June 24, 2021
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today delivered opening remarks about preserving funding for the United States’ nuclear deterrent at a hearing on the Fiscal Year 2022 budget for the Department of Energy’s Atomic Energy Defense Activities.
Witnesses include: Jennifer Granholm, Secretary of Energy; and Dr. Charles Verdon, Acting Under Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Security and Acting Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).
As Prepared for Delivery:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I also want to welcome our witnesses and thank them for their willingness to serve our nation.
Over the past few years, one of this committee’s top priorities has been ensuring we rebuild the U.S. nuclear deterrent – the cornerstone of our national security.
I think Secretary Austin said it well when he told us, “U.S. nuclear weapons have been extended far beyond their original service lives, and the tipping point where we must simultaneously overhaul these forces is now here.”
If we are serious about meeting the growing – and underappreciated – threat posed by China and Russia, we need to be honest about the resources needed to do so.
Unfortunately, the administration’s fiscal year 2022 DOD budget cuts spending when we need real growth. We simply can’t compete if our budgets don’t support our strategy. Strategy by starvation is a recipe for disaster.
We have that same problem with this year’s NNSA budget. For the first time since 2013, the NNSA request has shrunk from the previous year, mostly because of a $500 million cut to NNSA deferred maintenance efforts.
If this were the result of real progress in modernizing our nuclear weapons stockpile, that would be one thing. But that’s not the case here. We’re still trying to recover from decades of underinvestment. We must rebuild our aging nuclear forces.
I can’t understand why the administration is cutting NNSA funding while pushing for trillions of dollars in spending in so many other, less critical areas, such as so-called “green energy” subsidies.
Almost a third of NNSA’s facilities date back to World War II, and we have buildings where chunks of the concrete fall from the ceiling on workers below. We need to do better for the people who care for our nuclear enterprise.
By contrast, our adversaries clearly prioritize their nuclear programs. They understand their value. Our lack of focus on nuclear weapons puts us in danger of falling even farther behind, and puts our nation at risk. We cannot allow this to happen.
I look forward to your testimony on these issues and the rest of the Department of Energy’s national security priorities. Mr. Chairman.