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January 13, 1997
Progressive Caucus Members
U.S. House of Representatives, DC 20515

Dear Representative:

On January 9, 1997, after attending the US House of Representatives Progressive Caucus forum in the Cannon House Office Building, two questions occurred to me.

(1) Without exception, I noted, each of the distinguished speakers focused on economic/monetary, public sector/military concerns. Also, each speaker mentioned concerns about health care, housing, education and the environment. Nuclear weapons are a big ticket item -- a recent Economist article put the cost of the U.S. nuclear arsenal at a trillion dollars; however, on one day last summer both the Washington Post and the Washington Times reported that Pentagon sources made a "conservative estimate" of a $5 trillion nuclear weapons price tag. Yet, it seemed only Hon. Ron Dellums and guest speaker Marcus Raskin mentioned this large, expensive problem.

First question: In terms of dollars, just how much is the U.S. nuclear arsenal worth?

(2) On January 26, 1994 your colleague, Hon. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), introduced HR 3750, the "Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion Act," to the 103rd Congress. In pertinent part, the proposed Act required that:

"The United States Government ... shall disable and dismantle all its nuclear weapons and refrain from replacing them at any time with any weapons of mass destruction ... and shall redirect resources that are currently being used for nuclear weapons programs to use .. in converting all nuclear weapons industry employees ... and programs ... to constructive, ecologically beneficial peacetime activities ... addressing human needs such as housing, health care, education, agriculture, and environmental restoration. This Act shall take effect when the President certifies to the Congress that all foreign countries possessing nuclear weapons have established legal requirements comparable... and those requirements have taken effect."

This legislation is a timely vehicle by which Congress can signal its intent to abide by Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. As you know, sixty-two ex-generals and admirals are now calling for massive or complete elimination of nuclear weapons, and the World Court recently ruled that the threat or use of nuclear weapons could and should be illegal.

HR 3750 died in committee with eight co-sponsors. Delegate Norton re-introduced the measure to the 104th Congress as HR 1647 in 1995, and has promised to re-introduce the bill again this session. The bill is based on a successful grassroots voter initiative in Washington DC (Initiative 37 in 1993).

Second question: When Delegate Norton re-introduces the Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion Act to the 105th Congress, can you give me one reason why it shouldn't have at least 53 co-sponsors immediately?

Thanks for your attention,
W. Thomas