(House of Representatives - February 14, 2013)

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[Pages H507-H508]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Oregon (Mr. Blumenauer) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, part of the air of unreality in 
Washington is the myth of our inability to contend with budget 
reductions and the threat of sequestration in stabilizing America's 
financing. No doubt the draconian hand of across-the-board cuts in 
every program from food safety to border control to air traffic control 
would be foolish and destructive.
  Let me be clear. The major problem in all of this is here in Congress 
and our political structure, which creates self-inflicted crises. 
Sequestration and the postal deficit are just two examples. We know 
what to do, but you would never know it because we spend most of our 
efforts around here describing and decrying the problems rather than 
doing something about them.
  Let me repeat. The amount of budget reduction is something that can, 
in fact, be managed if only we change how America does business. 
Nowhere have the cries been more anguished than about the impact of 
sequestration on the Department of Defense, ironically, from many of 
the same people who insisted on the sequestration gimmick in the first 
place. As is widely recognized, sequestration over the next 10 years 
when applied to the Pentagon's budget would only reduce it in 
inflation-adjusted terms to what it was in 2007 when the most powerful 
military in the world was engaged in a war in Iraq and the challenge in 

[[Page H508]]

  If Members of Congress pay attention to the facts, they will see a 
clear path to dramatically reduce Pentagon spending without undermining 
America's position of being the most powerful Nation on the planet.
  Nobody has done a better job of highlighting a path forward, an area 
of opportunity, than Walter Pincus, writing in the pages of The 
Washington Post over the course of the last couple of years as he 
details the sweep of our nuclear weapons program and the spending 
trajectory. This morning is his latest offering and should be required 
reading for every Member of Congress, and the ones who whine the 
loudest should be forced to read it twice. He details the vast array of 
nuclear weapons that are ready to be deployed within 30 minutes, a 
relic of our contending with the former Soviet Union, where deterrence 
was the order of the day and when we were relying on massive assured 
mutual destruction of that huge country with overwhelming force.
  Now, not even the most delusional think we need a fraction of that 
firepower for today's threats, like North Korea, and it certainly 
wouldn't work against a nuclear weapon falling in the arms of some 
radical extremist. That, by the way, is most likely to happen with 
Pakistan's proven nuclear capability than Iran's, which is still being 
  The cost of this overwhelming force, including its three delivery 
systems, ought to give people pause. Consider the 14 Ohio class 
submarines, each with 24 ICBMs and each missile armed with five 
warheads, each three times the explosive power of the bombs dropped on 
Japan. We've got 118 B-52 strategic bombers and, of course, all of the 
land-based missiles where people are in the silos, ready to launch at a 
moment's notice. It is, by any stretch of the imagination, extravagance 
that borders on lunacy.
  The $80 billion the White House was forced to promise for the 
upgrades on the nuclear weapons complex and the at least $100 billion 
to replace the strategic delivery systems that were extracted in return 
for votes to pass the START treaty are obvious places to begin 
retrenchment. There are tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars 
to be saved over the next 10 years by refocusing our defense posture 
for the threats of today and the likely ones of tomorrow. Let's start 
cutting this massive Cold War deterrence based on the threat of nuclear 
weapons we've never been able to use, don't want to use, shouldn't use, 
and can't afford.
  I invite my colleagues, especially those on the other side of the 
aisle, to join us in getting real and getting specific. There is a 
clear path forward that should command the support of Republicans and 
Democrats alike to achieve fiscal stability. Let's rein in outrageous 
crop insurance abuses. Don't fight health care reform--accelerate it. 
The work we're doing in Oregon, if applied nationally, could save up to 
$1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. Pay for the privilege of taking 
America's mineral wealth by reforming the Mining Act of 1872, and slash 
the fossilized nuclear weapons program.