Council: Front and Center – May 9

An update on national security, foreign policy & politics from Council for a Livable World and the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.


Iran Bill Passes in the Senate

After a marathon of poison pill amendments submitted to the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, the Senate finally ended debate and passed the bill by a vote of 98-1. Fortunately, many of the poison pills were dropped (you can read more about these amendments on our blog), but the bill will still require a Congressional review of any deal sealed by the P5+1 powers to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. Read the statement issued by Executive Director Angela Canterbury immediately following this action in the Senate.

House Supports Diplomacy

After the Senate concluded its action on Iran, however, the House of Representatives made clear their support for diplomacy by sending a letter to President Obama backing the diplomatic negotiations. Organized by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.-09), Rep. Lloyd Doggett (Texas-35), and Rep. David E. Price (N.C.-04), the 151 signers of the letter represents the theoretical one-third of the voting body necessary to withhold a presidential veto. Read more about the Senate and House actions on Iran this week, and check out our press release.

NPT RevCon 2015

The Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty only comes around every five years. This year, we sent our newest Policy Fellow Adam Proveaux to report live from the NPT RevCon in NYC. Adam was live Tweeting and blogging for the Council and Center at the various speeches and side events offered at this year’s RevCon. In case you missed it, be sure to catch up on the Five Key Challenges to Disarmament, some Fresh Ideas for Nuclear Security, and read about the Japanese youth who showed an unequaled passion for disarmament at this year’s Review Conference.

Welcome Progress from Kerry

Also at this year’s Review Conference, in his address, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry revealed the number of warheads in the U.S. stockpile and pledged to further reduce this number by speeding up the rate of dismantlement. These are modest, but welcome, steps forward—some that we called for most recently in our letter to President Obama on how he can improve his nuclear legacy. Read our letter and read more on Kerry’s address at the NPT RevCon by Scoville Fellow Greg Terryn.

NDAA: What You Need to Know

The Council and Center staff have been working around the clock–literally–to digest the massive bill that is the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016. The House Armed Services Committee finally approved this bill on April 30 after a marathon mark-up that lasted until 4:30am. Our policy team has prepared an analysis of what you need to know on this year’s NDAA and its nearly 300 amendments. Read the analysis, and if you wish, take a deeper dive into some of our target amendments, such as missile defense and treaties with Russia.

2015 Drinan Peace and Human Rights Award:

We are pleased to announce that this year’s Father Robert F. Drinan National Peace and Human Rights Award recipients will be Senator Chris Murphy, Representative Keith Ellison, and journalist Laura Rozen. The reception will take place on June 9th from 5:30 to 8:00pm at the Frederick Douglass House in Washington, D.C. Stay tuned: tickets available soon!


Tell Congress to Quit the Budget Gimmicks:

Opposing the Slush Fund, Now Even Slushier

Last week, the Council and Center were among 24 diverse organizations that signed a letter to the Senate opposing the continued use of the Overseas Contingency Operations account as a giant slush fund for the Pentagon. Now, it’s your turn!

This year, the President asked for $51 billion for the OCO account—above and beyond the Pentagon budget caps. Then the war hawks in the Senate and the House have boosted that number to an even more outrageous $89 billion. Those are your tax dollars at work, so it’s up to you to make your voice heard. Sign our petition today to oppose these budget gimmicks in Congress.


Killing Two Birds with One Radiating Chunk of Uranium

The House has also been active of late on two other important bills: the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill and the Military Construction & Veteran Affairs Bill. On a positive note, an amendment offered by one of our champions, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb. 1), to move funding from the dangerous “fuel to nowhere” Mixed Oxide Fuel facility to nuclear smuggling detection programs was accepted by voice vote! Senior Fellow John Isaacs has the highlights from the marathon mark-ups of this national security legislation on our blog.

Gen. Gard On Rep. Van Hollen

In a recent article for the Huffington Post Blog, Center Board Chairman Lt. General Robert Gard urged Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) of Maryland to get on board with his pro-diplomacy colleagues and sign an important letter of support for diplomacy to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. Van Hollen eventually signed! He was number 149 of the House’s target of 150 signers! Incidentally, that is well over the 1/3 votes that would be needed to uphold a veto of a bill that might kill a deal.

Slowing Down the Nuclear Cruise Missile

On the House side of things, the Council and Center were also among 22 organizations asking Representatives for support for an amendment to the FY16 Energy and Water Appropriations Act. The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Mike Quigley from Illinois, would oppose a request to speed up acquisition of the nuclear-armed cruise missile. Read the letter to learn more!