When the NIF started operating in 2009, the lab promised it would achieve ignition by September 2012, a deadline it obviously blew past. Since ignition researchers couldn't predict when ignition would be achieved, or even what they were doing wrong, the NIF's government funding has been in jeapordy. Proposed budget cuts for the NIF for fiscal year 2014 would reduce the lab's funding by $60 million. "It is impossible at the moment to predict whether ignition can be achieved," Senator Diane Feinstein, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in May. "Now is the perfect opportunity to reassess the goals of this program." In other words, the government doesn't want to pour its billions into a high-energy pipe dream.