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Funding for nuclear weapons tests is blocked in U.S. Congress

House Democrats vote to block funding for nuclear weapons tests, Defense News, by: Joe Gould 21 July 20,  WASHINGTON ― No funding would be available for live nuclear weapons testing under an amendment the House adopted to its version of the annual defense policy bill.

The amendment from Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, was adopted, 227-179, in a mostly party-line vote. The House is expected Tuesday to vote to pass the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.

The amendment marks the second rebuke of the Trump administration amid reports it’s mulling a resumption of nuclear weapons testing. The House Appropriations Committee passed a similar ban earlier this month.

The amendment’s adoption will likely make it harder for House Republicans to vote for the House’s FY21 NDAA, and it likely sets up a fight with the Republican-controlled SASC when leaders of both panels reconcile their versions of the bill.

The FY21NDAA was voted out of the House Armed Services Committee on a bipartisan 56-0 vote earlier this month.

“Explosive nuclear testing is not necessary to ensure our stockpile remains safe and nothing in this amendment would change that,” McAdams said in a floor speech ahead of the vote. “Explosive nuclear testing causes irreparable harm to human health and to our environment. and jeopardizes the U.S. leadership role on nuclear nonproliferation.” ………

The House, separately, adopted an amendment that would give the energy secretary a stronger hand in setting nuclear policy by making him co-chair, alongside the defense secretary, of the Nuclear Weapons Council. The council is charged with the coordinating policy to manage the existing nuclear weapons stockpile and plan future nuclear deterrents.

The amendment, from House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Greg Walden, R-Ore., is to “to provide Cabinet-level visibility and accountability of our nuclear deterrent and the NWC budget process,” according to an amendment summary. Under current law, DoD’s undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment chairs the council.

It was adopted in larger package of amendments, approved by a bipartisan 336-71.

It’s the latest move in a running battle over who controls the nuclear weapons budget submission. SASC’s proposed version of the FY21 NDAA would allow the council to edit the budget request after the Energy Department crafts it and before the request is submitted to the White House budget office. But House appropriators earlier this month approved a spending bill that would bar such a move.

July 21, 2020 - Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war

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