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"Forget the Rest" blog

Nuclear funding gets boost

Alamogordo Daily News
By Tim Korte, Associated Press Writer

Posted: 10/02/2010 12:00:00 AM MDT

ALBUQUERQUE - The budget for United States nuclear weapons programs received a 10 percent increase over funding levels for the 2010 budget year, a boost hailed by Sen. Jeff Bingaman but assailed by the leader of an anti-nuclear group.

Congressional Democrats and Republicans agreed this week, in a continuing budget resolution that funds government for the next two months, to support a $624 million increase for weapons work by the National Nuclear Security Administration.

The nuclear funding bill needs final approval by Congress, which left Washington this week without approving a federal budget, but its inclusion in the continuing resolution was significant because it reflected increased weapons funding sought for 2011 by the Obama administration.

The emergency appropriation expires Dec. 3.

"This bill is very good for Sandia and Los Alamos national labs because it strongly supports the key stockpile stewardship work they do," Bingaman said in a news release. "It is a sign of how important the labs are and will remain to our national security."

Bingaman said almost all other federal agencies received continued funding at 2010 levels. He said the additional NNSA funding would "lend strong support" to stockpile stewardship programs at the New Mexico labs ahead of debate on a proposed START treaty with Russia.

The Obama administration still hopes to get the Senate to consider the Russian arms control deal before a new Congress takes office in January.

The director of the watchdog Los Alamos Study Group, Greg Mello, questioned why Congress and the administration would prioritize the nuclear program over other issues. He criticized the administration for pursuing nuclear funding to obtain a political objective ratification of the treaty.

"These are not the priorities that would put people to work, provide health care or education, protect the environment, or halt what most ordinary people understand to be a continuing economic decline, with no end in sight," Mello said.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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