Earlier today the Office of Management and Budget released a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) on the House version of the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1540), which is being debated on the House floor this week. The SAP supports passage of the bill, but express serious reservations about a number of provisions, including four ugly sections on nuclear policy. The White House threatens to veto the bill if two of these sections are included in the final version:
Limitations on Nuclear Force Reductions and Nuclear Employment Strategy: The Administration strongly objects to sections 1055 and 1056, which impinge on the President’s authority to implement the New START Treaty and to set U.S. nuclear weapons policy. In particular, section 1055 would set onerous conditions on the Administration’s ability to implement the Treaty, as well as to retire, dismantle, or eliminate non-deployed nuclear weapons. Among these conditions is the completion and operation of the next generation of nuclear facilities, which is not expected until the mid-2020s. The effect of this section would be to preclude dismantlement of weapons in excess of military needs. Additionally, it would significantly increase stewardship and management costs and divert key resources from our critical stockpile sustainment efforts and delay completion of programs necessary to support the long-term safety, security, and reliability of our nuclear deterrent. Further, section 1056 raises constitutional concerns as it appears to encroach on the President’s authority as Commander in Chief to set nuclear employment policy – a right exercised by every president in the nuclear age from both parties. If the final bill presented to the President includes these provisions, the President’s senior advisors would recommend a veto.
Them’s fighting words! The White House also objects to the sections of the bill on missile defense cooperation with Russia and tactical nuclear weapons in Europe.
Nick Roth and Stephen Young note over at All Things Nuclear that Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH), the Dr. Strangelove behind the effort to undermine U.S. nuclear security, has offered a floor amendment that would alter Section 1055 to permit the retirement/dismantlement of warheads if it is “determined by the Secretary of Defense to be necessary to ensure the continued safety, security, and reliability of the nuclear weapons stockpile.” This shouldn’t change anyone’s negative opinion of the amendment, but at least Turner agrees that it was poorly written.