The House and Senate each passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act, with stark differences between the two bills.
The Senate version provides full funding for the new nuclear warheads including the so-called low yield W76-2, the novel W87-1 that would require a new-design plutonium core, and the B83 megaton-class bomb that had been scheduled for retirement. It also approves the NNSA's request for the production of 80 new plutonium pits per year, and increases the President's budget request for a new missile, called the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, by adding $22 million to the more than half a billion requested.
The House version of the NDAA, by contrast, stops funds for the deployment of W76-2 warhead, reduces funds for W87-1 by $59 million, and cuts the B83 by more than $29 million. It also authorizes pit production at a more modest rate of 30 cores per year (up from the 20 per year currently authorized).
In addition to this, the House version requires cost studies for modernization efforts, and expresses support for extending “New START,” the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that, as the name implies, caps the number of long-range nuclear weapons the United States and Russia can deploy.
While not perfect, the House bill is clearly superior to the Senate bill, and should be supported.
Anyone who wants to get involved can call the Armed Services committee chairs. The Capitol Switchboard is (202) 224-3121.