A high-profile U.S. Senate critic of nuclear-weapons spending on Friday introduced a bill that would cut $100 billion over the next decade in arsenal outlays.
The Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures -- or "SANE" -- Act, filed by Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass.), is co-sponsored by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). Companion legislation has been introduced in the House by Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.).
"America faces a real choice: spend billions on nuclear weapons we no longer need or fund programs that educate our children and help find cures to deadly diseases," Markey said in provided comments.
Markey previously introduced the SANE Act as a House representative in 2012 and 2013. Though the bills collected a number of co-sponsors, they ultimately got nowhere in the Republican-dominated chamber. It is unclear if Markey's legislation will receive more serious attention in the Democrat-led Senate.
The new SANE Act legislation, like previous incarnations, would reduce from 12 to eight the number of SSBN(X) ballistic-missile submarines that are to replace the retiring Ohio-class fleet. The bill also would limit to eight the number of Ohio-class submarines that can currently be fielded. These steps are forecast to produce $16 billion in savings, according to a release from Markey's office.
The legislation would do away with any potential nuclear mission for the F-35 and postpone through 2023 development of a new long-range strike bomber resulting in an anticipated $32 billion.
Programs to modernize various nuclear warheads would be done away with under the bill, and work would be delayed on a new class of intercontinental ballistic missiles, resulting in an estimated $15 billion in taxpayer dollars.
The legislation would ax all missile-defense activities, and cancel plans to build new facilities for fissile-material processing in order to cut an additional $37 billion.
"As we've seen in recent stories, the human beings who control [nuclear weapons] can be unreliable," Blumenauer said in a statement included in the Markey release. He apparently was referring to recent scandals surrounding the Air Force's nuclear-missile mission, which have highlighted a number of problems with professionalism and morale inside the officer corps assigned to control the ICBMs.