Thursday, May 24, 2007

Victory in House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee

The arms control community scored a major victory when the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee eliminated yesterday all $88.8 million of proposed funding for the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) and all $24.9 million for a new plant to build plutonium pits.

The funding is a part of a $31.6 billion Energy and Water Spending Bill for fiscal year 2008, and is $1.13 more than the Bush administration’s budget request and $1.3 billion more than fiscal year 2007 spending levels.

Although its advocates claim that the Reliable Replacement Warhead program would help create a smaller, cheaper and more modern nuclear arsenal, in reality the program is entirely unnecessary and would significantly undermine U.S. and international nuclear nonproliferation efforts.

Better yet, the subcommittee likewise trimmed funds for the administration’s Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) plutonium reprocessing program that extracts nuclear weapons-usable material from nuclear waste from $405 million to $120 million.

Reprocessing increases the risk that dangerous material will fall into the hands of terrorists by removing many of the necessary barriers that prevent terrorist from acquiring bomb-grade material.

To top it off, the subcommittee also added $878 million for nuclear nonproliferation programs, a 74 percent increase to the administration's original request.

There will most likely be efforts in the full committee and on the House floor to at least partially restore funding for the RRW. Stay tuned.

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