Yesterday, Republican Congressman Trent Franks presented an amendment to H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. It was approved for addition to the bill, which was then passed later in the day. The support for the amendment was largely Republican, but the following dozen congressional Democrats joined the House Republicans to vote for it:
The Franks amendment eliminates funding for programs in which the United States cooperates with Russia to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
The reason that Trent Franks, other congressional Republicans and these 12 Democrats gave for eliminating nuclear nonproliferation: Russia has given military aid to Syria.
I don’t know anyone who would argue that the Syrian government is a decent regime deserving of any kind of foreign support. However, Russian support for the Syrian government is a functionally separate issue. If nuclear weapons materials and technology from Russia go unprotected, and are taken by terrorists, mercenaries, or agents of another government, such an incident would do nothing to help overthrow the current Syrian regime. It would only create an additional foreign policy problem, and put the world in even greater risk of a nuclear holocaust.
The amount of spending required for the benefit of protection from nuclear weapons proliferation is minimal. If these dozen Democrats really wanted to save money, they could have voted for another proposed amendment to H.R. 4310, from Congressman Ed Markey. The Markey amendment would have saved a large amount of money by delaying the development of a new generation of bomber aircraft designed specifically to shoot nuclear missiles at foreign cities from a long range.
The Markey amendment was defeated. All but one (Gary Peters) of the dozen Democrats who voted in favor of ending nuclear nonproliferation voted against delaying the development of the expensive nuclear bomber.
The issue isn’t what’s happening in Syria at the moment. It isn’t cutting spending. The issue is nuclear weapons. Too many members of Congress favor the expansion of America’s nuclear weapons, and don’t care to even try to control the spread of nuclear weapons out of Russia.