Sen. Markey & Rep. Blumenauer Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Cut $100 Billion from Wasteful Nuclear Weapons Budget

Bill would update defense spending for 21st century

Washington (March 23, 2015) – As Congressional Republicans remain deeply divided over funding for the Department of Defense, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) today introduced bicameral legislation that would cut $100 billion from the bloated nuclear weapons budget over the next decade. The Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act cuts specific nuclear weapons and related programs without harming national security. The United States spends more money on nuclear weapons than all other countries combined. In the past three years, the budget for simply maintaining nuclear warheads and production facilities has seen a 16 percent increase.

 

“We are robbing America’s future to pay for unneeded weapons of the past,” said Senator Markey. “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. We should cure disease, not create new instruments of death. We should fund education, not annihilation. Even within its own budget, the Defense Department should prioritize spending for current threats from ISIL, al Qaeda and cyberterrorists. The SANE Act cuts the nuclear weapons and delivery systems that we don’t need and will never use so we can invest in the people and programs that will make America safe and prosperous in the future.”

 

“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,” said Rep. 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.”

 

The Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act will:

  • Reduce nuclear submarines from 14 to 8 and reduce the purchase of replacement submarines from 12 to 8 – saving $21 billion
  • Cancel construction of new nuclear weapons processing facilities – saving $21 billion
  • Defer development of new ICBMs and cut warhead life extension programs – saving $16 billion
  • Delay the new long range bomber and remove the nuclear mission from the F-35 – saving more than $34 billion
  • Reduce the B61 gravity bomb life extension program and cancel the development of a new air-launched cruise missile – saving $7 billion

The SANE Act is co-sponsored by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Al Franken (D-Minn.). A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.

 

“At a time of tight defense budgets, it makes no sense to increase spending on nuclear weapons, which do not address the highest priority threats we face,” said Tom Collina, Director of Policy, The Ploughshares Fund. “The SANE Act lays out a common sense approach to saving billions in nuclear spending, in a way that protects planned warheads levels. By allowing scarce resources to flow where they are needed most, the SANE Act will enhance US national security.”

 

“The Arms Control Association applauds the authors and sponsors of the SANE act for highlighting a range of options to reduce the bloated, and growing, cost of maintaining and modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal, which President Obama and the Pentagon have determined is larger than necessary,” said Darryl Kimball, Director, Arms Control Association. “Congress can and should pursue these proposals to avoid wasting taxpayer dollars on rebuilding a massive, Cold War-sized nuclear arsenal, which is poorly suited for today’s threats, including nuclear terrorism.”

 

SANE is endorsed by: Alliance of Baptists on the Interfaith Committee on Nuclear Disarmament, Bipartisan Security Group, Campaign for a Nuclear Weapons Free World, Center for Arms Control and Non-proliferation, Church of the Brethren, Citizens for Global Solutions, Colorado Coalition for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, Council for a Livable World, Cumberland Countians for Peace & Justice, DC Statehood Green Party, Franciscan Action Network, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Georgia WAND, Global Green USA, Global Security Institute and Bipartisan Security Group, National Council of Churches of Christ, USA, Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility of United Church of Christ, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, Peace Action, Peace Action West, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Ploughshares Fund, Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, Tri-Valley CAREs, Women's Action for New Directions (WAND).

 

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“At a time of tight defense budgets, it makes no sense to increase spending on nuclear weapons, which do not address the highest priority threats we face,” said Tom Collina, Director of Policy, The Ploughshares Fund. “The SANE Act lays out a common sense approach to saving billions in nuclear spending, in a way that protects planned warheads levels. By allowing scarce resources to flow where they are needed most, the SANE Act will enhance US national security.”

 

“The Arms Control Association applauds the authors and sponsors of the SANE act for highlighting a range of options to reduce the bloated, and growing, cost of maintaining and modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal, which President Obama and the Pentagon have determined is larger than necessary,” said Darryl Kimball, Director, Arms Control Association.“Congress can and should pursue these proposals to avoid wasting taxpayer dollars on rebuilding a massive, Cold War-sized nuclear arsenal, which is poorly suited for today’s threats, including nuclear terrorism.”

 

SANE is endorsed by: Alliance of Baptists on the Interfaith Committee on Nuclear Disarmament, Bipartisan Security Group, Campaign for a Nuclear Weapons Free World, Center for Arms Control and Non-proliferation, Church of the Brethren, Citizens for Global Solutions, Colorado Coalition for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, Council for a Livable World, Cumberland Countians for Peace & Justice, DC Statehood Green Party, Franciscan Action Network, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Georgia WAND, Global Green USA, Global Security Institute and Bipartisan Security Group, National Council of Churches of Christ, USA, Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility of United Church of Christ, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, Peace Action, Peace Action West, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Ploughshares Fund, Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, Tri-Valley CAREs, Women's Action for New Directions (WAND).

 

The SANE Act includes many common sense reforms that would reduce antiquated spending priorities as well as increase the effectiveness of our armed forces. We are hopeful that this bill will attract bipartisan support, and increased security and smarter spending should be top priorities regardless of party affiliation.”

-Danielle Brian, Executive Director of the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) 

“The SANE Act is exactly what our nation needs as we grapple with how to invest in our future responsibly. As nuclear weapons become less relevant in the 21st century, the SANE Act rightly puts a pause on excessive plans for the nuclear arsenal. The billions saved through the SANE Act can be invested in other more pressing priorities like fixing aging roads and bridges, supporting energy independence, and investing in good paying jobs. I commend Senator Markey and Congressman Blumenauer for a dose of sane thinking on nuclear weapons!”

-Susan Shaer, Executive Director of the Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND)

“More than two decades after the end of the Cold War, the U.S. is still wasting billions of dollars on a nuclear weapons program built for this bygone era—and the Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers) supports Sen. Markey’s and Rep. Blumenauer’s bill to take steps to reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal and spend taxpayer dollars more wisely.”

-David Culp, Legislative Representative for the Friends Committee on National Legislation

“Pouring more than one trillion taxpayer dollars over the next three decades into last century’s weapons is a nonsensical national security strategy. Our current plans for newer nuclear weapons are simply unaffordable, unnecessary, and unsafe. A sensible first step is to eliminate the most wasteful spending,” said Angela Canterbury, Executive Director of the Council for a Livable World and Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “We applaud Senator Markey and Rep. Blumenauer, and their cosponsors, for offering SANE and strategic savings. Just imagine how $100 billion could strengthen our economic and national security. These smart savings will not in the least reduce our overwhelming nuclear defense and should garner bipartisan support.”

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