Reps. Horsford, Susie Lee, McAdams, Panetta, Cox Introduce Legislation to Mandate Congressional Authorization for Nuclear Testing

September 22, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. -- Today, Representative Steven Horsford (NV-04) led Reps. Susie Lee (NV-03), Ben McAdams (UT-04), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), and TJ Cox (CA-21) in introducing the No Nuclear Testing Without Approval Act, legislation which would prevent the President from administering future plans for nuclear testing in Nevada and across the country without congressional authorization while ensuring the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) can continue their duty to our national security. Senator Cortez Masto (D-NV) introduced the companion legislation in the Senate. 

“The Secretaries of Defense and Energy have reported to the President that the U.S. stockpile is safe, secure, and effective in the absence of nuclear testing. Restarting nuclear testing is unnecessary and would have far-reaching consequences on Nevada’s environment and the health and safety of my constituents. Any decision that brings dangerous explosives to our backyard must carefully consider the long-term effects on our state,” said Congressman Steven Horsford. “This legislation will ensure that Congress can provide the appropriate oversight and accountability measures necessary and determine any risk this many pose to the surrounding area.” 

"I will always stand up for Nevadans to oppose any and all dangerous and unnecessary nuclear testing pushed by this, or any other, administration. The No Nuclear Testing Without Approval Act would ensure Congress has a say in any new nuclear testing while maintaining the safety and security of our current stockpile. I don’t care how many times Nevada is offered up by Washington politicians to be the nation’s nuclear laboratory; it won’t happen on our watch,” said Congresswoman Susie Lee.

“Utahns are still suffering and dying from exposure to radioactive fallout released during past tests. The federal government lied to us about the safety then, knowing we were in harm’s way.  This bill ensures that Utahns will have a voice in any future decisions and a check against an unnecessary executive move that would endanger their health and safety,” said Congressman Ben McAdams.

“Unwarranted, provocative nuclear testing is a risk to our national security and it is Congress’ duty to provide bipartisan innovation, support, and oversight for nuclear security,” said Congressman Jimmy Panetta.  “I am proud to co-introduce this legislation establishing a congressional approval process prior to any new explosive nuclear testing. Proper oversight of our nuclear security will allow us to be more focused, agile, and creative in confronting and responding to emerging security challenges.”

 “The President should not be using dangerous nuclear tests as a political tool, especially when it threatens the lives of millions of Americans. Any decision that puts the use of nuclear weapons on American soil should require Congressional approval to ensure that nuclear testing is only done when absolutely necessary, and that it is done in a way that won’t put American lives at risk. I’m proud to join my colleagues to support the ‘No Nuclear Testing Without Approval Act’ to ensure our Eastern neighbor is not taken advantage of, and to help protect the health and safety of all Americans,” said Congressman TJ Cox. 

Background: 

The No Nuclear Testing Without Approval Act would establish a congressional approval process for any proposed future testing while enabling the NNSA to sustain its central mission to maintain the safety, security and reliability of the United States' nuclear weapons stockpile. The bill updates the Atomic Energy Defense Act so that Congress must pass a Joint Resolution of Approval for any proposal to resume explosive nuclear testing, which may only occur after a foreign state has conducted a nuclear test or if the heads of all three national security laboratories and the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command assess that there is a technical need. The proposal must be accompanied by a detailed report explaining why testing would be in the nation’s interest and including alternative options. 

The Nevada National Security Site’s unique facility makes it the only one in the country capable of accommodating underground nuclear testing. Nevada’s federal delegation remains opposed to any effort that would resume nuclear testing in the state. 

Representatives Horsford, Susie Lee, and Cox introduced this legislation as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021. 

The full text of the bill can be found here.