Energy and Water Appropriations Bill Passed by Senate

The Senate passed its $37.5 billion fiscal 2017 energy and water development appropriations bill Thursday in a 90-8 vote.

The bill, which was approved by a committee last month, has had a rough path forward in recent weeks, held up by a disagreement over an amendment offered by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) to ban the U.S. from using funds allocated by the bill to buy heavy water from Iran. Democrats blocked three procedural votes on Sen. Lamar Alexander’s (R-Tenn.) substitute amendment, only passing it after a vote on the Cotton amendment was blocked in a 57-42 vote on Wednesday.

Cotton agreed to withdraw the amendment if a cloture vote failed.

The bill provides $355 million more than the fiscal 2016 enacted level and $261 million more than the president’s budget request. It would also give the Energy Department $30.7 billion, $1.024 billion more than this fiscal year’s enacted budget and includes a pilot program to address nuclear waste storage and would allow the DOE to store nuclear waste at private facilities licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Speaking on the Senate floor following the vote, Alexander said this is the earliest the Senate has passed an appropriations bill in the past 40 years, according to the Congressional Research Service.