There has been significant movement in both the House and Senate on the pending legislation to create a national historical park for the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge as well as Los Alamos, N.M., and Hanford, Wash.
On June 14, the House of Representatives voted to include the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), H.R. 1960. A few hours later, the House passed the NDAA and, along with it, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act. The Manhattan Project Park Act, and the NDAA amendment, was sponsored by representatives Doc Hastings (R-WA), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), and Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN).
The same day, the Senate Committee on Armed Services completed its markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2014. Next, the full Senate must pass the bill. Once the Senate acts, a House-Senate conference committee will be appointed to reconcile differences between the two versions of the NDAA.
Assuming that the Manhattan Project National Historical Park bill stays as a part of the final NDAA, the next step is for the House and Senate to pass the NDAA and send it to the President for his signature. At that point, the legislation becomes law.
In the meantime, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), along with senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and several others, have been an important advocates of the Manhattan Project legislation in the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Sen. Ron Wyden, chairman of the Committee, reported the legislation out of committee on June 27 (Committee report No. 113-65) and placed the bill on Senate Legislative Calendar (no. 119) under General Orders.
The Senate leadership must decide which path to enactment for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act is most advantageous. The Senate is considering a strategy to enact a collection of park bills that have been reported out of Committee this year as part of a possible public lands omnibus bill. The Manhattan Project National Historical Park bill may be part of that collection.
Either way, things are moving toward enactment. Thanks to the leadership of the Tennessee Congressional delegation and the ardent support of the City of Oak Ridge, Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association, and many others, we can look forward to a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Stay tuned to further developments this summer or fall.
Cynthia C. Kelly
President, Atomic Heritage Foundation