Growing Bipartisan Opposition to the B61
Days may be numbered for the budget busting B61 nuclear bomb. This bomb, first deployed in Europe to fight the Cold War, is facing serious challenges in Congress from both Democrats and Republicans.
Even though military leaders understand that it has “essentially nil” military value, the bomb is slated for an $11.6 billion upgrade. While the bomb has backers in the Pentagon, Congress is increasingly unwilling to foot the bill.
On July 10, 2013, U.S. Representatives Michael Quigley (D-IL) and Jared Polis (D-CO) offered an amendment to a House appropriations bill that would eliminate a funding increase for the B61 Life Extension Program. The amendment failed, but John Isaacs, executive director of Council for a Livable World and a Ploughshares Fund grantee, notes:
[I]t marks a significant milestone in the campaign to reduce the nuclear weapons budget and complex. The landmark vote comes on the heels of a major reduction in funding for the B61 by the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this year and is likely to be followed by additional progress in the months and years ahead.
Isaacs is a leading voice in Ploughshares Fund’s campaign to reduce nuclear weapons spending. He is one of the most talented advocates in Washington and has enough experience to know when Congress is getting ready to reduce spending on nuclear programs. “Unsuccessful amendments in the late 1980’s to stop nuclear weapons testing led to a successful initiative from Congress in 1992 to halt all U.S. nuclear testing, a moratorium that has continued [or ‘continues up’] to today,” writes Isaacs.
Similar congressional opposition seems to be building against the B61 – and not just in the House. The Senate Appropriations Committee, in an effort led by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), cut funds for the B61 by 30% in its appropriations bill.
Given the alignment between the House and Senate, “it seems likely that the B61 will be dealt a large budget cut this year and face harsh scrutiny for years to come,” writes Ben Loehrke, Ploughshares Fund Senior Policy Analyst, in the Huffington Post.
When Ploughshares Fund began its nuclear budget campaign, we knew that tightening budgets would compel Washington to cut spending on wasteful programs that do not make the U.S. more secure. It now appears that the B61 is lining up to be the next program on that chopping block.