THE DEFEND AMERICA ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 142, No. 80
(Senate - June 04, 1996)

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[Pages S5738-S5741]
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                         THE DEFEND AMERICA ACT

  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, today, the Senate is revisiting the star 
wars system of the 1980's, renamed for the 1990's as the Defend America 
Act. It was a bad idea then and it is a bad idea today.
  The suggestion in the title Defend America Act is that to defend 
America requires nothing more than deploying a national missile 
defense. In reality, this legislation would pour exorbitant sums into 
building a missile defense system that would make our Nation more 
vulnerable to missile attack, while at the same time ignoring the more 
likely threats to our territory and citizens. The Defend America Act 
misses the point, and at no small cost to the American taxpayer.
  The bill requires the Defense Department to deploy a national missile 
defense by 2003. This approach has several flaws. First, the threat 
from limited missile attacks against the United States is remote. 
Throughout the cold war, when the superpowers were antagonists and had 
far larger nuclear arsenals than they field today, we chose not to 
deploy missile defenses because the cost did not justify the protection 
they could provide.
  Why should we decide to deploy missile defenses now, when the cold 
war is over, when we have far more cooperative relations with Russia, 
and when they have a much smaller superpower arsenal? The Secretary of 
Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff state that now is not the time to 
deploy a national missile defense. But the Republicans reject that 
advice and want to build this wasteful system.
  The second flaw in this bill is that deploying a missile defense 
system now will put U.S. policy on a collision course with the Anti-
Ballistic Missile Treaty. The bill promotes the use of ABM components 
prohibited by this important treaty. Moreover, the bill recommends 
formal withdrawal from the treaty if the Russians fail to agree within 
a year to re-write the treaty to permit a national missile defense. 
Provisions like these send a strong signal to the Russians that 
cooperation to achieve nuclear arms reductions is not a United States 
priority. The passage of this bill would put other nations on notice 
that we do not take our treaty obligations seriously.
  Members of the Russian Parliament have stated that they will oppose 
ratification of START II if the United States takes steps to develop or 
deploy ballistic missile defenses in violation of the ABM Treaty. By 
endangering the prospects for START II ratification by Russia, the 
Missile Defense Act will ensure that we will face many thousands more 
Russian nuclear weapons in the near future than if arms reductions are 
implemented. Discarding the ABM Treaty would reverse the logic of 
deterrence and arms control that Republican and Democratic Presidents 
have pursued for the last four decades.
  Further, the current threat does not justify the multi-billion dollar 
expenditures required to field a national missile defense by 2003. The 
Congressional Budget Office estimates that the total acquisition cost 
of this program will range from $31 to $60 billion, and cost billions 
more to operate. At a time when we are trying to balance the budget and 
meet essential needs, it is impossible to justify this massive new 
defense expenditure.
  Although this bill purports to defend America, it fails to address 
the most pressing threats to American security. The World Trade Center 
and Oklahoma City bombings remind us that terrorist use of nuclear, 
chemical and biological weapons on American soil remains a far greater 
threat than a ballistic missile attack by a foreign nation. Loose 
controls on nuclear material from the former Soviet Union raise the 
threat of nuclear proliferation by hostile nations or groups. The 
policies--and expenditures--contained in this bill in no way address 
these vital threats.
  In contrast, the Clinton administration's defense policy addresses 
these varied threats. First, it takes specific steps to increase 
nuclear safety. In April in Moscow, the G-7, Russia, and Ukraine met at 
a nuclear safety summit to discuss means of increasing controls over 
nuclear materials and defending against nuclear smugglers. The 
Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, sponsored in Congress by Senators 
Nunn and Lugar, achieved to the removal of thousands of nuclear 
warheads from former Soviet arsenals and the destruction of hundreds of 
missile launchers, and has safeguarded vulnerable stockpiles of nuclear 
  The Clinton administration also addresses ballistic missile threats, 
but in a more sensible fashion. The Defense Department supports theater 
missile defense programs to defend our forces in the field. To deal 
with the possibility of a future ballistic missile threats to U.S. 
territory, the Pentagon supports an affordable level of spending on 
anti-missile defenses. This program, called 3+3, will ensure that 3 
years from now, we will be able to decide

[[Page S5739]]

whether to deploy a missile defense system that could be in place in 3 
years. Our senior military leadership agrees that this is the most 
sensible way to protect against unforeseen missile threats.
  The Defend America Act would spend money we don't have to defend 
against threats that don't exist. We need a strong defense, but we must 
prepare to meet real threats. Failure to do so will end up wasting 
billions of taxpayer dollars. I urge my colleagues to oppose this bill.
  Mr. NUNN. Mr. President, I believe Senator Conrad from North Dakota 
wanted to speak. We had set aside certain time for him. The debate was 
originally scheduled to conclude at 12:30. I wanted to serve notice 
that Senators on our side of the aisle or on this side of the question 
that would like to speak, they need to come over momentarily so that we 
can get back to the original time schedule, which is 12:30. I reserve 
the remainder of my time and yield the floor.
  Mr. KYL. Mr. President, I ask to be notified when our side has 4 
minutes of time remaining. Rather than waiting, I will make some 
remarks at this time. As Senator Nunn said, if others wish to speak, 
they should come to the floor immediately.
  Let me just respond to the key point that Senator Levin made because 
it is an important question. It is what the effect would be as a result 
of the United States developing and deploying a national missile 
defense--what the effect would be on the START I and START II Treaties. 
These are the two treaties that called for the United States and Russia 
to reduce our nuclear inventories. Under START I, we would bring the 
number of warheads down to, I believe, 6,000. And 6,000 warheads is 
still a lot of warheads. That is why the U.S. Senate has also ratified 
the START II Treaty, which would take it down below that to, I think, 
3,500 warheads. And 3,500 warheads is still a lot of warheads, but the 
Russian Duma has not even ratified START II yet.
  The argument I find curious, and which I characterized as 
``startling'' a while ago, is that the United States Senate would be 
deterred from acting to defend America on the basis that the Russians 
might violate the START I Treaty by refusing to reduce their warheads 
to the required 6,000 level under START I, if the United States should 
take action--which is perfectly legal--which does not violate any 
treaty whatsoever, but which provides for our defense against ballistic 
missile attack. I find that a very curious notion. But, more 
importantly, it does not seem to be a reason for the United States not 
to act. If we cannot act to defend ourselves because we believe that 
someone else will, as a consequence, violate a treaty that they have 
with us, then of what worth is that treaty? And of what worth would a 
follow-on treaty be? If people believe that the Russians are going to 
violate the START I Treaty if we develop a ballistic missile defense 
system--which is totally legal--then how valuable is it for the 
Russians to sign onto a START II Treaty, which would bring their 
warheads down even more?
  This is not a matter of either/or. I agree with my friends on this 
side who say it is desirable to bring those numbers of warheads down, 
to chop up the bombers, and to close the missile sites. That is a good 
thing. And it comes side by side with defending America. We still have 
a defense budget. We are still defending ourselves. Ballistic missile 
defense is one of those areas of defense that we have been providing 
for. One of my colleagues said we have already spent a lot of money in 
that area. It is true. All we are saying is let us spend just a little 
bit more money and provide an actual system that will defend America. 
It does not violate any treaties, and there is no reason for the 
Russians to be concerned that, as a result of this, they should begin 
violating treaties that they have signed with the United States. So it 
seems to me that is not a good argument to make against this bill.
  The bottom line here is this is the Defend America Act. The majority 
leader, Bob Dole, has asked that we be able to vote on this, and this 
afternoon we are going to have a vote to decide whether we are going to 
vote--in other words, a vote to invoke cloture--to stop debate for the 
time being and actually begin debate on the bill so we can eventually 
bring it to a vote up or down. Some of my colleagues would prefer not 
to vote on the bill. I would prefer that they vote either yes or no. 
They do not have to agree with us that the Defend America Act is a good 
idea. We ought to at least be able to get a vote on the bill. The vote 
that is going to occur this afternoon is not a vote on the Defend 
America Act. It is simply a vote on whether we should proceed to 
consider the Defend America Act. I hope that our Senate colleagues 
would at least agree that we can go that far even if they do not want 
to end up voting for it for the reasons articulated.
  Let me reserve the remainder of time on this side, and again urge 
Senators if they wish to speak on the bill, they need to get here 
because the original time was to expire at 12:30. We have extended that 
for 10 or 15 minutes. If Senators are not here to speak, we will close 
debate on the bill before long.
  Mr. NUNN. Mr. President, how much time do I have remaining?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Georgia has 21 minutes and 54 
  Mr. NUNN. If there are any other Senators that would like to speak, I 
would certainly invite them to come over at this time.
  In brief response to my friend from Arizona, he mentioned that those 
of us who have expressed some concern about the relationship between 
what we perceive to be a participatory breach of the ABM Treaty as 
contained in the Dole-Gingrich bill, and the Russians--it will be 
necessary to continue to draw down their missile and nuclear weapons 
category as contained and required in START I, and as will be required 
in START II, if ratified--that there is this connection in the Dole-
Gingrich bill, and anyone virtually reading this bill and who is 
familiar with the ABM Treaty would consider this to be tantamount to 
notice that the ABM Treaty is going to be breached.
  In section 4(a)(1), little (b) under section 4, very clearly the 
system to be developed for deployment shall include the following 
elements: No. 1, an interceptor system that optimizes defensive 
coverage of the continental United States, and so forth, and includes 
one or a combination of the following: (a) ground-based interceptors; 
(b) sea-based interceptors; (c) space-based kinetic energy 
interceptors; (d) space-based direct energy interceptors, and so forth.

  Three out of the four of those named would violate directly the ABM 
Treaty. I do not think the ABM Treaty is sacred ground. I believe there 
ought to be modest amendments to the ABM Treaty.
  As I suggested in my remarks yesterday, if the Senator wants to carry 
out the spirit of his remarks which is saying for the Russians we are 
not going to violate the ABM Treaty and now you do not violate START I, 
we will not be violating the ABM Treaty if we deploy a ground-based 
system--and we would not. That is correct. But if we deploy any of the 
other systems named in this Dole-Gingrich bill we would.
  So if he would like to vote strictly on the proposition he just 
offered then we will have a chance to do that on my substitute because 
that is what it does. It says we will go forward with a treaty, an ABM 
Treaty compliance system with 100 interceptors at Grand Forks, and then 
we will seek an amendment to the treaty as provided in the treaty to be 
able to go to two sites and 1,200 missiles, which would indeed be the 
original ABM Treaty exactly as it was before there was an amendment in 
the 1970's. That would be treaty compliant. If we did that, there would 
be no question that the Russians would have no right to violate START 
I. They would have no excuse for basically not ratifying START II. But 
when you basically say to the Russians what we are going to do here is 
get you to draw down to 3,500 warheads, and then about the time you do 
that under the START II treaty we are going to deploy perhaps a sea-
based system, a space-based system, or space-based direct energy 
system, what you are saying in effect is we want you to comply with the 
START I and START II, but just about the time you get through 
implementing it we are going to in all likelihood break out of the ABM 
Treaty. That is the message that is going forward here.

[[Page S5740]]

That is the message everybody understands that has studied the ABM 
  So to say we basically are fearful that the Russians are breaking 
their obligations and leaving out of the equation that we are serving 
notice we are going to break ourselves, I think, is a little bit 
  So I say to my friend from Arizona that, if he would like to vote on 
that proposition staying within the ABM Treaty, or seeking an amendment 
within a reasonable timeframe to that treaty to permit a better system 
than the one-site system, he will have every opportunity to do that 
when we get to a vote on this because that is exactly what the Nunn 
substitute will provide.
  Mr. KYL. Mr. President, I would say to the distinguished ranking 
member of the Armed Services Committee that I would love the 
opportunity to vote on both the proposal that Senator Dole has made and 
also the substitute that Senator Nunn would like to make. That is what 
this cloture vote is all about. If we do not vote for cloture we are 
not going to have that opportunity.
  Second, there is no difference in concept between the proposal of the 
Senator from Georgia and our proposal. We are not engaging in an 
anticipatory breach of the ABM Treaty with this bill. We provide two 
specific mechanisms, both of which are treaty compliant, to proceed. 
One of them is similar to that which the Senator from Georgia proposes. 
In his substitute he is suggesting that we have not one ground-based 
site but two. Under the current ABM Treaty that would be in violation 
of the treaty if we went forward to build that.
  So in his legislation he provides that we should seek an amendment to 
the treaty to accommodate this second site. Likewise, in the Dole bill, 
the bill before us today, it reads on page 9, line 8, ``In light of the 
findings in section 2 and the policy established in section 3 [in other 
words, that we should build a national missile defense system] the 
Congress urges the President to pursue high level discussions with the 
Russian Federation to achieve an agreement to amend the ABM Treaty''--
to allow the deployment of the system. We ask for the same thing.
  In other words, to the extent that we might go beyond what the ABM 
Treaty allows, the Senator from Georgia is correct to say that some of 
the things in the bill, if they were done--it is up to the President to 
decide whether they would be done--but if they were done those things 
could be considered beyond the scope of the ABM Treaty. In that event, 
we then ask the President to engage in the negotiations with the 
Russians to amend the treaty to permit it. In the event that the 
Russians would not agree to it, we then invoke a second provision of 
the ABM Treaty which specifically provides that the United States can 
give notice of withdrawal from the treaty if we determine it is in our 
interest to do so. We tried for an entire year of negotiations, whereas 
the ABM Treaty would allow us to withdraw within a period of only 6 
  We are not breaching the ABM Treaty. We are not even engaged in an 
anticipatory breach--in other words, a breach sometime in the future. 
We are simply saying that we are going to embark upon a course of 
action which will provide for the defense of the United States, and, if 
in the future some provision of that would not be consistent with the 
ABM Treaty then, (a), the President should try to negotiate amendments 
to the treaty just as the Nunn substitute provides; and (b), if that is 
not possible, then the United States can give notice of withdrawal from 
the treaty which the treaty itself provides.
  It is a little bit like the argument that someone does not like to 
amend the U.S. Constitution in some respect. They said the Constitution 
should not be amended. Of course, the Constitution has within it an 
explicit provision for amending it. It has been amended some 23 times 
now, or 24. I have lost track. The fact is we have amended the U.S. 
Constitution. The ABM Treaty has a provision for amendment of the ABM 
Treaty. Just because we want to do something that might be inconsistent 
with the current treaty does not mean that thereby we are in violation 
of the treaty, if we are able to amend the treaty or even if we give 
notice under the treaty that we are going to withdraw from it because 
it is in our national interest to do so. That is not a breach of the 
treaty. It is using the actual provisions of the treaty to further the 
interests of the United States.

  So, I certainly respect the judgment of the Senator from Georgia that 
we must be very cautious about how we proceed. We have to take into 
consideration how other nations might react, and certainly Russia is 
important in this regard. But, by the same token, we cannot fail to 
act, if something is in the interests of the United States, in 
anticipation that the Russians might not like it or that they might, as 
a consequence of what we do that is perfectly legal, begin to violate 
some treaty that we believe to be in our best interests.
  Mr. NUNN. Will the Senator yield for one brief moment?
  Mr. KYL. I am happy to stop at this point and yield the floor.
  Mr. NUNN. I do not want to make the argument for the Russians here, 
but I think they would do the same thing we are talking about in the 
bill that you are talking about. If they see that on our side the ABM 
Treaty is going to likely be violated, then they will serve notice 
under START I that it was not in their national interests. To say, on 
the one hand, we are complying because we are going to give notice and 
then get out, but, on the other hand, they could not do the same thing 
and they are therefore violating the treaty is also, I think, a little 
  I think it works both ways. If they want to get out of START I, they 
have the right to do so, or if we want to get out of START I. We both 
have those reciprocal clauses in both ABM and START I, and I think that 
would be the way either side would go about devolving from the position 
of compliance.
  Mr. KYL. I might say to the Senator that while that might be the 
right of the Russians, you have to consider what is in the national 
interest of Russia and the United States. We will both act in our 
national interests whatever we deem that to be.
  Mr. NUNN. Exactly.
  Mr. KYL. There are a lot of arguments made by Russians themselves 
that relate to the cost of continuing to maintain an arsenal. My guess 
would be that the Russians would at least want to draw their arsenal 
down to the levels called for in START I, because it is very expensive 
to maintain that degree of arsenal.
  There is also a counterargument made that they might not agree to the 
START II Treaty that we have already ratified because of the high cost 
of compliance in bringing those warheads down. The Senator from Georgia 
has been a leader in the United States in trying to provide assistance 
to the Russians to enable them to afford to do that. It is an expensive 
  Mr. NUNN. Right.
  Mr. KYL. I guess what I am saying here is that the Russians 
themselves have made two contradictory arguments, both of which might 
be true. That is to say, No. 1, it is expensive to maintain these 
arsenals; No. 2, it is expensive to get rid of them. Probably they will 
do what is in their best interests regardless of what the United States 
  Mr. NUNN. I think they certainly will act in what they believe is 
their national interest. I think the real key here is whether we can 
enter into a period of time with Russia, and we have some hope of doing 
that, where we both have similar national interests in both defensive 
weapons as well as drawing down offensive weapons. So we reduce the 
threat to them, they reduce the threat to us. We both move together in 
trying to develop some type systems to defend our own territory, that 
are certainly more sophisticated than what Russia has now, and we have 
none at all. So I am very much in favor of moving down the path of 
cooperation with the Russians if it is possible. If it is not possible, 
we have to go back to the national interest clause under the ABM 

  As I have said many times, I do not think the ABM Treaty is sacred. I 
think it was in our interests when it was entered into, but it has to 
be adjusted over the period of time. It is all-important the way you go 
about adjusting it, though. I think if you talk to anyone now who is 
familiar with the history of the ABM Treaty, if they read the Dole-
Gingrich bill before us, the way it is worded, the entire tenor of

[[Page S5741]]

the bill is tantamount to serving notice that we are going to move in 
our own independent direction.
  At some point, we may have to do that, but I do not think the year is 
now, and I do not think it is time now to give up on a mutual approach 
that can save us billions and billions of dollars and also increase the 
security of our people. I do not think that hope should be written off.
  Mr. KYL. Mr. President, I certainly agree with the goals as 
articulated by the Senator from Georgia. We have some slight difference 
as to how to get there, but he certainly has articulated the issue 
  I ask at this point, if there is no one else who desires to speak, 
even though there be time remaining, if there is no other person 
desiring to speak other than the leaders, that it would be possible to 
yield back any remaining time and proceed to allow leaders to speak as 
they desire and then to hold the cloture vote at 2:15 or as soon 
thereafter as appropriate.
  Mr. NUNN. Mr. President, I agree with the suggestion of my friend 
from Arizona. There is apparently no one else on this side who plans to 
speak at this point in time. I certainly would agree to that procedure.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, the time has been 
considered yielded back. Leaders will be accorded an opportunity to 
speak prior to the cloture vote, which will be when the Senate