Energy and Water Chairman Frelinghuysen Statement on H.J. Res. 76, the Nuclear Weapon Security and Non-Proliferation Act

Oct 11, 2013

House Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen gave the following statement on the House floor today in support of H.J. Res. 76, the Nuclear Weapon Security and Non-Proliferation Act:

"Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present critical legislation to ensure our nation’s nuclear security. 

"This legislation continues funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration at the current level provided in fiscal year 2013 until December 15, or until full-year appropriations have been signed into law. There are no new anomalies and there is no special treatment. But continuing these activities without interruption is vital to our national defense.

"The National Nuclear Security Administration is responsible for maintaining our nuclear deterrent, securing vulnerable nuclear materials around the world to keep them out of the hands of terrorists, and supporting our Navy’s nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers.

"Funds will be used to keep the doors open so our scientists and engineers can keep our nuclear arsenal at the ready and our nuclear fleet operating efficiently. These vital programs keep our country safe and secure, and require well trained, dedicated personnel.

"So far, the highest priority national security missions have been sustained during the shutdown by operating off of prior-year funding. While most of the Department of Energy’s science and energy laboratories have enough carryover funding to operate through November, the national security laboratories and stockpile production sites of the NNSA are not in that same position.

"This week, the NNSA sites began notifying workers they would be shutting down as early as October 17th to preserve remaining funds for essential functions like protecting nuclear materials. By the end of the month, 90 percent of personnel at our nuclear weapons sites may be laid off, halting work to keep our nuclear weapons reliable. And, once laid off, some of these vital workers may never return.

"Suspending an ongoing nuclear production operation is no simple task, and that interruption will lead to higher costs and will only make it more difficult to maintain an aging stockpile. We must act now to prevent disruption of these important nuclear security activities.

"We also must sustain the critical work that the NNSA’s nonproliferation experts perform overseas. Despite hopeful press reports, Iran has still not turned off its centrifuges. North Korea may have restarted its reactors to make more plutonium.   And the Russian and Chinese governments continue to build nuclear armed ballistic subs. The technical expertise provided by our nuclear security experts is essential to our nation’s ability to monitor and respond to international developments such as these.  We simply cannot afford to lose this oversight of nuclear weapons and their potential for proliferation.

"Finally, our nuclear deterrent relies on the mission of our submarines, the very capable assets of which are maintained by the Naval Reactors program at the Department of Energy. We must ensure they have adequate support to perform their mission across the globe. "Colleagues, I do recognize that this bill will not solve the larger funding problem. We must enact full-year, annual appropriations that meet today’s requirements as voted on earlier this year and not rely on continuing resolutions to keep the government open.  And, in this regard, my thanks to Ranking Member Kaptur for her leadership and support of our annual appropriations process.

"Until we get back to regular order, this bill will provide funding critical to this nation’s security, and I urge my colleagues to support it. I reserve the balance of my time"