Thursday, June 7, 2007

House Appropriations Committee Puts Brakes on New Nukes

In another major victory, the full House Appropriations Committee yesterday ran with the baton handed to them two weeks ago by the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee and cut all funding for a new generation of nuclear weapons (the Reliable Replacement Warhead, or RRW) and a new plant to build plutonium pits for nuclear bombs.

(As I reported earlier, the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee eliminated all $88.8 million of proposed funding for the Reliable Replacement Warhead and all $24.9 million for a new plant to build plutonium pits.)

In all, the nuclear weapons activities budget was cut by $630 million from the president's request. The cuts were made on a bipartisan basis, with no amendments and without dissent.

A big tip of the hat goes to Chairman Pete Visclosky (D-IN) and Ranking Member David Hobson (R-OH), who, when discussing RRW, said that “we are still in a Cold War complex mode.”

Rep. Tom Udall (D-NM) also had some harsh words, saying that the national labs should get out of the weapons business and into the alternative energy and science business but that the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) keeps getting in the way.

The Energy and Water Appropriations bill is scheduled to go to the House floor on June 13.

The House Appropriations Committee also included massive increases to DoE nuclear nonproliferation programs, including…

* $219 million for nonproliferation and verification R&D
* $20 million for nonproliferation and international security
* $460 million for international nuclear material protection and cooperation
* $10 million for elimination of weapons-grade plutonium production program
* $131.6 million for the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI)
* $100 million towards an international nuclear fuel bank

…for a total increase of $940.7 million in selected DoE nuclear nonproliferation programs.

Underscoring their significance, ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) promptly issued a press release saying that he was “stunned by the drastic funding cuts recommended for the national laboratories in New Mexico,” referring to the cuts as “stunningly punitive in its treatment of Los Alamos.”

The Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee is expected to markup or write its FY2008 appropriations bill during the last week of June.

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