May 24, 2021
Legislation reintroduced in the House and Senate on Monday would slash spending on the United States' nuclear arsenal and "restore budget sanity."
"We must bring the same energy in arresting the climate crisis to reducing another existential threat--that posed by nuclear weapons--and that begins with smart cuts to our nuclear arsenal." --Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)Entitled the SANE Act, or Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures Act, the bill from Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) came the same day the Congressional Budget Office released a report projecting the costs of the nation's nuclear forces over the next 10 years to be $634 billion.
The pair of Democrats said their proposal would deliver at least $73 billion in savings over the next decade while simultaneously creating greater global security.
According to Markey, President Joe Biden can move in the right direction "by stopping production of unnecessary nuclear weapons acquisition programs." Deterrence of adversaries is still possible "without making an insane investment in nuclear weapons overkill, including capabilities that may invite rather than prevent a nuclear exchange."
Markey put the legislation in the context of actions taken by former President Donald Trump, who moved to ditch major arms control treaties and even pushed other nations to depart from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
"While President Trump's actions tilted the 'Doomsday Clock' towards midnight," said Markey, "President Biden has a chance to build back a better nuclear weapons policy that does more with less."
"We must bring the same energy in arresting the climate crisis to reducing another existential threat--that posed by nuclear weapons--and that begins with smart cuts to our nuclear arsenal," he added.
\u201cWe must bring the same energy in arresting the climate crisis to reducing another existential threat \u2013 that posed by nuclear weapons \u2013 and that begins with smart cuts to our nuclear arsenal.\nhttps://t.co/diPwyU7LAI\u201d— Ed Markey (@Ed Markey) 1621878391
The SANE Act would, among other cost-saving measures, prohibit space-based missile defense, prevent funding for a nuclear processing facility, slash the existing intercontinental ballistic missile fleet from over 400 to 150, and cut the number of deployed strategic warheads down from approximately 1,500 to 1,000.
The legislation is endorsed by a number of progressive organizations including Beyond the Bomb, Peace Action, and the Arms Control Association.
"The Covid-19 pandemic, student loan debt crisis, and countless other issues illustrate the ways in which our budget prioritizes military might over human need," said Cecili Thomas Williams, executive director of Beyond the Bomb, praising Markey for "making sanity a key criteria for good policy."
"Trimming, delaying, or canceling nuclear weapons programs puts us on a path towards a more equitable and, critically, more secure country," she said.
Massachusetts Peace Action executive director Cole Harrison declared the current U.S. stockpile of nukes "a danger to the entire human race and to our own citizens" and put the bill in the context of recovery from the pandemic.
"We should cut our deployed missiles and submarines and reverse the dangerous expansion of our nuclear forces that are now underway," Harrison said. "We urgently need funds to recover from Covid, rebuild our public health system, assist our people economically, and fight climate change--not new nuclear weapons."
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