NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 1998 (House of Representatives - June 20, 1997)

AMENDMENT NO. 41 OFFERED BY MR. WELDON OF PENNSYLVANIA

Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

The CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

The text of the amendment is as follows:

Amendment No. 41 offered by Mr. Weldon of Pennsylvania:

At the end of title XII (page 379, after line 19), insert the following new section:

SEC. 1205. PRESIDENTIAL CERTIFICATIONS CONCERNING DETARGETING OF RUSSIAN INTERCONTINENTAL BALLISTIC MISSILES .

(a) Required Certifications: Not later than January 1, 1998, the President shall submit to Congress a report containing a certification by the President of each of the following:

(1) Whether it is possible for the United States to verify by technical means that a Russian ICBM is or is not targeted at a site in the United States.

(2) The length of time it would take for a Russian ICBM formerly, but no longer, targeted at a site in the United States to be retargeted at a site in the United States.

(3) Whether a Russian ICBM that was formerly, but is no longer, targeted at a site in the United States would be automatically retargeted at a site in the United States in the event of an accidental launch of such missile .

(b) Russian ICBMs Defined: For purposes of subsection (a), the term `Russian ICBM' means an intercontinental ballistic missile of the Russian Federation.

The CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Weldon] and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Weldon].

Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

(Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania. Mr. Chairman, I rise to support this amendment, which may seem unimportant to some, but which is perhaps in my opinion one of the most important statements that this body will make in this bill this year.

Mr. Chairman, as all of us know, the funding level for what our military needs are is largely determined by the threat that is perceived by the American people and by Members of Congress. So if the American people perceive that there is no threat, then in fact they want us to cut defense spending. If they in fact think there is an emerging threat, then they respond and say increase defense spending.

Now, our colleagues are going around saying well, the American people are satisfied; we are spending too much on defense.

Mr. Chairman, my question is, why would they think that? Well, Mr. Chairman, my amendment gets right to the heart of why they think that, because this President, over the last 5 years, has used the bully pulpit to drive home a message that I seriously question, and let me get at the heart of my amendment.

On 130 occasions, actually it is 130 and counting, this President has made the statement; so it is not just once, three times in this pulpit, at universities across the country, in 36 of our States, to women's groups, to environmental groups, on college campuses, he has said, and I quote: There are no longer Russian missiles pointed at America's children.

Now, he has made this statement not one time, 130 times; and his chief advisers in the security operation and the Vice President have made that contention 22 more times in public speeches. So the President is clearly trying to get the point across to America, do not worry; as the Commander in Chief, I certify to you that there are no Russian missiles pointed at America's children.

Mr. Chairman, in testimony before my subcommittee, Bruce Blair, a former targeting officer, said that one can retarget a Russian missile in 10 seconds. Ed Bradley on CBS News, `60 Minutes' interviewed General Sergev who in fact headed up strategic command and space for Russia and who now is the defense minister.

[Page: H4111]

[TIME: 1245]

He has said there is no way to verify whether or not they are targeting their missiles at our children, just like they cannot verify ours. But yet the President continues to make this statement, that there are no missiles pointed at our children, so all of our constituents back home in our districts think, well, if the Commander in Chief said they are no longer pointing their missiles at us, that must be true.

My amendment is very simple, Mr. Chairman. It requires the President to certify to the Congress that in fact there are no missiles pointed at America; that in fact we have a way of verifying that, and also what the time would be to retarget a missile , even if we did know.

Why is this so important? Because when the top leaders of this country on 152 occasions on every major media network in every major media outlet tell the stories in our cities and towns that we no longer have a threat, they respond. They criticize us when we say that we need to deal with that threat.

This amendment is very simple. It says, Mr. President, certify what you are saying. You said from this pulpit on three occasions that you are confident there are no missiles pointed at America's kids. This amendment says, certify that, put that in writing, and verify that for this Congress. If you cannot do that, Mr. President, you had better stop misinforming the American people.

Nothing is more fundamental to this debate, because that speech, given 130 times by the President, 22 times by the Vice President, by the heads of security for this administration, has misled the American people. The President has a chance to rectify it. All he has to do is give us an official certification that in fact he can certify that there are no Russian missiles pointed at our children.

General Sergeyev from Russia says you cannot do that. Bruce Blair says you cannot do that. General Shalikashvili says you cannot do that. Secretary Perry told us you cannot do that. But yet the President has said it 130 times.

What we are saying in effect, Mr. Chairman, is, put up or shut up. If you cannot verify the statement that you are making to the American people about one of the most severe threats facing this country, then do not mislead the American people, because from the bully pulpit that drives the debate in this country, to have the American people believe that they no longer have to worry, that drives the debate on missile defense, it drives the debate on the threat, and it drives the debate on the systems that we want to fund.

I ask my colleagues to vote for this very simple amendment.