OK

Good news coming out of Congress is hard to come by these days, so this is worth noting: in the wrangling and shenanagins that went into the Omnibus Appropriations bill, Congress ended up cutting virtually ALL of the money Bush asked for for new nuclear weapons.  Here's Senator Feinstein's (D-CA) summary from UPI.

Basically, Bush had asked for almost $100 million dollars for four things:

  1. Research on the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, a nuclear bunker buster bomb.
  2. Research on "advanced concepts," also known as "mini nukes," or nuclear weapons with a yield less than 5 kilotons.
  3. The Modern Pit Facility, a factory that would produce up to 450 plutonium pits, the explosive trigger of a nuclear device, per year.
  4. Reducing the amount of time needed to resume underground nuclear tests at the Nevada test site.

On items one, two and four, Bush got NOTHING.  On item three, of the $29 million requested, they got $7 million, with the stipulation that a site for the plant could not be selected.

My analysis after the jump...

I don't want to read too much into this, but it is significant that Congress has chosen to rebuff the president on this.  After all, the Nuclear Posture Review was a vital component of the Bush administration's vision of a transformed National Security Strategy.

I have not seen all the details of how the negotiations shook out, but there must have been a not insignificant amount of will to make this happen.  Senator Pete Dominici (R-NM), chair of the Senate Energy and Water subcommitee of the Appropriations committee, was strongly in favor of the programs and was working to remove Energy and Water Appropriations from the Omnibus bill and fund it under a continuing resolution (i.e. at 2004 spending levels) for the year.  

It seems like a combination of concerns about the programs (you should check out how the folks in Utah feel about this stuff, link),
a prioritization of other funding under pressure of spending limits and an insistence that other funding in the E&W bill not be hung up over these programs resulted in a major Bush administration foreign policy priority not getting funded.

I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

Originally posted to tyroneslothrop on Mon Nov 22, 2004 at 12:36 PM PST.

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