National labs modernization bill introduced in Congress

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A bill that would compel the Department of Energy to use appropriated funds to upgrade its national laboratories has been introduced in Congress.

Rep. Bill Foster, D-Ill., earlier this month introduced the draft legislation, which has been referred to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Foster worked as a high-energy physicist and particle designer at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory prior to becoming a member of Congress.

If it passes, the new legislation will require the secretary of Energy to fund deferred maintenance projects at the national labs, as well as modernization projects and critical infrastructure updates.

The Department of Energy operates 17 strategically significant research facilities across the U.S., focused on scientific research across a range of areas, including management of the country’s nuclear weapons stockpile.

In late June, an analogous bill was also introduced in the Senate by two Democrat lawmakers, requiring the DOE to upgrade infrastructure at the national labs.

As part of the annual funding appropriations process, Energy is required to submit to House and Senate committees a list of projects that will receive funding. For fiscal 2022 through 2026, the department is authorized to receive $6.1 billion for maintenance and modernization through the appropriations process.

At least one-sixth of the funding for maintenance made available during each fiscal year must be managed by the Office of Science at the Department of Energy.

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Department of Energy (DOE), DOE Office of Science, National Labs