Today House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon released his version of the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Click here for the Chairman’s mark, which includes detailed funding tables for national defense (function 050) spending.
The Chairman’s mark will serve as the basis for the full Committee markup on Wednesday, May 9. It will be supplemented by the subcommittee marks and whatever amendments are adopted to the individual marks and the Chairman’s mark.
The Chairman’s mark provides $554 billion for national defense (function 050). This is an increase of approximately $4 billion above the President’s request and $8 billion above the Budget Control Act’s FY 2013 cap on 050 spending. While Republicans decry the national debt and denounce unnecessary spending, HASC is proposing to add hundreds of millions of dollars to defense programs the Pentagon says it doesn’t want.
Some highlights from the Chairman’s mark re: nuclear weapons funding include:
–The mark authorizes $7.9 billion for NNSA weapons activities, an increase of $323 million above the FY 2013 requested level and the Senate and House Appropriations Committee approved levels. The purpose of the increase is to ensure that nuclear weapons spending keeps pace with the funding levels outlined in the Section 1251 report, which outlines the 10-year, $88 billion funding plan for NNSA weapons activities proposed by the administration in the context of the Senate’s debate on the New START treaty.
-The mark authorizes $100 million for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF) at Los Alamos. The administration’s budget request did not contain any funding for CMRR-NF due to its decision to delay construction of the facility for at least five years.
The five-year deferral of the CMRR will not compromise NNSA’s ability to maintain the stockpile as essential plutonium missions can be performed by the existing complex.
Referring to the delay to the CMRR, NNSA Administrator Tom D’Agostino testified to Congress in April that: “And the good news by all of this, frankly, is there are a number of options, a number of different paths that we can proceed. We are not hampered by saying the nation has to have a capability right now to make 50 or 80 pits per year in order to take care of the stockpile. That’s great news for the country because we are not forced into making rash decisions on significant investments in a very short period of time. So we have time to evaluate this area.”
Both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees supported the five-year delay to the facility in their marks of the FY 2013 Energy and Water bill in April. They are in agreement that NNSA can’t afford to build CMRR right now, an alternative to maintaining pit manufacturing and pit sustainment exists, and NNSA must demonstrate better project management when embarking on multibillion dollar construction projects.
It remains to be seen whether Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH) will seek to further increase funding for CMRR in Committee on Wednesday, as the 1251 report included $300 million in projected funding for CMRR in FY 2013.
-The mark authorizes a $374 million increase above the requested level for Advanced Submarine System Development, the Pentagon research and development account that includes the program element which funds the Ohio-class replacement program. The Committee also authorized an additional $97 million above the request for the Ohio-class replacement reactor development program within the NNSA Naval Reactors account. As we suspected, HASC appears bent on reversing the administration’s proposed two-year delay to the Ohio-class replacement program.
-Finally, the mark authorizes $2.46 billion for NNSA’s defense nuclear nonproliferation account, the same as the administration’s request. The mark fully funds the Global Threat Reduction Initiative and the International Nuclear Materials Protection and Cooperation program. Recall that both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees increased funding for the Global Threat Reduction Initiative. Suffice it to say that HASC is prioritizing spending on weapons programs above spending on material security programs.
Stay tuned this space for full coverage of the HASC mark on Wednesday and reaction in the days afterward as the bill heads to the House floor next week.