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Broad Coalition Warns Against Naval Budget Gimmick in Omnibus

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Arms Control Association ∙ Campaign for Liberty ∙ Center for Defense Information ∙ Center for International Policy ∙ Citizens Against Government Waste ∙ Coalition to Reduce Spending ∙ Council for a Livable World ∙ Friends Committee on National Legislation ∙ Georgia WAND ∙ Just Foreign Policy ∙ National Security Network ∙ National Taxpayers Union ∙ NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby ∙ Nuclear Watch New Mexico ∙ Peace Action ∙ Peace Action West∙ Physicians for Social Responsibility ∙ Project on Government Oversight ∙ R Street Institute ∙ Taxpayers for Common Sense ∙ Taxpayers Protection Alliance ∙ Tri-Valley CAREs, Livermore, CA U.S. Labor Against War ∙ Women’s Action for New Directions
 

The Honorable Thad Cochran
Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations
S-128, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510
 
The Honorable Barbara Mikulski
Vice Chairwoman, Senate Committee on Appropriations
S-128, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510
 
The Honorable Hal Rogers
Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations
H- 305, the Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
 
The Honorable Nita Lowey
Ranking Member, House Appropriations Committee, Democrats
1016 Longworth House Office Building
Washington D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Cochran and Vice Chairwoman Mikulski, Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Lowey:

As the Senate and House finalize the fiscal year 2016 appropriations legislation, we write to urge you to exclude Sec. 10017 of the House-passed defense appropriations act. This provision would authorize up to $3.5 billion to be transferred to the sea-based deterrence fund set up by Sec. 1022 of the fiscal year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act. The Senate defense appropriations act as passed by the Senate appropriations committee does not include a similar section.

If funded, the sea-based deterrence fund would allow the Navy to build the planned Ohio-class replacement fleet of 12 ballistic missile submarines outside of its budget and move the costs into a defense-wide account. Due in large part to the estimated $140 billion development cost of the Ohio replacement program, the Navy has stated that it cannot afford its shipbuilding goals over the next thirty years at projected funding levels and that it would have more flexibility if the new submarines were funded “from sources that do not result in any reductions to the [Department of the Navy’s] resourcing level.”

But the sea-based deterrence fund is a gimmick that would take pressure off of the Navy to set priorities among different Navy programs, which are all national programs, based on both the strategic need and affordability.

Moreover, the fund doesn’t reduce the financial burden imposed by the program, as the money still has to come from somewhere in the Defense Department budget. The bottom line is that either other vital programs will be squeezed out to pay for the Ohio replacement program or the topline Pentagon budget will need to be increased.

Use of the sea-based deterrence fund also promotes a permissive budgeting environment that could encourage other services to seek similar funding mechanisms for major procurement items, such as the next-generation bomber, especially in the next 15-20 years as the procurement costs of these new systems peak. This will further inhibit responsible budgeting and prioritization among competing programs.

Again, we urge you to reject use of the sea-based deterrence fund and not allow any transfer of funds to it in final FY 2016 appropriations legislation.

Sincerely,

Susan Shaer, Executive Director
Women’s Action for New Directions
 
Gordon Adams, Professor Emeritus
School of International Service, American University*
 
Kingston Reif, Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy
Arms Control Association
 
Norm Singleton, Senior Vice President
Campaign for Liberty
 
Mandy Smithberger, Director
Straus Military Reform Project, Center for Defense Information
 
William D. Hartung, Director
Arms and Security Project, Center for International Policy
 
Jonathan Bydlak, President
Coalition to Reduce Spending
 
Tom Schatz, President
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
 
John Isaacs, Acting Executive Director
Council for a Livable World
 
Charles D. Ferguson, President of the Federation of American Scientists* and former naval officer who served on a ballistic missile submarine.
 
David Culp, Legislative Representative
Friends Committee on National Legislation
 
Becky Rafter, Executive Director
Georgia WAND
 
Robert Naiman, Policy Director
Just Foreign Policy
 
Jay Coghlan, Executive Director
Nuclear Watch New Mexico
 
John Bradshaw, Executive Director
National Security Network
 
Pete Sepp, President
National Taxpayers Union
 
Marge Clark, BVM
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
 
Kevin Martin, Executive Director
Peace Action
 
Jon Rainwater, Executive Director
Peace Action West
 
Catherine Thomasson, MD, Executive Director
Physicians for Social Responsibility
 
Danielle Brian, Executive Director
Project on Government Oversight
 
Andrew Moylan, Executive Director and Senior Fellow
R Street Institute
 
Ryan Alexander, President
Taxpayers for Common Sense
 
David Williams, President
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
 
Marylia Kelley, Executive Director
Tri-Valley CAREs, Livermore, CA
 
Reece Chenault, National Coordinator
U.S. Labor Against the War

* = Organization mentioned for identification purposes only.

CC:

The Honorable Thad Cochran, Chairman, Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee
The Honorable Richard Durbin, Ranking Member, Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee
The Honorable Rodney Frelinghuysen, Chairman, House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee
The Honorable Pete Visclosky, Ranking Member, House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee