Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today praised the passage of H.R. 3219, the Make America Secure Appropriations Act, 2018. The Make America Secure Appropriations Act includes four individual appropriations bills - Defense, Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction/Veterans Affairs, as well as fully funding the President’s request for the border wall – for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018.
H.R. 3218 is a national security appropriations bill which prioritizes funds for our troops, veterans and their families, U.S. Capitol Police, securing the border, nuclear security, and our nation’s waterways infrastructure. Simpson is Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and had the lead role in deciding funding for all Department of Energy programs.
Several important provisions for Idaho were incorporated in the package, including the following:
Energy and Water
“The FY18 Energy and Water bill provides comprehensive investment for the groundbreaking research and development conducted at the Idaho National Laboratory,” said Chairman Simpson. “Whether it be through its work in advanced reactor and fuel development, battery and bioenergy programs, or protecting the electric grid from cyber-attacks; the INL is enhancing our national security and increasing American competitiveness. I am pleased that this bill fulfills the needs of the lab to continue this critical work, and that it sends a strong message of support for its world class workforce.”
The FY 2018 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill sets funding for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy at $969 million. Nuclear energy research and development programs that receive funding within the overall $969 billion allocation include:
- The Idaho Facilities Management account, which covers infrastructure maintenance and improvement at INL, is funded at $238 million – a $6.3 million increase over last year.
- INL’s Safeguards and Security Program is funded at $133 million – an increase of $3.7 million over fiscal year 2017.
- The Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies program is funded at $126.7 million – an increase of $11.6 million above fiscal year 2017.
- The Light Water Reactor Sustainability program, which is managed by INL and promotes the continued safe operation of America’s existing nuclear reactors, is funded at $40 million, the same as last year.
- The Reactor Concepts Research, Development, and Demonstration account is funded at $219.3 million – an increase of $87.3 million above last year. Within the overall $219 million level for this account, $30 million is allocated to fuel qualification for the High Temperature Gas Reactor, and $60 million is for a solicitation to support technical, first-of-its-kind engineering and design and regulatory development of next generation light water and non-light water reactor technologies, including small modular reactors.
- Within the Fuel Cycle Research and Development program, the Advanced Fuels program is funded at $71 million; and Used Nuclear Fuel Disposition research and development is funded at $45 million.
- Within the Office of Naval Reactors, the bill includes $82.5 million for the operation of the Advanced Test Reactor.
- Within the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, the bill includes $9 million for the development of an Electric Grid Test Bed program to enhance existing full-scale electric grid testing capabilities like those at Idaho National Laboratory.
The bill also provides $382 million for cleanup activities associated with the Idaho Cleanup Project and the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project co-located on the Idaho desert with INL. The funding level will allow the significant cleanup activities currently underway to continue. The bill also includes an additional $4 million for the National Spent Fuel Program, putting the unique expertise of INL to work in order to provide solutions for managing the Department of Energy’s inventories of spent nuclear fuel.
“In the fight against ISIS, the A-10 continues to provide invaluable close air support and it is paramount that the A-10 continues to remain available as a tool for our brave men and women in combat,” said Simpson. “While there will be a time when they will need to be replaced, it continues to merit our support until an appropriate replacement can be identified.”
- The Defense portion of the bill provides funding for the A-10 Thunderbolt II which is based at Gowen Field in Boise, the headquarters for the Idaho National Guard and is essential to the mission there. The bill also includes:
- Fully funds a 2.4% pay increase for over 1.3 million active-duty troops and 820,000 Guard and Reserve troops.
“This legislation provides critical support for military infrastructure and our nation’s veterans,” said Simpson. “Chairman Dent’s thorough and dedicated work on this bill resulted in a discretionary funding increase of $6 billion above fiscal year 2017 levels, funds that will fulfill our obligations to provide housing and services, as well as training and equipment for our military personnel.”
Simpson also applauded the bill for providing far-reaching support for veterans by funding mental health services, suicide prevention initiatives, and homeless veterans’ services. “Just as veterans served our nation in its times of need, our country must remember them in their time of need. This legislation does just that.”
“Our current immigration system is not working,” said Simpson. “The status quo cannot continue and reforming our immigration system, like any complex problem, will require difficult decisions requiring Republicans and Democrats to work together to solve. First, we will need to ensure that our borders are secure and I am glad that this bill starts to tackle that very serious issue. I also recognize that we need to overhaul our guest worker programs and address the issue of legal status for those who are working and living in our local communities.”
Included in this bill is funding to construct a physical barrier along the southwest border of the United States.
The Make America Secure Act, 2018 passed the House by a vote of 235-192 and will later be conferenced with Senate versions of these bills.