US Lawmakers Balk at Soaring Cost of Nuclear Arms Modernization

CBO estimates scheme will cost $494 billion

When the program for modernizing America’s vast nuclear arsenal started being discussed, proponents in both parties argued that the high cost was acceptable, and that there was no cost too high for new nukes.

But they’ve been spending years testing this theory, with ever-mounting estimates for how much the program would ultimately cost. They may finally have hit that cost limit Thursday, when the Congressional Budget Office upped the cost another 23%, to $494 billion.

It no longer seems everyone is on board with that. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), the new House Armed Services Committee Chairman, says the modernization plan is just flat out “unaffordable.”

Smith warned that it was time to stop blindly following that path without asking bigger questions about the cost of maintaining a credible deterrent. Smith’s predecessor as committee chair, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) shrugged off the price increase, saying he was sure people would discuss it, but saying it was a fairly small percentage of America’s vast military expenditures.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of