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Published:January 4th, 2008 05:50 EST

Congress and National Security in 2007

By SOP newswire

Excerpts below; for complete article, see:
On December 18, as Congress was about to head out of town, the Senate took three last votes on the war in Iraq. The outcome of the votes replicated a host of votes earlier in the year and ran into the same law of mathematics: 60 votes are needed to pass controversial legislation in the Senate, such as requiring U.S. troops to return home from Iraq. Beyond that 60-vote barrier lies the president's veto pen, and a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress is needed to overcome that barrier. There are not 60 votes in the Senate to end the Iraq War, and there is certainly not a two-thirds majority in either the House or the Senate.

This salient congressional failure to end the disastrous Iraq War in 2007, however, masked a series of less visible but nonetheless important triumphs on national security issues, particularly related to nuclear weapons. Congress was able to stop, limit, or reverse some ill-advised Bush administration initiatives.
. . .
Not giving up on plans for a new nuclear weapon, most recently the Department of Energy proposed building a Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW), a program designed to develop a nuclear warhead it claimed was safer and more reliable than the existing stockpile. Before leaving town shortly before Christmas, Congress passed a huge Omnibus Appropriations Bill that denied any funds for this latest scheme.
. . .
Another victory came when Congress refused to fund the administration's plan to build a new facility to produce annually 125 to 200 plutonium "triggers" or pits for nuclear weapons . . . Congress saw little need for a major new "bombplex" plant and zeroed out the work.
Congress bolstered these program cuts with provisions launching two reevaluations of U.S. nuclear weapons policy . . . Significantly, both studies are designed to guide the next president of the United States as he or she takes office in 2009. Thus, while another year remains in Bush's second term, most of Washington is already looking forward to the next president's new policies beginning in 2009.
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This year, it added $623 million in two bills for core nonproliferation programs. Congress also eliminated bureaucratic restrictions that had long hampered carrying out these vital nonproliferation programs.
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Congress also rejected a Pentagon request to put conventional warheads on Trident nuclear-powered submarines.