Representative Blumenauer and Senator Markey Introduce Legislation to Reduce Spending on Nuclear Weapons Programs

March 23, 2015
Press Release

Washington, DC– Today, Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) introduced the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act – a bill that would save the United States approximately $100 billion over the next 10 years by reducing or eliminating unnecessary nuclear weapons programs. As Congress considers the FY 2016 budget, the SANE Act aims to adopt a more practical and stable nuclear deterrent to reduce costs and risks without compromising U.S. security or that of our allies. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) has introduced companion legislation in the Senate.


A recent report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that U.S. nuclear weapons planning calls for spending over $350 billion over the next decade, and up to $1 trillion over the next 30 years, to build a nuclear force that will far exceed what the administration and security experts have said will be needed to effectively deter a nuclear threat. Such spending is not only problematic for taxpayers, but those deeply committed to a strong and capable military. The SANE Act aims to inject fiscal responsibility and strategic reality into the administration’s nuclear weapons planning.


“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 Representative 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.” 


“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.”


“The more tangible threats facing the United States today come from a suitcase or a personal computer,” Tony Fleming, Campaigns Director of Citizens for Global Solutions said. “We're more likely to suffer a cyber or terrorist attack from a small rogue group than be hit by an nuclear bomb that require massive government infrastructure and investment. U.S. citizens deserve to have their tax dollars be used to protect them from real, 21st century threats, not Cold War-era relics.”


“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.”


“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,” said David Culp, Legislative Representative of Friends Committee on National Legislation.


“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 at 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 U.S. national security.”


"At a time of record national defense spending, these cuts are a smart and safe way to help bring the Pentagon budget under control and increase national security,” said Danielle Brian, Executive Director of Project On Government Oversight. “We are hopeful that these common sense reforms will receive bipartisan support and are happy to see both chambers working together on such an important issue."


“The SANE Act is exactly what our nation needs as we grapple with how to invest in our future responsibly,” Susan Shaer, Executive Director of WAND, said. “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.”


The full text of the bill and a one-page summary are attached. Representative Blumenauer’s essay on the bill is hereand a recent floor speech can be found here.


The SANE Act is supported by:

Beyond Nuclear ? Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation ? Center for International Policy? Friends Committee on National Legislation ? Green Cross International ? Just Foreign Policy ? JustPeace ? National Priorities Project ? NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby ? ? Peace Action ? Physicians for Social Responsibility ? Progressive Democrats of America ? The Rachel Carson Council, Inc. ? Women’s Action for New Directions ? Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety (Santa Fe, NM) ? Georgia WAND ? National Green Party (Washington, DC Chapter) ? Nuclear Watch New Mexico ? Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (Oak Ridge, TN) ? Peace Action West ? The Peace Farm (Amarillo, TX) ? The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center (Boulder, CO) ? Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment (CAREs) (Livermore, CA)