US Senate passes Nuclear Energy Leadership Act but reconciliation remains

The Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA, S.903) which had 22 bipartisan co-sponsors, was introduced as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (NDAA, S.4049) by Senators Lisa Murkowski and Cory Booker during a floor debate on July 23rd. The NDAA was passed the same day, with 86 senators voting in favor and 14 against.

NELA aims to re-establish US leadership in nuclear energy, with a focus on the demonstration of advanced reactors. “For too long, the United States has lagged woefully behind on innovative nuclear energy technologies, which comes at great cost to our economy, our global leadership and the environment,” Murkowski, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said after the vote.

Last month a bipartisan group of 10 Republican and 10 Democratic US senators, led by Murkowski and Booker, wrote a letter to the leaders of the Senate Committee on Armed Services to urge the inclusion of NELA in NDAA, based in part on nuclear energy’s contribution to national security.

NELA was not included in the House version of the NDAA, which was passed on two days earlier. A final version of the NDAA legislation, reconciling differences between House and Senate versions, must be drawn up before the bill can become law.

Read the World Nuclear New’s summary “US Senate passes Nuclear Energy Leadership Act” published 7/27/20.

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