With President Clinton and the Department of Energy (DOE) staunchly opposed, the House of Representatives was expected to return September 4 from August recess to take up its version of a nuclear waste disposal bill that passed in the Senate on July 31 by a vote of 63-37.
Senate bill 1936 and its amendments call for a temporary storage facility at the Nevada nuclear test site near Yucca Mountain before the end of 1999. Yucca Mountain is the proposed permanent repository, where tunnel borings and construction are underway.
A spokeswoman for the Nuclear Energy Institute says there's bipartisan support for the House companion legislation to S. 1936 (H.R. 1020), with about 228 congressmen (em or more than half the body (em expected to vote yes.
"I think we can get a strong vote out of the House in early September," Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) told reporters after more than eight hours of debate in the Senate.
Conversely, senators Richard H. Bryan (D-NV) and Harry Reid (D-NV) said the legislation was dead because the 37 'no' votes, which included three Republicans, would help sustain a presidential veto.
But supporters believe they could overcome a veto, says David Fish of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Fish said: "If the House deals with it, that puts a little pressure on the President, as does the court case."