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Murray amendment to the FY2016 GOP Budget passed with bipartisan support 

(Washington, D.C.) Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Budget Committee, introduced an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget to allow for increased funding for the Department of Energy’s nuclear waste cleanup program, including the Hanford site in central Washington. The amendment would establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund for legislation to increase nuclear waste cleanup across the country. The amendment passed by voice vote with bipartisan support, including Republican Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) added as cosponsors.

The President’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Request provides a $5.8 billion national budget for Environmental Management priorities across the country which is $200 million more than the budget proposal last year. However, this request is still $43 million below what Congress approved in the FY15 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which unfortunately would cut funding at 9 of the 16 nuclear waste cleanup sites around the country – including a $93 million cut to Richland Operations. 

“Cleaning up the Hanford site is one of our state’s top environmental priorities, and I have been crystal clear with my expectation that the federal government meet its milestones at nuclear waste cleanup sites.” said Senator Patty Murray. “And the Administration – under both Democratic and Republican control – has consistently failed to meet this threshold.”

Hanford represents two of the sixteen nuclear waste cleanup sites across the country that depend on funding through the Office of Environmental Management to continue critical cleanup operations.

Senator Murray’s remarks as prepared and an overview of the amendment are below.

Overview of the amendment:

The Murray Amendment would establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund for legislation to increase funding to the Department of Energy for the cleanup of nuclear waste.

The Department of Energy, through the Office of Environmental Management (EM), is charged with meeting the federal government’s legacy responsibilities to conduct environmental cleanup at nuclear waste sites created by the Manhattan Project and Cold War programs.  This cleanup is a direct result of more than 50 years of nuclear weapons research, development, and production sponsored by the federal government.  EM is responsible for the cleanup of liquid radioactive waste, spent nuclear fuel and special nuclear material, transuranic and mixed/low-level waste, contaminated soil and water, and deactivating and decommissioning excess facilities. 

Despite legal obligations, binding milestones, and commitments to state governments and local communities, the EM budget consistently fails to meet the needs of nuclear waste cleanup sites. The federal government has a legal and moral obligation to continue to invest in nuclear waste cleanup, cleanup required as a direct result of past federal programs and priorities.  The Murray Amendment highlights the needs of all 16 nuclear waste sites, including the Office of River Protection and Richland Operations at Hanford, and encourages increased funding to the Department of Energy and EM program to further safe cleanup of these Manhattan Project and Cold War legacy sites.

Senator Murray’s remarks as prepared:

As a Senator from Washington state, one of my top priorities in the annual budget is providing funding for cleanup work at the Hanford site in Central Washington.

I have worked hard to ensure that the federal government meets its moral and legal obligation to clean up Hanford as well as similar sites throughout the country.

The Department of Energy has a responsibility to uphold the legacy responsibilities of the federal government – these sites are a result of more than 50 years of nuclear weapons research, development, and production from the Manhattan Project to World War II and beyond. 

I applaud the Administration for increasing the FY16 budget request for Environmental Management to $5.8 billion, which is $200 million more than last year’s budget request.

Unfortunately, this request is still $43 million below what Congress appropriated in the FY15 Omnibus Appropriations bill. 

And funding will be cut at nine of the sixteen nuclear waste cleanup sites across the nation.

I have been crystal clear with my expectation that the federal government meet its milestones at nuclear waste cleanup sites. 

And the Administration – under both Democratic and Republican control – has consistently failed to meet this threshold.

This is of great importance to me, as well as other Senators who sit on this Committee with me and also have nuclear waste cleanup sites in their backyard.

I am fighting for this funding so that Hanford and other cleanup sites’ critical work can continue with the resources they need to get the job done.

That is why I am introducing an amendment to establish a deficit-neutral  reserve fund for legislation to increase funding to the Department of Energy for nuclear waste cleanup.

This amendment allows for increased funding to the Office of Environmental Management to further promote cleanup of contaminated sites around the country.

I know this is an important issue for many of you here today—and I hope you will join me in supporting this amendment. 

Thank you.