Source: Knoxville News Sentinel | August 27, 2018

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (running for senate) and Sen. Lamar Alexander greet citizens as they arrive to talk to media following their tours of ORNL and Y-12 Monday, August 27, 2018. (Photo: Michael Patrick/News Sentinel)

A trio of congressmen announced Monday their pleasure that the laboratories at Oak Ridge National Laboratory will be fully funded in the 2019 budget. For the fourth year in a row, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which contains ORNL’s budget, has been funded at a record level.

The nearly 16 percent increase brings the budget up to $6.65 billion.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. and Reps. Chuck Fleischmann and Marsha Blackburn were joined by State Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, for the announcement.

“That’s encouraging news, it ought to be encouraging, not just to our country, but for the people who live and work here,” Alexander said. “All of us are proud to represent a community that’s of such vital importance to our nation’s economic growth, to our national defense structure and our future and it’s our commitment to keep moving ahead with that.”

Blackburn, who is on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and who is running to fill a soon to be empty U.S. Senate seat, said the work done at ORNL and Y-12 is “vitally important” and said it’s Congress’ goal to make sure workers and researchers have the resources needed to compete on a worldwide scale.

President Donald Trump proposed a decrease in Department of Energy funding in his budget, but Congress overruled him and funded the operations and then some.

Alexander said an area the president and he agree on is on supercomputing, which Trump included in his budget.

“Congressman Blackburn and I plan to continue to talk to him about making science technology (and) supercomputing a part of his America First agenda,” he said. “And if he continues to sign appropriations bills like the last two he’s signed we’ll continue having record funding for the Oak Ridge facilities.”

Both Alexander and Fleischmann, whose district includes Oak Ridge, said Y-12’s Uranium Processing Facility and mercury treatment plant are running on budget and running on time.

“I am pleased with the progress … but I’m going to keep my eye on it,” Alexander said.