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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 - Continued

Location: Washington, DC

PAGE S6660
May 20, 2003



    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, there will now be 5 minutes equally divided prior to a vote with respect to the Graham of South Carolina amendment.

    Who yields time?

    The Senator from South Carolina.

    Mr. GRAHAM of South Carolina. If it is appropriate with Senator Sessions, I will proceed.

    Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I understand we are in 5 minutes debate on each side and then there will be a vote on this amendment.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Chambliss). It is 5 minutes evenly divided.

    Mr. SESSIONS. I am pleased to yield to the Senator from South Carolina on his time.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Carolina is recognized.

    Mr. GRAHAM of South Carolina. Mr. President, I thank the Senator for yielding. I have been working with Senators on both sides of the aisle to approve a compensation package for guardsmen and reservists. We have a modification to Senator Daschle's amendment. I second-degreed his amendment last night. We have reached a compromise where we merged the best of the two packages. Basically, what we are trying to do is make sure that Guard and Reserve members, if they choose to, can become members of TRICARE, the military health care network for military members and their families, by paying a premium. It would be what a retiree pays plus $100 for an enlisted Guard or Reserve member, $150 for an officer. So it is a very good deal for the Reserve and Guard families. They pay into the system if they choose to be a member of TRICARE. That way when they are called to active duty they do not leave one health care plan for another. They will have continuity of health care. They do not get bounced around between systems. It would really help with recruitment and retention. It has been a bipartisan effort like none I have ever experienced.

    I want to add cosponsors, and then I will yield for Senator DeWine, who has been a tremendous leader on this issue. I ask unanimous consent that the following Senators be added as cosponsors to this compromise product: Senators Clinton, DeWine, Kennedy, Miller, Allen, Leahy, Stabenow, Mikulski, Landrieu, Chambliss, Campbell, Collins, and Dorgan.

    I compliment Senator Daschle for his fine efforts in making this possible.


Mr. GRAHAM of South Carolina. Mr. President, I rise in opposition to the amendment. As quickly as I can—a lot of people want to speak—I will frame the debate for those who are listening.

    The Armed Services Committee was asked by the Pentagon to give some relief on a 10-year prohibition on research and development of low-yield nuclear weapons for a specific military purpose. The Pentagon and others tell us that the warfare of the future is going to have a component to it about which we need to be thinking.

    As we have seen in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places, the enemies of tomorrow and today have gone underground in a deep fashion—underground not only to hide their forces, but to hide weaponry and to potentially build chemical or biological weapons facilities, underground to develop hydrogen nuclear weapons, underground to protect their troops from the awesome power that we have today.

    The committee, after listening to the Pentagon's request, in the bill we have before us, lifted the ban on research and development to allow the Pentagon to do research and development in this area as they could on any other weapons system.

    The question becomes for the Senate, after having received input from our Department of Defense and those experts who are paid to follow such matters, whether saying no to their request to do research and development only is a wise decision.

    My colleague who previously spoke mentioned the word "crazy." I think it would be incumbent upon us to listen, as the committee has done. And the committee, in a bipartisan fashion, after listening, voted to lift the ban on research and development, to go forward and look at the ability to combat the threats of the future by having a low-yield nuclear weapon that could go to the underground chemical or biological weapons factory that may exist in the future—to go to the underground nuclear weapons facility that may exist in the future.

    As we have seen from Afghanistan and Iraq, the enemy has dug deep into the earth. From the last gulf war to Operation Iraqi Freedom, we have seen how the military has modernized and transformed itself. In the first gulf war—Desert Shield and Desert Storm—only about 10 percent of the weapons used were precision-guided munitions. That changed to the point where 90 percent of the weapons used in Operation Iraqi Freedom were precision guided. I argue that that modernization effort, keeping that technological edge, saved a lot of American and Iraqi lives.

    I suggest to my colleagues that this is a dramatic moment in our Nation's history. We have just upgraded the threat level to orange. We have seen last week what is going on in the world—al-Qaida is still alive. They are on the run, but they have the ability to hurt people. They desire nuclear weapons. There are a lot of rogue states that are going to try to pursue a nuclear weapon, or fissile materials, and they will most likely be successful. People are going to enhance their biological and nuclear weapons ability.

    I argue that to stop research and development on a potential weapon that could destroy a terrorist group or prevent a rogue nation from creating a chemical or biological capacity that is deep underground is illogical—just to take it off the table in a blind fashion, trying to say we are doing something that is going to spread nuclear weapons. I don't believe we are.

    Secretary Powell has written a letter on this matter, on May 5, in which he says:

    I do not believe that repealing the ban on low-yield nuclear weapons research will complicate our ongoing efforts with North Korea.

    It is a reality that the enemies of today and tomorrow will go underground. They will go deep into the earth, and they will have laboratories and research facilities available to them to develop weapons of mass destruction. I hope the Senate will listen to the Pentagon and develop a weapon that counteracts that threat. Whether or not we deploy that weapon we will decide later. But to take the research component off the table and not even plan for that possibility is very irresponsible. We will take up as a body whether or not to authorize this development, as we should.

    I implore my colleagues, please do not ignore the threats that exist today, an enemy going deep into the Earth where conventional weapons may not be able to destroy that chemical or biological factory or that nuclear weapons program. Let's at least look at the possibility of having a weapons mix in the future that protects us from the evil that exists today.

    I think what the committee has done is very responsible. I congratulate the chairman and all those involved in lifting this ban at the Pentagon's request. History will judge us poorly—who knows what is going to happen down the road—if we as a political body do not listen to what I believe to be a real threat and try to at least talk about and develop a counteraction to that threat for the future. That is what this debate is about.

    If this amendment is adopted, it would tie the hands of the American military in looking at weapons systems to combat a real threat at a time when the threats we face are growing, not lessening. I think that would be a very bad move on the Senate's part. It would tie the hands of the Department of Defense unnecessarily.

    We are not talking about deploying a weapon. We are talking about researching and developing a weapon that may save lives in the future, and I hope the Senate as a whole will follow the lead of the committee and vote this amendment down. I yield the floor.

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