Today, the House of Representatives passed a new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), including a provision banning “low-yield,” easy-fire nuclear warheads, and limiting the deployment of the weapons previously ordered by the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review.
The legislation, which no House Republicans voted in favor of, paves the way for a smaller military budget, while also rebuffing President Donald Trump’s efforts to convert defense spending for his US-Mexico border wall, reversing his transgender troop ban, and requiring congressional approval before he engages Iran militarily.
Cecili Thompson Williams, executive director of Beyond the Bomb, a people-powered campaign working to free our planet from nuclear violence, issued the following response to the House bill’s passage:
“We are delighted that the House’s NDAA will cancel all funding for the development and deployment of ‘easy-fire’ nukes, and we applaud the progressive steps this bill takes to decrease the United States’ bloated defense budget, as well as combat President Donald Trump’s discriminatory defense policies.
“Trump, like every US president, has the sole authority to launch a nuclear first strike — and he wants even more options. But we cannot allow any more ‘easy-fire’ W76-2 nuclear weapons to be added to our nuclear arsenal, lowering the threshold for nuclear war. If he has an ‘easy-fire’ nuke and can be convinced that it will cause less damage and destruction, what’s going to stop him from using it? And what will convince other world leaders he won’t? That is why it is imperative that the Senate and House conference version of the FY2020 NDAA maintains the House’s language to cancel funding for ‘easy-fire’ warheads, making sure that these nuclear war-starters are banned for good.
“While we are pleased that the NDAA will not include funding for the easy fire nuke, it is also time for Congress to recognize the extreme opportunity costs of our nuclear system and broader defense spending. Much of the $733 billion for defense spending approved by the House would be better spent on education, healthcare, infrastructure, sustainable development, poverty remediation – and EVERY other line item that our national budget is shortchanging so we can further bloat our military spending.
“For too long, nuclear weapons have been treated as a wonder drug for national security. But these barbaric and expensive Cold War relics fail to address 21st century challenges. The nuclear flashpoints we currently face around the globe will not be solved by increasing the US nuclear arsenal. Rather, the solution to strengthening nuclear deterrence is through No First Use: a policy that makes sure the US never uses nuclear weapons first. Then, we can radically reduce the risk of nuclear war and pave the way for progress on eliminating nuclear weapons everywhere.”