At the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) mark-up of H.R. 4310 on May 9, Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Michale Turner (R-OH) offered an amendment authorizing the Pentagon (by way of the Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee) to take over construction of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF) in New Mexico and the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) in Tennessee. The facilities are currently funded by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) under the jurisdiction of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee. The amendment was approved 36-25.
Not surprisingly, Congressional appropriators weren’t impressed with this gambit.
At the Senate Appropriations Committee’s May 22 mark-up of the FY 2013 Military Construction and Homeland Security appropriations bills, Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) submitted a letter for the record he co-authored with Subcommittee Chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) opposing HASC’s proposal to move construction of the UPF and CMRR out of NNSA and into the MILCON account. The letter was addressed to the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is expected to complete its version of the defense bill today.
Sen. Alexander noted that the Army Corp Engineers has no experience in the construction of one of a kind nuclear facilities. He added that the construction of the UPF and CMRR within MILCON would compete with the other priorities in this account (i.e. hangers, base housing, etc.). He ended by noting that both he and Sen. Feinstein are committed to aggressive oversight of NNSA, are concerned by the huge cost growth of the facilities, and plan to use DoD and GAO to assist them in their oversight.
You can listen to Sen. Alexander’s remarks here. They begin at the 15:20 mark.