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House and Senate conferees reached a final agreement over the weekend on funding for the nuclear weapons complex, softening many of the cuts that were aimed at Los Alamos National Laboratory.Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., one of the negotiators, who has called this year’s appropriations process the most difficult he has experienced, said it wasn’t all good news.In a summary press release sent out Sunday night, Domenici said the conference agreement would restore $415 million of an estimated $600 million in cuts made by the House appropriation bill in the weapons program.“We didn’t get everything,” he said in a telephone interview Monday. “We saved some things and we pushed some new things.”Among the key issues dealt with in the bill, Domenici predicted problems ahead on environmental cleanup projects at LANL. Despite an increase of $14 million above the House mark, the account remains $74 million below the Senate proposal.Additionally, the compromise agreement eliminated funding for the Reliable Replacement Warhead, a major NNSA initiative for restructuring the nuclear weapons program with newly designed warheads.
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