GREAT NEWS! On a Zoom call April 24, 2021, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton announced the re-introduction of her "Nuclear Weapons Abolition and Economic and Energy Conversion Act" for the 15th time, as HR-2850 (see text). This is the ONLY BILL in the U.S. Congress calling for global abolition of nuclear weapons.
The first seven members of the House of Representatives to co-sponsor HR-2850 were Jim McGovern (MA), Barbara Lee (CA), Ilhan Omar (MN), Mark Pocan (WI), Carolyn Maloney (NY), Rashida Tlaib (MI), and Peter Welch (VT). Please send a message to your Representative asking for co-sponsorship!
Here is the text of Congresswoman Norton's Statement on the introduction of the bill on April 26, 2021:
Today, I am introducing the Nuclear Weapons Abolition and Economic and Energy Conversion Act of 2021, a version of which I have introduced since 1994, after working with the District of Columbia residents who were responsible for the Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion ballot initiative, passed by D.C. voters in 1993.
My bill still requires the United States to sign and ratify an international agreement to disable and dismantle Americas nuclear weapons, to provide for strict control of fissile material and radioactive waste and to use nuclear-free energy. In lieu of joining such an agreement, this new version of the bill also gives the United States the option to ratify the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (Treaty). Many nations have already signed onto the Treaty. The Treaty was drafted by the United Nations in conferences in March and July of 2017, which is why I did not include it in my previous bills. According to the United Nations, the Treaty is a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination. I am pleased by the international progress on this important issue.
Our bill continues to provide that the funds used for nuclear weapons programs be redirected to human and infrastructure needs, such as housing, health care, Social Security, restoring the environment and creating carbon-free, nuclear-free energy. The conversion to a peace economy would occur when the President certifies to Congress that all countries possessing nuclear weapons have begun elimination under an international treaty or other legal agreement....
Our country still has a long list of urgent domestic needs that have been put on the back-burner. As the only nation that has used nuclear weapons in war, and that still possesses one of the largest nuclear weapons arsenals, I urge support for my bill to help the United States reestablish its moral leadership in the world by redirecting funds that would otherwise go to nuclear weapons to urgent domestic needs.
I strongly urge my colleagues to support this legislation.
Ms Norton also filmed a statement which was broadcast during a webinar, "Move the Money from Global to Local, from War to Peace," at the 34th Triennial Congress of Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, US Section, in August 2021.
On January 22, 2021, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) became international law! Now we need to convince our own country, and all nine nuclear weapons countries, to sign and ratify the treaty. There are a number of groups now dedicated to making this happen, foremost among them ICAN, winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, which is a coalition of organizations around the world. In the United States, Nuclear Ban US has been developing tools to help us all encourage national, local, and state legislators to sign the ICAN Pledge, support the Norton bill, and introduce local resolutions.
Proposition One Campaign has been working for an end to the whole nuclear era since it was founded in 1990, created to bring a voter initiative for global nuclear weapons abolition and conversion of the war machines to provide for human needs to the people of Washington DC. The concept was proven viable by the victory of DC Initiative 37 in 1993. As a result, the Nuclear Weapons Abolition and Economic and Energy Conversion Act has been introduced each session between 1994 and 2021 into the U.S. House of Representatives by DC's Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Until 2019, this was the ONLY legislation calling for nuclear abolition and conversion, and we focused our energies on seeking co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. In 2017, when the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was approved by 122 nations, we also launched a campaign in the Senate. We've created these resources for those who want to help with the campaign:
For the House -
* Please sign the online Letter to Representatives asking for co-sponsorship of Eleanor Holmes Norton's "Nuclear Weapons Abolition and Economic and Energy Conversion Act" - which is HR-2850 in the 2021-2022 session of Congress.
* And circulate the paper Petition to U.S. Representatives when people begin gathering again post-COVID-19.
For the Senate -
* Please sign the online Petition to the President and Senators for the U.S. to sign and ratify the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
* And circulate the paper Petition to Senators when possible.
* Resource Guides Available for Solidarity Events
* "Let's End the Whole Nuclear Era!", a WILPF-US Disarm Committee foldover flyer
* "Warheads to Windmills: How to Pay for a Green New Deal" report by NuclearBan.US * "Don't Bank On The Bomb" - move the money from nuclear weapons industries and banks that fund them
* WILPF US Disarm Committee website and WILPF US YouTube channel
* Contact the Campaign
IN THE HOUSE: The bill has consistently been submitted to the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees each session, and in 2017 and 2019 it has been submitted to the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces. If your Representative is on any of these committees, please ask him or her to co-sponsor the bill, and to help get it out of committee and to the floor for debate and vote!
We have been told by a House legislative aide that the Armed Services Committee only votes on one bill each year -- the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) -- so we should ask the members of the committee to incorporate the language of the bill into the NDAA.
IN THE SENATE: On July 7, 2017, at the United Nations, 122 nations adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. At their 33rd triennial congress July 27-30, 2017, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom-US Section launched a petition to the President and the Senate asking for ratification. Please print and get signatures on the paper petition and send to the address shown, AND please sign (and encourage everyone you know on social media to sign) the online petition supporting the nuclear weapons ban treaty as well. We hope and believe this will go viral!
Let your legislators know you want them to support a world without nuclear weapons! The Congressional Switchboard is 202-224-3121. The White House comment line is 202-456-1111.
Please let us know if you have contacted your Representative or Senators so that we may follow up.
And if you are a constituent, please take time to thank Eleanor Holmes Norton for faithfully introducing her nuclear weapons abolition bill each session since 1994, and tell her you've contacted your Representative to ask for co-sponsorship! Ms. Norton's fax is 202-225-3002.
History of the Bill
The bill was first introduced in 1994 as the "Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion Act", then again in 1995, 1997, and 1999, when U.S. Representative Lynn Woolsey (CA) joined Ms. Norton and several experts on nuclear disarmament issues to announce active support for the legislation, and again in 2001, 2003, and 2005 (when Representative Woolsey, plus John Lewis and Cynthia McKinney of Georgia, and Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas, quickly signed on). In 2007 there were no co-signatories, but in 2009 John Lewis and Lynn Woolsey's aides repeatedly told us that they signed on to HR-1653, although you'd never know about it by searching Congressional bills. In 2009, Ms. Norton's announcement was timed to recognize Proposition One co-founder William Thomas, who had died on January 23rd.
During 2009 and 2010, Proposition One co-founder Ellen Thomas and a team from DC traveled 30,000 miles around the country learning about the entire nuclear chain, from uranium mines (reclaimed and not), to nuclear power and weapons plants, to radioactive storage facilities, and promoting voter initiatives everywhere. During that time they became convinced that we will never be sure of abolishing nuclear weapons until there are no longer nuclear power plants, which for sixty-plus years have been producing weapons-grade uranium and plutonium. The travelers received excellent suggestions for improving the language of the proposed bill, which up till then hadn't been getting much respect from Congress. They proposed revisions which Ms. Norton accepted in 2011.
The 2011 bill was renamed the "Nuclear Weapons Abolition and Economic and Energy Conversion Act." There were four co-sponsors for HR-1334, Representatives Steve Cohen (TN), Bob Filner (CA), Dennis Kucinich (OH), and Fortney Pete Stark (CA). Again, John Lewis and Lynn Woolsey's aides said they were signing on, but it didn't appear on the Congress website.
In 2013, Ms. Norton's said on introducing the bill, "Today, our country has a long list of urgent domestic needs that have been put on the back burner even though millions of Americans have lost their homes and jobs and sequestration has started. As the only nation that has used nuclear weapons in war, and that still possesses the largest nuclear weapons arsenal, I urge support for my bill to help the United States lead the world in redirecting funds that would otherwise go to nuclear weapons to be available for urgent domestic needs." Representative Raul Grijalva (AZ), co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus, signed on to HR-1650.
In 2015, when she introduced HR-1976, Ms. Norton wrote in her Dear Colleague letter, "Polls indicate that over 70% of Americans want 'the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.' We must begin to turn public sentiment into public policy, and make advances toward a peaceful, nuclear-weapons-free future." John Lewis (GA), Raul Grijalva (AZ), and Lacy Clay (MO) signed on. And in spring, 2017, during a Nuclear-Free-Future tour, we were told by Lacy Clay and Raul Grijalva aides, and by Jan Schakowsky (Chicago, IL) personally, that they would sign on to the bill when introduced in the 115th Congress.
In 2017, when Ms. Norton introduced HR-3853, her press release read: "There is no greater threat to the future of our planet than nuclear war.... As we seek to eliminate North Korea's march toward achieving long-range nuclear weapons, our nation, with the world's largest nuclear arsenal, should lead by example by bringing nations together to begin negotiations on reducing our stockpiles of warheads and moving toward realizing a world without nuclear weapons." Co-sponsors were Representatives Jan Schakowsky (IL) and Jim McGovern (MA). Lacy Clay and Raul Grijalva didn't show up on Congress.gov.
In 2019 members of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom - US Section asked Ms. Norton to revise the language of the bill by naming the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in the first clause, eliminating the "date by" portion of the last clause, and removing (for later introduction as a separate bill, we hope) the clause calling for an end to war and all military operations, which was getting in the way of recruiting new co-sponsors. Ms. Norton agreed to all the revisions, and was congratulated by Nobel Peace Prize winner ICAN's executive director, Beatrice Fihn, and Wallis Timmons and Vicki Elson of WILPF-US and NuclearBan.US, in this photo. On May 21, 2019, Representative Jim McGovern (MA) co-sponsored HR-2419; Ms. Norton has co-sponsored his Resolution which supports the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, H.Res 302. On October 11, 2019, Representative Ilhan Omar (Minneapolis, MN) became a co-sponsor of HR-2419, and on October 30, 2019, Representative Barbara Lee (Oakland, CA) signed on. Sheila Jackson-Lee (Houston, TX) co-sponsored again on January 15, 2020, as did Jan Schakowski (Chicago, IL) on January 29, 2020.
We were delighted that in 2019 Representative Jim McGovern introduced H.Res. 302, "Embracing the goals and provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons," which is a RESOLUTION that allows legislators to express their support for the Treaty, but it doesn't make law. Norton's BILL, on the other hand, creates a law which supports the treaty, and also provides funding for conversion of the war industries to provide for environmental restoration and clean-energy conversion. This is how to fund the Green New Deal and get rid of nukes too! Co-sponsors are needed! Check the list of co-sponsors in 2019-20 recorded online.
Other co-sponsors over the years, now retired, have included David Minge and James Oberstar (Minnesota), Charles Rangel (New York), Al Wynn (Maryland), and Earl Hilliard (Alabama). As each Congressional session ends, all unvoted-on legislation expires and must be re-introduced. Your help is needed in obtaining LOTS of co-sponsors in this Congress! Bipartisan support would be very helpful.
Now we have the Roots Action letter to help us!
We of the Proposition One Campaign thank Ms. Norton for her vision, courage, and patience over these many years. We hope this session the bill will have so many co-sponsors that it will finally get out of Committees and to the floor for a vote.
Proposition One Campaign was created by the White House Antinuclear Vigil, which began June 3, 1981.
This is a current project of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section, Disarm/End Wars Committee.
Proposition One Campaign YouTube videos
"Oracles of Pennsylvania Avenue" by Tim Wilkerson,
first broadcast in two parts by Aljazeera in 2011,
winner of "best documentary" at Daytona Beach Film Festival in 2013.
"Proposition One: Peace Through Reason" - 2009 update - produced in 1994 by William Thomas, edited in 2009 by Ellen Thomas
"DC Initiative 37" video by Jai Tomlinson, produced in 1993 during and after the successful voter initiative which led to the bill introduced each session by Eleanor Holmes Norton.
"The Ground War At Home", produced in 1991 by Ellen Thomas, about the drumming 40 days and nights outside the White House during the first Gulf War.
"Radiation Blues," written by Ellen Thomas in 1986 after Chernobyl, updated and sung by Courtney Dowe in 2011 after Fukushima