Senate Appropriations Approves FY 2019 DOE Funding Bill

May 25, 2018

On May 24, the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. Senate endorsed the fusion-related recommendations of its Energy and Water Subcommittee. The Subcommittee oversees funding for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The Appropriations Bill must now be voted on by the full Senate, merged with a similar House Bill (see FPN18-24), and then signed into law by the President.

The Senate Appropriations Bill would provide to the Department of Energy's Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (part of the Office of Science) $425 million for Fiscal Year 2019 (which starts October 1, 2018). This compares to $590 million in the recent House Bill, $532 million provided in the current year (FY 2018) and to the President's FY 2019 budget request for only $390 million.

The Bill also would provide to DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration $545 million, compared to $510 million in the recent House Bill for its Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) program. This compares to the same amount ($545M) provided for FY 2018 and to the President's request for only $419 million.

The Subcommittee's "report language" which provides guidance on the appropriations details is as follows:

For the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences:

The Committee recommends $425,000,000 for Fusion Energy Sciences. The Committee recommends $122,000,000 for the in-kind contributions and related support activities of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project. The Committee does not recommend funding for the cash contribution.

The Committee recommends not less than $7,000,000 for the Material Plasma Exposure eXperiment and not less than $92,500,000 DIII-D.

The Committee directs the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee to review establishing a reactor concepts research, development, and deployment activity. Within 180 days after enactment of this act, the Department is directed to brief the Committee on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress on a recommendation which, if supported, will include a technical plan, program and eligibility requirements, and funding profile for future years.

For Inertial Confinement Fusion:

Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) and High Yield. — The Committee finds that the Inertial Confinement and High Yield (ICF) program continues to be a critical and essential component of nuclear stockpile certification without underground nuclear weapons testing, maintaining U.S. leadership in high energy density physics and laser technologies, and developing the next generation workforce. Therefore the Committee recommends $544,934,000 for the ICF program. Within available funds, the Committee recommends $344,000,000 for inertial confinement fusion activities at the National Ignition Facility, $63,000,000 is recommended for Sandia National Laboratory's Z facility, and $80,000,000 is recommended for the University of Rochester's Omega facility. Within available funds for facility operations and other amounts, the Committee recommends not less than $30,000,000 for target research, development and production. To ensure a robust, diverse, and competitive vendor base for targets, the Committee directs the NNSA to compete as much scope as practicable and limit sole-source contracts to $15,000,000 or less. The Committee further encourages continued research by the NNSA in High Energy Density Plasmas and recognizes the partnerships between the laboratories and research universities to address the critical need for skilled graduates to replace an aging workforce at our NNSA laboratories.