Inhofe, Whitehouse Eye Defense, Energy Bills for Nuclear Legislation

Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) have high hopes that their bill to expedite the licensing of advanced nuclear reactors can be included either in a defense authorization bill or wide-ranging energy bill. Lawmakers are hoping to pass both by the end of the year.

The bipartisan nuclear reactor bill passed Inhofe’s Environment and Public Works Committee by a 17-3 vote in May. The bill aims to promote the use of nuclear energy by accelerating the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing process.

“I think during the session we have after the election, that we have a really good chance of doing this,” Inhofe said at a panel discussion on Wednesday. “It’s something that should pass.”

Whitehouse agreed that they have “quite a good shot.” He pointed to the defense authorization bill, which is considered “must pass” every year, and the energy bill, which is currently in conference after the House and Senate passed two different version, as potential vehicles.

The bill’s bipartisan nature is evidenced by the odd pairing of Inhofe and Whitehouse, who typically have vastly different perspectives on climate and environmental issues. In addition to those two senators, the bill has five Democratic and five Republican co-sponsors.

“I’m hoping that if these do get added into whatever packages are moving at the end, they’re not going to be detrimental to the passage of whatever the vehicle is,” Whitehouse said. “I think if anything they might add enthusiasm for it.”

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