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(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) helped secure a $32 million increase over the President’s budget request for Hanford clean-up.  The funding is included in Congress’ end-of-year Omnibus budget bill, which is expected to clear the House on Monday and pass the Senate later this week.

Due to President Bush’s threatened veto of America’s domestic spending priorities, Congress combined several appropriations bills into one large “Omnibus bill.”  The Omnibus package contains critical funding for national needs, including transportation, homeland security, education, and energy and water – the bill that covers most of Hanford’s budget.

As a result of the battle with the President over the budget, spending for Hanford in the Omnibus is significantly lower than the $70 million originally included in the House and Senate funding bills.  However, Murray said she was pleased that Congress was able to include any increase, since President Bush’s own budget proposal was too low even to maintain the milestones for clean-up required by the Tri-Party Agreement.

“Cleaning up Hanford is a national obligation, given the Tri-Cities’ role in helping America win World War II and the Cold War, and I have consistently fought to ensure Hanford gets the money it needs to continue its work,” Murray said.  “Unfortunately, keeping this commitment to the people of the Tri-Cities – and the nation – doesn’t seem to be a priority for the Bush Administration.  I’m pleased that we were able to ensure the Omnibus bill includes enough money to keep these vital clean-up projects on track.”

Murray said the Omnibus budget includes almost $684 million for the vitrification plant, or WTP, which is crucial to Hanford’s clean-up.  The amount is $6 million lower than the $690 Murray wanted for the program because of an across-the-board cut required to meet the President’s budget demands.  

Murray said she was pleased that the bill includes almost $50 million in DOE funds for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Capability Replacement Laboratory project, plus another $15 million from the Department of Homeland Security.  The almost $65 million total is needed to keep the project on schedule and in compliance with a signed agreement among two DOE offices and DHS.  The Administration requested just $35 million in its budget proposal.    

In addition, the bill reverses the Administration’s decision to remove the “use permit” provision from the upcoming management contract competition for PNNL.  The arrangement, which has existed since PNNL opened in 1965, allows the contractor to use the lab for private work in addition to its government responsibilities.  Murray and other members of the Washington state delegation have fought hard to ensure this unique contracting tool remains a part of the lab.

“With President Bush wielding his veto pen, clean-up programs and the Capability Replacement Lab could have been seriously jeopardized,” Murray added.  “The fact that we were able to secure an increase over the President’s budget in the Omnibus shows how seriously Congress takes these important efforts.”  

The following breaks down the Hanford budget as it moved from the President’s request to the House and Senate, and finally to the Omnibus:

Account President request House Senate Omnibus
Hanford $877,080,000 $949,980,000 $950,376,000 $886,498,776
River Protection $963,443,000 $863,443,000 $1,015,972,000 $969,539,168