REP. CHUCK FLEISCHMANN: Republicans Are Rebuilding American Security With Nuclear Energy And Nuclear Weapons

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America is at a precipice.

During the past three years of President Joe Biden’s administration, our country has endured one disaster after another. Our nation faces major challenges – any of which could threaten our freedom, security, and way of life.

Globally, our adversaries see Biden’s weakness and ineptitude and are on the march — Russia continues its illegal invasion of Ukraine, both China and North Korea threaten stability throughout Asia, and radical terrorists backed by Iran threaten Israel’s existence. At home, we face an energy crisis, where because of Democrats’ relentless assault on American-made energy, gas prices and utility bills continue to soar, robbing workers and families of their hard-earned money.

As chairman of the Appropriations Committee’s Energy and Water Development subcommittee, I know firsthand the extreme challenges we face. When the American People elected Republicans to correct the abysmal mistakes of Joe Biden and D.C. Democrats, we vowed to deliver conservative, commonsense solutions to make our country great again. I’m proud that the Fiscal Year 2024 Energy and Water Development bill I wrote makes the critical investments in our nuclear stockpile and energy security that America desperately needs.

Our country’s strategic defense against all adversaries, especially nuclear-armed powers like China and Russia, is our strong and modern nuclear deterrent. The FY24 Energy and Water bill provides more than $19 billion to continue the critical modernization of our nuclear weapons stockpile and support infrastructure to ensure America’s nuclear arsenal remains safe, secure, and effective. Specifically, the bill supports the need for evolving capabilities, such as the W93 warhead, the nuclear Sea-Launched Cruise Missile, and a variant of the B61 gravity bomb.

I also led efforts to support infrastructure modernization within the nuclear weapons complex, including plutonium pit production, an essential component of nuclear weapons and a critical national security capability that the U.S. has not had in more than 30 years. Many of the facilities in America’s nuclear security complex were built during the Manhattan Project era and are more than 70 years old. For example, the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) in my home district in East Tennessee will be able to replace its World War II-era buildings – some of which have had large chunks of concrete fall from the ceiling due to age. The UPF will ensure the long-term ability to process the uranium needed for our stockpile while significantly improving the health and safety of workers and the public.

Another component of national security is energy security — both for ourselves and our allies. Now, more than ever before, our daily lives depend on clean, reliable energy sources. This year’s Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill lays out the path to reduce our reliance on foreign adversaries for our energy needs in key ways. First, it reduces our dependence on Russia for the enriched uranium needed to fuel existing nuclear power plants and the advanced nuclear technologies currently under development. To do that, I included more than $2.8 billion to establish domestic uranium enrichment capabilities. Second, the bill supports the full suite of production technologies, including separation and extraction, to utilize and secure our domestic critical minerals supply chain. These activities will help reverse our growing reliance on China for the critical minerals used in all modern electronics and batteries. From electric vehicles to smartphones and medical devices, critical minerals are essential to everyday life.

Finally, my House Republican colleagues and I worked to safeguard our nation’s energy and technology assets from being exploited by foreign adversaries. The bill includes language to prohibit the Biden administration from 1) selling crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to China, 2) awarding U.S. tax dollars to entities of concern, and 3) allowing citizens of Russia and China to access U.S. nuclear weapons production facilities.

The situation at home and abroad has changed dramatically over the past few years. Americans face ever-increasing energy costs on top of decades-high inflation. Russia and China continue to threaten global stability and are engaging in a new arms race. Malign actors, like Iran and North Korea, continue to seek opportunities to destabilize the world. The present times call for strong, conservative action to get America and the world back on track. The Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill responsibly uses every precious and limited taxpayer dollar to ensure our country has a strong and effective nuclear stockpile and removes the heavy yoke of high-cost energy and dependency on foreign energy sources.

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann has represented Tennessee’s Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2011.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.