Congress considers funding NNSA amid shutdown

The U.S. House of Representatives began discussions on the Nuclear Weapon Security and Non-Proliferation Act, which would maintain funding for some areas of the National Nuclear Security Administration at the same levels as 2012, on Friday.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the legislation would grant approximately $10.6 billion in spending authority. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), who chairs the House appropriations committee, said the bill is of "critical importance to (the United States') national security."

"(The bill) provides funding for the NNSA to continue this vital work - to keep our nuclear arsenal at the ready and our Navy ships powered - and ultimately, to keep this country safe, secure and protected," Rogers said.

A portion of the funding would be used to maintain federal labs and pay scientists and other support staff who conduct nonproliferation surveillance and work to ensure that nuclear stockpiles are secure.

"This is particularly important at a time when we face multiple threats from unpredictable nations. When our government shut down, it did not also shut down nuclear power reactors, research and testing in Iraq, Iran or North Korea," Rogers said.

Amid the government shutdown, Congress has pushed to reopen segments of the government that have been deemed critical, including some functions of the Department of Defense.

"Our nuclear security efforts are equally important to our defense and should have ongoing funding to keep this country safe and sound," Rogers said.