As the congressional "supercommittee" moves toward recommendations to cut over $1 trillion from the government's budgets, House members have squared off over whether some savings can come from the hundreds of billions of dollars planned for nuclear weapons over the next 10 years.
The first shots were fired on Oct. 11, when Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) sent a letter to the 12 members of the supercommittee (officially the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction) signed by 65 lawmakers. The signers, including some from the House Armed Services Committee, were clear and to the point:
The Berlin Wall fell. The Soviet Union crumbled. The Cold War ended. Yet 20 years later, we continue to spend over $50 billion a year on the U.S. nuclear arsenal. This makes no sense. These funds are a drain on our budget and a disservice to the next generation of Americans. We are robbing the future to pay for the unneeded weapons of the past.
They argued it is time for "restructuring the U.S. nuclear program for the 21st century," recommending cutting $200 billion from the estimated $700 billion planned for nuclear weapons and related programs over the next 10 years.
The day he sent the letter, Markey made an impassioned plea on the House floor, saying, "Now is the time to reset our priorities and invest in the people and programs to get America back on track."
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