US Senate proposal rejects $748M budget cuts for Hanford

The U.S. Senate has rejected a proposal to cut millions in spending for a decommissioned nuclear site in Washington state proposed by President Donald Trump’s administration.

A Senate panel forwarded a measure that would provide $748 million more in annual spending than proposed in the administration’s budget for fiscal year 2021, which began at the start of this month, the Tri-City Herald reported.

The Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee proposes a budget of $2.6 billion for the nuclear reservation, where environmental cleanup is underway after the site produced plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program during World War II and the Cold War. The proposal would be $43 million more than current spending.

The subcommittee said approving the proposal could threaten high-risk cleanup operations near Richland, Washington.

Democratic state Sen. Patty Murray said this was the fourth year that the Trump administration’s budget request was woefully inadequate for Hanford cleanup.

She also said President Barack Obama’s administration proposed budget cuts, but the cuts were more modest. In 2017, his administration proposed a cut of a little more than $100 million.

“Regardless of the administration, I won’t stop fighting to ensure the federal government is honoring its moral and legal obligation to Hanford cleanup, and this year’s spending bill reflects the Senate’s bipartisan commitment to seeing this critical priority through,” Murray said.

The House Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee approved a Hanford spending bill in July that also rejected deep cuts proposed by the administration and is similar to the Senate proposal.

“As Congress begins negotiations on a possible omnibus spending bill for the remainder of the fiscal year we will be sharing our priorities with the (Washington congressional) delegation, but it’s really good to know that we have strong numbers to start with in both the House and Senate bills,” said David Reeploeg, Tri-City Development Council vice president for federal programs.

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