Lawmakers look to cut $100 billion from nuclear weapons budget

A pair of congressional Democrats is spearheading a bill that would cut $100 billion from the U.S. nuclear weapons budget over the next decade.

The Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act, sponsored by Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyNet neutrality supporters predict tough court battle over FCC's repeal plan Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Driverless car bill hits Senate speed bump MORE (Mass.) and Rep. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerDemocrat: Pelosi ‘ceded the moral high ground’ on sexual harassment Clyburn on disparity in responses to sexual allegations: ‘Who elected them?’ Third House Dem calls for Conyers to resign MORE (D-Ore.), would reduce the number of nuclear submarines from 14 to eight and scale back the purchase of replacement submarines from 12 to eight.

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The proposed measure would also nix nuclear weapon production facilities and missile defense programs, defer development of new intercontinental ballistic missiles, cut programs that extend the lifetimes of warheads, delay the Air Force’s new long-range bomber effort and remove the nuclear mission for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The legislation comes as both the House and Senate prepare to battle over the GOP’s budget plan for fiscal 2016.

“We are robbing America’s future to pay for unneeded weapons of the past,” Markey said in a statement.

“As we debate the budget and Republicans rally around devastating cuts to Medicare, Head Start and investments in research and science, it makes no sense to fund a bloated nuclear arsenal that does nothing to keep our nation safe in the 21st century," he continued. "We should cure disease, not create new instruments of death. We should fund education, not annihilation.”

“Instead of spending this year’s budget debate focused solely on repealing defense spending caps, or stuffing excess Pentagon spending into the Overseas Contingency Operations account, Congress should instead be focusing on ways to extract more value and greater savings from existing programs,” added Blumenauer.

The SANE Act “would do exactly that by aligning our nuclear weapons spending with what the Pentagon has said is necessary to maintain a strong and credible deterrent, which is a one-third reduction in deployed nuclear weapons, not a complete $1 trillion rebuild above and beyond existing capacity," he added.

In January, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the U.S. will need to spend $348 billion over the next decade to maintain its nuclear arsenal.

The Defense Department would be responsible for $227 billion in costs, while the Energy Department would spend $121 billion, the agency said.

The SANE Act is co-sponsored Sens. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyAvalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Senate nixes provision boosting conservative college after uproar Overnight Energy: Panel advances controversial Trump nominee | Ex-coal boss Blankenship to run for Senate | Dem commissioner joins energy regulator MORE (D-Ore.), Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSchumer: Franken should resign Franken resignation could upend Minnesota races Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE (I-Vt.), and Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenDemocrats turn on Al Franken Schumer called, met with Franken and told him to resign Overnight Finance: Trump says shutdown 'could happen' | Ryan, conservatives inch closer to spending deal | Senate approves motion to go to tax conference | Ryan promises 'entitlement reform' in 2018 MORE (D-Minn.).