Maintaining Appropriate Priorities

March 18, 2016

Dear Friends, 

In the past, you have written to me expressing your concerns about the Defense budget. I wanted to let you know that this week, I testified on the Administration’s proposed Defense budget for Fiscal Year 2017. I think it’s not only unrealistic, but could also be dangerous. 

In this budget, billions of dollars will be spent on the controversial modernization of each leg of the nuclear triad – land-based missiles, submarine-based missiles, and bombers – which have not been used in 65 years. Most concerning is the inclusion of funding for a long-range, standoff replacement cruise missile, costing $2.2 billion in the future years defense program, and ultimately costing at least $20 to $30 billion. 

Rather than sticking with the status quo, Congress should be pressing the Pentagon for long-term cost reports and demanding answers to tough questions like, to what extent do certain weapons programs actually add to our existing capabilities? 

This defense budget actually poses a threat to our security, cutting funding for programs that counter the spread of nuclear materials by more than $130 million. We’re battling ISIS now. They have already obtained some low-grade nuclear material from a scientific research facility in Mosul. We have also seen reports of nuclear materials unaccounted for or stolen. We need to have proven non-proliferation programs to reduce the inventory, track nuclear materials down, and take them out of circulation. We should be expanding these programs, not cutting them back.

Additionally, by continuing a trend that results in spending $1 trillion on modernizing the triad over the course of the next 30 years, nuclear modernization will come at the expense of conventional weapons. Our nuclear capability is already far above what we need to deter any country in the world right now and this capability does not help us with the strategic challenges that we face today. A stronger nuclear program is not going to prevent Russian adventurism in Ukraine or Crimea, but it will result in our having to cannibalize the National Guard and Ready Reserve. The Army will also be paying the price for this. These conventional forces have borne the burden for the last two decades of military activities and should be supported.

That’s why I’m urging my colleagues in Congress to demand a spending plan with cost accountability to put us on a path of fiscal stability and sanity. Instead of continuing down this unsustainable path, we need to focus on maintaining appropriate priorities for the military strength and defense of our country.

Click here to watch my testimony.


Earl Blumenauer
Member of Congress