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House Effort Eyed $30M Shift From MOX Site to Nonproliferation

U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) submitted an amendment to a House funding bill that would have shifted tens of millions of dollars from a controversial mixed-oxide conversion facility to U.S. programs that seek to secure vulnerable weapons of mass destruction materials all over the world, his office announced on Tuesday. 

His office subsequently withdrew a news release on the matter, though, with a spokesman saying the amendment ultimately was not filed, due to timing constraints.

The draft amendment to the House version of fiscal 2014 energy and water appropriations legislation would have redirected $30 million away from the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility being built in South Carolina. The funds would have gone to the Global Threat Reduction Initiative and Nonproliferation and International Security -- two U.S. programs managed by the National Nuclear Security Administration for which the Obama administration is seeking reduced funding.

Patrick Malone, the Blumenauer spokesman, on Thursday said the lawmaker might in the future offer a similar amendment to a different piece of legislation.

The MOX facility, which would turn warhead-grade plutonium into nuclear reactor fuel, has been criticized for being behind schedule, generating massive cost overruns and security concerns, and offering questionable utility in the atomic energy field.

Separately, Representative Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) on Tuesday proposed cutting $23.7 million in funding from the bill for modernizing B-61 nuclear gravity bombs. House appropriators provided that money in addition to a 45 percent increase for the program, according to a statement from his office.

Clarification: An earlier version of this article was revised to update the status of Blumenauer's proposed amendment.

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