Letter to Congress Opposing Abuse of Sea-Based Deterrence Fund

June 10, 2015

Dear Representative:

Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA) has stated that during Floor consideration of the Fiscal Year 2016 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, he will offer an amendment to remove Section 8122 from the bill. This section would ensure fiscal discipline in the planning and purchasing of the next ballistic missile submarine. We urge you to oppose this amendment.

Stripping out Section 8122, as Rep. Forbes’ amendment would require, would allow the movement of funding for this submarine from the Navy’s shipbuilding budget to an account in the Defense-wide section of the budget, dubbed the “National Sea-based Deterrence Fund.”

This new fund was created in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act. The dubious rationale for moving the funding for this new submarine to the Office of the Secretary of Defense is that it is a “national asset.” To be clear, all military weapon systems are “national assets.” But the procurement of new subs should be in the Navy’s budget. Just as the purchase of new bombers belongs in the Air Force budget. As this infographic describes, the Navy is playing in a “shell game” in which it, and its Congressional allies, protect the shipbuilding budget by pawning off the building costs onto the rest of the Pentagon, which would drive up overall defense spending.

The use of this funding gimmick will lead to the other services claiming their major procurement programs are also “national assets.” As this recent article in Politico asks with regard to this fund, “Why exactly would the subs serve a more ‘national’ function than land-based intercontinental missiles, or the Air Force bombers that carry nukes through the air – of, for that matter, Army infantry units or overseas military bases or anything else the Pentagon controls?”

A vote against the Forbes amendment is NOT a vote against building these submarines. Voting against the Forbes amendment will still allow for the procurement of a new submarine for the Navy – it will simply ensure the money comes from the Navy’s budget. This is the same way previous classes of ballistic missile submarines have been purchased. There is no precedent for this budgetary gimmick.

Again, we urge you to oppose the amendment. A vote against the Forbes amendment is a vote for sound budgeting practices.

Sincerely,

Daryl Kimball, Executive Director
Arms Control Association

Angela Canterbury, Executive Director
Center for Arms Control and Non-proliferation

Mandy Smithberger, Straus Military Reform Director
Center for Defense Information.

Jonathan Bydlak, President
Coalition to Reduce Spending

Angela Canterbury, Executive Director
Council for a Livable World

Hans M. Kristensen Director, Nuclear Information Project
Federation of American Scientists

David Culp, Legislative Representative
Friends Committee on National Legislation

John Bradshaw, Executive Director
National Security Network

Pete Sepp, President
National Taxpayers Union

Matthew Fay, Foreign and Defense Policy Analyst
Niskanen Center

Paul Kawika Martin, Political and Policy Director
Peace Action

Catherine Thomasson, MD, Executive Director
Physicians for Social Responsibility

Conor Boylan, Executive Director
Progressive Democrats of America

Danielle Bria, Executive Director
Project On Government Oversight

Jay Coghlan, Executive Director
Nuclear Watch New Mexico

Ryan Alexander, President
Taxpayers for Common Sense
Marylia Kelley, Executive Director
Tri-Valley CAREs, Livermore, CA

Lisbeth Gronlund, Co-Director, Global Security Program
Union of Concerned Scientists

Stephen Miles, Advocacy Director,
Win Without War

Susan Shaer, Executive Director
Women’s Action for New Directions