Representatives Mike Turner (R–OH), Mike Rogers (R–AL), Trent Franks (R–AZ), and Jim Bridenstine (R–OK) offered an amendment to the House fiscal year 2014 energy and water development bill that would prohibit the government from reducing U.S. nuclear forces in contravention of the U.S. Code. This is a step in the right direction.
Last month, President Obama announced he would seek negotiated cuts of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons arsenals. However, section 2573 (b) of Title 22 of the U.S. Code, which is related to matters of arms control and disarmament, prohibits the President from reducing or limiting “the Armed Forces or armaments of the United States in a militarily significant manner, except pursuant to the treaty-making power of the President” or “unless authorized by the enactment of further affirmative legislation by the Congress of the United States.”
This means the Administration’s seeking additional nuclear arms reductions by means that circumvent the Senate’s role in the arms control process is illegal.
The Senate reaffirmed its commitment to this long-standing bipartisan principle in the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty Resolution of Ratification. A group of Republican Senators recently sent a letter to remind Secretary of State John Kerry of this principle.
There are good reasons why President Obama’s desire to move forward with further unilateral nuclear weapons reductions undermines U.S. national security. For example, the U.S. is the only nuclear weapons state without a substantive nuclear weapons modernization program. Meanwhile, China and Russia can and have been producing nuclear weapons at an alarming pace.
Congress holds the power of the purse. The world is not getting any safer—and certainly not safe enough to let the Administration unilaterally reduce U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal without any congressional oversight.