Energy, Water Spending Bill Advances

A House committee has approved legislation to increase spending for water reclamation and flood control projects, despite attempts by the White House to curtail the local programs.

The $26 billion spending bill also provides more money for nuclear security – a priority because of increased concerns about terrorism – and for the disposal of nuclear waste. It remains uncertain when the bill will be considered by the full House.

The $26 billion provided in the energy and water bill for fiscal 2003, which begins next month, is $857 million more than current spending and $516 million more than President Bush requested in his proposed budget.

It calls for $4.76 billion for water projects under the Army Corps of Engineers, which is about $586 million more than the president sought. It also calls for $945 million for the Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees western water projects – about the same as this year, but $63 million more than Bush requested.

The White House had sought about an 8 percent cut in local water projects. Instead, the committee added a number of projects at the request of various lawmakers.

The bill provides $525 million, a 40 percent increase, for work on the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site in Nevada. Congress gave that project the go-ahead in July.

The bill also has $7.9 billion for nuclear weapons programs, $347 million more than the president requested, including nearly $1.7 billion for nuclear material safeguards and nonproliferation programs.

The Associated Press

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