Patty in the News

A proposed cut to the Department of Energy’s Hanford Richland Operations Office would be restored under a compromise federal spending bill released Tuesday night, according to the staff of Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

“The funding secured in this bill is a critical win for Hanford and our entire state,” Murray said in a statement.

The omnibus spending bill would increase the budget for Hanford this year by almost $70 million above the request by the Obama administration, for a total budget of almost $2.2 billion.

“For the omnibus to get this far forward with positive news is just a testament for Patty Murray,” said Gary Petersen, vice president of Hanford programs for the Tri-City Development Council.

The House and Senate still must vote on the bill, but Murray’s staff said chances are good that it will pass.

The nation now is operating under temporary spending legislation after budgets were not approved before the Oct. 1 start of the current federal fiscal year.

The current continuing resolution that allows the federal government to operate expires today. But another short-term funding bill may be passed until the House and Senate can vote before the end of the current session on the new omnibus spending bill, which includes money for most federal agencies.

The compromise bill includes $941 million for the Department of Energy’s Hanford Richland Operations Office, an increase of $93 million over the administration’s fiscal 2015 budget request.

The office is responsible for all Hanford cleanup work except for managing radioactive waste in underground tanks and the vitrification plant being built to treat the waste.

The Hanford Office of River Protection, which is responsible for that work, would receive $1.2 billion for that work, a decrease of $23 million from the administration’s budget request.

However, that would match the current spending level at the Office of River Protection.

The omnibus spending bill is possible because of the bipartisan budget deal that Murray reached last December with Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House budget committee.

The deal prevented another government shutdown and restored certainty to the federal budget process.

Murray also fought to restore funding proposed to be cut at Hanford

“I am so proud that this bill restores those critical investments,” Murray said. “I have made it clear that I expect the federal government to meet its legal obligations and milestones at defense environmental cleanup sites, including Hanford.”

Dollar amounts in the bill include: $544 million for central Hanford cleanup; $378 million for cleanup along the Columbia River and some related work; $20 million for community and regulatory support; $667 million for the vitrification plant and $545 million for the tank farms.

- Tri-City Herald

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