Peace Is Possible
10 June 2018
First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck of sawdust from your brother’s eye.
–Jesus of Nazareth, Matthew 7:5
Urge the Senate to Reject New Nuclear Weapons
–adapted from Jeff Pudlo, Anthony Wier, FCNL 6 June 2018
The unsettling past year has been marked by the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement, and by numerous suggestions from the world’s biggest nuclear power that military force would be used
against the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea if they are not dismantled.
Just before Memorial Day, the House passed its initial, bloated version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act—the main military budget and policy bill that Congress approves every year. The House did adopt several improvements that FCNL backed, but unfortunately it rejected attempts to end support for building new US nuclear weapons.
Now the Senate will take its turn. FCNL opposes the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of this legislation, in part because it would eliminate a long-standing congressional oversight mechanism for limiting new, “more usable” lower-yield nuclear weapons. As a matter of faith, our
Quaker community doesn’t support any military expansion. As a matter of public policy, we are particularly concerned that Senate leaders – as done in the past – will restrict debate on the many policy changes in this legislation. The American people deserve a full, open debate and on-the-record votes on crucial amendments like these.
The House did make a few positive changes to its military policy bill. For starters, it passed amendments making it clear that nothing in the defense bill itself can be read to be an authorization for war with Iran or North Korea. That is helpful clarification—especially since the administration
just released a justification for its April 2018 Syria missile strikes that assumes an expansive view of inherent presidential power for waging war.
The House also passed an amendment requiring the Department of Defense to tell Congress exactly how ready every military department and agency is for a long-awaited audit of the Pentagon. Other passed amendments would better account for spending out of the Overseas Contingency Operations
—the slush fund Congress uses to push military spending far beyond budget caps–and would require the Pentagon to honestly estimate the long-term follow-on costs that proposed contingency actions would necessitate in later years.
The House, however, rejected several other needed changes. One was an amendment to hold back part of the administration’s funding request for a new “lower-yield” ballistic missile warhead, something FCNL and 21 other organizations urged the Senate to do last month. The administration
is seeking these warheads for the explicit goal of making a nuclear strike somehow more palatable to this and future presidents . This misguided logic only makes it more likely these nukes would actually be used and would start a larger nuclear war.
The House also rejected an amendment that would require the Pentagon to estimate a full 20 years of lifecycle costs for planned nuclear weapons. (Nuclear weapons generally have long service lives, so it only makes sense to judge the full costs before deciding to build them now.)
The full Senate should reject the Armed Services Committee’s proposal to end a long-standing congressional oversight mechanism that requires Congress explicitly to approve a low-yield “useable” nuke proposal before moving ahead to build it. Supporters of the new low-yield submarine-
launched nuclear warhead apparently fear the political cost of having to explicitly authorize such new warheads each time the Pentagon proposes them. If those nukes are such a good idea, why are their backers nervous about requiring an up-or-down congressional vote to build them? The Senate must inject some common sense back into the NDAA.
Sen. Joe Donnelly 720 Hart Senate Off. Bldg. Washington, DC 20510
Sen. Todd Young 400 Russell Senate Off. Bldg. Washington, DC 20510
Rep. Luke Messer 1230 Longworth HOB Washington, DC 20515
I write out of deep concern regarding your upcoming vote on the National
Defense Authorization Act. The proposed Pentagon budget total is a
wasteful, economy-wrecking diversion of funds from real human needs,
but that is not my main concern today.
The NDAA contains significant funding for building new low-yield nuclear
weapons, and both the House and Senate versions would eliminate the
long-standing oversight mechanism that requires Congress’ explicit
authorization before any such weapons are built. It is clear to me that the
administration wants funding and unfettered authority to build low-yield
nukes in order to make a nuclear strike seem “not so bad.”
Congress must not allow that to come to pass. Please use your influence
in the Senate to restore legislative oversight of nuclear weapons procure-
ment in the NDAA. We need lifegiving governance, not new nukes.
To use FCNL’s “Contact Congress” utility:
1– go to fcnl.org
2–in the upper right corner of the screen, click on “Action,” then click on “Act Online” from the drop-down menu
3–on the next screen that appears, click on “see more action alerts, votes, and bills”
4–click on “Write Your Own Letter to Congress”
5–on the page that appears, type in your contact information, then click on “Next”
6–on the next page, uncheck any member(s) of Congress you do not want your message sent to
7–type the subject of your message into the top right box
8–type (or cut and paste) your advocacy message into the larger box beneath the subject box