Sequester Impactby Senator Dianne Feinstein
Posted on 2013-02-27
FEINSTEIN. I thank the Senator for her leadership on bringing
much needed attention to the arbitrary and damaging cuts of
sequestration on important government programs.
I would like to start by highlighting the impact of sequestration on national security activities. A semi-autonomous agency within the Department of Energy, known as the National Nuclear Security Administration, or NNSA, is responsible for safeguarding the country's nuclear weapons stockpile.
NNSA has recently embarked on a major modernization effort. The purpose is to upgrade aging infrastructure and replace aging components in nuclear weapons. These investments are being made so that NNSA can reduce the size of the stockpile, consistent with New START Treaty obligations, and certify each year that nuclear weapons remain safe, secure, and effective without underground nuclear testing.
Sequestration would cut close to $600 million from the nuclear weapons program, essentially freezing and reversing modernization efforts. Specifically, cuts in funding would put at risk NNSA's ability to refurbish nuclear weapons that are needed by the Air Force and Navy to meet nuclear deterrence missions, delay construction of facilities needed to replace old facilities that do not meet modern health and safety standards but are necessary to manufacture critical nuclear weapons components, result in furloughs and/or lay-offs of up to 5,000 contractors at the eight NNSA sites across the country, and reduce oversight of NNSA nuclear facilities resulting in less frequent and thorough audits and evaluations of security at the sites. This would come at a time when security lapses have occurred at a major site storing nuclear weapons materials.