House appropriators today cleared a $30.6 billion spending bill for the Energy Department and Army Corps of Engineers that could see a floor vote before August.
The Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee this morning passed the fiscal 2012 funding measure by voice vote. Full Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said he would move it through the full committee and to the House floor before the chamber breaks for summer recess in August.
The spending plan -- which includes $24.7 billion for DOE, $4.8 billion for the Army Corps and $934 million for the Bureau of Reclamation -- raised eyebrows this week with its inclusion of $35 million for the shuttered Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. Republicans concerned about the Obama administration's decision to shut down the site provided $25 million for the project and $10 million for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to continue its license application review for the site (Greenwire, June 1).
But the issue stirred little controversy in this morning's markup. Democrats were primarily concerned with the deep spending cuts for other DOE programs in the GOP-authored measure.
"I know that you were faced with very difficult decisions in this allocation," ranking member Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.) said. "While I appreciate your considerable efforts and recognize difficult choices must be made to assess the nation's serious financial situation, the allocation for energy and water is insufficient ... to ensure our economic recovery and ensure" the nation's energy security.
The measure slashes a hefty $6 billion from the president's budget request for DOE and $850 million from the trimmed-down fiscal 2011 spending levels. The bulk of those cuts come at the expense of renewable energy research and development programs like the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which would see $1.9 billion less than the president requested.
"This is the kind of bill we should be increasing funding for -- getting people back to work," full committee ranking member Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) said. "We need to put people back to work. This is a serious mistake."
But some programs, like the appropriators' perennial favorite infrastructure projects under the jurisdiction of the Army Corps, would see a slight boost of nearly $200 million over the White House request.
"We had to make some tough choices," subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) said. "But in the end, we think this is a fair bill."