The late Pete V. Domenici was a BPC senior fellow and co-chair of its Debt Reduction Task Force, Health Care Cost Containment Initiative, and Task Force on Defense Budget and Strategy. During his 36 years in the Senate, Domenici served as chairman and ranking minority member of the Senate Budget Committee and the Appropriations Subcommittee of Energy and Water Development. In addition, he served as chairman and ranking minority member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
As budget committee chairman, he produced two consecutive balanced budgets, the only federal balanced budgets in the last 50 years.
In addition, he introduced the reconciliation process into Senate procedure, enabling spending reform to pass without the danger of filibuster. He authored or co-authored energy legislation in four consecutive decades beginning in the 1970s, which de-regulated natural gas, established the Synthetic Fuels Corporation, funded alternative energy sources like solar and wind energy, promoted the renaissance of nuclear power plant generation of electricity, developed clean coal initiatives, and guided U.S. energy policy.
He was internationally acknowledged as one of the most knowledgeable and effective senators in the area of nuclear nonproliferation and working to reduce the nuclear threat posed by foreign nuclear arms facilities. He increased funding for the nation’s nuclear laboratories and introduced a variety of programs to improve the testing of American nuclear weapons without use of physical, underground testing.
Finally, after an 11-year effort, Domenici’s Mental Health Parity bill, that guarantees that insurance company plans treat the mentally ill on an equal footing with other illnesses, became law in 2008.
Throughout his life, Domenici was well respected for his bipartisan approach. A 1995 editorial in The New York Times noted “Mr. Domenici enjoys a universal reputation as one of the Senate’s hardest-working, most intelligent and most intense members.”