Important House Victories on Key Nuclear Weapons Issues: Key Votes on Fiscal Year 2020 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill

By John Isaacs

Elections have consequences.

Having Democrats as chairs of key committees — Rep. Adam Smith (WA) on Armed Services, Pete Visclosky (IN) on Defense Appropriations and Nita Lowey (NY) on the full Appropriations Committee — has consequences.

The new House of Representatives last evening voted against funding the low yield W76-2 nuclear warhead for submarines. A Gallagher (R-WI) and Cheney (R-WY) amendment to restore $19.6 million that the House Appropriations Committee cut was defeated 192-236. Democrats were mostly united against this new nuclear weapon: only three Democrats voted for amendment, Cunningham (SC), Gottheimer (NJ) and Van Drew (NJ). It is an important victory for those that have worked hard to defeat the new weapon.

Two similar Cheney amendments on the low yield weapons were defeated in the House Armed Services Committee on the National Defense Authorization bill last week on party line votes 26-30. Every Democrat on the committee went against Cheney; every Republican for.

The House also voted against funding new Intermediate Range conventional missile systems that would violate the INF Treaty. Another amendment by Gallagher (WI) to restore $96 million in research and development funds cut by the House Appropriations Committee for INF-range conventional missile systems was defeated 203-225. Only 13 Democrats voted for amendment.

We lost on one amendment. A Jayapal (WA) amendment to eliminate funds for research on the Long Range Stand Off Weapon (LRSO) was defeated 138-289-1. Ninety-eight Democrats opposed this Jayapal amendment, including key appropriators Visclosky (IN), Lowey (NY) and Kaptur (OH). Democrats voting “off the plan” presumably (if given the benefit of doubt) were moved by the fact the funds were for research, not deployment, but as we all know, opening the door a little can have consequences so we’ll be redoubling efforts on this going forward.

The next challenge will be a conference with the Senate, which has taken almost completely opposite positions.