Nuclear Weapons Legislative Opportunities in 2017


Letter response to Defense Science Board recommendations – sent 3/14/17
Letter initiated by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in opposition to building new nuclear weapons or consideration of a resumption of nuclear testing, recommendations outlined in the Defense Science Board’s report, “Seven Defense Priorities for the New Administration.” Additional signers: Baldwin (D-WI), Brown (D-OH), Durbin (D-IL), Franken (D-MN), Harris (D-CA), Leahy (D-VT), Markey (D-MA), Merkley (D-OR), Sanders (I-VT), Schatz (D-HI), Van Hollen (D-MS), and Wyden (D-OR).

First use of nuclear weapons
Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017 – Introduced 1/15/17
Senate sponsor: S.200 Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) – Dear Colleague out on 2/28/17; House sponsor: H.R.669 Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) (20 co-sponsors as of 3/1/17)
Purpose: Prohibition on the President conducting a first-use nuclear strike unless such strike is conducted pursuant to a declaration of war by Congress that expressly authorizes such strike.

Nuclear Cruise Missile Reconsideration Act – introduced 3/8/17
Senate sponsors: S.574 Sens. Edward Markey (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
Purpose: Limit of $95,600,000 on development of any nuclear capable air-launched cruise missile, and $220,253,000 on the life extension program for the W80-4 warhead, in any single fiscal year, until the Secretary of Defense submits a Nuclear Posture Review that includes a detailed and specific assessment of the LRSO.

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) (not yet introduced)
Senate sponsor: Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA). House sponsor: Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
Purpose: Cancel new ICBM purchase

Nuclear weapons modernization program (not yet introduced)
Probable Senate co-sponsor: Sen. Al Franken (D-MN); possible House sponsor: Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA)
Purpose: 2016 version – Sense of Senate resolution urging the President to reevaluate, and modify accordingly, programs to modernize United States nuclear weapons and delivery systems and prioritize among the planned programs

Letter on negotiations with North Korea
Letter sent by Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) 3/2/17


Intermediate-Range Forces Treaty Preservation Act
Purpose: Response to Russian Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty violations
Senate sponsors: S.430 Tom Cotton (R-AR), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Marco Rubio (R-FL)
House sponsors: H.R. 1182 Mike Rogers (R-AL) and Ted Poe (R-TX)
Press release description:

  • Funding counter-force, active-defense, and countervailing-strike activities identified in the Section 1243(d) report of FY16 NDAA;
  • Establishment of a program of record for a dual-capable road-mobile ground launched missile system with INF Ranges;
  • Aggressively seeking additional missile defense assets;
  • Facilitating transfer of INF range systems to allied countries
  • Limiting funds for New START extension or OST activities until Russia returns to compliance; and
  • A policy review on determination of RS-26 as countable under New START.

Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Organization monitoring
Senate sponsor: S.332 Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR); House sponsor: H.R. 903 Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC)
Purpose: Restrict funding for the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization