Rockville, MD — U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, fielded questions from the leadership of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on the impacts of sequestration during a town hall Monday. The NRC, which is charged with regulating civilian use of our nuclear power and nuclear materials, has had to absorb a $52 million cut to its FY13 budget due to sequestration. Speaking to supervisors from across the agencies who were gathered at NRC’s headquarters in Rockville, Senator Cardin discussed his efforts to find a replacement for sequestration before FY14 begins October 1.
“Not every agency has faced furloughs, but deep cuts have taken their toll on programs and the uncertainty has shaken federal employees in every corner of the government. Sequestration is hurting real people and real families. It’s harming our national security readiness and local economies,” said Senator Cardin. “It is irresponsible to let political dysfunction get in the way of ensuring for our national security and public safety. We must replace sequestration with a realistic budget before facing even more dire cuts in the year ahead.”
The NRC has oversight the 65 commercially operating nuclear power plants with 104 nuclear reactors in 31 states around the country. Thirty-six of the plants have two or more reactors. These plants generated 20% of U.S. electricity each year. NRC has avoided furloughs thus far by reprograming $38M in prior year funds, limiting contracts and grants and reducing hiring. After being recognized this year as one of the “2013 Top Supporters of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Engineering Schools” and – for the fifth year — recognized by the readers of Diversity Careers Magazine as a Best Diversity Company, sequestration has forced the elimination of support for the Grants to Universities Program and Minority Serving institutions.
“We in Congress should be thanking our hard working public servants at NRC and around the country for their tireless commitment to service. Instead, we passed legislation requiring agencies to make extreme cuts that hampering their ability to do their jobs. Our federal workforce deserves better. October is swiftly approaching, and the House is only in session for a handful of days between recess and that crucial October 1 deadline, when the budget for FY 2014 begins. I’m doing everything in my power to put an end to this dysfunctional state of affairs, and to advocate for a comprehensive budget solution that no longer makes federal workers the scapegoat for every budget battle.”