After a nearly three-day shutdown, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution on January 22nd to fund the federal government through February 8th. Thankfully, local DOE and PNNL operations were not impacted because there was adequate carryover funding to temporarily bridge the gap. It’s difficult to predict what will happen after February 8th – there could be another shutdown, another short-term Continuing Resolution, or (hopefully) an Omnibus Appropriations bill. An Omnibus Appropriations bill would let federal agencies know how much funding they will have for the remainder of the fiscal year (Sept. 30, 2018), allowing them to plan ahead and operate more efficiently. It would also give the workforce, who are understandably concerned about furloughs, more certainty.

In order to pass an omnibus bill, Congress will need to negotiate budget caps as required by the Budget Control Act of 2011, and may need to reach a resolution on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Congress will also likely need to raise the debt ceiling by March. Ultimately, there are a lot of big and politically volatile issues for Congress to tackle in the next few weeks, which is why the path forward remains difficult to predict.

In other DOE news, Anne White has been nominated to serve as Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environmental Management (EM-1) which oversees all of the department’s cleanup activities, including at Hanford. Her nomination was approved by the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee on January 30th, and I’m hopeful she will be confirmed by the full Senate soon. TRIDEC was also pleased to host a small reception for DOE Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar in early January. Mr. Dabbar has responsibility for the DOE offices that manage both PNNL and Hanford cleanup, and it was a great opportunity to introduce him to our community.

At the state level, I joined the Tri-Cities Legislative Council, Leadership Tri-Cities and other local leaders for ‘Tri-Cities Day’ in Olympia last week. It was a great visit, including the well-deserved recognition of retiring Visit Tri-Cities President & CEO Kris Watkins by the Washington State Senate. I also had the opportunity to talk with several state legislators about our region’s economic development priorities, particularly the Building Business Ecosystems Act (SB 6499) and reducing the state’s B&O tax for manufacturing.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at our office 509-735-1000.

Respectfully,

David Reeploeg
VP Federal Programs