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Budget wins short reprieve

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By Roger Snodgrass

With five days left before the end of the federal budget cycle, New Mexico's senators announced Tuesday that a continuing resolution (CR) had been filed. The measure will be considered by both chambers of Congress before the end of the fiscal year, midnight Sept. 30, they said. A key feature of the continuing resolution is that it extends operations at Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories through Nov. 16 based on current funding levels. "With this CR in the works, we have averted a worst-case scenario at Los Alamos and Sandia laboratories for the next six weeks," said Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., in a statement. "This buys us the time to redouble our efforts to put together a FY2008 funding bill that will allow our nation's nuclear complex to continue critical nuclear deterrent efforts and to minimize layoffs at LANL and Sandia contemplated under the House-passed bill." Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said in the joint announcement, "This is as good as we could have hoped for in the near term. It maintains the status quo while we fight to ensure that our labs are funded as close as possible to President Bush's budget request." A laboratory spokesperson expressed LANL's gratitude to the legislators in Washington in a statement this morning. "We appreciate the opportunity to acknowledge all the hard work," said Kevin Roark of the Communications Office. "We realize the difficulty of the budget process and so greatly appreciate all the efforts of our congressional delegation, particularly Rep. Udall, Sen. Bingaman and Sen. Domenici."