Three Senate Democrats Oppose Amendment Promoting American Uranium Independence in NDAA

In a notable move, three Senate Democrats voted against an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that aimed to bolster American uranium independence.

The Nuclear Fuel Security Act, authored by Republican Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, sought to direct the Department of Energy (DOE) to prioritize actions to increase domestic production of two types of uranium essential for fueling U.S. nuclear reactors. However, Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Edward Markey of Massachusetts, and Bernie Sanders of Vermont opposed the amendment.

Despite the Democratic opposition, the bill ultimately passed the Senate with an overwhelming vote of 96-3. It’s worth noting that Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois did not cast a vote on the matter.

The amendment’s passage is seen as a crucial step towards enhancing American uranium independence, but the divide in Senate voting underscores differing perspectives on the issue among lawmakers. As the bill progresses, further discussions and debates are expected to take place on this critical aspect of the National Defense Authorization Act.

Though the bill does not expressly name Russia in its text, Barrasso made clear during Thursday remarks from the Senate floor that reducing Russian influence over the U.S. uranium supply is a key goal of the amendment.

“Russia has driven America’s nuclear fuel suppliers out of business,” Barrasso said, adding that the U.S. spends “nearly $1 billion each year on Russian uranium” and that “Russia uses these revenues to fund its invasion of Ukraine.”

“Here in America we have the resources to fuel our own reactors,” he continued.

Markey and Warren voted against the amendment despite previously voicing concerns about Russian influence in the U.S., and both senators have advanced the narrative that Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign had potentially colluded with agents of the Russian government.

In July 2017, Markey said that an alleged meeting between Trump campaign operatives and a Russian woman “proves that there was an attempt at collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign.”

The Mueller report ultimately did not prove that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia. Investigators spent more than $32 million and nearly two years investigating the allegations, according to CNBC .

Warren tweeted that the Mueller report “lays out facts showing that a hostile foreign government attacked our 2016 election to help Donald Trump and Donald Trump welcomed that help,” adding that “once elected, Donald Trump obstructed the investigation into that attack.”

Warren also called for impeachment proceedings against Trump after the Mueller report’s release. 

Republican Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia cosponsored the amendment, according to its text.

The offices of Warren, Markey and Sanders all did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

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