Note: This story was updated at 12:20 p.m. June 28.
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein on Wednesday said the president’s budget request for the next fiscal year could lead to a 33 percent workforce reduction at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. About 1,600 of the lab’s roughly 4,800 employees could be laid off, the senator’s office said.
Feinstein, a Democrat from California, and other members of the Senate Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, including Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, a Republican who is chair of the subcommittee, had a budget hearing with new Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Wednesday afternoon, June 21.
Across the U.S. Department of Energy, a workforce of 29,000 employees could be reduced by 23 percent at labs such as ORNL that are managed for DOE and not for the National Nuclear Security Administration, Feinstein said. (The NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within DOE.) That would be a reduction of 6,700 employees at the non-NNSA, non-weapons labs, the senator said.
“Every non-NNSA lab would see drastic employment cuts under this proposed budget,” said Feinstein, the ranking Democratic member of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee. “We must change this budget.”
The potential layoffs at DOE labs would be the result of a budget request submitted by President Donald Trump to Congress on Tuesday, May 23. But the president’s budget request has not yet been approved by Congress, and it has run into bipartisan opposition. Some legislators have declared the budget request “dead on arrival,” and others have said they won’t even review some proposed cuts such as a 30 percent funding reduction for the State Department. [Read more…]