House Subcommittee Zeroes Funds for New Nuclear Weapons 

Wednesday, June 9, 2004
[Washington, DC - June 9

The House Energy and Water Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee announced today that it had zeroed out all funding for nuclear bunker busters, advanced nuclear weapons concepts, the Modern Pit Facility, and enhanced test readiness, a total of $95 million. Meanwhile, the committee increased funds for dismantling US nuclear weapons and increasing the security of the nuclear weapons complex.

"This sends a clear signal that some in the House of Representatives are working to halt the escalation in nuclear weaponry sought by the Administration," said Benn Tannenbaum, a physicist and Senior Research Analyst of FAS's Strategic Security Project.

Subcommittee Chairman David Hobson (R-OH) opened today's subcommittee markup saying: "Much of the DOE weapons complex is still sized to support a Cold War stockpile. The NNSA needs to take a 'time-out' on new initiatives until it completes a review of its weapons complex in relation to security needs, budget constraints, and this new stockpile plan." The National Nuclear Security Administration oversees the nation's nuclear weapons complex.

Republican concerns over the Administration's nuclear bunker buster plans is growing. With the addition of several House Republicans, opponents almost passed, by a vote of 204 to 214, an amendment offered to transfer the funding for this program. The amendment was offered by Mrs. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) and Mr. Edward J. Markey (D-MA).

The full Appropriations Committee will take up the Energy and Water Appropriations bill next week. It will be considered on the House floor soon after that.

It is unlikely that the $95 million cut today will be added in either of these sessions, as it would have to be balanced with a cut to water projects that all members covet. When the House and Senate meet to reconcile their differences on the measure, Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) is likely to push to keep funding levels closer to the president's request. Last year saw a compromise in funding levels between the House and Senate versions.

"It's clear that many in Congress are uncomfortable with this Administration's headlong rush towards new nuclear weapons," said Tannenbaum. "Support for Chairman Hobson's funding cut was evidenced by how close opponents came on the House floor two weeks."