NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 1998 (Senate - July 07, 1997)

AMENDMENT NO. 658

Mr. DOMENICI. Parliamentary inquiry, Mr. President. Is the pending business the Lugar amendment?

The PRESIDING OFFICER. That is the pending matter.

Mr. DOMENICI. I am a cosponsor and I intend to speak on that. Are there any limitations?

The PRESIDING OFFICER. There are none.

Mr. DOMENICI. I thank the Chair. I hope that doesn't give me a license to speak too long, but I will do my best.

Mr. President, the amendment I'm cosponsoring today is vital to continuing the progress of our Nation's programs focused on reducing the threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Our colleagues Senators Nunn and Lugar initiated the Cooperative Threat Reduction program in 1991, and I was proud to join with them in the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act last year. Your votes by a 96-to-0 margin last year showed the concern that all of you shared with me that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is a very real threat to the security of the Nation and one of the greatest destabilizing forces that could be unleashed on this Planet.

In setting up the original Nunn-Lugar program and in passing the Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act, the Congress agreed that our Nation's national security interests are best served by preventing the proliferation of any of the former Soviet weapons, components, materials, technologies, or technologists. Congress labeled the Nunn-Lugar programs as cooperative threat reduction and that phrase was chosen very deliberately. The programs are indeed cooperative--they involve our establishment cooperating with their establishment, and the programs involve threat reduction--reducing the threat to our Nation.

Senator Nunn presents a series of powerful arguments on these programs in a foreword he recently authored for the book `Dismantling the Cold War.' He discusses the transition over the last few years from a world characterized by a high risk of nuclear conflict but also high stability, thanks to the sharply bilateral nature of that world and the fear of using any nuclear weapons. Now we have a period of low risk of massive global nuclear conflict, but also very low stability because of intensification of a wide range of real and potential conflicts around the globe. He notes that the current key question `is whether the U.S. and Russia, now as partners and as friends, can keep the world safe from weapons of mass destruction as we reduce our arsenals.' He argues convincingly against using the Nunn-Lugar program as a form of bribery to encourage Russia to undertake specific actions, simply because these programs are so strongly in our own best interest. In his view, `proliferation of weapons of mass destruction clearly is the number one national security challenge we face.'

When we passed the Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act, we required the President to develop an integrated administration plan for defending Americans against weapons of mass destruction. The President's budget submission for fiscal year 1998 should have been coordinated with his plan. But we haven't seen that plan to date--and the country needs it. I'm very concerned with the lack of coordination in national activities against weapons of mass destruction that this plan would enable and I call upon the administration to develop and release that plan. Further, I encourage that the final House-Senate conference report reiterate the concern from Congress that this plan needs to be a high priority item for the administration. But whether or not the administration fulfills this requirement, I believe that Congress needs to show its national leadership by fully funding the cooperative threat reduction efforts. With full funding, Congress can again emphasize, just as we did last year, that we treat the issue of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction very very seriously.

John Deutch visited with a group of Senators just a few weeks ago to discuss his concerns with proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

He and his colleagues argued very persuasively for increasing the funds for defending our Nation against this threat above the administration's request. He argued that if the 105th Congress does not continue to strengthen U.S. capabilities to prevent and respond to the full range of nuclear-biological-chemical terrorist attacks, the country will remain unacceptably vulnerable to mass destruction terrorism. He stated that 'the threat of terrorist attack with weapons of mass destruction delivered by unconventional means is an even clearer and more present danger to American lives and liberty than the threat of attack by ballistic missiles .' He also took strong issue with the current administration's lack of coordination of efforts to defend against weapons of mass destruction, and recommended that Congress take the lead in directing the administration to improve the coordination efforts. As I've already noted, this absence of a coordinating plan from the administration is serious and Congress must continue to demonstrate its leadership in this area by reiterating the national need for this plan.

The United States is safer today thanks to the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici and Nunn-Lugar initiatives. This amendment will continue our progress to reduce the risk from `loose nukes' or aging reactors of Soviet design. Through the Cooperative threat reduction programs, there are over 1,400 fewer nuclear warheads deployed and many ballistic missile launchers are no longer a threat to our citizens, along with many other major improvements. Three nations--Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan--no longer have nuclear weapons.

The International Nuclear Safety Program's funding is also being restored by this amendment, and it is critical to prevention of another Chernobyl. We need to apply the expertise of our national laboratories to help the former Soviet states reduce any risks present in these reactors. To some, the solution is to shut down these reactors, but it isn't that simple when they are supplying power that is critically important to their regions. The International Nuclear Safety Program is working and must remain at full strength.

Of the three programs being restored in this amendment, I'm most familiar with the Materials Protection Control and Accounting Program. This program is absolutely essential to minimize the threat of nuclear materials moving to rogue states or terrorist groups. By far the greatest challenge to any of these groups considering creation of nuclear weapons is obtaining the special nuclear materials--the highly enriched uranium or plutonium that provide the fission energy source for the bomb.

In the old Soviet Union, nuclear materials were protected with guards and guns. The guards were well paid with stable jobs. Today, those guards may not have been paid by their government for months. Those guards may be wondering where their next meal is coming from, and more willing to consider compromising the material they are charged with protecting. Workers in the nuclear facilities are in similar straits, and within the last few months we saw the suicide of the director of the Russian Chelyabinsk facility out of frustration for his inability to pay his workers.

We simply cannot rely on outdated ways of protecting nuclear materials in a country faced with the economic hardships and turmoil prevalent in the former Soviet Union. We need modern systems monitoring and controlling these materials, systems of the type that have been developed in this country and are in place wherever nuclear materials are found in the United States.

This program is an outstanding example of international cooperation. Work is in progress at more than 50 sites in Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Lithuania, and Latvia. These sites are estimated to have 90 percent or more of the fissile materials outside of actual weapons--enough for tens of thousands of new weapons. The program is also an outstanding example of cooperation among our national laboratories--Los Alamos, Sandia, Livermore, Brookhaven, Pacific Northwest, and Oak Ridge National Laboratories are all playing key roles.

As just one example of the program's accomplishments, at the Siberian chemical facility at Tomsk-7, by some measures the largest nuclear facility in the world, upwards of 100 tons of highly enriched uranium and plutonium are stored. Radiation monitors have now been installed at the exit portals of the facility, significantly improving security of all the material. And a wide range of additional security measures are in progress as well.

The conference report language for the Nuclear Defense Authorization Act for 1998 raises the concern that the Department of Energy is not expending its allocated funds in this program. I've checked on the details of this concern and learned that the accounting processes required for this program cause as much as an 8 to 10 month delay between when funds are allocated to a specific project and when they are reported as spent after the work is done. We maintain good accounting for these funds by demanding that the projects be finished before final payment. Yet the funds must be in the Department at the time a contract is initiated. In contrast to the conference report, I learned that all fiscal year 1996 funds are committed and all fiscal year 1997 funds that the committee questioned will be fully utilized. Most of the fiscal year 1997 funds not reported as spent are already committed to contracts.

The Materials Protection Control and Accounting Program must continue its efforts to reduce this serious threat. We have just recently seen new opportunities for the program to expand to include more of the Russian naval reactor fuels. We are on a course to have most of the known fissile material in Russia under some degree of protection by 2002. Significant security improvements have been completed in Latvia, Lithuania, Uzbekistan, Georgia, and Belarus; 16 additional sites, 12 in Russia, 2 in Ukraine, 2 in Kazakhstan, are scheduled for completion by the end of 1997. Fiscal years 1998 and 1999 are the most critical for implementing security upgrades at the very large defense facilities with most of the material.

With our amendment today, we keep these key programs on target, focused on reducing the threat of weapons of mass destruction. This amendment is a significant re-emphasis of the leadership demonstrated by Congress in the past in preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. These programs are a significant contribution toward a safer and more stable world for citizens of both the United States and world, both for the current generation and far into the future.

I urge the Senate to adopt the amendment, which will replenish the three programs I have just briefly outlined, without which I believe we will be taking a giant step backward in the elimination, using the most modern means, of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, starting with nuclear and leading on into chemical and biological. We have to get started on the latter. Time is wasting and it is getting more and more difficult and dangerous.

I yield the floor.

Madam President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

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Mr. THURMOND. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. THURMOND. Madam President, I just want to make a statement that if Senators have amendments now is the time to come forward. We are waiting to take up these amendments. We are ready to take up these amendments. There is no use in keeping the Senate in session without doing business here. To do business here we have to take up these amendments. We already disposed of a number of amendments here by consent this morning. But if anybody has an amendment now is the time to come and offer it. It may be too late later.

Mr. LEVIN addressed the Chair.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.

Mr. LEVIN. Madam President, I join the chairman's call for those who have amendments to bring them to the floor, if possible, today or tomorrow. One of the problems is, however, that we are facing a cloture motion vote, and, if that is approved--and it must be the first vote--a number of amendments that people have indicated they want to offer would not be germane.

I want to spend just a moment or two on the situation that we are now in relative to this pending cloture motion.

The bill before the Senate is the product of 4 days of debate and thoughtful consideration during markup by the Senate Armed Services Committee. At the end of the markup, the committee voted unanimously to report this bill to the floor. It was an 18-to-0 vote.

This bill is consistent with the bipartisan budget agreement, and I fully expect that at the proper time the Senate will give the bill a strong bipartisan vote. We have not reached that time yet.

In recent years the Senate has debated more than 100 amendments to the defense authorization bill and has taken 10 to 20 rollcall votes a year. This has typically taken up to 50 to 60 hours over a period of a week or so. Last year, for example, we disposed of 159 amendments with 19 rollcall votes, and over 63 hours of debate.

I don't see any reason to expect that Members will be offering any fewer amendments, although we always can hope that might be the case, or that it will take significantly less time to dispose of them this year than it has in the past. Like previous defense authorization bills, the bill before us is almost 500 pages long, and includes more than 300 separate provisions.

But on Friday before the recess when the majority leader filed a cloture motion the Senate had been considering this bill--and it is a complex bill--for less than 8 hours, mostly on a Friday morning after most Members had left town and after the majority leader said there would be no votes. Not a single nongermane amendment has been adopted until this recent series of amendments, and no major defense-related amendment has yet been offered.

The major issues before us--the base closure issue, the depot issue, possibly missile defense, Bosnia, NATO enlargement--have yet to be raised. To say the least, I was surprised to see a cloture motion filed at this early stage of the Senate's deliberations. That approach might make some sense if there were sign of obstruction or delay in the consideration of the bill. But that has not been the case. The floor managers on both sides, as the chairman has said, are prepared to consider and debate any amendment that may be forthcoming. We are prepared to address issues and to move on with the Senate's business. But we have not had an opportunity to do that. And we are not going to have an opportunity to vote on any amendment prior to the vote on cloture tomorrow since, as I understand the schedule established by the majority leader, no votes can be scheduled for today and the first vote tomorrow will be the cloture vote.

Members well know that the rules constrain consideration of amendments in a postcloture situation. And they are extremely confining rules. To be in order an amendment must also be relevant but germane under a very strict definition of germaneness. Under postcloture rules any amendment, no matter how relevant to the defense of the Nation, is nongermane if it expands powers available under the bill, if it introduces a new subject matter, or if it funds a program not already funded in the bill. Any portion of an amendment that is not germane makes the whole amendment out of order, and an amendment may not be modified without the unanimous consent of the Senate.

If we were to vote cloture the major amendments that we all expect to consider in the course of the debate would be nongermane and could not be voted on by the Senate. For example, we have pending before us this afternoon an amendment relative to the funding of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. Unless we act on that amendment this afternoon--that is an amendment which is addressing one of the greatest threats that is faced by this country--that amendment would not be in order, and we could not even vote on it.