Defense

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 Markey (Mass.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (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.

{mosads}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 Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Al Franken (D-Minn.).

Tags Al Franken Bernie Sanders Earl Blumenauer Ed Markey Jeff Merkley Nuclear weapons

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