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Readiness Chairman Garamendi Introduces Bill to Pause Costly and Unnecessary Nuclear Missile Program

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), Chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, introduced the “Investing in Commonsense Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) Act of 2021.” This legislation would pause the development of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program until 2031 and extend the service life of the Minuteman III missiles to 2040 that the GBSD program is intended to replace. The legislation would also pause the development of the W87-1—the warhead that is being designed for the GBSD program. This warhead will cost at least $12 billion to build and is in addition to the estimated GBSD procurement cost of $95 billion.

U.S. Air Force leadership has confirmed that an extension of the Minuteman III program is feasible, and a 2017 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report states that extending the Minuteman III program would cost taxpayers $37 billion less than developing and deploying the GBSD through 2036.

Original Cosponsors: Representatives Ro Khanna (D-CA), Don Beyer (D-VA), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), and Bill Foster (D-IL).

Endorsing Organizations: Former Secretary of Defense (1994-1997), Bill Perry; Foreign Policy for America; Arms Control Association; Council for a Livable World; Union of Concerned Scientists; Ploughshares Fund; Peace Action; Win Without War; Physicians for Social Responsibility; Center for International Policy; Beyond the Bomb; and Global Zero.

“Forging ahead with the deployment of the GBSD nuclear program is an unnecessary and costly mistake at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer, and further precipitates the modern nuclear arms race between the United States, Russia, and China,” Garamendi said.

“As a Chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness with over a decade of experience overseeing U.S. military policy in Congress, I have studied this issue at length and worked with key personnel responsible for executing U.S. nuclear modernization efforts,” Garamendi continued. “Through this work, I’ve learned that America’s nuclear modernization strategy has evolved from a strategy predicated on deterrence to one based on dominance. Deploying the GBSD exacerbates this dangerous trend and saddles the American taxpayer with a new, multidecade investment in an unnecessary warhead.

“Supporters of the current modernization approach tell us that the only choice is to proceed full steam ahead with the current modernization plans or allow our arsenal to rust into obsolescence. This is a false choice,” Garamendi continued. “My legislation acknowledges the facts and advice from various experts in this field and saves billions of dollars that can be spent to address more worthy defense needs. It also helps reset U.S. nuclear modernization policy, which greatly exceeds its deterrence requirement and will only worsen if planned modernization programs like GBSD continue.

“I thank the original cosponsors and sponsoring organizations for joining me in this effort, and I will work tirelessly to ensure this bill becomes law,” Garamendi concluded.

“Council for a Livable World (CLW) supports a commonsense approach to the future of America’s missile-based deterrent. Planning for the future should be based on sound deterrence strategy and avoid saddling U.S. taxpayers with enormous costs for unnecessary systems. CLW supports Rep. Garamendi’s bill as it furthers the discussion on this important policy issue,” said John Tierney, former U.S. Representative (D-MA) and Executive Director of Council for a Livable World.

The “Investing in Commonsense Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) Act of 2021” will strengthen our national security and save billions of tax-payer dollars by:

  • Prohibiting the use of funds for the GBSD program and W87-1 warhead modification program for fiscal years 2022 through 2031;
  • Extending the service life of the Minuteman III missiles until at least 2040, and requiring use of nondestructive testing methods and technologies similar to those used by the Navy for Trident II D5 SLBMs; and
  • Transferring back to the Air Force all unobligated funds for the GBSD program and transferring unobligated funds for the W87-1 warhead modification program from the National Nuclear Security Administration to the Treasury.

The full text of the legislation is available here.

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