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The FY2019 National Nuclear Security Administration Budget: Weapons Are Winners

In late February the Department of Energy (DOE) released its FY2019 budget request for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and in late March Congress passed its final FY2018 appropriations bill, so we now have more information about the agency’s plans for the next several years. To no one’s surprise, both the administration and Congress increased funding for the NNSA and, in particular, for its nuclear weapons work.

Meanwhile funding for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation—the category that covers programs to secure nuclear materials, detect illicit activities, and provide technical support for arms control measures—was down slightly in the request, but Congress added funds in this category, so the final appropriation actually shows a slight increase.

The administration requested a total of $15.1 billion for the NNSA, with $11 billion of this devoted to nuclear weapons (listed as “Weapons Activities”). This is an increase in overall NNSA funding of roughly $2 billion (17%) over the FY2017 enacted budget and $422,000 (3%) over the FY2018 enacted budget. The increase in Weapons Activities funding is sharper, an additional $1.8 billion (19%) from FY17 and $375,000 (4%) from FY18. Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, on the other hand, saw a slight decrease in the budget request vs. previous year’s funding. The administration’s request included $1.86 billion for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, down from $1.9 billion in FY2018. Congress, however, increased this funding to $2.05 billion, a small increase from both FY2018 and the FY2017 enacted budget of $1.9 billion.

Table 1 lays out the progression of funding so far, and a few of the more notable changes are discussed below, but for an overview of the latest funding moves, good summaries are available in this short but thorough piece from the American Institute of Physics (though note that it was published before information about the W76-2 funding—discussed below—came out), and this more comprehensive summary from the Congressional Research Service focuses on appropriations for the NNSA’s Weapons Activities category.

Read more at the Union of Concerned Scientists

About the author

Eryn MacDonald