ATLANTA — Democrat Michelle Nunn is bucking the Obama administration on MOX.
The leading candidate for the Democratic Senate nomination is siding with Georgia Republicans rather than the leader of her national party.
The administration’s budget for the next fiscal year stops construction on the facility, which would to turn nuclear-bomb materials into fuel for commercial reactors, and place it in “cold standby.”
Savannah River Site’s mixed-oxide project has gone more than $2 billion over its $4.8 billion budget, and construction is continuing as politicians battle over the budget.
Nunn’s campaign manager, Nathan Click, said she wants to see MOX continue even though she’s concerned about the cost overruns.
“Michelle agrees with the bipartisan group of senators that support the project,” he said. “... Georgians should be able to see a return on our federal investment in the project.”
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said Monday in an interview with Morris News he’s frustrated and has been working with Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC., to get more information.
“We can’t get a satisfactory answer out of the White House,” said Chambliss, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “We know the secretary of energy is very supportive of the Savannah River facility. He promoted it in budget discussions but lost that fight.”
The decision was about other priorities, according to Chambliss.
“The White House has just spent the money elsewhere,” he said.
The GOP candidates to succeed the retiring Chambliss have also chimed in. Rep. Jack Kingston, a Savannah Republican who serves on the House Appropriations’ Defense Subcommittee, wrote Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz on March 20 complaining that President Obama had no authority to halt the MOX program with construction 60 percent complete.
“The Obama administration needs to explain its decision to flagrantly ignore a law, passed by Congress and signed by the president, and instead waste our prior investments while jeopardizing national security agreements,” Kingston said Tuesday.
Rep. Paul Broun, an Athens Republican, also joined in the chorus to resume the program.
“Failing to act on MOX will not only result in millions of dollars in penalties placed on the backs of taxpayers, but it will also jeopardize our national security and international credibility,” Broun said in response to a reporter’s question.
Phil Gingrey, a Marietta congressman, said almost the same thing, “It is simply unacceptable to halt progress on this vital facility. This move will not only stick taxpayers with an annual $100 million penalty, but deal a serious blow to our credibility in the international community.”
Businessman-candidate David Perdue, although not in Congress, said the administration needs to fund MOX or propose alternatives in order for the United States to honor its treaty obligations.
“At a time when the Obama administration is more than happy to launch a taxpayer-funded advertising campaign trying to save Obamacare, the president’s decision shows the misplaced priorities in Washington,” said Perdue, who is leading in polls for the GOP nomination to replace Chambliss.
The campaigns of GOP hopeful Karen Handel, Georgia’s former secretary of state, and Phil Gingrey, a Marietta congressman did not respond before deadline.