Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman, Jim Inhofe, a Republican representing Oklahoma confirmed on Tuesday that Trump would ask for $20 billion.
The internal struggle
The head of the NNSA Lisa Gordon-Hagerty had argued internally for boosting the funds for nuclear weapons modernization in fiscal 2021. This position to ask for $20 billion or a 20 percent raise over 2020, was backed by Inhofe plus other Republicans in Congress. However, the request had been scaled back to $17.5 billion after opposition by White House budget officials and Dan Brouillete, whose department oversees the NNSA. However Inhofe claimed Tuesday that Brouillete and other opponents had been overruled in the Trump administration decision.
After leaving a meeting with Brouillete on Capitol Hill Inhofe said: “The resolution is: I won, you lost. I think we’re going to be right back where we wanted to be in their budget. We just need to start modernizing and catch up with Russia.”
The Congressional Budget Office claims that modernizing the US nuclear arsenal would cost more than $1.2 trillion over three decades. Inhofe justifies the US program by pointing to the threat of Russian and Chinese programs to develop their nuclear capabilities. He suggested that the US in contrast has been neglecting its own nuclear arsenal.
The NNSA is part of the Department of Energy (DOE). Shaylyn Hynes spokesperson for the US Energy Department confirmed that both Inhofe and Brouillete had discussed the NNSA budget request in a meeting described as positive and productive. Hynes said: “The Secretary looks forward to working closely with the Chairman and others as Congress works to pass a final budget that ensures continued American dominance in nuclear safety and security.” When asked for comments the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) did not reply.
[b]A proposed alternative to the existing system[/b]
The existing system consists of a triad of submarines, bombers, and intercontinental ballistic missiles. This is a very expensive system to maintain. [url=https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2019/03/22/fight-over-americas-nuclear-arsenal-heats-up-in-congress/ t=_blank]Some argue that the US could spend less and still be secure: “Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., supports nuclear modernization but argues that America can spend less and still deter its foes. He’s called for America to adopt a no-first-use policy for nuclear arms and opposed both the Obama-era Long-Range Standoff Weapon and the Trump administration’s low-yield W76-2 warhead. Smith hosted a March 6 hearing with outside experts at which Bruce Blair, a former U.S. missile-launch officer and now a nuclear security expert at Princeton University, said the nation could maintain “a fully adequate deterrent threat” with a monad of five Ohio-class nuclear-powered submarines — rather than the established triad of submarines, bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles.”
The NNSA is described by Wikipedia as follows: “The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is a United States federal agency responsible for safeguarding national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear explosive testing; works to reduce the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the United States Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the United States and abroad. Established by the United States Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the United States Department of Energy. It is led by Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, who was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 16, 2018.”