Markey Files Bill to Cut $100 Billion in Nuclear Arms Funds

Edward Markey (D), as a then-House representative from Massachusetts, speaks during a congressional hearing in Washington in 2012. Now a senator, Markey on Friday introduced a bill that would cut $100 billion in spending over the next decade from the U.S. nuclear-weapons arsenal and complex.
National Journal
Rachel Oswald
Feb. 28, 2014, 10:15 a.m.

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.

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