Congressman Blumenauer to Offer NDAA Amendment to End Budget Gimmick – the Sea-Based Deterrence Fund
Washington, DC– Today, as the U.S. House of Representatives continues consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016, Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) plans to offer an amendment to end the Sea-Based Deterrence Fund, and move the funding for the Navy’s Ohio-class replacement submarines back into its traditional home: the Navy’s shipbuilding budget.
“Over the next 30 years, the United States is set to spend over $1 trillion rebuilding the nuclear arsenal. This enormous sum of money is not just a significant burden on taxpayers, but risks crowding out high priority essential defense spending,” said Representative Blumenauer. “As we move forward, Americans in and out of uniform deserve transparency about the costs of these programs and how the bill will be paid for. No one has yet answered that question. The Sea-Based Deterrence Fund is the latest effort to avoid that question.”
The current plan for the Ohio replacement program will cost nearly $140 billion, according to the Congressional Research Service. Rather than a free for all, the Navy should be required to make difficult decisions about how to prioritize investments in its surface and submarine fleets. This amendment does not cut funds, but simply transfers funds from the Sea-Based Deterrence Fund back into their historic Navy budget lines.
“The Sea-Based Deterrence Fund is an illusion of affordability,” Representative Blumenauer continued. “This fund may allow the Navy to build all of the ships and submarines it wants without running afoul of the Navy’s budgetary caps, however, there’s no getting around the fact that the money will have to come from somewhere. Untethering the program from the Navy’s shipbuilding budget will reduce scrutiny and discipline, increasing the likelihood of cost overruns and questionable accounting."
Efforts for Increased Transparency in Defense Spending
The House Rules Committee refused to consider an additional amendment by Representative Blumenauer aimed at further increasing transparency in nuclear weapons spending. The amendment would have built on a legislative victory secured by Blumenauer in the Fiscal Year 2015 Defense Authorization that requires the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to provide the public with a cost estimate of our nuclear weapons modernization programs. The amendment blocked by the Republican majority today would have required CBO to include an additional 25-year cost projection of U.S. nuclear forces.
“While the 10-year projection is helpful, it fails to fully demonstrate the cost of nuclear modernization. Increased information and transparency is critical to ensuring fiscally responsible decision making in nuclear weapons planning. In a time of constrained budgets, failing infrastructure and shortchanging our investments in public education, the public needs to know how much the Department of Defense plans to spend on Cold War relics” said Representative Blumenauer.