Energy & Environment

Senate panel begins moving $38.4B energy, water spending bill

A Senate Appropriations Committee panel on Tuesday approved a $38.4 billion bill to fund federal energy and water programs, including the Department of Energy (DOE), in 2018.

The legislation would increase spending for the DOE and other programs by $629 million next year. Total funding in the bill is about $900 million more than that set aside in the House and is $4.1 billion more than the budget request President Trump released in May.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the energy and water subcommittee, said the bill provides record amounts of funding for several federal efforts, including the DOE's Office of Science, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

Alexander said the White House's budget represented an "unrealistic budget proposal from the president."

"Despite this, the bill Sen. [Dianne] Feinstein (D-Calif.) and I have negotiated funds many of the priorities that we have all agreed on," he said.

Feinstein, the ranking member of the subcommittee, said she is concerned the bill increased funding for defense programs while cutting nondefense spending.

The bill "continues the pattern of more money for weapons and lower or flat funding for everything else," she said. But, "even under these less than ideal circumstances, I still support this bill, and urge my colleagues to do likewise."

The Appropriations Committee will release more details about the energy and water spending bill when the full committee marks it up on Thursday. The House Appropriations Committee passed its version of the bill last week.

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