I was reading some recent RRW testimony, when I noticed that Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England was not aware that nuclear weapons programs were largely funded out of the Department of Energy budget.
I often mistake esoteric facts for common knowledge — call it the curse of the wonk. But, shouldn’t the Deputy Secretary know whether or not his department is responsible for the lions share of nuclear weapons development costs?
REP. HOBSON: Well, you will find a lot of differences within Congress in the manner in which both NNSA and the Defense Department approached RRW, and that’s why there’s pushback on RRW, as you see it today.
But let me ask another question, too, because this — RRW is really not probably something you’ve worked on, but it’s something that really needs to be looked at, and what we do with the stockpile in the future and how we handle it.
Over a quarter of the Department of Energy’s budget is focused on nuclear weapons activities or dismantling them, monitoring them and extending their lives. I’ve often wondered if this arrangement made sense. And what I mean by that is, your department develops the strategy for using these weapons, for what their operational requirements are, how many are needed and that sort of thing.
Yet the Energy and Water Subcommittee is left in the position of having to come up with the money to pay for them, often taking funding away from energy programs or funding for levees. And I heard some complaints that Defense asks for the pie in the sky sometimes because they don’t have to pay for it; it doesn’t come out of your budget, so ask for everything.
Is this arrangement — do you think this current arrangement makes sense, or what, if anything, will be lost by requiring the Defense Department to actually pay for what they’re requiring? Will we get more bang — kind of a bad word, but more bang for our buck if we looked at it that way rather than having Energy and — you guys just say, “Oh, we want this,” and the guys over at [N]NSA just kind of bow and scrape and say, “Yeah,” because it doesn’t come out of your budget, it comes out of their budget, which comes through Energy and Water?
MR. ENGLAND: So Mr. Hobson, I guess I was not aware that we were not paying for these programs —
REP. HOBSON: You’re not.
MR. ENGLAND: — with Department of Energy, because — okay, I guess that’s a surprise to me. I mean, I always thought we were funding those development programs and funding the DOE labs to do work for us. So I though there was a money transfer to DOD (sic) to do this. I guess I’m surprised —
REP. HOBSON: There may be some minor monies, but the majority of the money comes out of Energy and Water accounts.
MR. ENGLAND: So —
REP. HOBSON: You provide — you build the delivery systems. The weapons and the weapons development is funded by Energy and Water. And those labs are basically funded out of Energy and Water.
REP. CRAMER: If the gentleman would yield, it’s a Defense function, but Energy picks up the tab.
MR. ENGLAND: So Mr. Hobson, we’ll look into that, sir. I wasn’t aware of that.