Yesterday, the Senate voted 88-12 to invoke cloture on the defense bill. That means that many of the 380 amendments submitted will disappear. By unanimous consent, the Senate adopted a package of about 40 “non-controversial” amendments.
One of these amendments was a Sessions (R-AL) modified amendment No. 1183 to require a report from the Administration if it proposes a change to nuclear force structure. By contrast, the earlier version of the amendment would have called on the U.S. to maintain the triad no matter what.
The Senate also adopted other amendments by voice vote, including a Merkley (D-OR) amendment calling for an accelerated withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
Today the Senate is expected to continue debate and vote on two amendments offered by Sen. Feinstein dealing with controversial detainee provisions. It is also scheduled to take up an amendment offered by Sens. Kirk (R-IL) and Menendez (D-NJ) that would call for sanctions on the Iran Central Bank. The Senate could vote on final passage of the bill as early as tonight. Below is an updated list of key nuclear weapons related amendments that have either been submitted or are still pending.
Iran sanctions: Kirk (R-IL), Manchin (D-WV), Blunt (R-MO), Tester (D-MT) and others amendment No. 1084 to require the President to impose sanctions on foreign institutions that conduct transactions with Iran’s central bank. Menendez (D-NJ) amendment No. 1292 is similar. Both these amendments have been withdrawn and there is a new amendment No. 1414 from both Senators.
Nuclear weapons triad: Hoeven (R-ND) , Tester (D-MT), Blunt (R-MO, Enzi (R-WY) and Vitter (R-LA) amendment No. 1279 supporting the triad and endorsing all three legs of the triad.
Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs): Barrasso (R-WY), Enzi (R-WY), Conrad (D-ND), Baucus (D-MT) and Tester (D-MT) amendment No. 1307 requiring the U.S. to maintain all 450 ICBM’s in the force with the New START limit of 800 strategic launchers, including 420 on alert or operationally deployed status, with any reductions to be taken equally from the three ICBM bases.
Sharing missile defense information with Russia: Kirk (R-IL), Kyl (R-AZ), DeMint (R-SC) and Sessions (R-AL) amendment No. 1310 barring sharing classified missile defense technology with Russia.
Nuclear weapons complex funding: Corker (R-TN) amendment No. 1380 permitting the Defense Department to transfer funds to the Department of Energy for nuclear weapons activities up to the level authorized if the appropriations level is less than the authorized level. Sen. Kyl (R-AZ) has a similar amendment No. 1386 permitting the Secretary of State to transfer funding to the Department of Energy. Corker and Kyl combined to introduce amendment No. 1401 to permit the Secretary of Defense to transfer the funds. Kyl amendment No. 1453 also permits the Defense Department to transfer funds to the Department of Energy for nuclear weapons activities.
Support of nuclear weapons triad: Kyl (R-AZ)-Lugar (R-IN) sense of Congress amendment No. 1444 endorsing maintaining and modernizing the nuclear weapons triad of delivery systems, maintaining robust nuclear weapons laboratories and providing full funding for these programs.