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Senate passes defense bill with nuclear provisions

Jul 27, 2023
The Pentagon building

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Senate today passed its version of the annual defense policy bill in a bipartisan vote, setting up contentious negotiations with the House over energy and climate change.

Why it matters: The Senate's National Defense Authorization Act includes a bipartisan bill aimed at speeding the licensing process for the next generation of nuclear reactors.

  • The House bill, meanwhile, seeks to block efforts to address climate change at the Pentagon.

Driving the news: The 86 to 11 vote stood in stark contrast to the House, where the defense bill passed along largely partisan lines after Republicans added a number of culture-war amendments.

  • The Senate's ADVANCE Act — added in an amendment agreement — would lower licensing fees at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and bolster its staffing, as the agency anticipates a slew of new requests from next-generation nuclear developers.
  • The Senate added another amendment from Sen. John Barrasso that would create a Department of Energy program to encourage domestic production of uranium for both conventional and advanced nuclear reactors.
  • The Senate bill would also create a new program to employ more renewable energy in military operations.

What’s next: A potentially contentious conference committee.

  • Still, the two bills share some similarities. Both would block the Pentagon from requiring defense contractors to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions.
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