House Approves Funding Bill with Newhouse Amendment to Prevent Bonneville Power Administration Privatization, End Forced Spill at Dams
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) voted in favor of House passage of H.R. 5895, the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act. Rep. Newhouse spoke in support of legislation that approves funding levels above the administration’s request for Hanford cleanup, as well as a strong commitment to support the scientific research at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (see full remarks here). Rep. Newhouse previously announced that this legislation includes his language to stop the forced spill order at lower Snake and Columbia River dams. The legislation approved by the House also includes Rep. Newhouse’s amendment to prevent the privatizing of the Bonneville Power Administration, which passed the full House unanimously.
I rise today to offer an amendment on a critical matter for the Bonneville Power Administration, and our nation’s other Power Marketing Administrations, or the PMA’s, including Southwestern Power Administration and the Western Area Power Administration, as well as the Tennessee Valley Authority, or the TVA. The President’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Request released earlier this year included a misguided proposal to sell the transmission assets of these entities. It is unfortunate this proposal was offered once again, as the matter was met with resounding rejection by Congress last year when it was offered in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget request. The sale of these assets would result in the federal government abandoning a successful and efficient solution for providing affordable power to rural, urban, and tribal communities across the country. This one-time federal debt reduction proposal would create energy production and delivery issues for my constituents, as costs would inevitably rise. Mr. Chairman, this ill-advised proposal is once again a federal attempt to fix something that is not broken. I fully support efforts to improve energy infrastructure across the nation. However, I do not believe that this goal should come at the expense of existing infrastructure—infrastructure that successfully fills a need where market-based pricing would not be sustainable. My constituents—especially in rural communities—depend on the Bonneville Power Administration to provide stable and affordable electricity service. Divesting BPA’s assets would create needless uncertainty for regional energy markets and ratepayers in Central Washington. In a climate where BPA continues to face unnecessary challenges—whether it’s from the imprudent federal proposal to move to market-based rates, or to the incessant use of litigation brought forward by radical environmentalists for the past three decades—I offer this amendment which simply prohibits any funds from being used to sell the transmission assets of the three PMAs and the TVA. Mr. Chairman, I come before the House today as a champion for the Bonneville Power Administration, an advocate for public power, and a steadfast representative for ratepayers across central Washington state, the greater Pacific Northwest, and the entire nation. I encourage the Administration to listen to this resounding, bipartisan message that I bring along with my colleagues today: We reject this proposal and prohibit the divestment of the assets, and with that Mr. Chairman I reserve the balance of my time.
H.R. 5895 combines three House Appropriations bills, including the Energy and Water Appropriations bill, which provides $44.7 billion for Fiscal Year 2019 and provides funding for the Army Corp of Engineers, Department of Energy, and our nation’s nuclear weapons security programs. It also includes $15.3 billion for DOE’s nuclear weapons security programs, an increase of $644 million over FY18, and includes $7.28 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, $451 million over FY18, for our nation’s ports, waterways, and flood protection infrastructure. The bill also repeals the Waters of the United States rule, and includes several provisions important to the 4th District on Hanford, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Yucca Mountain, and the Federal Columbia River Power System. This package also includes the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, which provides $96.9 billion for FY19 to provide the care and support for our veterans and their families while also strengthening oversight and accountability at the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Finally, it includes the Legislative Branch Appropriations bills, which provides $3.8 billion for the House of Representatives, Capitol Police, the Library of Congress, and support agencies of Congress.
Hanford Cleanup FY2019 by the Numbers (Millions)
DOE Office of Environmental Management
- FY2019 House Funding Level: $5,759,220
- President’s FY2019 Request: $5,630,217
- House Bill vs. President’s request: +$129,003
- Final FY2018 Appropriated Amount: $5,988,048
Richland Operations Office (RL)
- FY2019 House Funding Level: $863,192
- President’s FY2019 Request: $658,171
- House Bill vs. President’s request: +$205,021
- Final FY2018 Appropriated Amount: $863,192
Office of River Protection (ORP)
- FY2019 House Funding Level: $1,480,053
- President’s FY2019 Request: $1,438,513
- House Bill vs. President’s request: +$41,540
- Final FY2018 Appropriated Amount: $1,560,000