Durbin: Congressional Budget Agreement Will Help Fermilab and Argonne Continue Research and Avoid Major Layoffs

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that the agreement reached on the FY2011 budget will help both Fermilab and Argonne National Laboratory continue important research and avoid the major layoffs that the House Republican Budget (H.R.1) would have required. The agreement, expected to be voted on in the House and Senate later this week, funds the Office of Science at $4.884 billion which is $866 million above the level in H.R.1.

“This is good news for Fermilab, Argonne and the communities surrounding the labs in Batavia and DuPage County,” said Durbin. “The current budget agreement keeps America’s commitment to investing in innovative research while cutting spending by over $78 billion. I thank Director Oddone and Director Isaacs for their efforts and will work with them to ensure that they have the resources they need to continue their important work.”

Last month, Durbin visited Argonne National Laboratory to highlight the impact of drastic cuts to federal spending would have on Illinois labs. The cuts, proposed by House Republicans, would have put important scientific research on hold, jeopardizing America’s role as a global leader in research and innovation, as well as 1,450 high-paying jobs in Illinois. Argonne National Laboratory would have let go a third of its staff (more than 1,000 employees) and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory would have let go of a quarter of its staff (450 employees) if the cuts had been successful.

“The current appropriations bill recognizes the critical role that the DOE Office of Science and its laboratories play in the nations’ future,” said Pier Oddone, Director of Fermilab. “We at Fermilab are deeply appreciative of Senator Durbin’s role as an important leader through the difficult negotiations. He has eloquently articulated the importance of our mission in science and innovation. We are also thankful to his Illinois colleagues in the House and Senate who have recognized our commitment to deliver value for the nation."

“I am deeply encouraged by Congress’ bipartisan decision to preserve our nation's investment in the Department of Energy's fundamental scientific research,” said Eric Isaacs, Director of Argonne National Laboratory. “Every day, scientists and engineers in our national laboratories are working hard to develop the scientific foundations for safe, affordable, secure energy solutions for America. Through his advocacy for mission-driven research, Senator Durbin has underscored the importance of science discovery to our national interest. This budget agreement means we can continue to do the groundbreaking work that ultimately drives American innovation and technological competitiveness in the global economy.”

Earlier this year, Durbin sent letters to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee, of which he is a member, warning that the funding cuts proposed in H.R.1 would have a devastating impact on our entire national laboratory system. Durbin vowed to work with the committee to ensure that labs can continue to do world-class research at their facilities.