NATIONAL NUCLEAR SECURITY ADMINISTRATION FISCAL YEAR 2020 BUDGET REQUEST; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 61
(Senate - April 09, 2019)

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[Pages S2323-S2324]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




   NATIONAL NUCLEAR SECURITY ADMINISTRATION FISCAL YEAR 2020 BUDGET 
                                REQUEST

  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that a copy of 
my opening statement at the Subcommittee on Energy and Water 
Development's budget hearing for the National Nuclear Security 
Administration's fiscal year 2020 budget request be printed in the 
Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

   National Nuclear Security Administration Fiscal Year 2020 Budget 
                                Request

       Mr. ALEXANDER. The Subcommittee on Energy and Water 
     Development will please come to order.
       Today's hearing will review the administration's fiscal 
     year 2020 budget request for the National Nuclear Security 
     Administration.
       This is the second of the Subcommittee's four budget 
     hearings this year.
       We heard from Secretary Perry last week, and we'll have two 
     more hearings in the coming weeks to review the Nuclear 
     Regulatory Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers and the 
     Bureau of Reclamation budget requests.
       Senator Feinstein and I will each have an opening 
     statement.
       I will then recognize each Senator for up to five minutes 
     for an opening statement, alternating between the majority 
     and minority, in the order in which they arrived.
       We will then turn to Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty to 
     present testimony on behalf of the National Nuclear Security 
     Administration and then give Admiral Frank Caldwell an 
     opportunity to give a brief statement.
       At the conclusion of the witnesses' testimony, I will then 
     recognize Senators for five minutes of questions each, 
     alternating between the majority and minority in the order in 
     which they arrived.
       First, I would like to thank our witnesses for being here 
     today, and also Senator Feinstein, with whom I have the 
     pleasure to work with again this year to draft the Energy and 
     Water Appropriations bill.
       Our witnesses today include: Ms. Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, the 
     Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration 
     (NNSA); Dr. Charles Verdon, Deputy Administrator for Defense 
     Programs; Dr. Brent Park, Deputy Administrator for Defense 
     Nuclear Nonproliferation (Dr. Park is a former Associate 
     Laboratory Director from Oak Ridge National Laboratory); and 
     Admiral Frank Caldwell, Deputy Administrator for Naval 
     Reactors.
       Our subcommittee has a good record of being the first of 
     the appropriations bills to be considered by the Committee 
     and by the Senate each year. For each of the past four years, 
     Senator Feinstein and I have been able to have our bill 
     signed into law.
       Last year, we worked together in a bipartisan way on the 
     fiscal year 2019 Energy and Water Development Appropriations 
     bill that was signed into law before the start of the fiscal 
     year--the first time that happened since 2000.
       In last year's appropriations bill we provided $15.2 
     billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration, 
     including $1.9 billion for the six life extension programs, 
     which fix or replace components in weapons systems to make 
     sure they're safe and reliable.
       We also funded the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 
     National Security Complex at $703 million, which will 
     continue to keep this project on time and on budget, with a 
     completion year of 2025 at a cost no greater than $6.5 
     billion.
       I look forward to working with Senator Feinstein on another 
     strong bill this year.
       We're here today to review the administration's fiscal year 
     2020 budget request for the National Nuclear Security 
     Administration (NNSA), the semi-autonomous agency within the 
     Department of Energy that is responsible for a vital 
     mission--maintaining our nuclear weapons stockpile, reducing 
     the global dangers posed by weapons of mass destruction, and 
     providing the Navy with safe and effective nuclear power.
       The president's fiscal year 2020 budget request for the 
     NNSA is $16.5 billion, an increase of $1.3 billion (or 8 
     percent) over last year (the fiscal year 2019 enacted level).
       Today, I'd like to focus my remarks and questions on three 
     main areas:
       1. Effectively maintaining our nuclear weapons stockpile;
       2. Keeping critical projects on time and on budget; and
       3. Supporting our nuclear Navy.
       When the Senate agreed to ratify the New Start Treaty in 
     December 2010, we also agreed to support funding to modernize 
     and maintain our nuclear weapons stockpile, plus the 
     facilities to do the work. A vital part of NNSA's mission is 
     completion of the five ongoing life extension programs, which 
     fix or replace components in weapons systems to make sure 
     they're safe and reliable. The budget request includes $2.1 
     billion to continue the life extension programs. I want to 
     make sure we are spending taxpayer dollars effectively.
       Completing all of the work that needs to be done for these 
     weapons systems will result in a higher workload than the 
     weapons program has had in any time since the height of the 
     Cold War, and it will require a large number of highly-
     trained experts at the production sites, like Y-12 in Oak 
     Ridge Tennessee, the weapons laboratories, and the federal 
     employees that work for NNSA. I'd like to hear more today 
     about whether NNSA has enough qualified people to do this 
     work. I would also like to discuss today whether NNSA will be 
     able to keep the life extension programs on time and on 
     budget.
       The NNSA is responsible for some of the largest 
     construction projects in the federal government. Senator 
     Feinstein and I have worked hard to keep costs from 
     skyrocketing. We want to make sure hard-earned taxpayer 
     dollars are spent wisely and that these projects are on time 
     and on budget.
       First we focused on our oversight on the Uranium Processing 
     Facility in Tennessee. We held routine meetings with the 
     Department's leadership to discuss the project--particularly 
     how the Department implemented the recommendations of a Red 
     Team review, completed in 2014, to get the project on track.
       After completing more than 90% of the design for the 
     nuclear facilities, NNSA began construction of the Uranium 
     Processing Facility last year. I'd like to hear more about 
     the progress on construction from the witnesses today.
       Senator Feinstein and I also worked with the Department on 
     ways to get excess plutonium out of South Carolina more 
     quickly and for less cost. Last year, Secretary Perry 
     canceled the MOX project in favor of the Dilute and Disposal 
     alternative, which the Department of Energy estimated will 
     save taxpayers more than $20 billion. I'd like to hear more 
     today on the progress NNSA is making at removing the 
     plutonium from South Carolina.
       Lastly, the NNSA is restarting our ability to make 
     plutonium pits for the stockpile. The budget request includes 
     $712 million for plutonium sustainment, which is 97% more 
     than the current funding level. This difficult, but important 
     work, will be done in New Mexico and South Carolina. The NNSA 
     has

[[Page S2324]]

     decided to use existing facilities and expertise in New 
     Mexico to make some pits, and repurpose the MOX facility in 
     South Carolina to make the remainder. That's a good plan and 
     I support it. I want to hear from Administrator Gordon-
     Hagerty today how NNSA is applying the lessons we learned 
     from UPF and MOX to make sure we get the pit production 
     restart done on time and on budget.
       Naval Reactors is responsible for all aspects of nuclear 
     power for our submarines and aircraft carriers. Naval 
     Reactors has a lot on their plate right now--they are 
     designing a new reactor core for the next class of 
     submarines, refueling a prototype reactor, and building a new 
     spent fuel processing facility for nuclear waste from defense 
     activities.
       Admiral Caldwell and I had an opportunity talk about the 
     new spent fuel processing facility earlier this week. It is a 
     part of the Navy's consolidated interim storage for its used 
     nuclear fuel.
       The Navy's program shows that it can be done safely and 
     effectively, but that does not replace the need for a 
     permanent repository at Yucca Mountain. That used nuclear 
     fuel will still need to go to Yucca Mountain once it is 
     built. I look forward to Admiral Caldwell's comments today on 
     the progress he's making on his important work, and 
     particularly how Naval Reactors stores used nuclear fuel. I'd 
     also like to hear what is being done to keep the new 
     Columbia-Class submarine design on track.
       The NNSA needs to complete a lot of important work, and 
     this work is going to require good planning and effective 
     oversight. I look forward to working with Administrator 
     Gordon-Hagerty as we begin putting together our Energy and 
     Water Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2020, and also with 
     Senator Feinstein, who I will now recognize for her opening 
     statement.

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