Source: Knoxville News Sentinel  | Brittany Crocker | October 9, 2017

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., who represents Oak Ridge, and Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, gave an exclusive interview to the Knoxville News Sentinel ahead of their visit to Oak Ridge last week.

The congressmen talked about plans for defense spending going forward, and how it will affect Oak Ridge and national security.

This interview has been trimmed for space and edited for clarity. Questions and answers are divided by subheads relevant to the topics discussed.

Question: So you were talking a little bit about your plans for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory tour. On the record, what can you tell us about it?

Fleischmann: I’m very privileged to have Chairman Mac Thornberry, who chairs the Armed Services Committee in the House of Representatives, to come visit Oak Ridge. This is a city that I’ve represented in Congress. Chairman Thornberry is the key authorizer; I’m an appropriator, and I think this is very important.

Our focus is going to be to visit Y-12, which is critically important to our national nuclear security. The chairman represents Pantex. (Pantex is a National Nuclear Security Administration plant in Texas. Y-12 and Pantex are run by the same managing contractor). 

We will visit the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF), and visit Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Then, of course, we will be looking at our cleanup mission, which covers much of the entire complex there.

Thornberry: Well, I’m looking forward to being back. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve been to Y-12 (National Security Complex) and I’ve never had the opportunity really to get briefed and see Oak Ridge, so I’m looking forward to that as well.

I think in a larger sense, nuclear deterrence is fundamental to our nation’s security, and yet for too long, we’ve let it slip. We’ve taken it for granted and now we’ve got a lot of catching up to do in facilities and equipment and so forth.

We’re starting that, but there are real needs out there, because as we watch what’s happening around the world with the Russians, the Chinese and others — obviously, the North Koreans are much on our mind these days — having a strong, credible nuclear deterrent ourselves is absolutely essential for protecting the American people.

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