Durbin pushes for Fermilab funding
From Kane County Chronicle,
March 21, 2008
A push to restore funding this year at Fermilab and similar facilities across the country is in the works.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., wrote a letter this week to the Senate's Appropriations Committee to ask for $350 million in funding for laboratories across the country, including Batavia's Fermilab and Argonne National Laboratory near Darien.
The letter also had the support of several other senators from both parties.
Durbin and the other lawmakers want $350 million in a supplemental appropriations bill that would bring the funds as soon as this spring. Laboratories were "shortchanged" last year, losing money for this fiscal year, Durbin said.
If the bill is passed, Fermilab and Argonne would receive about $56 million to "put projects back on track," Durbin said.
"Basic research at these laboratories is critical," he said.
Last year's funding crunch caused the laboratories to put projects on hold and cut staff. Fermilab is expected to begin layoffs this summer.
Fermilab spokesman Kurt Riesselmann declined to comment on the prospect of the restored funding. He said employees were not lobbying for federal money because it paid their salaries.
The recently sworn-in Rep. Bill Foster, D-Geneva, was a scientist at Fermilab.
Foster's spokesman, Tom Bowen, said Foster was committed to restoring funding at Fermilab.