Regular readers know that we weren’t big fans of the Obama administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget request for core nuclear material security programs at the National Nuclear Security Administration. And given that Republicans on the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee made significant cuts to these programs in FY 2012, there was concern that an already ugly budget could get even uglier.
On April 17, the Subcommittee released the fiscal year 2013 Energy and Water and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. Excluding rescissions, the bill funds NNSA’s Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation account at $2.283 billion, an decrease of $12.8 million below last year’s final appropriated level and a decrease of $175.6 million below the requested level. The bill did not included detailed numbers for the various subaccounts within the Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation portfolio.
Nor were the detailed budget numbers revealed at the Subcommittee’s April 18 markup of the bill. In his opening statement at the markup, Chairman Rep. Rodney Freylinghuysen stated: “Funding for Nonproliferation, although below the request, actually increases for some core programs. $100 million is provided to support new uranium enrichment activities.” Likewise, Ranking Member Rep. Pete Visclosky said: “Let me first express my appreciation for the inclusion of additional funds for core Nonproliferation activities and the focus on American manufacturing.”
It’s encouraging that both the Chairman and Ranking Member are touting increases to core nonproliferation programs, which likely means the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) and the International Nuclear Materials Protection and Cooperation (INMPC) program (or activities therein). It’s also encouraging that the Subcommittee only provided $100 million out of the $150 request for USEC. And rumor on the street is that a portion of the overall cut to the Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation account reflects cuts to the Mixed Oxide Fuel program.
Despite these good early indicators, it remains to be seen if the increases to core programs touted by Reps. Freylinghuysen and Visclosky are relative to last year’s appropriation or this year’s requested level. An additional area that needs confirmation is that the Subcommittee didn’t makes cuts to radiological security activities, which have been cut the last two fiscal years.
We wont have definitive answers to these questions until the detailed budget numbers are released at the full Appropriations Committee markup of the bill likely sometime next week.