Policymakers insist they cannot afford to provide assistance to the millions of Americans who are struggling during the pandemic, cannot afford universal health care, and cannot find funding for education. Even so, massive National Defense Authorization Act go through each year in a supposedly bipartisan manner.
This priority, placing weapons before citizens, is clearly detrimental not only to those living in the United States, but also to those around the world.
As Democrats Barbara Lee from California, Mark Pocan from Wisconsin, and Jake Auchincloss from the state of Massachusetts in letter sent to President Biden, “Our federal budget is a statement of our national values, and part of repairing the damage over the past four years is re-evaluating our spending priorities as a nation. The re-evaluation should begin with the Department of Defense. “
The budget for 2021 is recorded to be more than $ 740 billion. Graduated during the pandemic upheaval in mid-2020, Congress given $ 130 billion more than demanded for the nuclear-armed Columbia-class submarine program. While these same legislators cut a second round of stimulus payments to Americans to $ 600, they are simultaneously setting up pockets of defense contractors.
This priority, placing weapons before citizens, is clearly detrimental not only to those living in the United States, but also to those around the world. The Pentagon intends to request more funding for nuclear weapons this year as part of the Trump Administration’s mandate resurrection sea-launched cruise missiles, a program that was discontinued more than a decade ago under President Obama.
These weapons in the end complement A Navy, with twenty to thirty nuclear-armed submarines, is doubling the size of its current fleet, while also increasing the risk of error or miscalculation and further worsening relations with China.
In addition to sea-launched missiles, the Pentagon also plans to modernize land-based strategic defense systems convincing evidence that this is not necessary. Located in states such as Nebraska and Colorado, these systems replace intercontinental ballistic missiles, although they are often referred to as nuclear sponge, based on a strategy of keeping domestic attacks away from big cities.
In essence, the United States has designated these states as sitting ducks, ready to absorb a nuclear strike. This state representative claims that the job is worth the risk, but only 18 percent of Americans agree. Not only does the preservation of these weapons harm these communities, the contract benefits one producer: Northrop Grumman.
Fraction National Defense Authorization Act funds are used to reduce the damage caused by these nuclear weapons, by funding retrospective solutions such as cleanups, health care, and victim compensation. Communities affected by nuclear weapons have seen little progress over the years, although there is evidence of continued damage.
In 2019, reports emerged that the Runit dome cracked, allowing radioactive waste to seep into the surrounding Pacific Ocean. Runit’s dome built in 1977 as a temporary measure to contain the thousands of gallons of nuclear waste left over from tests the United States conducted on atolls in the Pacific Ocean from the 1940s to 1950s. Several improvements have been made since then, and US lawmakers have done so repeatedly rejected responsible.
Despite agreeing to pay $ 150 million in damages in 1986, the 2010 trial made it clear only a small part so far it has been paid, decades later.
As climate change causes the tides to rise, Runit will only get worse, and other nuclear waste storage solutions, many of which are also approaching high tides, pose the same risks. The United States has designated Yucca Mountain as space sacred to the Western Shoshone Nation, as the final resting place for US nuclear waste, but protests at the local and legislative levels have halted construction. This waste has been dumped across the country awaiting its final destination, often spending time being stored in low-income areas where resident protests take place. dissolved.
Care from Marshallese underscores a harsh truth about US nuclear policy: ignoring its long list of victims, ranging from veterans to Indigenous communities. The group that was affected by the nuclear impact of testing, is called downwinders, facing similar neglect from governments that exposed them.
Almost every year, amendments are offered to National Defense Authorization Act which will expand Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, the other half of the measures were offered to victims of nuclear pollution, but almost all of them failed.
The law, which expires in 2022 unless renewed, currently provides a one-time payment of $ 50,000 to $ 100,000 to a select group of victims who do not include New Mexico downwinders. This small payment is a drop in the bucket when one considers the lifetime of the various cancers that many victims endure. New Mexico, the birthplace of the nuclear age, has documented it decades of evidence that the nuclear explosion from the Trinity test caused a wide variety of cancers, reproductive problems, and health problems identical to those of other casualties in states including: Utah, Nevada, and Arizona.
Even if these measures are renewed before they end next year, hundreds of thousands of victims and their family members – who often have to bear the financial burden – will be left behind, including those in the Marshall Islands.
Nuclear weapon pose a big threat for climate; they would, if used, rapidly accelerate climate change and cause a nuclear winter. Their existence and reproduction are a threat to the well-being of the planet. Many people have suffered from the creation of our current arsenal, and developing them, during a pandemic, is cruel testament to the values of our legislators.
Self-billing has been introduced to solve many of these problems, but is often championed primarily by representatives from affected states, or strongly opposed when money is at stake. That Invest in the Cures Before Missiles Act, introduced by Democratic Representative Ro Khanna of California and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, is shifting funding from modernizing the ICBM system to responding to COVID-19. Senator Chris Van Hollen from Maryland and Representative Joe Courtney from Connecticut as well introducing the bill to stop funding for Trump’s resurgence of sea-launched cruise missiles.
The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2022 provides a unique opportunity to seize agency over the defense budget and lobby representatives to support amendments such as those that compensate for bottlenecks and divert funds from expensive and redundant weapons programs.
The Biden administration, in its first plea for defense, should heed the calls of Lee, Pocan and Auchincloss.