The Federal Legislative Agenda for the 117th Congress (2021-2022) is still pending (updated here).
Below please find the record on nuclear legislation of the MA delegation of the 116th Congress.
Nuclear Disarmament and Nonproliferation
No First Use Policy – YES
H.R.921 is sponsored by Representative Smith [D-WA-9] and S.272 is sponsored by Senator Warren [D-MA]. This act would instate a ‘no first use’ policy for the United States in regard to nuclear weapons.
Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act – YES
Representative Lieu [D-CA-33] is sponsoring H.R.669 while Senator Markey [D-MA] is sponsoring S.200, which is also cosponsored by Senator Warren [D-MA]. This legislation would prohibit the president from launching a nuclear first strike without a congressional declaration of war. Here is a press release about these two bills.
Hold the Low-Yield Nuclear Explosives (LYNE) Act – YES
H.R.1086 is sponsored by Representative Lieu of California and Senator Markey is the sponsor of S.401 while Senator Warren cosponsors S.401. This legislation would prohibit the research and development, production, and deployment of the Trident D5 low-yield nuclear warhead. The bill finds that there are several reasons to adopt this policy the first of which being that new, low-yield nuclear weapons would lower the threshold for use of nuclear weapons. A second reason is that following a policy of ‘escalate to de-escalate’ is dangerous and misguided. In addition, this prohibition would decrease the likelihood of nuclear war and therefore increase national security. Here is a press release on the Hold the LYNE Act.
Prevent Spending on Weapons Banned by the INF Treaty – YES
Representative Gabbard [D-HI-2] sponsored H.R.1249 while S.312 was sponsored by Senator Merkley [D-OR] and cosponsored by both Massachusetts Senators Warren and Markey. President Trump announced February 1, 2019 that the US plans to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia. The bill would prevent building missiles that would be banned by the treaty and restates the US’s policy to uphold the INF treaty which America joined in 1970. In addition, this bill would make no funds available for the Department of Defense in the fiscal year 2020, or any year following, for the testing, development, etc. of any missile prohibited under the INF treaty. Here is a press release by Rep. Gabbard, while Sen. Merkley’s can be found here.
Extension of New START Treaty – YES
S.845 is sponsored by Senator Menendez [D-NJ]. This is a bill to establish as United States policy that, pending confirmation of the Russian Federation’s continued compliance with the New START Treaty (Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms), the United States should extend the treaty through 2026. Here is more information on why several members of Congress want to extend New START.
Back from the Brink – Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – YES
Representative McGovern [D-MA-2] is the sponsor of H.Res.302. This bill embraces the “goals and provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” while recognizing the multifaceted destruction and death that the use of nuclear weapons brings. In addition, the bill calls for increased safeguards to ensure that a ‘mistake’ in nuclear detonation is less likely to occur.
Nuclear Weapons Abolition and Economic and Energy Conversion – YES
The Representative at large for the District of Columbia, Eleanor Norton, is the sponsor of H.R.2419 and Representative McGovern is a cosponsor. An act calling for the U.S.’ signature on the U.N.’s Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the redistribution of resources currently used for nuclear weapons to an ecological, peace economy. This is a press release by Rep. Norton about the bill.
Prohibit Funds for Nuclear Tests (PLANET ACT) – YES
Representative Titus [D-NV-1] is the sponsor of H.R.7140, with MA Reps. McGovern and Kennedy as cosponsors, while S.3886 is sponsored by Senator Markey with Senator Warren as a cosponsor. These pieces of legislation prohibit the use of funds for an explosive nuclear weapons test. Respective press releases can be found here and here.
Smarter Approaches to Nuclear Expenditures – YES
Representative Blumenauer [D-OR-3] is the sponsor of H.R.4904 and Rep. McGovern is a cosponsor, while Senator Markey is the sponsor of companion legislation S.2727. These pieces of legislation work to reduce spending on nuclear weapons and related defense spending. and prohibit the procurement and deployment of low-yield nuclear warheads, as well as for other purposes. Here is a press release on this issue.
HALT Act – YES
Senator Markey is the sponsor of S.4045 which aims to reduce and eliminate threats posed by nuclear weapons to the United States. This legislation recommends extending the START Treaty, advises the Trump administration to seek ratification of the CTBT, and prohibits the use of funds for explosive nuclear tests. Companion legislation H.R.7260 was introduced by Rep. McGovern. Here is a press release on the matter.
SAVE Act – YES
Senator Markey is the sponsor of S.1285, known as the SAVE Act or Save Arms Control and Verification Efforts Act, and Senator Warren is a cosponsor. This legislation requires certification and reporting in an unclassified form relating to the national security implications of the new START Treaty and provides for arms limitations in the event of the treaty’s non-renewal, among other purposes. Here is a press release from Senator Markey.
Preventing the Spread of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2019 – YES
Representative Sherman [D-CA-30] and Senator Markey introduced H.R.5387 and S.3014, respectively, which require the President to obtain congressional approval before entering into or renewing a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with a foreign country under certain circumstances. Here is a press release from Senator Markey.
Expressing Support for the Non-Proliferation Treaty – YES
Representative Sherman [D-CA-30] introduced H.Res.825 with the support of MA Rep. McGovern, while Senator Merkley [D-OR] introduced S.Con.Res.16 with the support of Sen. Markey. These resolutions recognize the NPT’s continued importance to United States and international security, and commemorate U.S. efforts to strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime.
Expressing Support for the International Atomic Energy Agency – YES
Representative Foster [D-IL-11] introduced H.Res.137, a resolution that expresses the sense of the House in support of the IAEA’s nuclear security role. The text maintains that the IAEA plays an indispensable role in strengthening nuclear security and safety around the globe, reaffirms U.S. support for nonproliferation efforts, and encourages the U.S. and IAEA member states to ensure the organization has the resources needed to carry out its duties.
Preventing U.S. Reneging on International Treaty Commitments – YES
Representative Panetta [D-CA-20] introduced both H.R.5149, the Open Skies Treaty Stability Act, and H.R.6991, the PAUSE Act. H.R.5149 prohibits the President from suspending, terminating, or withdrawing the U.S. from the Open Skies Treaty unless Congress receives legitimate reasoning in joint certification from the Departments of Defense and State. H.R.6991 prohibits actions to terminate or withdraw the United States from international treaties without affirmative approval from both House of Congress and encourages U.S. compliance with its international obligations, among other purposes. Press releases for the respective pieces of legislation can be found here and here.
For a summary article on the growing nuclear danger, see here.
Reduce the Threat of Nuclear Weapons: a Policy Brief by Peace Action
“Defense One: New, More Usable Nukes for Trump? No.” by Rep. Ted W. Lieu and Sen. Edward J. Markey
“The Growing Dangers of the New Nuclear-Arms Race” by Eric Schlosser
Here is a link to regular updates on the legislative status and cosponsorship of these bills.
Updated August 7th, 2020