Nukes make us less secure, not safer
Our costly, redundant nuclear expansion is already draining resources – the latest 30-year price tag for this overhaul is set at more than $1.2 trillion dollars! And now, with someone who I feel is unpredictable and reckless in charge of the nuclear button, I believe there is a renewed need for reassessing the U.S. nuclear posture. Throughout my career, I’ve worked to reduce the development and threat of nuclear weapons. It’s critical to our safety and fiscal sanity, and for that of future generations.
The United States already has more than enough of these weapons to destroy the earth multiple times, and they do not help us face our strategic challenges. It makes no sense and it’s irresponsible. How do nuclear weapons help us address the threat posed by the Islamic State? How does spending another trillion dollars on nukes encourage North Korea to temper its nuclear ambitions? The steps we take directly impact decisions of other nations.
We need to change this approach.
For one, the decision to use a nuclear weapon should never be made by one person alone. Earlier this year, I joined Representative Ted Lieu to introduce H.R. 669, legislation prohibiting any president—including the present one—from conducting a first-use nuclear strike without prior authorization from Congress. This legislation is more critical than ever. (Twitter, in my view, does not provide the best forum for serious national security policy.)
The United States also faces budgetary constraints. I’d argue that the $1.2 trillion we’re going to spend to upgrade the entire nuclear arsenal would be better spent on other defense priorities and our veterans, to say nothing of roads, bridges and schools.
That’s why I’m working on three legislative proposals with my colleagues to cut unnecessary spending:
- I’ve reintroduced my Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act to save the United States more than $100 billion over the next 10 years by reducing or eliminating redundant nuclear weapons programs.
- I’ve also introduced legislation that would limit funding for the Air Force's new nuclear air-launched cruise missile. We can maintain an effective bomber component of our arsenal without such a weapon, but the Air Force plans to replace 575 existing air-launched cruise missiles with 1,000 or more of these new weapons.
- Finally, I’m working with Senator Ed Markey on legislation that would cancel the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent program, the replacement system for our land-based leg of the nuclear triad. We have more than 400 intercontinental ballistic missile systems across the country. While these forces may have provided accuracy that the rest of our arsenal did not during the Cold War, this is no longer the case.
We are robbing America’s future to pay for weapons of the past that we can’t afford and that make us less secure, not safer. A more rational nuclear posture is the best expression of American leadership for a more peaceful future.
Member of Congress