May 16, 2017

Cortez Masto, Colleagues to Perry: We Expect No Less Than Full Compliance with the Law

The Department of Energy is ignoring Congress by delaying and refusing to release funds

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and 27 senators signed and submitted a letter to Energy Secretary Rick Perry in which they stated their view that the Secretary must comply with the law and follow through with financial awards previously appropriated that boost research and development, innovation, cutting edge science, and energy efficiency in communities. The Senator believes these programs are essential not only for the clean energy industry in Nevada, but also to assist low-income homeowners with energy efficient measures.

“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,” the senators wrote.

“Each new President certainly has the right to influence the direction of the Executive Branch,” the senators added. “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 was also signed by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D- Hawaii), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D- Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Sherrod Brown (D- Ohio), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D- Ill.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jack Reed (D- R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bob Menéndez (D-N.J.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

The full letter to Secretary Perry can be found here.