June 26, 2018 - Issue: Vol. 164, No. 107 — Daily Edition115th Congress (2017 - 2018) - 2nd Session
ENERGY AND WATER APPROPRIATIONS; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 107
(Senate - June 26, 2018)
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[Page S4398] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] ENERGY AND WATER APPROPRIATIONS Mr. MARKEY. Mr. President, I wish to discuss H.R. 5895, the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2019. I thank Senate leadership and the Appropriations Committee for their work on this legislation. The Appropriations Committee's effort this year to return the Senate to regular order on annual spending bills is commendable, and the leadership of the committee honors a bipartisan commitment to keep the most controversial policy language out of these pieces of legislation. While we can agree that the legislation is indeed absent of unrelated policy riders, that does not mean all of the appropriations it contains and the resulting policy implications of those appropriations are good. One such misguided priority within this bill is funding an unnecessary, destabilizing, and thoroughly underexplained expansion of America's nuclear arsenal. In particular, the Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Appropriations Act contains $65 million in funding to develop a new so-called low- yield nuclear weapon warhead: the W76-2. This is a new nuclear weapon that we simply just do not need. For this reason, I opposed this bill. I made clear during Senate consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act that developing the W76-2 low-yield nuclear warhead creates a new nuclear weapon that is unnecessary to maintain America's nuclear deterrent. This need for a new low-yield nuclear weapon first came to light just 5 months ago in the Trump administration's Nuclear Posture Review. I have seen no documents, reports, or studies justifying the W76-2 or supporting its immediate development, and serious questions remain unanswered. Why are the hundreds of low-yield nuclear weapons that we already have, like the B61 bomb and air-launched cruise missile, not adequate? Where will these new W76-2 nuclear weapons be deployed? On how many of our boomer submarines will we be placing these weapons and on what schedule? What targets will we no longer hold at risk with strategic nuclear weapons to accommodate these new low-yield weapons? Since this W76-2 low-yield nuclear weapon will be launched using the same rockets as our strategic thermonuclear weapons and off of the exact same submarines, how can anyone distinguish whether it is one or the other? Somehow, answers to these questions have not been written down anywhere. Instead, we are simply told ``we need the low yield nuclear weapon to deter the Russians and prevent an escalate to de-escalate scenario.'' The United States already has plans to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to upgrade our existing nuclear weapons systems as part of the existing nuclear modernization program, systems that are in excess of what we need to maintain our nuclear deterrence. So it just makes no sense to spend money to develop new nuclear weapons. In doing so, we are making America and the world less safe, not more. We are throwing away decades of American leadership trying to move the world away from nuclear weapons and the existential threat they pose to all of us. That is why I filed an amendment to redirect funds that the Trump administration would use to develop this wasteful and unnecessary low- yield nuclear weapon towards preparing for nonproliferation activities that will be essential to helping denuclearize North Korea whether now or at some point in the future. I regret that my amendment was not considered during the floor debate on this bill, but I still believe that Congress needs to seriously consider the consequences of authorizing and appropriating funds for this new weapon. I am more worried than ever that this crucial debate has not and is not receiving the attention that it deserves. I hope, moving forward, we can change that and that the Senate will appropriately consider the magnitude of the decisions we are making here today. A nuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon. They are fundamentally different than anything else in the world, and they must be treated as such. In the absence of a full debate on the floor of this Chamber that allows the American people to understand what is truly at stake with this new weapon, I could not support this legislation. Thank you. ____________________