Lawmakers Back Nuclear Weapons Budget Boost

(Oct. 4) -The Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, shown above, would benefit from a $624 million nuclear weapons spending increase contained in a continuing budget resolution signed into law last week, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said (U.S. Sandia National Laboratories photo).
(Oct. 4) -The Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, shown above, would benefit from a $624 million nuclear weapons spending increase contained in a continuing budget resolution signed into law last week, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said (U.S. Sandia National Laboratories photo).

A continuing budget resolution to keep the U.S. government operating through early December provides a $624 million boost in nuclear weapons funding for the new budget year beyond the amount appropriated in fiscal 2010, the Associated Press reported Friday (see GSN, July 22; Tim Korte, Associated Press/Alamogordo Daily News, Oct. 1).

President Obama last week signed the resolution to fund federal activities for the first two months of fiscal 2011, which began Friday, Federal News Radio reported. The resolution continues only through Dec. 3 (Jolie Lee, Federal News Radio, Oct. 3).

The funding boost for the National Nuclear Security Administration represented a victory for the Obama administration, which sought the money as part of a planned elevation in nuclear weapons spending over five years, according to AP (see GSN, Feb. 19; Korte, Associated Press).

The resolution enables a significant boost in spending for work on the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement building at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, the Albuquerque Journal reported Friday (see GSN, Aug. 17). The facility was projected to cost $4 billion, but its final expense was still uncertain (John Fleck, Albuquerque Journal, Oct. 1).

"This bill is very good for Sandia and Los Alamos national labs because it strongly supports the key stockpile stewardship work they do," Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said in a press release. "It is a sign of how important the labs are and will remain to our national security," AP quoted him as saying.

Most other branches of the federal government received the same level of funding under the short-term bill as they had in the previous budget cycle, Bingaman said. He added that the NNSA spending increase would "lend strong support" to maintenance of the U.S. nuclear arsenal as lawmakers prepare to consider ratification of a new nuclear arms control treaty with Russia (see GSN, Sept. 29; Korte, Associated Press).

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton linked the spending increase to an administration bid to win ratification of the pact, the Journal reported. "I look forward to the vote in the lame duck session that will once again demonstrate the Senate joining all of its predecessors in years past to continue to support arms control [treaties]," she said (Fleck, Albuquerque Journal).

One independent watchdog said the funds could be better spent elsewhere, AP reported.

"These are not the priorities that would put people to work, provide health care or education, protect the environment, or halt what most ordinary people understand to be a continuing economic decline, with no end in sight," Los Alamos Study Group Director Greg Mello said (Korte, Associated Press).

October 4, 2010
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A continuing budget resolution to keep the U.S. government operating through early December provides a $624 million boost in nuclear weapons funding for the new budget year beyond the amount appropriated in fiscal 2010, the Associated Press reported Friday (see GSN, July 22; Tim Korte, Associated Press/Alamogordo Daily News, Oct. 1).