Lawmaker Sees Fresh Push Toward Nuclear-Weapon Spending Cuts

Representative Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), shown last year, on Wednesday said that he is planning new legislation aimed at reducing nuclear-weapons spending.
National Journal
Douglas P. Guarino, Global Security Newswire
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Douglas P. Guarino, Global Security Newswire
Nov. 13, 2013, 10:02 a.m.

WASH­ING­TON — In a seem­ingly up­hill battle aimed at mak­ing budget cuts to con­tro­ver­sial nuc­le­ar weapons pro­grams, Rep­res­ent­at­ive Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) is seek­ing in­spir­a­tion from Chica­go’s most be­lea­guered base­ball team.

“It may seem ir­ra­tion­al to be that op­tim­ist­ic in Con­gress, but “¦ I am a Cub fan,” Quigley said dur­ing a pan­el dis­cus­sion on Cap­it­ol Hill Wed­nes­day. “If any­body is op­tim­ist­ic it is a Cub fan — any­body can have a bad cen­tury.”

Even Quigley was sur­prised when an at­tempt earli­er this year to pass le­gis­la­tion aimed at scal­ing back con­tro­ver­sial plans to mod­ern­ize the B-61 nuc­le­ar bomb failed by only 22 votes. But the near-miss showed that there may be “some light at the end of the tun­nel,” he said.

The law­maker in Ju­ly offered an amend­ment to the fisc­al 2014 House en­ergy and wa­ter ap­pro­pri­ations bill that would have cut $23.7 mil­lion from the $551 mil­lion budget pro­pos­al for work on ex­tend­ing the life of the B-61. Crit­ics say the cur­rent plan to mod­ern­ize the weapon — which is sta­tioned in U.S. al­lied coun­tries in Europe — is overly am­bi­tious and goes above and bey­ond simple re­fur­bish­ments needed to con­tin­ue its use.

The Quigley amend­ment, co-sponsored by Rep­res­ent­at­ive Jared Pol­is (D-Colo.), failed by a 227-196 vote. The Illinois con­gress­man said that a pro­vi­sion in the amend­ment that would have dir­ec­ted the cost sav­ings to go to­ward re­du­cing the na­tion­al de­fi­cit en­abled him to at­tract some Re­pub­lic­an votes.

However, the same pro­vi­sion caused some Demo­crats to vote against the bill, be­cause it would have pre­ven­ted the sav­ings from be­ing put to­ward oth­er fed­er­al pro­grams, Quigley said. He is now look­ing to ad­just his le­gis­lat­ive strategy to at­tract enough votes from both sides of the aisle.

“It’s ex­traordin­ar­ily tricky but I think it can be done,” Quigley said. “There’s more votes out there on the left — in fact, if I had got­ten every Demo­crat­ic vote, this would have passed. If I had got­ten just a few more Re­pub­lic­an votes, this would have passed.”

A pos­sible strategy would be to craft le­gis­la­tion that would “make deep­er cuts on [in­ter­con­tin­ent­al bal­list­ic mis­siles] and B-61s and use the money on a wide vari­ety of is­sues,” ac­cord­ing to Quigley.

“First of all, let the De­part­ment of De­fense use the money as they see the sav­ings on pro­grams that ac­tu­ally keep us safe like coun­terter­ror­ism and in­tel­li­gence is­sues,” Quigley said. “Let’s use some of the money to re­duce the debt and de­fi­cit and some of the money to deal with so­cial pro­grams. It may seem ideal­ist­ic, but something along those lines is what’s go­ing to get you to 218 votes.”

Quigley told re­port­ers that he and his con­gres­sion­al al­lies are in the early stages of de­vel­op­ing a new, “com­pre­hens­ive bill.” He is look­ing “at the very least to edu­cate the House as we go in­to the next year of ap­pro­pri­ations” and to “ad­dress the very is­sues of what’s an ap­pro­pri­ate nuc­le­ar force, what types of weapons make sense.”

After speak­ing at the event, the Illinois con­gress­man told Glob­al Se­cur­ity News­wire that he had not yet iden­ti­fied a le­gis­lat­ive vehicle to which he could at­tach such pro­vi­sions. However, Quigley noted his role as a mem­ber of the House Ap­pro­pri­ations Com­mit­tee, hint­ing that the fisc­al 2015 House en­ergy and wa­ter ap­pro­pri­ations bill might be a likely tar­get.

Ef­forts to cut fund­ing for the B-61 pro­gram have been backed by Sen­at­or Di­anne Fein­stein (D-Cal­if.), who chairs the Sen­ate Ap­pro­pri­ations En­ergy and Wa­ter Sub­com­mit­tee. That pan­el earli­er this year ap­proved a bill that would provide $369 mil­lion for the B-61 pro­gram — $168 mil­lion less than the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion had re­ques­ted.

Fein­stein on Wed­nes­day noted that the ad­min­is­tra­tion has jus­ti­fied the B-61 pro­gram in part by say­ing it would en­able the re­tire­ment of the sig­ni­fic­antly more power­ful B-83 nuc­le­ar bomb.

“However, we have not seen an of­fi­cial doc­u­ment from the [ad­min­is­tra­tion’s] Nuc­le­ar Weapons Coun­cil that com­mits to re­tir­ing and dis­mant­ling the B-83 in an ex­change for the re­fur­bished B-61,” Fein­stein said. “So I’ll be­lieve it when I see it.”

What We're Following See More »
SPONSORED BY BARBARA LEE
House Approps Passes AUMF Repeal Amendment
13 minutes ago
THE DETAILS
DRAWS IRE OF WOMEN AGAIN
Trump Posts Crude Tweet About Mika Brzezinski
32 minutes ago
THE LATEST

President Trump is taking heat for another series of tweets, this one aimed at the co-hosts of Morning Joe. “I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore),” Trump wrote. “Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came … to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!” In a tweet, Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) said of Trump's statement, "This is not okay." NBC public relations chief Mark Kornblau said it's "beneath my dignity to respond to the President of the United States."

Source:
HEAD OF SECURITY TURNED WHITE HOUSE AIDE
House Intel Wants to Interview Trump Bodyguard
43 minutes ago
THE LATEST

"Congressional investigators now want to interview Keith Schiller, President Donald Trump’s longtime bodyguard-turned-White House aide, as part of their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, sources familiar with the investigation told ABC News. Schiller, the former head of security for the Trump Organization who now serves as the White House director of Oval Office operations, is one of several Trump associates on the House Intelligence Committee’s witness list in its ongoing investigation into Russian election interference."

Source:
MOSUL NEARLY RECAPTURED
Iraq Says ISIS Is Defeated
44 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

"After eight months of grinding urban warfare, Iraqi government troops on Thursday captured the ruined mosque in Mosul from where Islamic State proclaimed its self-styled caliphate three years ago," and the Iraqi military expect the entire city to be retaken in a matter of days. "Their fictitious state has fallen," said an Iraqi military spokesman.

Source:
BUT WILL BUY HALF OF ITS STORES
Walgreens Won’t Buy Rite Aid
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The move puts to death the long-suffering tie-up between Walgreens and Rite Aid, which was originally announced in October 2015 ...The new deal was designed to alleviate the FTC's concerns about the market overlap between Walgreens and Rite Aid and the bolstered bargaining power a full acquisition would have given Walgreens. Rite Aid said it had to ditch the original deal after regulators privately 'led the company to believe that the parties would not have obtained FTC clearance to consummate the merger.'"

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login