Biggert Gets Commitments from Senior House Republican Appropriations Panel Member on Funding for Asian Carp Dispersal Barrier and Other Issues
Mrs. BIGGERT: I want to thank the ranking member of the subcommittee for yielding me the time.
I know that both the chairman and the ranking member share my great frustration that again this year the Department of Energy failed to request funding for the university reactor infrastructure and education assistance program. That is why I was extremely concerned to learn that this bill included no funding for this program.
At the same time I recognize that the subcommittee has provided $15 million in funding for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to support university programs, but that spending will be limited to scholarships and fellowships and ''human infrastructure'' programs. And I understand that Assistant Secretary Spurgeon has indicated publicly that DOE plans to support universities, faculty and students with over $60 million in funding from its core research programs.
I would ask this of the ranking member: Does the subcommittee expect the DOE to fulfill this commitment? And, furthermore, is the $15 million in NRC funding in this bill in addition to DOE's commitment?
I yield to Mr. Hobson.
Mr. HOBSON: I thank the gentlewoman from Illinois (Mrs. Biggert) for her interest in this area. She is correct; the committee fully expects DOE to fulfill its commitment, recognizing the exact amount will change because the core research funding in this bill deviates from the President's request. And this DOE funding is in addition to the $15 million the subcommittee is providing NRC to support university programs.
Mrs. BIGGERT: To ensure that the DOE fulfills this commitment, would the ranking member be willing to request that DOE submit a detailed report on how much the DOE would spend on university nuclear programs within the funding levels provided in this bill?
Mr. HOBSON: In reply, yes, we will make that request. And should the subcommittee find the DOE's response unacceptable or not receive a response by the deadline stipulated, I commit to working in conference to direct the DOE to support university nuclear programs using core research program funding.
Mrs. BIGGERT: I thank the gentleman. I am also concerned that the bill does not provide sufficient funding for research reactor infrastructure support and upgrades. Would the ranking member be willing to work with me and other interested Members to ensure that the needs of our Nation's research reactor infrastructure are met in fiscal year 2008?
Mr. HOBSON: I would be happy to work with my colleague on this issue. The subcommittee recognizes support for university-based research reactors is an important part of the Federal stewardship role for the U.S. nuclear science and engineering enterprise.
Mrs. BIGGERT: I thank the gentleman.
Finally on a separate and unrelated issue, I remain concerned that there is no funding in this bill for the Army Corps' dispersal barrier on the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal, which is designed to keep aquatic invasive species like the Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes and devastating the ecosystem.
I recognize the bill contains no funding for the barriers because the bill identifies no projects, and because additional authority included in WRDA is required for the Corps to complete and operate the barriers. If for some reason WRDA isn't enacted before conference begins on this bill, will the ranking member agree to help address the outstanding authorization issues and appropriate the necessary funds for these barriers in conference?
Mr. HOBSON: I am committed to addressing any outstanding issues related to the barriers in conference, if necessary.
Mrs. BIGGERT: And then, Mr. Chairman, do you share these concerns about both the barriers and DOE's university nuclear programs, and will you support the approach the ranking member and I are proposing to take to address these concerns?
I yield to Mr. Visclosky.
Mr. VISCLOSKY. I will assure the gentlewoman that I do, and I will.
Mrs. BIGGERT. I thank the chairman and the ranking member for their efforts in this area.