Reading Room

“Skinny Budget” Presages Increased Nuclear Spending; Cuts Elsewhere

Monday, March 11, 2019

Posted by Marylia Kelley

On Monday, March 11, 2019, President Donald Trump released the summary outline for his administration’s Fiscal Year 2020 request.

The document is titled, “A Budget for a Better America,” which may be true if you are a major defense contractor or nuclear weapons lab. For the rest of us, however, the title is misleading at best.

In the vernacular, this document is called a “skinny budget” because it contains agency “top line” numbers only and is bereft of detail.

The President’s full FY2020 budget request is scheduled “soon,” according to government pronouncements. Various sources, however, have said to expect its release on Monday, March 18 or perhaps later that week.

Tri-Valley CAREs will prepare a full analysis of key programs within the Department of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) as soon documents become available. Further, we will produce a graph detailing the request for Livermore Lab.


In the mean time, here are the top line numbers from Trump’s skinny budget. From them, you can already see the outline of what will be in the full request – and the numbers increase the nuclear danger.

For example:

The FY2020 budget request for NNSA is $16.5 billion, up from $15.2 billion this fiscal year.  The NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the DOE that principally develops new and modified nuclear bombs and the bomb plants to build them.

The FY2020 budget request for all the other parts of DOE combined is $15.2 billion, down from $20.4 billion last year. This includes the DOE Office of Environmental Management (cleanup), the Office of Science, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewables, and others. Even without the details, can you visualize what’s being gutted?

The skinny budget includes a bit of overview text, which is also revealing of its priorities. It says the President’s FY2020 budget…

Modernizes the Nuclear Deterrent. The Budget supports the Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review by maintaining a tailored and flexible nuclear deterrent that protects the homeland, assures allies, and, above all, deters adversaries. While the investments in America’s nuclear weapons are large, given their importance in keeping America safe, the investments should be regarded as both necessary and affordable. The Budget increases investments in the nuclear stockpile to guarantee it is modern, robust, safe, and effective. Specifically, the Budget completes development and production of the W76-2 warhead, begins production of the B61-12 and the W88 Alteration 370, and continues development of the W80-4 and the W87-1. The Budget also continues support of the underlying Stockpile Stewardship Program, which facilitates stockpile modernization while advancing scientific understanding that can be applied to other national security missions.

Rebuilds Nuclear Weapons Infrastructure. The National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) nuclear security enterprise of national laboratories, production plants, and the Nevada National Security Site is a critical component of the U.S. nuclear deterrent. However, the physical infrastructure is in acute need of updating to better support the stockpile, as more than half the facilities are over 40 years old. To maintain a modern, resilient infrastructure, the Nation must invest in facilities needed to produce strategic materials and components for U.S. nuclear weapons. The Budget makes these significant investments, such as construction of the Uranium Processing Facility in Tennessee. The Budget also increases funding to repurpose the Mixed-Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility in South Carolina for production of nuclear weapons plutonium pits [bomb cores] to meet Department of Defense requirements. NNSA must have a modern enterprise with the capacity to respond to unforeseen developments…”

Here is a link to the skinny budget:

Check Tri-Valley CAREs’ website at for more information as soon as the full request is released.

We will also be sponsoring action alerts and other activities in the coming weeks and months to turn our country from profligate nuclear weapons spending to meeting human needs and protecting our environment.