The U.S. Senate has flipped to Republican control. Workers and managers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are watching to see what the change could mean for cleanup in southeast Washington.
Democrat Patty Murray has chaired the Senate Budget Committee since 2012. And she has a seat on the Appropriations Committee. That means she’s been a powerful voice for cleanup at Hanford.
Now with Republican control of the Senate, Murray loses her chairmanship, and some of her power for advocating for one of the largest cleanup projects on earth.
About $2 billion goes into cleanup here annually. This year Murray helped pull down an additional $140 million.
In the past when Hanford has gotten less money from Congress, cleanup has slowed and hundreds of workers have been laid off.
It’s a one-two-three punch for Hanford. Murray’s Senate colleague Maria Cantwell will lose her chairmanship of a Senate small business committee that’s been important to Hanford. And longtime Republican congressman Doc Hastings will be replaced with a newcomer.