Late last week the House of Representatives started its consideration of the FY 2013 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill. It is expected that the final vote on passage will occur later this week.
The Office of Management and Budget released a three-page Statement of Administration Policy last week that both criticizes and praises provisions of H.R. 5325. Selections from this statement follow regarding the bill’s overall funding level, the Office of Science, the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration, and Yucca Mountain.
The House of Representatives voted earlier this year to reduce total spending below that in the budget deal that was reached last year that was the basis of the Budget Control Act. The Senate and Administration have opposed this action, and the impasse will likely prevent the final passage of any of the twelve appropriations bills until after this November’s election.
In commenting on this, OMB stated:
“Last summer, the Congress and the President came to a bipartisan agreement to put the Nation on a sustainable fiscal course in enacting the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). The BCA created a framework for more than $2 trillion in deficit reduction and provided tight spending caps that would bring discretionary spending to a minimum level needed to preserve critical national priorities. . . .”
“Taking this into account, passing H.R. 5325 at its current funding level would mean that when the Congress constructs other appropriations bills, it would necessitate significant and harmful cuts to critical national priorities such as education, research and development, job training, and health care. Furthermore, this bill undermines key investments in clean energy and scientific research and development, building blocks of our Nation's future economy. Investing in these areas is critical to the Nation's economic growth, security, and global competitiveness.”
Office of Science:
The Administration requested a 2.4 percent increase in the FY 2013 budget for the Office of Science. Senate appropriators approved a 0.7 percent increase. The House bill would reduce funding by 1.5 percent. Regarding the House bill, OMB commented:
“The Administration strongly opposes the level of funding in the bill for the Office of Science, which is $191 million below the FY 2013 Budget request and $73 million below the FY 2012 enacted level. The funding provided would hinder important research underpinning U.S. innovation in clean energy technologies and applications. The Office of Science also funds basic research across a broad spectrum of physical, biological, and environmental sciences. Reductions in support for these areas may lead to a loss of U.S. leadership in many areas of science.”
Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy:
ARPA-E’s current budget is $275.0 million. The Administration requested an increase to $350.0 million for FY 2013. The Senate bill provides $312 million. The House bill reduced the agency’s budget to $200 million. Commenting on this reduction, OMB stated:
“The Administration strongly opposes the reduction in funding for ARPA–E. The bill provides $200 million for the program, which is $150 million below the FY 2013 Budget request and $75 million below the FY 2012 enacted level. ARPA–E funds early stage, transformative energy technology research that industry, by itself, is unlikely to support. Investments in ARPA–E are aimed at ensuring that the Nation remains at the forefront of new energy technology development to ensure the United States remains a lead competitor in this area.”
National Nuclear Security Administration:
The OMB statement takes a different approach regarding the NNSA. The Administration requested a 4.9 percent increase. The Senate bill provides a 4.6 percent increase; the House bill a 2.5 percent increase. OMB writes:
“The Administration greatly appreciates the Committee's support for Presidential initiatives to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons and to maintain a robust deterrent. This support will help continue efforts to secure nuclear materials in four years, maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear stockpile through stockpile stewardship and life extensions, recapitalize the aging infrastructure of the nuclear enterprise, and develop a reactor for the Ohio Class replacement submarine.”
“The Administration strongly opposes problematic policy and language riders including, but not limited to, the following provisions in this bill,” the OMB explains, including: “Yucca Mountain. Section 508 of the bill would prohibit using funds made available by the bill for any actions related to the Administration's plan for Yucca Mountain, such as closing the application process.”
The Senate and House bills took different approaches to the handling of domestic nuclear waste.
The Statement of Administration Policy also comments on the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Energy Information Administration, the Army Corps of Engineers, a Bureau of Reclamation project, the DOE Weatherization Assistance Program, fossil-fuel generated energy consumption reduction, and the Clean Water Act.
The statement concludes: “The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress as the FY 2013 appropriations process moves forward.” However, at the outset, the statement explains:
“The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 5325, making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year (FY) ending September 30, 2013, and for other purposes. . . .
“If the President were presented with H.R. 5325, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”