The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved legislation that would slow development of next-generation, nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles, along with Department of Energy infrastructure that supports them.
The next stop for the two bills — which passed essentially along party lines, and without any amendments directly affecting nuclear arms spending — is the House floor. Committee Chair Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) has said she expects the full House to vote on the bills in June.
Together, the fiscal 2020 defense and energy and water development appropriations acts provide around $980 million, or some $410 million less than the Trump administration requested, for development of Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent missiles and DoE infrastructure needed to make their nuclear warheads.
The Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent is slated to replace the existing fleet of Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) beginning around 2030. The defense spending bill would provide roughly $460 million for development of the next-generation ICBMs: some 20% less than what the White House sought for the final year of development under competing three-year contracts held by Northrop Grumman [NOC] and Boeing [BA].
After wrapping the defense legislation, the Appropriations Committee approved an energy and water development spending bill that provides about $524 million to develop refurbished W87 warheads for the future ICBM, and to construct a pair of specialized plants to produce the plutonium cores for those warheads. That is only about two-thirds of the funding the White House requested for fiscal 2020, which begins Oct. 1.
The full committee also refused to provide nearly all of the funding requested by the Trump administration for three programs initiated by its 2018 Nuclear Posture Review: a low-yield, submarine-launched ballistic missile warhead; keeping the megaton-class B83 gravity bomb war-ready through at least the 2020s; and studying a future low-yield, sea-launched cruise missile.
Only the Navy would receive any money in 2020 to study a nuclear sea-launched cruise missile: about $5 million, under the committee’s bill.
The Energy and Water bill has a total of $16 billion or so for NNSA. That is roughly 6% above the 2019 enacted level, but around 5% less than the White House requested for 2020.