President: Budget spending compromise within reach

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By The Staff

President Barack Obama says Democrats and Republicans are close to an agreement on the amount of spending cuts needed in order to keep the government operating and avoid a government shutdown.
Obama says there are details and differences to work out, but he says a compromise is within reach.
The president made the comments during a visit Friday to a shipping facility in Landover, Md. He spoke shortly after the release of a positive jobs report for March.
Obama said it would be “the height of irresponsibility” to shut down the government as the economy starts to recover. Lawmakers must reach an agreement by April 8 in order to avoid a shutdown.
Both sides are discussing cutting spending by an amount in the $33 billion range.
The Democratic leader of the Senate vowed Friday that any compromise on a government-wide spending bill won’t include GOP proposals blocking the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing new rules on greenhouse gases or regulations on a host of other issues.
“Neither the White House or the Senate leaders is going to accept any EPA riders,” said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in a conference call with reporters.
Reid was referring to a raft of Republican policy provisions attached to a House-passed government-wide funding bill currently being negotiated in hopes of avoiding a government shutdown next weekend. In addition to blocking new regulations on greenhouse gases, such riders include language blocking an EPA plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and a proposal to shut down mountaintop mines it believes will cause too much water pollution.
Reid’s comments came two days after The Associated Press reported that the White House was signaling in private meetings with lawmakers that some Republican proposals on the EPA’s regulatory powers would have to make it into the final bill. The lawmaker providing the information insisted on anonymity because the discussions were private. Reid himself had signaled flexibility. Taken together, the revelations ignited a firestorm among environmental activists.
National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Administrator Thomas D’Agostino this week said President Obama’s FY 2012 Budget Request provides the resources required to invest in the future of the nuclear security enterprise, implement the president’s nuclear security agenda, and improve the way the NNSA does business.
“The resources President Obama is requesting for FY 2012 make a critical investment in the future of the nuclear security enterprise, which will allow us to continue to implement his nuclear security agenda and respond to crises like the one in Japan,” D’Agostino said.
Also testifying Wednesday was Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Michael Anastasio. They both testified in front of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
 Anastasio addressed the aging infrastructure at the lab.
“Los Alamos has been working closely with NNSA to build strategies that update the site’s aging infrastructure,” he said. “A key element of that infrastructure, in terms of the required national capability, is the replacement facility for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research (CMR) facility that was completed in 1952 and was discovered years later to reside on a seismic fault.
“The CMRR will provide the infrastructure required for the nation’s ongoing plutonium work, just as the Uranium Production Facility (UPF) at Y-12 will provide the nation’s ability to work with uranium. The currently operating plutonium and uranium facilities have both served our country well over the last 60 years.
“However, with evolving safety and security standards, these aging buildings now need to be replaced with more efficient structures designed to meet modern-day requirements. It is important to recognize, especially when I look at the overall health and vitality of the Laboratory, that the infrastructure needs at Los Alamos are much broader than just CMRR. Clearly, CMRR will be one of the biggest line-item projects in front of this Subcommittee, but other smaller investments will be required that will help maintain the science at the Laboratory.”
Anastasio also urged that the lab and NNSA could not sustain a cut.
“At Los Alamos alone, the differential in funding shifts that may arise from the current debate in Congress amounts to the equivalent of 20% of our annual budget,” Anastasio said.
Anastasio’s complete testimony can be found on lamonitor.com