News Releases

Murray Grills O.M.B. Director Daniels on Hanford Cleanup

Feb 05 2002

Says abandoning commitment to the Tri-Cities is 'wrong message to send'

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) At a Senate Budget Committee hearing this morning, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) grilled the White House budget director over the Administration's proposed $262 million cut to Hanford cleanup. Murray warned that the Administration is asking Americans to sacrifice for the War on Terrorism while abandoning communities like the Tri-Cities, whose sacrifice helped win World War II and the Cold War.

Mitch Daniels, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) appeared before Murray's committee to defend the Administration's budget plan, which was released to Congress yesterday.

In his testimony, Daniels explained the budget cuts to Hanford as a "reform of what has really been a poorly run program."

Initially, Daniels asserted, "in this budget we propose, first of all, more spending [for cleanup.]" But when Murray pointed out that Hanford would receive $262 million less than last year, Daniels changed his tune, saying "we'll work with you to find the right amount of money."

Finally, Daniels attacked Hanford's cleanup efforts arguing, "this is not about the amount of money we can pour into bad contracts." When Murray challenged his assertion that Hanford's cleanup contracts are ineffective, Daniels passed the buck to the Secretary of Energy, suggesting that Spencer Abraham should explain "his plan."

Murray noted the Administration's pattern of neglect with regards to nuclear waste cleanup, reminding Daniels of last year's efforts to slash Hanford funding by $400 million.

"Last year, when we heard rumors that the President's budget would cut Hanford funding, I called you," Murray recalled. "You assured me that Hanford would not be cut. But when the budget came out, Hanford funding was cut."

In response to the Administration's proposed Hanford cuts last year, Murray created and Co-Chairs the bipartisan Nuclear Cleanup Caucus to raise the profile of nuclear waste cleanup. Through these efforts and her work on the Energy and Water Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Murray was able to secure $1.8 billion for Hanford in the 2002 fiscal year, a $435 million increase over President Bush's original budget request.