The House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee prohibits funds for a variety of nuclear weapons in the executive summary of its fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) markup, released June 3.

The summary would ban funding for the deployment of the W76 2 low-yield ballistic missile warhead, as well as a mobile variant of the Air Force’s forthcoming Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) missile.

Cutaway of W76 warhead and Mk-4 reentry vehicle. Image: Los Alamos National Lab

Authorizers involved in the subcommittee’s summary also call for the elimination of a requirement for a conventional variant of the Air Force’s Long-Range Standoff Weapon (LRSO).

House appropriators slowed the development of the Defense Department’s next-generation nuclear weapons in the FY ’20 defense appropriations bill, which was passed by the committee last month and is scheduled to be considered on the House floor next week (Defense Daily, May 22).

House authorizers also require a report on the future of nuclear command, control and communications (NC3) efforts. The bill summary requires the secretary of defense and the U.S. Strategic Command commander to submit a report on near-term and long-term NC3 plans, to include planned architectures, supply chain security, timeline and cost estimates and “options for potential negotiations with adversaries” within 270 days of the passage of the NDAA. Lawmakers also require an interim briefing on those issues within 90 days of the bill’s passage.

HASC Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) has openly opposed the development of a low-yield warhead since it was introduced under the Defense Department’s 2018 Nuclear Policy Review. House Democrats introduced a bill to ban the weapon’s development in February (Defense Daily,Feb. 8).

Minority leaders of the committee released a statement Monday decrying the “partisan and irresponsible subcommittee mark,” stating that the mark weakens the U.S. government’s ability to deter adversaries and defend its interests.

HASC Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and HASC Strategic Forces Ranking Member Mike Turner (R-Ohio) called the mark “a significant departure from the Armed Services Committee’s tradition of bipartisanship” in a joint statement. The subcommittee will consider the mark June 4, while the full committee mark is scheduled to be considered June 12.