Reduce Our Nuclear Arsenal to Save Money and, Quite Possibly, Lives

On Tuesday, President Obama will introduce his budget for fiscal year 2015. His proposal aims to unwind some of the damage done by the indiscriminate sequester, but still shortchanges the types of investments in infrastructure, clean energy, job-retraining, and education that will generate long-term economic growth. Secretary of Defense Hagel shared an overview of the Pentagon's massive budget request earlier this week. Like the president, Secretary Hagel outlined difficult choices to reduce and prioritize our defense dollars. But it is not enough.

That's why I have introduced HR 4107, the Reduce Expenditures in Nuclear Infrastructure Now (REIN-IN) Act of 2014, which would save $100 billion over 10 years by reducing unnecessary nuclear weapons programs -- savings we can direct to growing our economy and helping families.

We must significantly reduce U.S. spending on nuclear weapons, delivery systems, and related programs. Today, the United States spends more in this arena than it did at the height of the Cold War. A recent report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that between 2014 and 2023, the costs of the administration's plans for nuclear forces will total $470 billion. Other estimates come close to $700 billion, which is more than the federal government will spend on education over the next five years. Worse, there are plans in the works to spend billions of dollars modernizing our nuclear stockpile of missiles, submarines, and bombers, committing us to decades more of waste.

We need to change direction.

My legislation will make the nation safer. The large number of high-alert weapons we have now leaves dangerous room for human error. For example, in August 2007, a B-52 flew cross-country while unknowingly carrying six nuclear-armed, air-launched missiles. Just last month, the Air Force had to suspended 92 launch officers -- or missileers -- at Malmstrom Air Force Base, MT, where a drug investigation also uncovered a that missileers may have been cheating on proficiency exams. The REIN-IN Act, which is supported by more than two dozen organizations, will increase Americans' safety by cutting the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles currently on 24-hour high alert from 450 to 150.

We don't need an expensive stockpile of nuclear weapons that will never use to create a prosperous and secure society. As costs for our nation grow, there are areas where we can cut spending. The first place we should start is with our unnecessary and expensive spending on nuclear weapons that are more suited for the Cold War than the strategic challenges we face today.

I look forward to working with the president and Congress to pass the REIN-IN Act, which will not only reduce overall spending, but reprioritize investments that will actually make the United States safer, more livable, and economically secure.