House Armed Services Committee Republicans are pushing back against the Obama administration’s plans to delay selected efforts to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
In their version of annual defense-authorization legislation, which the panel released Tuesday, committee Republicans also continued their so-far unsuccessful efforts to limit the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board’s influence on the U.S. weapons complex.
The Obama administration’s fiscal 2015 defense budget looks to delay the controversial development of an interoperable warhead that could be used to replace two separate warheads fielded today by the Navy and Air Force.
Committee Republicans have concerns with this postponement — as well as other delays to modernization efforts — according to the panel’s legislation.
“With the proposed deferral of the first interoperable warhead, the Department has concurrently proposed to defer plans “¦ for a plutonium pit production capacity of 50 to 80 pits per year,” the bill says. “The committee believes that waiting over 15 years to achieve a responsive nuclear infrastructure is too great a risk to national security.”
The bill, which is up for a vote in the House panel’s Strategic Forces Subcommittee on Wednesday, would require the Energy secretary “to ensure that the nuclear security enterprise produces at least 30 war reserve pits during 2023, at least 50 war reserve pits during 2026 and, during a pilot period of at least 90 days during 2027, demonstrate the capability to produce war reserve pits at a rate sufficient to produce 80 pits per year.”
Pits are the core of an atomic weapon.
The bill also pushes back against the Obama administration’s proposed delay to a planned cruise-missile warhead modernization. The legislation would require the Energy Secretary “to deliver a first production unit for a nuclear warhead for the long-range standoff weapon not later than” 2025.
“The committee believes the proposed 3-year deferral of this cruise missile is contrary to the interests of national security,” the bill says. “Therefore, the committee recommends this provision to ensure warhead production for this cruise missile is deferred only one year.”
Committee Republicans are also continuing their legislative efforts to limit the influence of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. The bill would mandate that the inspector general of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission also serve as inspector general of the safety board. It would additionally limit the number of board employees to 120.
Last year, the committee’s version of the bill included a provision that would have enabled the Energy secretary to request cost-benefit analyses of any recommendations the independent safety board made. The language, along with a similar provision in the prior year’s bill, was eventually dropped in conference negotiations with the Senate.
Democrats feared last year’s provision would have drained the safety board’s resources and inhibited its ability to conduct important reviews. Committee Republicans, have argued the safety board reviews significantly increase the cost of work across the nuclear-weapons complex.
- 1 The Story of 2016: Republicans Feeling “Betrayed” by Their Leaders
- 2 The 14 House Primaries to Watch Tuesday
- 3 After Trump, GOP Foreign Policy Faces an Uncertain Future
- 4 Smart Ideas: Oil Pipelines vs. Oil Trains, and the Next Generation of Biological Threats
- 5 Climate Stances Put Pressure on Major Trade Groups
What We're Following See More »
Sigmar Gabriel, the German economic minister, said there's no chance of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership being agreed upon before the U.S. elections this fall. Gabriel said the United States "had effectively ended talks" on the free trade deal with the European Union "because Washington had not wanted to compromise with its European counterparts."
In a new Monmouth University poll, 46% of likely voters support Clinton and 39% back Trump, with 7% supporting Libertarian Gary Johnson, and 2% backing Jill Stein of the Green Party. That's down from a poll taken right after the Democratic convention, in which Clinton led by 13 points.
“Hillary Clinton’s advisers are talking to Donald J. Trump’s ghostwriter of The Art of the Deal, seeking insights about Mr. Trump’s deepest insecurities as they devise strategies to needle and undermine him in four weeks at the first presidential debate, the most anticipated in a generation. ... Her team is also getting advice from psychology experts to help create a personality profile of Mr. Trump to gauge how he may respond to attacks and deal with a woman as his sole adversary on the debate stage.”
"Humanity’s impact on the Earth is now so profound that a new geological epoch—the Anthropocene—needs to be declared," according to a panel of scientists. "The new epoch should begin about 1950, the experts said, and was likely to be defined by the radioactive elements dispersed across the planet by nuclear bomb tests, although an array of other signals, including plastic pollution, soot from power stations, concrete, and even the bones left by the global proliferation of the domestic chicken."
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has requested documents from the CEO of Mylan, "the pharmaceutical company under fire after raising the price of EpiPens more than 400 percent since 2007." Meanwhile, top members of the Energy and Commerce Committee are pressing the FDA on the lack of generic competition for EpiPens.