What: All Issues : War & Peace : Nuclear Weapons : S. 1050. Fiscal 2004 Defense Authorization/Vote to Table (Kill) an Amendment to Block Research Funding for the Development of "Low-Yield" Nuclear Weapons. (2003 senate Roll Call 186)
 Who: All Members
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S. 1050. Fiscal 2004 Defense Authorization/Vote to Table (Kill) an Amendment to Block Research Funding for the Development of "Low-Yield" Nuclear Weapons.
senate Roll Call 186     May 20, 2003
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Loss

The Bush Administration has proposed developing "low-yield" nuclear weapons for combating terrorists and other enemies of the United States. In contrast to "high-yield" nuclear weapons such as the hydrogen bomb, low-yield nuclear weapons have limited explosive capabilities and theoretically could be used to destroy deeply buried bunkers and storage sites containing nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons or hiding fugitives such as Osama Bin Laden. The 2004 defense authorization bill includes funding for the research and development of low-yield nuclear weapons, including socalled "earth penetrator" weapons which could be exploded miles beneath the earth's surface (an authorization bill provides lawmakers a blueprint for future spending priorities). During Senate debate on the defense authorization bill, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) proposed an amendment which would have blocked any funding for purposes of lowyield nuclear weapons research. Progressives endorsed Feinstein's proposal because in their view, given the potentially catastrophic consequences of a nuclear detonation, the development of low-yield nuclear weapons should be avoided. Moreover, international law forbids the development of low-yield nuclear weapons; President Bush, for instance, cited Iraq's possible development of those weapons as a justification for the recent war. In the view of Progressives, U.S. standing in the international arena would be seriously compromised if low-yield nuclear weapons are developed domestically. Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) made a motion to table (or strike down) the Feinstein amendment and the tabling motion passed on a 51-43 vote.

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