Front and Center: 12/7 – 12/20

COUNCIL: FRONT & CENTER An update on arms control, national security & politics from Council for a Livable World December 7 - December 20 HAPPY HOLIDAYS!: 'Tis the season of giving. Please consider making a generous contribution to support our work at the Council and Center. WHAT'S NEW: Budget Busters With no shortage of drama, delays, and behind-closed-doors negotiations, Congress finally passed a defense spending bill and an appropriations bill to fund most of the government for another year. All in all, Congress has made clear its plans to continue outrageous Pentagon spending, much of which isn’t tied to a sustainable national security strategy (e.g., $8.7 billion for nuclear weapons activities). Our research organization, the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation reduced the national security measures of the nearly 1,600-page so-called “Cromnibus” spending bill into a two-page summary just hours after it passed on the Senate floor, followed by in-depth analysis of the final national security spending in both bills on our blog. It’s this kind of timely analysis that our allies on Capitol Hill value most. Click here to help us keep it up! READ: The President's Legacy This week, President Obama continued his recent streak of dramatic policy reforms by announcing plans to restore long-discarded diplomatic ties with Cuba. As John Isaacs writes on our blog, the President’s boldness during his last two years in office could—and should—be extended to long overdue promises of further nuclear reductions. Letter on Congressional Oversight of National Security Congress is charged with overseeing U.S. intelligence and national security activities, but in recent years, they’ve fallen short. Council for a Livable World teamed up with fifty other organizations to ask congressional leaders to modernize and reform oversight and provide the necessary checks and balances. Read the letter to the Speaker and Minority Leader on our website. FROM OUR RESEARCH CENTER: Washington: Your Time is Up to Cut the War Fund The Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account was created to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, it’s still being used, but it’s also being spent on a host of other programs that have nothing to do with these wars. Now at $65 billion in off-budget funding, it’s become a slush fund, a safety valve, a convenient escape from the budget caps. “The Pentagon doesn’t need more money; it needs clearer policies and more effective management,” writes Center Board Chair Lt. General Robert G. Gard (ret.) in an article published in Defense One. Use of Military Force: Authorized by Senate Committee Last week, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations voted to authorize the use of military force (AUMF) against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The resolution was passed by a party-line vote of 10-8, with Democrats in favor of rejecting ground combat operations, and Republicans in protest of those same limitations being imposed upon the Commander in Chief. Read the full summary of the hearing on our blog by our former intern and new Research and Policy Associate, Sarah Tully. Nuclear Weapons and Humanity are Incompatible Last week, 158 countries attended the Third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Vienna. The United States made an inaugural visit, but the overwhelming majority of the attendees were the nuclear have-nots of the world who came to demonstrate their frustration with the stagnant pace of arms reductions within the nuclear-armed nations. Scoville Fellow Greg Terryn has a breakdown of the conference on our blog. Because America (A Reality Check) In their latest piece, Executive Director Angela Canterbury and Sarah Tully recount and expand upon a discussion on the future of U.S. foreign policy held at Center for American Progress this week. Policy experts from across the ideological spectrum came together for a unique across-the-isle conversation to discuss the role our allies should and do play in U.S. foreign policy. The million-dollar question: Is U.S. an exceptional nation? What does that notion mean for our foreign policy? BE SOCIAL: Frank Rose: Finally on the Job In July 2013, President Obama tapped Frank Rose to become the new Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance, the bureau charged with ensuring countries are held accountable for arms control & non-proliferation agreements. Due to partisan stalling, Frank was forced to await confirmation by the Senate for 515 days. Before Congress skipped town for winter recess, we orchestrated a social media campaign known as a “Thunderclap” and demanded that Majority Leader Harry Reid move to confirm Frank Rose. It worked (along with a little unintentional help from Sen. Ted Cruz)! Frank Rose was finally confirmed this past week. Share our graphic to thank Leader Reid (@SenatorReid) for letting Frank get to work on improving our national and international security. Share Our Pentagon Budget Infographic? It wasn’t easy, but we managed to select the most egregious Pentagon spending for the next fiscal year. The F-35 fighter jet is billions of dollars over budget already, but it’s receiving half a billion more this year. (Oh, and did we mention that the aircraft’s fuel catches on fire when it overheats?) The Littoral Combat Ship is riddled with structural problems, the OCO account continues to be a slush fund, and the Pentagon and Department of Energy will receive millions more than Obama’s request for nuclear weapons activities. Wasteful spending if we ever saw it. Be sure to share on Twitter, Facebook, or by email! Panel