WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and 27 senators in a letter to Energy Secretary Rick Perry communicated their view that the Secretary must comply with the law by awarding and releasing research and development funds according to Congress’s direction.
In the letter the senators wrote, “We are deeply troubled by reports that the Department of Energy (DOE) has delayed awarding funds and, in some cases, is refusing to release funds altogether for various activities for which Congress has already provided appropriations. These actions not only ignore Congressional intent, but are explicitly prohibited by law.”
“Each new President certainly has the right to influence the direction of the Executive Branch,” the senators wrote. “However, the President cannot ignore statutory requirements or funding direction provided by appropriations legislation for Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017.”
“It appears that the Department may already be ignoring Congressional direction. We have heard from small businesses, universities, and research institutions, as well as media reports that the DOE has slowed down or frozen some of its essential research and development programs that promote American innovation, economic competitiveness, and cutting-edge science.”
“Despite the fact that your Department already publicly announced these awards, project awardees are now unable to finalize contracts with DOE due to a contracting hold. These contract holds at DOE are jeopardizing jobs and millions of dollars of investments. Additionally, reports of DOE universally denying no-cost time extensions threaten technological advancements and waste previously-spent taxpayer dollars if consideration of circumstances is denied for otherwise on track projects.”
The letter concludes with the expectation that the Department of Energy will respond to these concerns. “We ask that you report to us within 10 days the Department’s plans for spending already appropriated funds and how the May 4 Memorandum is impacting DOE spending decisions.”
The letter led by Sen. Cantwell was also signed by Sen. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Franken (D-Minn.), Sen. Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sen. Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Sen. Udall (D-N.M.), Sen. Hirono (D- Hawaii), Sen. Coons (D-Del.), Sen. Heinrich (D-N.M.), Sen. Markey (D- Mass.), Sen. Shaheen (D-N.H.), Sen. Murray (D-Wash.), Sen. Brown (D- Ohio), Sen. Duckworth (D-Ill.), Sen. Durbin (D- Ill.), Sen. Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sen. Hassan (D-N.H.), Sen. Reed (D- R.I.), Sen. Wyden (D-Ore.), Sen. Bennet (D-Colo.), Sen. Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sen. Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Sanders (D-Vt.), Sen. Casey (D-Pa.), Sen. Carper (D-Del.), Sen. Menendez (D-N.J.), Sen. Merkley (D-Ore.), and Sen. Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).
The full letter to Secretary Perry can be found here.