WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and a Senior Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, expressed dismay that President Obama continues to hail the spending ‘cuts’ in his budget, while the budget details released today indicate that the cuts are barely a fraction of the overall $3.6 trillion budget, and most come at the expense of important defense programs and weapons systems. The Appendix to his FY2010 budget shows President Obama’s spending proposals on a line-by-line basis and includes $17 billion in cuts to 121 programs, a number less than half of 1% of Obama’s overall budget.
“President Obama has proposed a $3.5 trillion budget during a time of record deficits, and in the same proposal recommends $17 billion, or .05%, in ‘budget cuts,’ which are actually redirected to other government spending programs,” Senator Inhofe said. “It’s not a genuine attempt at a disciplined budget. I don’t take this approach to budgeting seriously, and I don’t think the American people do either.”
Senator Inhofe has been an outspoken critic of the Obama Administration’s intent to “gut military spending.” In a YouTube press release from Afghanistan early this month, Senator Inhofe said, “President Obama is disarming America. Never before has a president so ravaged the military at a time of war... The brunt of this decision will be felt by our men and women in uniform right here in Afghanistan.” After returning from his time abroad, Senator Inhofe spoke on the Senate floor providing a detailed assessment of the cuts, saying that we were heading “down a dangerous road leading to the gutting of our military and settling for ‘adequacy' versus ‘supremacy.”
Today, Senator Inhofe expressed disappointment with the line-by-line defense budget, saying, “I could not be more disappointed in the priorities the President’s budget reveals, in which national security apparently ranks dead last. President Obama’s budget, the largest in the history of America, triples the public debt in 10 years and funds every welfare program imaginable, but cuts funding for our troops in the field during an ongoing war. Our brave troops continue to fight overseas while their President guts our military, cutting programs such as Missile Defense, Future Combat Systems, F-22s, C-17s and the Next Generation Bomber. These systems would not only provide for our national defense today, but will invest in our security for decades to come.”
As the Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator Inhofe said he looks forward to hearing from Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson next week on the justification for significant increases to the EPA budget while the Administration makes drastic cuts to other areas of the budget like defense.
“I look forward to the opportunity to discuss the justification for EPA’s budget with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson at next week’s EPW Committee hearing,” Senator Inhofe said. “I would note that EPA’s dramatic budget increase comes at a time when many other federal agencies are being forced to make drastic cuts. The EPW Committee will question whether EPA has set the right priorities and properly balanced environmental protection with economic growth.”
Additionally, Senator Inhofe criticized the Democrats approach to Yucca Mountain, Majority Leader Harry Reid going so far as to say that Obama’s budget would mean Yucca Mountain is “history.”
“The Democrats’ approach to Yucca Mountain is clear – politics trumps science,” Senator Inhofe said. “As of today, over $7.7 billion has been spent researching Yucca Mountain as a potential repository site, and neither the National Academy of Sciences, the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, nor any of our National Labs involved in conducting studies and evaluating data have concluded that there is any evidence to disqualify Yucca Mountain as a repository. Taxpayers face up to $11 billion in liability costs for the Department of Energy’s failure to begin accepting used fuel in 1998. Unless the Department begins accepting used fuel by 2020, that liability will grow an additional $500 million with each passing year.
“It is particularly interesting that Majority Leader Reid would choose to make this announcement before the League of Conservation Voters. The eco-liberal agenda – and apparently the Democrats’ agenda - is to kill nuclear energy, period. By attempting to kill Yucca Mountain, Democrats will significantly slow the expansion of nuclear energy in the United States, and, as a result, kill thousands of jobs and a chance to strengthen America’s energy security.”
The Obama Administration’s approach to Yucca Mountain led Senator Inhofe and sixteen of his Republicans colleagues to send a letter on April 29, 2009, to Energy Secretary Steven Chu asking about his comment that Yucca Mountain is “not an option” for disposing nuclear waste. Specifically, in the letter, the Senators raised several questions about the legal, scientific, and technical justifications for the Obama Administration’s decision to derail the Yucca Mountain project, which has been studied for decades and supported by the National Academy of Sciences and other leading scientific organizations as a viable storage site for nuclear waste.