With the full House set to vote next week on a multi-bill spending package that would keep the civilian nuclear weapons budget about flat at about $20 billion, some Republican lawmakers have offered amendments to up funding for a proposed pair of ocean-going nuclear warheads.
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) wants to transfer $19 million to the W93 warhead from the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy account, according to a list of amendments filed with the House Rules Committee.
Wilson’s amendment would provide the proposed sea-launched ballistic missile warhead with all $72 million the Biden administration requested for fiscal year 2022, rather than the $52 million the House Appropriations Committee approved last week. W93 would be the first nuclear weapon since the end of the Cold War that is not merely a refurbishment of an existing weapon.
Meanwhile, Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) proposed an amendment that would infuse DoE’s National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Weapons Activities account with the $10 million the White House requested to start developing a sea-launched version of the W80-4 air-launched cruise-missile warhead. Turner proposed taking the money from a DoE administrative fund.
Majority House Democrats declined to provide funding for the nuclear-tipped sea-launched cruise missile warhead in their 2022 DoE budget proposal, writing that the White House should finish its nuclear posture review before starting development of the sea-launched W80-4.
The House’s version of the 2022 DoE budget is part of the chamber’s annual energy and water development appropriations bill, which this year the House will consider along with six other spending bills bundled into a 1,000-plus-page package known in Washington as a minibus. The minibus does not include the 2022 spending proposal for the Department of Defense.
The NNSA budget House appropriators approved for the minibus generally holds the line on the agency’s major nuclear weapon refurbishments and production infrastructure buildout.
While the proposed 2022 NNSA Weapons Activities budget of about $15.5 billion is some $450 million less than what the Trump administration estimated the account would need for the fiscal year, it still provides a combined $1.8 billion or so for proposed plutonium pit production factories at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the Savannah River Site in Aiken, S.C. That’s about a $350 million raise, compared with the 2021 appropriation.
All of the NNSA’s major life extension and weapons refurbishment programs would get their requested 2022 funding, under the House Appropriations Committee’s bill, but a few reliably anti-nuclear lawmakers have proposed amendments that could change that.
For example, the trio of Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) co-sponsored an amendment that would delete all $690-some million in requested funding House appropriators approved for the W87-1 program, which would create fresh copies of the W87 warhead, with new pits, to be used on the siloed Ground Based Strategic Deterrent intercontinental ballistic missiles that will replace the Minuteman III fleet beginning around 2030.
At deadline, the House Rules Committee had not scheduled a hearing to consider whether these amendments — and hundreds of others, besides — will be made for floor debate.
The Rules Committee has to pass a debate rule before the minibus can get its floor vote. At deadline, the Senate had not started work on its version of the 12 annual federal appropriations bills.