After President Obama released his fiscal year 2013 budget, it became clear that the Administration reneged on its promise to fully fund the needs of the U.S. nuclear complex to the Senate pursuant to its advice and consent to the New Strategic Arms Control Treaty (New START). Thankfully, though, some in Congress are well aware of the value that U.S. nuclear weapons provide as the nation’s ultimate insurance policy.

Representative Mike Turner (R–OH), chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, recently introduced the Maintaining the President’s Commitment to our Nuclear Deterrent and National Security Act of 2012 (H.R. 4178). The bill addresses some of the key issues related to the funding for the nuclear weapons complex and links reductions of U.S. nuclear arsenal to proper appropriations for the nuclear weapons complex.

The Administration is reportedly moving to reduce the arsenal of operationally deployed nuclear warheads to as few as 300. Not only would these reductions be expensive—and funded from the already overstretched Department of Defense’s budget—but they are not based on a sound assessment of the international environment. The Administration is operating on the premise that if the U.S. reduces its nuclear arsenal, other countries will follow its lead. This is not going to happen, because countries have their own reasons why they acquire nuclear weapons that are not primarily derived from the number of U.S. weapons.

Turner’s bill would prevent these unilateral reductions by means of “a limitation that nuclear force reductions should be implemented in such a way as to assure Russia does not deploy nuclear force levels superior to those of the United States.”

In addition, the legislation would make sure that future arms control negotiations uphold the “second to none” principle embedded in U.S. policy since the dawn of the nuclear age. This means that the U.S. nuclear arsenal would be superior or at least on par with the nuclear arsenals of other players. New START violates this principle by mandating U.S. unilateral reductions while allowing the Russians to build up their nuclear forces.

Paradoxically, as the U.S. reduces its nuclear arsenal, it increases the value not only of its remaining weapons but also of nuclear weapons for U.S. adversaries. Heritage research shows that a “protect and defend” strategy—which would combine offensive, defensive, conventional, and nuclear weapons—is the best response for the current multi-proliferated environment.

Cutting the nuclear arsenal without considering other countries’ modernization programs can have devastating unintended consequences. In addition, as the U.S. proceeds with reductions under New START, it is essential that the remaining warheads remain safe, secure, and effective.