Early on the morning of March 23, the Senate approved a Budget Resolution for the first time in four years by a largely partisan vote of 50-49. Final passage of the budget, which was put forward by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA), was preceded by a long series of amendment votes. Senators filed over 500 amendments to the Resolution, but only a small portion of those were brought to the floor for a vote.
The Resolution, also known as S.CON.RES.8, would set discretionary defense budget authority for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 at $552 billion, about $8 billion below the level in the budget proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). Over the next 10 years, Sen. Murray’s plan would cut defense spending by about $240 billion, or approximately half the reduction required by sequestration.
The House approved its version of the Budget Resolution on March 21 by a vote of 221-207. There is no expectation that there will be a House-Senate agreement on a final resolution. Both the Senate and the House passed legislation despite the fact that the President has yet to submit his federal budget request for FY 2014. The President is expected to submit his request to Congress on April 10.
Below is a list of the amendments that were filed regarding nuclear weapons and related issues. Amendments that were voted on are listed first and emphasized in bold. The amendments were primarily messaging amendments with little practical effect, since (1) the House and Senate will not agree on a final resolution, (2) even if the House and Senate were to agree on a final resolution, the resolution would be non-binding because it would not go to the President’s desk for signature, and (3) most of the amendments cover programs that will be included in the President’s budget request and dealt with during the authorization and appropriations process. However, the amendments provide a window into the thinking of Senators and may be a foretaste of similar amendments to be offered to authorization and appropriations bills.
Perhaps the most notable vote result was the Senate’s overwhelming rejection of an amendment by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to increase funding for an East Coast missile defense site.
List of amendments
Ayotte (R-NH) amendment to prohibit funding of the medium extended air defense system. (#136) Agreed to by a recorded vote. 94 – 5.
Hoeven (R-ND) amendment to support programs related to the nuclear missions of the Department of Defense and the National Nuclear Security Administration. (#217) Agreed to by Unanimous Consent.
Cruz (R-TX) amendment to reduce foreign assistance to Egypt and increase funding for an east coast missile defense site. (#471) Rejected by a recorded vote. 25 – 74.
Kirk (R-IL) amendment relating to sanctions with respect to Iran which may include efforts to clarify that the clearance and settlement of euro-denominated transactions through European Union financial institutions may not result in the evasion of or otherwise undermine the impact of sanctions imposed with respect to Iran by the United States and the European Union (including provisions designed to strictly limit the access of the Government of Iran to its foreign exchange reserves and the facilitation of transactions on behalf of sanctioned entities). (#671) Agreed to by Unanimous Consent.
Ayotte (R-NH) amendment to modernize the nuclear weapons complex and strategic delivery systems of the United States to maintain America’s nuclear deterrent, which is critical to the security of the American people. (#163)
Udall (D-NM) amendment to strengthen and reform the National Nuclear Security Administration. (#193)
Manchin (D-WV) amendment to strengthen sanctions imposed with respect to the energy sector of Iran to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. (#210)
Hoeven (R-ND) amendment to ensure funds are available in fiscal year 2014 for the Air Force to conduct an analysis of alternatives to determine the next generation intercontinental ballistic missile and to provide an offset. (#216)
Hoeven (R-ND) amendment to ensure funds are available in fiscal year 2014 for the Air Force to develop a replacement for the air-launched cruise missile and to provide an offset. (#218)
Begich (D-AK) amendment to provide an additional element on the ground-based midcourse defense system. The element would include findings that adequate funding for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System, including the measures outlined in the Secretary of Defense’s announcement on March 15, 2013, should remain a priority for the Department of Defense in the interest of national security. (#236)
Udall (D-NM) amendment to relating to strengthening and reforming the National Nuclear Security Administration. (#311)
Barrasso (R-WY) amendment to maintain and modernize United States nuclear forces, including nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles of all three legs of the nuclear triad (ICBMs, SLBMs, and nuclear-capable bombers), at levels no lower than the maximum allowed for under the New START Treaty (#323)
Kirk (R-IL) amendment to prevent Iran from directly or indirectly accessing the Trans-European Automated Realtime Gross Settlement Express Transfer System of the European Central Bank and to prevent the Government of Iran from accessing its euro-denominated foreign exchange holdings. (#364)
Coburn (R-OK) amendment to eliminate duplication, fragmentation, and overlap within 21 nuclear nonproliferation programs. (#566)
Ayotte (R-NH) amendment for the improvement of the ground-based missile defense system of the United States to better defend against ballistic missile threats from the Middle East. (#600)
Kirk (R-IL) amendment relating to sanctions with respect to Iran, which may include efforts to ensure that the clearance and settlement of euro-denominated transactions through European Union financial institutions does not result in the evasion of or otherwise undermine the impact of sanctions imposed with respect to Iran by the United States and the European Union (including provisions designed to strictly limit the access of the Government of Iran to its foreign exchange reserves and the facilitation of transactions on behalf of sanctioned entities, thus obliging financial institutions and clearinghouses to be vigilant and take transparency measures to avoid being used for the transfer of funds to or from sanctioned entities or the holding of funds for the benefit of sanctioned entities in violation of sanctions laws. (#613)