by Kingston Reif
Last night the House and Senate filed the Conference report on an Omnibus appropriations bill that includes the remaining nine Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 appropriations bills that have yet to be enacted. House and Senate leaders are hoping for swift passage of the bill in order to avert a government shutdown, as the current Continuing Resolution expires at the end of December 16.
Excluding rescissions, the Energy and Water portion of the bill provides $11.07 billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), an increase of $548 million (or 5.2%) above the FY 2011 enacted level and a decrease of $713 million (or 6%) below the FY 2012 requested level.
As a result of the deal to raise the debt ceiling (also known as the Budget Control Act of 2011), Congress was required to find $4 billion in reductions in discretionary security spending (which includes NNSA, Defense, and Homeland Security, among others) from FY 2011 enacted levels. Given the current budget environment, it is noteworthy that NNSA received an increase over last year’s levels compared to many programs that suffered decreases.
For the Center’s previous analysis on the Energy and Water bill, see:
- Review of the Senate Appropriations Committee Version of the FY 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill
- Summary of the House Appropriations Committee Version of the FY 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill
Nuclear Material Security and Nonproliferation
Within NNSA, the conference agreement provides $2.303 billion for the Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation account, an increase of $30 million (or 1.3%) over the FY 2011 enacted level and a decrease of $216 million (or 8.6%) from the FY 2012 requested level.
Despite the overall decrease from the request to this account, the conference agreement followed the Senate’s lead in nearly fully funding NNSA’s essential nuclear and radiological material security and nonproliferation programs, demonstrating yet again the strong bipartisan support for these programs.
While the House had cut the budget for the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), the key program in the effort to secure and eliminate dangerous nuclear material worldwide at an accelerated rate, by $85 million below the administration’s FY 2012 request, the conference agreement provided all but $8 million of the request. Had the House cuts prevailed, planned efforts to remove the most vulnerable highly enriched uranium from sites around the globe by December 2013 would have been delayed.
The final appropriation of $500 million for GTRI is $8 million less than the requested level due to the withholding of funds for Belarus, which recently pulled out of its agreement with the U.S. to remove its remaining highly enriched uranium prior to the March 2012 Seoul Summit as originally agreed due to the imposition of U.S. sanctions.
The Conferees fully funded the FY 2012 request of $571.6 million for the International Nuclear Materials Protection and Cooperation (INMPC) account’s nuclear material security programs in Russia and the Second Line of Defense program to install radiation detectors and other equipment to detect the illicit trafficking of weapons of mass destruction at border crossings, airports, and seaports around the world. The House had cut the Second Line of Defense program by $75 million below the FY 2012 request.
For a detailed summary of the final FY 2012 funding levels for nuclear material security and nonproliferation, see our handy chart here.
The conference agreement begins to reign in excessive spending on NNSA’s nuclear weapons programs, while still providing more than enough funds to maintain a safe, secure, and reliable arsenal.
The bill provides $7.23 billion for NNSA’s weapons activities account, an increase of $338 million over the FY 2011 enacted level, but a reduction of $355 million below the FY 2012 requested level.
The conference agreement provides $223.6 million for the B61 Life Extension Program, as requested. However, of these funds, no more than $89 million shall be made available for the B6l Life Extension Program until NNSA submits to Congress the outcome of the Phase 6.2/2A design definition and cost study. According to the report language, “The conferees remain concerned about the NNSA’s ability to execute its planned scope for the B61 under an affordable life extension program that will meet the requirement to refurbish the first unit by 2017.”
The conference agreement reduces funding for NNSA’s Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) project in New Mexico designed to manufacture a larger number of plutonium pits for nuclear weapons. It provides $200 million for CMRR, a decrease of $100 million below the FY 2012 requested level. According to the report language, “No construction activities are funded for the CMRR•Nuclear Facility during fiscal year 2012.”
For a detailed summary of the final FY 2012 funding levels for weapons activities, see our handy chart here.