1. Update
  2. Nuclear Weapons

Restoring Sanity to the Nuclear Weapons Budget

April 8, 2015

Representative Blumenauer and Senator Markey are restoring Sanity to the Nuclear Weapons Budget

The Pentagon has an ambitious plan to spend an estimated $1 trillion on nuclear weapons over the next 30 years. This includes: new nuclear cruise missiles, new Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, a revamped nuclear gravity bomb and new facilities to support these programs. The details of this plan to refurbish all three legs of the U.S. nuclear arsenal are clear; the purpose of doing so remains murky. Nuclear weapons do nothing to confront the national security threats that face the United States today. They are not going to stop a resurgent Russia, resolve conflicts in the Middle East, protect against cyber threats or stop the spread of deadly diseases. Spending a trillion dollars of taxpayer money on these weapons is unreasonable. Thankfully, last week Representative Earl Blumenauer and Senator Ed Markey introduced the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act, H.R. 1534, to bring sanity to the nuclear weapons budget.

The SANE Act would not get rid of nuclear weapons. The United States would maintain its triad of nuclear aircraft, submarines and ballistic missiles. However, the bill would curtail unnecessary spending on outdated weapons systems. His cuts add-up to a whopping $100 billion over 10 years, which amounts to 63 percent of Oregon’s GDP.

One example of the wasteful spending that the SANE act would cut is the B61 nuclear bomb. This outdated weapon is a nuclear gravity bomb, meaning that it has to be dropped from an airplane rather than launched on a missile. This greatly reduces its speed and range, leaving former military officials, such as former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright, to state that the bomb has absolutely no military purpose. The bill would reduce spending on the B61 by $4 billion.

The SANE Act would also cancel the proposed nuclear tipped cruise missile. This program would waste $10 to $20 billion on a missile that is no longer needed and should not be replaced. The United States will continue to have both long range missiles and bombs that can be dropped from aircraft. We do not need an additional long range missile that can be fired from an aircraft.

The bill also cancels some extremely costly and poorly managed programs. The cost of the mixed oxide facility (MOX) in South Carolina has ballooned from $3.8 billion to a staggering $31 billion. Overspending by eight-fold on a program that the Energy Department itself wants to suspend is beyond reason.

The SANE Act is an important bill for our national security. The United States cannot afford to overspend on useless and poorly managed programs. This imperative is reinforced by the increasingly tight federal budget. Every dollar spent needlessly on nuclear weapons starves other programs of funding.

It is time to restore sanity to the nuclear weapons budget and our national priorities. It is long past time to pass the SANE Act.