broader series of hacks that also have focused on Democratic Party organizations, the officials said."
In a 3-1 decision, the National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of Columbia University graduate students, granting them the legal right to unionize. The petition was brought by a number of teaching assistants enrolled in graduate school. This decision could pave the way for thousands of new union members, depending on if students at other schools nationwide wish to join unions. A number of universities spoke out in opposition to this possibility, saying injecting collective bargaining into graduate school could create a host of difficulties.
Following Texas Senator Ted Cruz's controversial decision not to endorse Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention, instead telling voters to "vote (their) conscience," a new poll out today shows that his approval ratings have sunk. The poll from Public Policy Polling shows that 39 percent of Texans approve of the job Cruz is doing, compared to 48 percent who don't approve. Additionally, despite winning the GOP primary in the state, the poll found that if the primary was held today, Trump would garner 52 percent of support to just 38 percent for Cruz.