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August 27, 2018
Letter to the Editor: The ‘Bloated’ U.S. Nuclear Weapons Budget

Edward J. Markey

In “Resolving the Ambiguity of Nuclear Weapons Costs” (June 2012), Russell Rumbaugh and Nathan Cohn estimate that the United States spends $31 billion on nuclear weapons and another $25 billion on related programs in the departments of Energy and Defense. The threats the United States faces today simply do not justify spending at these levels.

Twenty years have passed since the end of the Cold War, but U.S. nuclear weapons spending belies this historical reality. At the same time, the growing federal budget deficit menaces the country’s long-term economic security, adding to an unprecedented national debt that represents virtually the entire gross domestic product of the United States. U.S. nuclear weapons forces need to be the right size for both the country’s security needs and its tight budget constraints.

I recently introduced H.R. 3974, the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act of 2012, legislation that would cut $100 billion over the next 10 years from the United States’ bloated nuclear weapons budget and make its nuclear weapons forces the right size for the 21st century. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the threats at home and abroad have changed dramatically. U.S. defense programs and priorities need to be adjusted accordingly. We can no longer afford to rob the future to pay for unneeded weapons of the past. Now is the time to reset our priorities and invest in the people and programs to get the United States back on track.

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.