Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009

Date: May 22, 2008
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Defense



Mr. PEARCE. Mr. Chairman, I rise today to offer an amendment to restore a small sum of money into an important program, the Reliable Replacement Warhead program. The RRW is critically important for our national security. Our current nuclear stockpile is aging. As it ages, we must constantly pour more money into maintaining the aging weapons.

We have a choice to make as a Nation: Do we continue to rely on current weapon stockpiles and pay an increasing cost of maintaining the readiness and reliability of these weapons, or do we develop a new line of weapons to replace the current stockpile? The RRW would improve the overall shelf life of a warhead from 30 to over 50 years, and the program is true to its name.

RRW does not pursue new nuclear weapons capabilities. Rather, it pursues making our weapons more reliable, and more reliable weapons will help reduce the maintenance costs of our nuclear stockpile and ensure that we have stable and reliable weapons ready, and most notably, reduce our overall nuclear stockpile by potentially as many as 1,000 warheads.

Without RRW, we will continue to have a larger weapon stockpile. Not pursuing RRW is essentially counterproductive to our stated goals of arms reduction. Not only is my amendment the responsible thing to do for our national security, it's the fiscally responsible choice as well. The current life extension programs that are designed to extend the shelf life of expired warheads are at a great cost to the taxpayer.

I think we should all agree on the goal of reducing our total stockpile of nuclear arms, and if you agree with that goal, then I urge you to adopt my amendment to restore funding for the RRW program, the Reliable Replacement Warhead program.


Mr. PEARCE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I might consume.

Mr. Chairman, I have heard the arguments that maybe we're taking too much money from the EEC program, the Energy Efficiency Conservation program, that we're actually taking 12 percent was what was stated, but actually the truth is from last year's funding, we're not taking a penny. We're actually leaving that program funded at exactly the same level.

I have heard that we should not be building new weapons in order to give the right example to some of our friends around the world. And when I consider our attempts to influence our friends in North Korea, I would think that our unwillingness to build new weapons won't influence them at all. And when I think about influencing our friends in Iran, I think that our new posture of not maintaining our nuclear weapons will not influence them at all. In fact, they might be influenced in the other way.

Mr. Chairman, the world is not safer since 9/11. The world is more dangerous. During the 50 or so years of the Cold War, we didn't experience one strike inside the United States that even came close to being like the attack on 9/11. Yet after the Cold War, 1993, we had the first attack on the World Trade Center and then the second attack in 2001.

The world is getting progressively more dangerous, and I think for us to think that we can negotiate with these different countries is one that we should back up with the capability to strike back if a strike is needed.

I would reserve the balance of my time, Mr. Chairman.


Mr. PEARCE. Mr. Chairman, I've listened with respect to the arguments from all of the speakers on the opposition side. I would note that $10 million, the amount that is designated for the RRW, is just enough to keep the doors open; that once we allow this team of experts to dissipate, once these people are hired away, then we will never build another team possible. This is just enough money to hold the human resources together to produce these weapons because we will not be able to produce them after we give up the human technology, the human capabilities, and so just enough to keep the doors open. It's exactly what the Senate did last year

I would urge passage of the Pearce amendment.