September 4, 1996September 4, 1996
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee members from both parties today attacked legislation to abolish the Energy Department. At a hearing, Senate Budget Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said he would do everything in his power to prevent the Senate from passing the bill. And Energy and Natural Resources ranking member J. Bennett Johnston, D-La., said the bill is "more about political tactics ... than a clear-eyed view" of the DOE's missions.
The bill's sponsor, Sen. Rod Grams, R-Minn., contended the DOE carries out missions that would be better handled by the private sector, and that the bill would save between $19 billion and $23 billion in its first five years. But Johnston said the conservative Heritage Foundation estimated the bill would save only $23 million.
Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, said the way to fix the DOE's problems is not to abolish the department, but to get a new President. And GAO official Victor Rezendes said breaking up the DOE could cause more problems than it would solve, and called for rethinking the missions of the department. But Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., said the department's reason to exist ceased with the end of the energy crisis of the 1980s.
September 4, 1996