Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hobson’s Likely Successor, Rep. Zach Wamp, to Support RRW

Frank Munger of the Knoxville News Sentinel reports today that Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) would likely support the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program if he becomes ranking member of the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee next year as expected. Wamp would succeed Rep. David Hobson (R-OH), a leading GOP voice against RRW.

This is a disturbing, though not entirely surprising, move as the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant are both located in Wamp’s district. The Y-12 plant has reportedly experienced problems refurbishing the same W76 warheads under the Life Extension Program that would be slated for replacement under the RRW program.

Munger reports that in an interview at Oak Ridge last week Wamp stated that he was a “team player” and cooperated with the subcommittee's chairmen, first Hobson and then Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-IN). “But,” Wamp went on to say, “I actually believe in the Reliable Replacement Warhead and that we've got to have the full arsenal. So, if I do move up on energy and water, I think on the weapon systems there may be some changes promoted by me on making sure we have the full deterrent."

Wamp's support for RRW would break the bipartisan opposition that has coalesced around the program in the subcommittee in recent years. It successfully led the way towards eliminating all funding for RRW last year, for instance. The president, however, is currently requesting $40 million in connection with the program.

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