Reps. Markey, Turner clash again over size of the US nuclear arsenal

In their latest quarrel over the size of the country's nuclear force, Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Michael Turner (R-Ohio) are once again pushing competing plans for the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Turner, chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on Strategic Forces, introduced a bill Thursday that would require funding for the modernization of the U.S. nuclear infrastructure, including the construction of new plutonium and uranium facilities.

Turner said that Obama is not living up to promises he made for nuclear modernization in the New START treaty with Russia.

“During the Senate’s consideration of the New START Treaty, the president made many promises to achieve support for Senate ratification,” Turner said in a statement. “With the president’s [fiscal 2013] budget request, it is now apparent that those promises have been broken. This bill will correct that and ensure the promises are kept.”

Markey, meanwhile, sent a letter to Turner on Thursday arguing that the new nuclear facilities Turner is calling for should not be built. Markey cited two facilities, a research lab in New Mexico and a uranium processing facility in Tennessee, that were not included in the president’s 2103 budget.

“At a time when the Senate and president have formally committed to reducing our nuclear stockpile, it makes no sense to spend up to $5 billion to expand our capacity to produce components of nuclear weapons,” wrote Markey, the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, who has introduced legislation that would cut $100 billion in nuclear spending.

Markey and Turner have clashed on nuclear issues before. In November, Turner accused Markey of distorting the cost that the United States pays for its nuclear arsenal, prompting Markey to respond, “Rep. Turner’s accounting of the nuclear weapons program makes Enron look like mathematicians.”