House approves bill to fund Sandia, Los Alamos labs

Posted at: 10/11/2013 12:19 PM | Updated at: 10/11/2013 12:35 PM
By: Elizabeth Reed, KOB.com


KOB File Photo

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Friday to approve a bill that would temporarily fund national nuclear programs, including Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories.

If passed by the Senate and President Barack Obama, the resolution would temporarily fund the National Nuclear Security Administration through Dec. 15, 2013. Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs receive roughly half of their yearly operating budgets from the NNSA's budget, according to Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M.

"Today's vote to fund the NNSA is key to the security of our nation, and assures that the hard-working employees of Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs will continue to have jobs,” Rep. Pearce wrote in a statement. "Our contractors and employees at Sandia and Los Alamos provide a vital service to our nation, which must continue without interruption – this legislation ensures that."

The bill passed the House 248-176. Rep. Pearce voted in favor of the resolution while New Mexico's two Democratic representatives, Michelle Lujan Grisham and Ben Ray Lujan, both voted no.

Rep. Lujan Grisham said she voted against the bill because it cuts funding for both labs.

"To serve their critical national security mission, New Mexico's national laboratories require the certainty and stability of a full funding bill. Unfortunately, House Republicans' piecemeal approach falls short. In fact, this bill would actually cut Sandia National Labs’ funding by 46 percent," Rep. Lujan Grisham wrote in a statement. "In addition, with nearly all of Sandia's employees and many of Los Alamos's employees facing furloughs, the drastic cuts in this bill guarantee that a large number of those dedicated employees would be unable to continue working."

The bill now moves on to the Senate for a vote.

Sandia and Los Alamos labs are both preparing to shut down if the government budget impasse continues. LANL will close its doors on Oct. 18. Furloughs at both labs would begin on Oct. 21.

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