If I am ever involved in a legislative battle where we win a complete and total victory without any provisions and deals we do not like, I will know that either I am no longer of this world or have sunk into dementia.
Yesterday we learned that Congress will appropriate $2.3 billion for non-proliferation funding, a 9% increase from last year’s funding level and $241 million above the House level.
Some of us have hailed the result as a victory. The non-proliferation program recovered a good deal of the funds that the House had cut and won an increase while many other programs were cut back.
Others pointed out that while the final number was better than that produced by the House, it still was not full funding. We don’t know the final allocation of funds by the Department of Energy. Congress at the same time approved a large increase in funding for nuclear complex modernization.
Part of the policy process in Washington, D.C. is that winning 100%, total success on an issue without compromises and encumbrances rarely if ever happens.
Take other past victories and the accompanying concessions and compromises:
–>We won a big victory on New START in December. But that success was accompanied by that same increase in nuclear modernization funding that we are still denouncing and with conditions that were less than satisfactory.
–>In 1997, the Senate gave its advice and consent to the important Chemical Weapons Convention, but not before adding several provisions limiting the treaty’s reach. As part of the deal, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency disappeared.
–>In 1993, President Bill Clinton managed to kill the B-2 bomber – but not before 21 were produced.
–>In 1992, Congress passed a nuclear explosive testing moratorium. However, the final deal included a nine-month limit to the moratorium; it permitted additional safety-related tests and allowed a resumption of testing if any other country conducted such tests. Despite these concessions, the moratorium has lasted 19 years.
–>In 1972, Congress approved the SALT I nuclear treaty, but added a Jackson (D-WA) amendment that severely hindered future nuclear arms reduction.
Our community knows what a loss is. The Senate’s defeat of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1999 was a loss.
We should be able to recognize and appreciate victories when they occur, even if they are not complete and total successes.