Press Releases

Simpson’s Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Funding Bill Heads to President’s Desk with Big Wins for Idaho

Simpson’s Energy and Water Legislation Marks a Return to Regular Order in Congress

Washington, D.C. – Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson praised the passage of H.R. 5895, which includes the Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill. The U.S. House of Representatives approved the legislation, which also includes legislation to fund the Veterans Administration, Military Construction projects and the Legislative branch, by a vote count of 377-20.  H.R. 5895 provides funding for the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, and cleanup activities in Idaho. Simpson is Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development and had the lead role negotiating funding decisions for Department of Energy, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and other agencies. The three-bill package is the first time in more than a decade that more than one Appropriations bill reached the President’s desk before the end of the fiscal year.

“I am proud of the fiscal year 2019 Energy and Water bill and the critical investments it makes at the Idaho National Laboratory,” said Chairman Simpson. “This bill reaffirms INL’s leadership in nuclear energy research, and also expands capabilities at the lab to bolster national security. Passing this legislation today enhances INL’s work in advanced reactor and fuel development, battery and bioenergy programs, and world-renowned efforts to protect the electric grid and other critical infrastructure from cyber-attacks.”

The FY 2019 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill sets record funding for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy at $1.326 billion.  The bill directs funding to the following INL priorities: 

  • The Idaho Facilities Management account, which covers infrastructure maintenance and improvement at INL, is funded at $318 million – a $24 million increase over last year.

  • INL’s Safeguards and Security Program is funded at $146 million – an increase of $13 million over fiscal year 2018.

  • 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 $47 million, the same as last year.

  • The Reactor Concepts Research, Development, and Demonstration account is funded at $324 million – an increase of $87 million above last year. Within the overall level for this account, $100 million is for Advanced Small Modular Reactor Research and Development, $65 million is to design a new “fast” test reactor at INL, $34 million is allocated to fuel qualification for an advanced gas reactor, and $20 million is provided for new program to develop very small “micro reactors” for deployment at remote locations and Department of Defense facilities.

  • Within the Fuel Cycle Research and Development program, the Advanced Fuels program is funded at $125 million with $20 million directed toward development of new high assay low enriched fuel for advanced reactors. The bill directs $63.9 million for Used Nuclear Fuel Disposition research and development.

Other vital priorities funded within the Energy and Water division include: 

  • Within the Office of Naval Reactors, the bill includes $85.5 million for the operation of the Advanced Test Reactor. 

  • Within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, $25 million is included for energy efficient mobility systems, $7 million is for advanced battery analytics at the Lab, $30 million is for the Lab’s bioenergy program, and $11 million is for the integrated energy systems.

  • Provides significant investment in cyber security grid protection work that the Idaho National Laboratory leads. 

  • A provision to allow recharge of the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer during flood releases and high flow events at the Palisades Reservoir. 

  • A provision to extend the authority for the Bureau of Reclamation to conduct feasibility studies on projects that address water shortages within the Snake, Boise, and Payette River systems.

 The bill also provides $420 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 $5 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 and $10 million to decommission and disposition INL facilities and infrastructure.

The bill also provides $397 million for the Waste Isolation Pilot Project that continues to receive record shipments of transuranic waste from INL, including $85 million for necessary safety-related infrastructure upgrades.

Simpson also praised the inclusion of the crucial Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) Appropriations bill in the package. 

“The MilCon-VA title provides a much-needed $5.4 billion increase for Veterans and military construction programs,” said Simpson.  “I am pleased to support this title which addresses the most critical issues facing our Veterans, including funds for increased mental health services and addressing the claims backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs.” 

The MilCon-VA title, which includes the highest dollar level ever for the Department of Veterans Affairs, also includes increases for military base housing and facilities and upgrades to infrastructure for deterrence operations.

By supporting H.R. 5895, the House voted to provide:

  • $8.6 billion for mental health care services,

  • $206 million for suicide prevention outreach,

  • $270 million for rural Veterans health initiatives,

  • Rigorous reporting requirements on the status of VA claims processing, and

  • Full funding for on-base housing for service-members and their families.

“Beyond the important funding for Idaho, the three-bill package marks an important return to regular order. I have long pressed for Congress to fulfill its responsibility and provide budget certainty by passing appropriations bills on time. I am pleased my Energy and Water legislation fulfills that responsibility and I look forward to passing more appropriations bills by the end of fiscal year 2018.”

The Senate passed H.R. 5895 on Wednesday and the President is expected to sign the bill into law.