Simpson Remarks at FY23 Energy and Water Development Full Committee Markup

Jun 28, 2022

Thank you, Madam Chair. I am pleased to be here today to consider the Fiscal Year 2023 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill.

I’d like to thank Chairwoman Kaptur for putting together this year’s bill in her typical cooperative style. It is clear that she, and the Majority staff, worked hard to address individual Member priorities from both sides of the aisle, and I thank the chair for that consideration.

I’d also like to thank Chair DeLauro and Ranking Member Granger of the full committee for their leadership and support of the important programs in this bill.

There are many things in the Majority’s mark that – if considered individually – House Republicans could support. For example, strong support for the Corps of Engineers, including specific Community Project Funding and additional programmatic funding, has long been a bipartisan priority.

Of great importance to me, of course, is the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy program. I appreciate the chairwoman’s efforts to address many of my priorities within the account.

Specifically, I am pleased to see continued support for:

  • Work on microreactors, including the MARVEL program;
  • Work to ensure a supply of high-assay low-enriched uranium, which will be necessary for many of the next generation of reactors;
  • The Advanced Reactors Demonstration Program; and
  • The national laboratory infrastructure necessary to enable these other activities to succeed.

I would like to work with the chair as we move the bill forward to better support the Advanced Small Modular Reactor demonstration project. The NuScale SMR is the first-ever NRC-approved SMR design, and we need to ensure this demonstration succeeds.

These individual good items aside, the bill is based on a funding level that passed the House without Republican support. The Majority has described their overall discretionary spending level as including “significant increases to help fight inflation”. Unfortunately, we can’t spend our way out of the highest inflation levels in 40 years. Even prominent liberal economists have pointed to excessive federal spending as a key cause of inflation, not the solution. We need to be more judicious about how much and where we allocate discretionary spending.

Like the President’s Budget request, the Majority’s Energy and Water bill overfunds certain non-defense programs and shortchanges our national security needs.

For example, the bill before us is below the budget request for Weapons Activities and Naval Reactors – a budget request that was insufficient considering the current global threat situation. There is bipartisan support for modernizing the nuclear weapons stockpile and complex. Yet the bill cuts some of these programs below last year and the budget request, and it leaves other items out completely. If you look at naval reactors and the weapons programs, these are on scale to do certain things, and they need to be kept. If they’re not, then ultimately when you fall behind, it costs you more in the long run to do it.

On the other hand, the bill increases energy efficiency and renewable energy activities by more than 25 percent over last year – and that’s on top of the tens of billions of dollars of infrastructure programs still in the early stages of implementation from the infrastructure bill.

The bill includes funding for the oresident’s proposal to use the Defense Production Act for non-emergency issues. For instance, even the Department of Energy has indicated that there is no supply shortage of insulation, yet the Administration is claiming it is such an emergency that it justifies use of the Defense Production Act.

I look forward to working together as the bill moves through the legislative process to develop a final Energy and Water bill that reflects a balanced set of priorities that can be supported by Members on both sides of the aisle.

In closing, I’d like to again thank Chairwoman Kaptur – and the Majority staff – for their hard work on this bill. And a special thanks, as mentioned, Jaime Shimek, for her work on the subcommittee over the past almost five years., Thank you for your dedication and service to this committee. I understand that you’ll be moving back to the Pacific Northwest. You’ll be really close to God’s country just on the east of God’s cathedrals in Central Idaho. We’ve appreciated working with you and look forward to your future endeavors. I’m happy you stuck with us through markup, and I wish you the best as you return to the great Pacific Northwest. 

Thank you, and I yield back.