Anti-nuclear Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee are attempting to kill the Trump administration’s use of small nuclear warheads on missiles in proposed legislative restrictions this week.
The committee’s strategic forces subcommittee on Monday released its legislative language proposed by the chairman, Rep. Jim Cooper (D., Tenn.), for the nuclear arms portion of the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill. The legislation would prohibit the Pentagon from using any funds to produce the W76-2 low-yield missile warhead.
The chairman’s mark will be debated and voted on beginning Tuesday and also contains other provisions that would limit the administration’s plan to modernize the aging U.S. nuclear arsenal.
It is not clear whether the restrictive language on the converted warhead will be accepted or whether the restriction would survive a future House-Senate conference on the final legislation where differences between Democrats and Republicans on the two versions authorization bill are worked out. Senate Republicans, the majority party, are expected to oppose the warhead curbs.
Subcommittee Democrats also are seeking to prevent development of a road-mobile variant for a future long-range strategic missile, and want to cut the requirement for producing 80 plutonium pits a year for weapons to 30 per year. The Democratic mark also seeks to prevent the Navy from developing technology for hypersonic missiles as part of the new prompt global strike plan—the plan for capabilities for the military to hit any target on earth in 15 minutes or less.