Rep. Heck supports funding for NNSA to avoid furloughs in Nevada
October 11, 2013
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and I thank my friend, the gentleman from New Jersey, Mr. Frelinghuysen for his leadership in bringing this important measure to the floor.
Since the start of the partial shutdown 11 days ago, the House has focused on one of our key constitutional functions - funding key portions of the federal government.
We have come together in a bipartisan way several times over the past few days to pay our troops, provide benefits for the families of fallen soldiers, reopen the NIH and ensure that all patients have access to cancer clinical trials, put food safety inspectors back on the job, provide money for disaster relief efforts, and fund other crucial governmental departments and operations.
These are the types of tough spending choices the American people, and people in my district, demand we make. When you are nearly $17 trillion in debt, you have to prioritize...just like any business or family does when funds are tight.
Today Mr. Chairman, we turn our focus to a critical issue of national security and public safety... and that is ensuring the National Nuclear Security Administration has the funding it needs to secure our nuclear stockpile and materials.
Recent reports indicate that the Department of Energy may begin furloughing employees and contractors at the 8 NNSA sites around the country starting October 21.
Sites, such as the Nevada National Security Site which is home to approximately 2,500 employees and contractors, will reduce staffing to levels sufficient to maintain "minimally safe operations."
This situation presents a threat to national security, public safety, and our economy.
The Nevada National Security Site is charged with supporting our nuclear stockpile. Additionally, the Security Site oversees and administers the training for first- responders in the prevention, protection, and response to possible terrorist use of radiological or nuclear material
With critical functions such as these, "minimally safe operations" is simply not an option. And the same is true at NNSA sites around the country that contain experimental and storage facilities that could become compromised if they are not properly staffed.
The men and women who work at these sites not only have critical duties, they are also critical to their local economies.
In fact, contractors at NNSA sites may reduce their work force by as much as 80-90%.
Such attrition would take a great deal of money out of our economy at a time when states like mine, with an unemployment rate of 9.5%, can ill-afford to lose jobs.
H.J. Res. 76 prevents harm to our economy and maintains our national security by providing funding to keep NNSA employees and contractors on the job.
I urge my colleagues to support this bill and yield back the balance of my time.