WASHINGTON - The battle to renew funding for the $8.25 billion Superconducting Super Collider project shifts to the Senate floor following the Senate Appropriations Committee's approval last week of a bill containing $550 million in funding for the giant research facility.
Although panel members did not oppose continued funding for the atom smasher being built south of Dallas, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, D-Tex., who heads the Texas congressional delegation's campaign to save the project, said he expects a tough fight when the bill comes upon on the Senate floor in the next two weeks.
If the $550 million in funding for fiscal 1993 is rejected by the Senate, the project would be shut down because the House voted 232-to-81 in mid-June to cut off funding and kill the project. Its backers, meanwhile, argue it is needed to help re-establish the nation's leadership in science.
Even if the Senate approves renewed funds for the project, it still must be approved by a House-Senate conference committee, where House negotiators are expected to fight to scrap the project.
Texas is financing its $1 billion share of it through state-issued bonds. On the total, $500 million has already been issued.
But state officials have said $212 million of those proceeds have not been spent and will be held until Congress resolves the issue of continued federal funding in case the bonds must be called.