Federal funds requested by the Department of Energy for use at the Savannah River Site were approved by Congress on Wednesday, according to Congressman Joe Wilson, R-S.C., apparently alleviating concerns over the threat of furloughs at the facility.
The funding request was geared toward softening the blow of sequestration, which resulted in budget shortfalls, a forced reduction in staffing and narrowing of the Site’s scope of work.
The Office of Management and Budget approved the $79 million funding request earlier this month, where it had sat since March 18. The proposal still had to be passed by two U.S. House committees and two U.S. Senate committees.
Word came Wednesday that the committees had given their OK.
The funding request now goes before the Office of Management and Budget one more time for what Wilson said “should be a somewhat perfunctory” thumbs up.
He hopes it comes quickly as work schedules are laid out by the end of the week. For many at SRS, today is the end of the workweek.
Overall, Wilson called the approval a “tremendous victory” for Aiken and Barnwell counties, as well as the state and nation as a whole.
“As a member of Congress who serves on one of the four committees given jurisdiction over the approval process, I commend the House and Senate for taking action quickly to ensure that our nation’s nuclear facilities are capable of completing vital missions with an appropriate workforce,” he said in a statement.
Reprogramming allows for the use of funds for a purpose other than that for which they were originally provided, according to the Office of Management and Budget.
Sequestration cut $100 million from SRS funding. More than 2,500 employees were also subject to reduced working hours. If the funds had not been approved by May 22, up to 900 employees would have lost all working hours.
Local S.C. Rep. Don Wells applauded the efforts of the state’s Congressional leaders to get the proposal passed.
“It’s vitally important to not only our community with the financial ramifications, but also the defense of our nation,” Wells said about the mission of SRS. “We’re very thrilled to see that they’ve gotten this done.”
The Congressional decision was viewed with a sigh of relief from local S.C. Rep. Bill Taylor.
“The value of SRS is clear,” Taylor said. “It would have a been a dreadful blow to the mission of SRS if those committees had not reprogrammed the money.”