December 14, 2018

Senate Democrats Urge White House to Continue Nuclear Arms Control Negotiations

Senators Concerned Trump Administration is Leading U.S. Toward Nuclear Arms Race with Russia

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) today led a group of 26 Senators in sending a letter to President Trump outlining Democratic Caucus arms control priorities for the 116th Congress and expressing strong support for continued arms control negotiations.  The letter follows the Trump Administration's recent decision to unilaterally withdraw the United States from the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russia.

The INF Treaty, which was negotiated by President Ronald Reagan in 1987 and ratified by the Senate in a vote of 93-5, eliminated an entire class of missiles and has formed the foundation of the United States' bilateral arms control efforts with Russia.

In their letter, the senators urged the Trump Administration to reconsider its planned withdrawal from the INF Treaty and to redouble diplomatic efforts to preserve the agreement and bring Russia back into compliance despite its recent violations. The senators argued that a U.S. withdrawal would threaten the security of our allies and troops stationed in Europe while allowing Russia to escape blame, and called on the Administration to work with our NATO allies to hold Russia accountable for its violation of the treaty.

The senators' letter also called for an extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia, a bilateral treaty that provides the United States with crucial insight into the location, movement, and elimination of Russia's strategic forces, that is set to expire in February 2021.  Finally, the senators expressed concern about the Trump Administration's continued development of low-yield nuclear weapons.  

 "We write out of deep concern that your administration is now abandoning generations of bipartisan U.S. leadership around the paired goals of reducing the global role and number of nuclear weapons and ensuring strategic stability with America's nuclear-armed adversaries," the senators wrote. "Your administration's efforts to double down on new, unnecessary nuclear weapons while scrapping mutually beneficial treaties risks the United States sliding into another arms race with Russia and erodes U.S. nonproliferation efforts around the world."

Joining Senators Warren, Gillibrand, Merkley, Markey, Feinstein, and Klobuchar in sending the letter are Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Conn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). In total, 26 members of the Democratic Caucus signed the letter to President Trump. 

Last month, Senators Warren, Merkley, Gillibrand, and Markey introduced the Prevention of Arms Race Act of 2018, new legislation that would prohibit funding for missiles in violation of the INF Treaty and stop the United States from entering into a 21st Century nuclear arms race.