As we noted last week, the White House threatened to veto the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act if it included two provisions offered by Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH) in Committee that would delay implementation of the New START treaty and constrain the President’s ability to make changes to U.S. nuclear doctrine.
Rep. Turner issued the following in response to the White House veto threat:
Lastly, I would like to note that earlier today the President issued a veto threat on several provisions contained in the NDAA related to nuclear modernization and objections to provisions relating to missile defense. This is curious because these provisions are consistent with the administration’s own stated policies and that of our NATO allies. By this threat, is the President saying he does not intend to implement the nuclear modernization guarantees that were part of the New START Treaty? Does the President intend to unilaterally withdraw nuclear forces from Europe? Does the President want to share sensitive data of missile defense technology with Russia? And does the President intend to strike deals with Russia to limit our missile defense capabilities? If the answer to these questions is no, then the administration should have no objections to these provisions. If, on the other hand, the answer to these questions is yes, then it is all the more reason to make these provisions law.
The initial legislation (H.R. 1750) upon which these provisions are based was so poorly written that Rep. Turner was forced to rewrite and amend it both in Committee and on the floor, lest the Department of Energy be prevented from dismantling weapons already slated for destruction and performing essential activities necessary to maintain and modernize U.S. nuclear weapons. As one colleague put it to me, Turner’s response to the veto threat is akin to receiving an “F” on an exam and blaming the teacher for grading it.
These egregious errors reflect a fundamental lack of seriousness and suggest that Turner’s intent is not to solidify the commitments made during the Senate’s consideration of New START as he claims, but rather to draw out implementation of New START for as long as possible and prevent the President from making any more changes to U.S. nuclear policy so long as he remains in office. It should surprise no one that the administration’s is threatening to veto the bill if it includes such measures.