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GOP senators push Trump for DOE research funding

GOP senators push Trump for DOE research funding
© Greg Nash

Six Senate Republicans sent President Trump a letter Thursday to advocate for strong funding for the Department of Energy’s research programs, which the president has threatened to cut.

The senators, led by Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderThe Republicans' deep dive into nativism Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality MORE (R-Tenn.), didn’t specify a funding level they want Trump to seek in fiscal year 2018, but they attempted to outline the importance of DOE research for the future.

“Government-sponsored research is one of the most important investments our country can make to encourage innovation, unleash our free enterprise system to create good-paying jobs and ensure American competitiveness in a global economy,” the senators wrote.

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“We cannot lose the technological advantages we have gained through our country’s investment in research and development,” they continued. “Governing is about setting priorities, and the federal debt is not the result of Congress overspending on science and energy research each year. We urge you to continue to invest in the Department of Energy’s research and development programs in fiscal year 2018.”

Alexander is one of the senate’s top advocates for DOE research funding, owing in part to the presence of DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. He is also the chairman of the Appropriations Committee’s subpanel that oversees DOE’s budget.

GOP Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP Utah county GOP censures Romney over Trump impeachment vote Bottom line MORE (Alaska), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting Senate votes to repeal OCC 'true lender' rule Top female GOP senator compares Cheney ousting to 'cancel culture' MORE (Maine), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump critics push new direction for GOP Graham warns about trying to 'drive' Trump from GOP: 'Half the people will leave' Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP MORE (S.C.), all appropriators, signed the Thursday letter, along with Republicans Sens. Cory GardnerCory GardnerBiden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 MORE (Colo.) and Mike Rounds (S.D.).

In Trump’s budget proposal for 2018, released in March, he proposed cutting DOE’s budget by 5.6 percent below the 2016 level. He is reportedly eyeing a 70 percent cut to DOE’s renewables office, 54 percent to its fossil energy office and 31 percent to the nuclear programs.

Trump is planning to unveil a detailed budget proposal for 2018 next week.

DOE research funding is frequently a target of conservatives, who complain that it amounts to the government picking winners and losers in a sector that should be driven by market forces.