Listed below is current legislation related to reducing and eliminating the threat of nuclear war and including communities impacted by nuclear weapons testing in radiation exposure compensation programs and Medicaid. Click the links to the bills to see if your representatives are listed as co-sponsors – if not, please contact them and ask for their support. If you aren’t sure who your representatives are, click here for a GovTrack resource that can help.
Tell Congress: Abolish Nuclear Weapons
The House Resolution to Embrace the Goals and Provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (H.Res. 1185) seeks to influence a shift in our national security policy by centering nuclear disarmament and leading a serious global effort to eliminate the threat of nuclear war. It calls for all 5 of Back from the Brink’s policy points as well as explicitly calling on the President to embrace the goals and provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Tell Congress: No First Use
The United States should make it official policy to never start a nuclear war. That’s the philosophy behind the No First Use Act. The bill has one sentence of text: “It is the policy of the United States to not use nuclear weapons first.” This simple statement signals to our allies and our adversaries that the U.S. considers these weapons to be of last-resort, and sets the stage for meaningful dialogue about how our collective security would be improved if nuclear abolition were to succeed. It also significantly reduces the chance of a miscommunication or technological error, making an accidental launch much less likely. Ask your representatives to support H.R. 2603 and S. 1219.
Tell Congress: Invest in Cures Before Missiles
The ICBM Act would divert funds currently slated for nuclear weapons enhancement toward the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to conduct or support research for the development of a universal coronavirus vaccine. The U.S. currently has plans to replace our existing Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) system with an enhanced Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), a project that is estimated to cost nearly $100 billion. The GBSD is an unnecessary upgrade, and these funds could be better spent on addressing real human needs. The language of the bill can be found here.
Tell Congress: Prohibit Funding for SLCMs
The costly plan to arm submarines and surface ships with nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missiles is unnecessary and dangerous. Adding nuclear weapons to ships that haven’t carried them for 30 years risks escalating tensions with other countries and increases the chance of miscalculation and human error that could lead to nuclear war. Again, these funds could be better spent addressing real human security needs. Tell your members of Congress to support the Nuclear SLCM Ban Act, H.R. 1554 and S. 595
Tell Congress: End Presidential Sole Authority
The power to destroy all of humanity should never rest in the hands of one person, especially not in a democratic society. This remains true regardless of political affiliation or how steady or temperamental those hands are. The president currently has the authority to launch any number of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal with no one having the authority to challenge that decision. As a temporary safeguard while we work towards international nuclear abolition, we must maintain Congress’ constitutional authority to declare war, including a nuclear strike. Tell your representatives to support H.R. 669 and S.1148.
Tell Congress: Abolish Nuclear Weapons through Diplomacy
Every year since 1994, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has introduced a similar version of this bill which requires the United States to sign and ratify an international agreement to disable and dismantle America’s nuclear weapons, to provide for strict control of fissile material and radioactive waste and to use nuclear-free energy. This year’s version also includes the option of signing and ratifying the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which entered into force in January, despite the lack of engagement from nuclear-armed states. The bill states that funds shifted away from nuclear weapons should be redirected toward human and infrastructure needs, like housing, Social Security, healthcare, environmental restoration, and producing clean, nuclear-free energy. Tell your representative to support H.R. 2850.
Tell Congress: Atomic Veterans Deserve Healthcare Parity
From 1946 to 1958, the United States tested 67 nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands. In the late 1970s, over 5,500 servicemembers were sent to the Marshall Islands in an attempt to clean up the deadly radioactive dirt and debris left behind by those tests. The veterans who are alive today report that they had almost no protective gear, and that radiation monitoring efforts and other safety precautions frequently failed. Today, many of these veterans report cancers and other illnesses that they attribute to their radiation exposure in the Marshall Islands.
The Department of Veterans affairs has a compensation and health care program for radiation-exposed veterans. But despite their exposures and health issues, veterans involved in the Marshall Islands cleanup effort have so far been denied benefits through this program. This bill would correct the oversight and make these veterans eligible for benefits by defining them as “radiation-exposed veterans” for purposes of the presumption of service-connection of certain disabilities by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Encourage your members of Congress to support H.R. 1585 and S. 565.
Tell Congress: Expand RECA
The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act would extend RECA beyond July, 2022, improve compensation for veterans exposed during nuclear testing at Enewetak Atoll; extend compensation to workers involved in uranium mining; downwinders from the 1945 Trinity test; and other communities exposed to radiation that have so far been excluded. Tell your members of Congress to support H.R. 5338 and S. 2798.
U.S. Representative Barbara Lee