Blumenauer Amendment on Nuclear Arsenal Cost Accounting Passes

May 22, 2014
Press Release

Today, Congressman Earl Blumenauer’s (OR-03) amendment to require the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to update its report on the projected 10-year costs of our nuclear arsenal passed the House by a vote of 224-199 and was included in the final bill. Below is the Congressman’s statement on passage:

This week, I offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that requires the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to update their report on the projected 10-year costs of U.S. nuclear forces. A CBO report on US spending for our nuclear forces was released last December as a one-time snapshot. It has since proven to be so incredibly valuable for Members, staff, and civil society organizations that it should be made annual.

The amendment was adopted today by a vote of 224-199 with bipartisan support.

The United States is scheduled to spend one-half to two-thirds trillion dollars over the next 10 years on our nuclear forces and related programs.  This spending, adjusting for inflation, is higher than at the height of the Cold War.  While we can and should debate the merits of that spending, there should be no objection about knowing how much these programs will cost.

Transparency and nonpartisan oversight strengthens our democracy and promotes greater efficiency and effectiveness in government, especially in monitoring government spending. There is nothing more patriotic than making sure our tax dollars are spent wisely.

Some argued that we don’t because we already have that information from other sources. But, the CBO found that a report from the Administration underestimated the cost of the nuclear program by $150 billion. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that, when it comes to keeping track of our nuclear arsenal, which can destroy the world several times over, we should take the time to double check our math. It’s not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of diligence. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

It is impossible to justify keeping the public in the dark for a program that a majority of Americans oppose.  When the only defense you have – calling the request for greater transparency an attack on national security – is a straw man argument, it’s telling. 

Let’s not fall asleep at the button.