Daines pushes to include Senate bill’s funding for nuclear modernization in FY20 defense bill

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) urged congressional leaders to ensure the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) preserves a robust program of nuclear modernization in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 by fully funding the nation’s nuclear triad.

“As you work to finalize a conference agreement, we write you in strong support of provisions included in the Senate bill to authorize the administration’s FY20 nuclear modernization request, including the funding levels for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), the W87-1 warhead, and plutonium pit production,” also known as the nuclear triad, wrote Sen. Daines and five of his colleagues in a Sept. 30 letter sent to leaders on both chambers’ Armed Services Committees.

The committee members are reconciling S. 1215 with the same-named H.R. 2500, which has received approval from the U.S. House of Representatives.

“To reaffirm the U.S. nuclear deterrent and our extended deterrence commitments in today’s complex security environment, we must prioritize the effectiveness and efficient modernization of all three legs of the nuclear triad,” Sen. Daines and the other senators wrote.

To do that, S. 1215 would authorize $590 million for GBSD; $112 million for the W87-1 warhead; and would fully support a federal requirement to produce 80 plutonium pits per year by 2030, according to their letter.

Conversely, they wrote, “the House bill underfunds these programs, jeopardizing the timely fielding of the GBSD – a situation we must avoid.”

Among the members joining Sen. Daines in signing the letter was U.S. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND).

The senators wrote that they plan “to continue articulating the value of strategic deterrence and the need for nuclear modernization in light of a wide array of strategic challenges facing the United States and our allies.”