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(Senate - September 05, 2000)

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[Pages S8033-S8034]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I rise in support of the Brownback 
  The National Ignition Facility has become a shining example of how 
not to build large national facilities.
  When this project was first proposed by the Department of Energy 
several years ago, DOE sold this project to me and other Members as a 
cornerstone of our nation's science-based Stockpile Stewardship 
  Leaders from DOE and the Lawrence Livermore National Lab came to me 
at a time when many Members of the Senate, including Chairman Domenici, 
were somewhat skeptical that NIF was actually needed.
  They assured me that NIF was absolutely vital to national security 
and that it would be brought in on time and within budget.
  Based on that, I came to bat for NIF and convinced many of my 
colleagues to support it.
  I regret it.
  In my estimation, DOE lied to me.
  They sold me a bill of goods and I am not happy about it.
  It is now several years later and the project is hundreds of millions 
of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.
  The administration has undertaken a re-baselining activity in the 
last year that they believe will put this project back on a glidepath 
to completion.
  Our subcommittee has provided (temporarily) $74.5 million for the 
project. The administration wants another $135 million this year and 
hundreds of millions of dollars more on top of the original baseline 
per year over the next 7 years to get this thing done (3-5 years late).
  That is what they say now. By the time we are actually done, it will 
be billions.
  Enough is enough.
  There is plenty of skepticism in the scientific and national security 
community as to whether we will ever be able to get the information we 
need to certify our stockpile from NIF.
  I believe there are other, cheaper ways to get this job done and I 
think it is time to go back to the drawing board and find a new path 
  I cannot tell you how angry I am that DOE and all of the national 
labs consistently do this sort of thing to Congress:
  They overpromise and under-deliver at a vastly inflated price.
  I say, enough is enough.
  This is nothing personal against Livermore.
  If the next big thing at Los Alamos or Sandia runs dramatically over-
budget I will be down here again to express my outrage.
  I have been a Member of Congress and the Senate too long to watch as 
administration after administration comes up here to whisper sweet 
nothings in my ear and then jack up the price a year or two later.
  Let me clear about one thing: I have nothing but respect for the 
thousands of men and women who populate our nation's weapons labs.
  The scientists of Lawrence Livermore, Sandia, and Los Alamos are 
amongst the most brilliant, dedicated, patriotic and creative people on 
  The contributions they have made to our nation's national security 
are too numerous to count.
  In recent years, I have had two Fellows from Lawrence Livermore, 
Larry Ferderber and Bob Perret, serve in my personal office. They both 
did exceptional work for me, for Nevada, and for our nation. They both 
served me very well for many years.
  It is a shame that the highest levels of leadership at DOE and at 
Livermore have not served their employees and the American people with 
equal distinction.
  Mr. President, I yield the Floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Mexico.
  Mr. DOMENICI. I ask to speak for 30 seconds.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. DOMENICI. Mr. President, I thank Senator Reid for his comments 
and his cooperation. We still have a few days to go. The picture 
presented with reference to the nondefense portion of this bill, in 
particular, is absolutely true. I cannot figure why the House and 
Senate in their overall scope of allocating money continue to 
underallocate for nondefense when Senators and House Members probably 
request more of us in the nondefense part of this bill than any bill, 
except perhaps the interior appropriations bill.

[[Page S8034]]

  The Senator mentions 1,000 requests. Those have to do with projects 
or programs or activities for dams that are clearly within reason as 
things we should do. I am working hard and will continue to work hard 
to try to get additional allocation before we complete the conference. 
I hope we can. Obviously if we cannot, with what the House has 
appropriated this will be a bad overall result for the nondefense part 
of the Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation.
  Mr. REID. I hope we can get a bill that we can send to the President, 
recognizing that it is a bill that he will sign. I hope we can do that. 
We have a commitment from the chairman of the full committee, Senator 
Stevens, that he will work with us. Knowing his tenacity, I am 
confident we will be able to come up with something that is