July 15 – The bill that would continue to fund the conversion of the former mixed oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication facility at the Savannah River site into a plutonium sink production facility has taken another step forward .
The United States House of Representatives voted 329 to 101 to approve the National Defense Authorization Act of 2023 Thursday night.
The National Defense Authorization Act is one of the elements of how the Department of Defense receives its funding. The law is used to recommend funding levels and establishes policies on how funding will be spent. It emanates alternately from the Chamber or the Senate. This year it was introduced by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith and referred to his committee.
U.S. Representative Joe Wilson, RS.C., whose district includes most of the Savannah River site, said the law builds on the two-site solution for nuclear well production by including full funding for ongoing operations at the Savannah River site.
“It also establishes a framework to fabricate 80 war reserve plutonium pits with requirements for 30 pits at Los Alamos and 50 pits at the Savannah River site,” Wilson continued. “It’s the best way to manage the cost, schedule and risk of such an important undertaking. As with any weapon, we must continue to invest in upgrades and improvements to our nuclear inventory.”
Pits are an essential part of a nuclear weapon.
The National Nuclear Security Administration has announced plans to build pits at the Savannah River site and at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. At the Savannah River site, 50 wells per year would be constructed at the former MOX facility.
Wilson was one of 149 Republicans to join 180 Democrats in voting for the law.
He said he was grateful for supporting the act.
“This is a statement of unwavering support for American men and women in uniform,” Wilson said. “This bill pushes our military modernization further to meet our current challenges, while mitigating President Biden’s unprecedented inflation disaster.”
He said the law improves the readiness of the army and reinforces the national security strategy of peace by force.
“As a veteran and father of four sons who served in the military of this country, I am deeply committed to ensuring that the Department of Defense has all available resources to deter our adversaries, support our allies, strengthen our communities and, when necessary, fight and win against hostile aggressors,” Wilson said.
U.S. Representative Jeff Duncan, RS.C., whose district includes Edgefield County and the southwestern part of the state, was one of 62 Republicans and 39 Democrats to vote against passing the bill. law.
Duncan said on Facebook that he voted against the law because the law weakens the armed forces by emphasizing the woke agenda and ideology when it should instead focus on strengthening national security. .
He said the law does not remove the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the military, does not prevent the transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to the United States, allows critical race theory awakened in the name of training to diversity and does not complete the border wall between the United States and Mexico.
Duncan said the law threatens the Second Amendment by creating a pathway to mandatory stockpiling of guns, allows military dollars to be spent on awareness of embryo-destroying fertility treatments, weakens immigration standards and advances the agenda “awakened” thanks to training in gender analysis in the army. schools, while requiring public companies to annually disclose to the Securities and Exchange Commission the race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation and veteran status of their directors, nominees and senior executives.
He also said he sponsored nine amendments to the law, including amendments to ban the closure of Parris Island and to block the Department of Defense from leasing federal land to abortion providers.
Smith said in a press release that the law includes a set of bold reforms to prevent and mitigate civilian harm in military operations.
“At a time when democracies around the world face both old and new threats, the NDAA for FY23 supports investments in what makes our country competitive in the world and strong at home: a workforce diverse and talented military and civilian workforce; groundbreaking science and technology research, especially at Historically Black colleges and universities; and the alliances and partnerships we need to address our greatest global security challenges,” continued Smith.
He added that he was especially pleased that the law supports those who defend the United States by giving them a 4.6% salary increase and relief for their housing and other daily expenses.
“Some will say the bill authorizes too much money for the Department of Defense. They’re right,” Smith said. “I supported President Biden’s initial budget request, and I strongly opposed efforts to allow further increases in defense spending. But we don’t always win every vote, even in a functioning democracy. And we shouldn’t let the results of a vote trump all the worthwhile things in this bill that we fought for.”
The law also includes language acknowledging that the plan to produce 80 pits per year (50 at SRS and the rest at Los Alamos) by 2030 is not achievable.
The bill will now move the US Senate for consideration.
If approved by the US Senate, it would go to President Joe Biden for a signature or a veto.