Omnibus spending bill passes Senate

December 22, 2022, 11:47PMNuclear News

In a 68–29 vote on Thursday, the Senate approved the fiscal year 2023 omnibus bill—a $1.7 trillion spending package intended to fund the federal government through next September. The bill is now with the House, where it is expected to pass, averting the unhappy prospect of a partial government shutdown over the holidays.

Labeled H.R. 2617, the 4,155-page measure includes $858 billion for defense, a 10 percent jump from the FY2022 enacted level, and $772.5 billion for non-defense discretionary programs, an increase of 5.5 percent.

For the Department of Energy, the bill provides $46.24 billion, up from 2022’s $44.86 billion. Within the DOE, the Office of Nuclear Energy is allocated $1.473 billion, an overall drop of $181.8 million from 2022.

Inside of the NE number, there is $85 million for the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (including $50 million for the National Reactor Innovation Center), $322 million for fuel cycle research and development, $114 million for accident tolerant fuels, $32 million for TRISO fuel and graphite qualification, and $259 million for reactor concepts RD&D. No new funding is included in the omnibus, however, for the Transformational Challenge Reactor, the Versatile Test Reactor project, or advanced nuclear fuel availability.

Industry’s take: “The FY2023 omnibus appropriations released [Tuesday] included several positive outcomes for nuclear energy, including robust funding for the public-private partnerships that will enable demonstration of world-class advanced nuclear technologies and strong support for nuclear energy education and research infrastructure,” said Maria Korsnick, president and chief executive officer of the Nuclear Energy Institute. “Unfortunately, the bill fell short of the $2.1 billion needed to bolster our domestic nuclear fuel supply. The nuclear power industry plays a vital role in our nation’s future clean energy economy, but a reliable domestic fuel supply is imperative to make it all work. The lack of funding for the expansion of LEU capacity and insufficient funding for the sustained domestic production of HALEU jeopardizes the continued operation of the country's largest source of carbon-free energy as well as the next generation of nuclear reactors. We are eager to continue working with the Biden administration and Congress on tackling nuclear fuel cycle challenges in the new year.”

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