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Monday, October 4, 2010

Lawmakers Back Nuclear Weapons Budget Boost

From Global Security Newswire

Lawmakers Back Nuclear Weapons Budget Boost
Monday, Oct. 4, 2010

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).


Anonymous said...

It's nice to see the extra funding, but it would be even better if the extra funding was being used to fund SCIENCE rather than just bricks and mortar at our national labs.

Then, again, with the construction company Bechtel as the main "for profit" partner at LANS and LLNS, what would you expect?

Anonymous said...

Will it mean any extra funds for LLNL?

Anonymous said...

I suspect the new Bechtel managers who rule the NNSA labs will be very adept at stuffing this new money into their lab "slush funds".

Anonymous said...

Back in the old days, a top post about the nuclear weapons budget undergoing an increase would have garnered dozens of replies in days. Now, unless it is about pensions or polygraphs, no one cares. Sort of backwards, it seems to me, if people really care about their jobs and about national security. Guess they no longer do. Sad. Or, possibly no one posting here these days actually works at LLNL or LANL.

Anonymous said...

October 10, 2010 8:29 PM questions why dozens of posts have not popped up concerning the larger budget for the Weapons labs. I believe there are a few factors here:

1. A good hunk of the money would be destined for LANL's CMRR. This is viewed by some as more of an aid to production rather than research. In that case, it's not something that a researcher wants to crow about.

2. This is primarily a LLNL blog and unless monies going to another site affect projects at LLNL, they aren't going to rise up in protest. Note that the weapons complex were unhappy with NIF as an expensive program that diverted funds that might have gone to other sites.

3. You'll note that Bingamin heaps praise on the budget as it brings money to New Mexico. If money were coming to California and it was mainly used to fund weapons research, Boxer and Feinstein are not going to give praise. In order for the California senators and congressmen to give LLNL support, it appears that a project must be green (the Open Campus Boondoggle) in order to gain support/praise.

We have been beaten to submission. We are marching in place and keeping our heads low since we have learned that the nail that sticks up the most gets hammered. NNSA and Bechtel have won the battle and will win the war. I'm just trying to get out alive. Not a rosy picture but as George Miller has pointed out time after time, "It is what it is!"

Anonymous said...

Poster 12:34 pm is right. Most of this extra money is destined for construction of the CMRR at Los Alamos. The research scientists who are struggling at the NNSA labs will see little of it.

It will, however, allow for people like Miller and Anastasio to crow about their "success" and plead for huge increases in their salaries for next year. They'll probably get them, too!


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