[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 108 (Wednesday, June 27, 2018)]
[Pages H5803-H5812]


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 964 and rule 
XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House 
on the state of the Union for the further consideration of the bill, 
H.R. 6157.


                 Amendment No. 24 Offered by Mr. Foster

  The Acting CHAIR. It is now in order to consider amendment No. 24 
printed in House Report 115-785.
  Mr. FOSTER. Mr. Chair, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
  The text of the amendment is as follows:

       At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the 
       Sec. __.  None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used for the procurement, the deployment, or the research, 
     development, test, and evaluation of a space-based ballistic 
     missile intercept layer.

  The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 964, the gentleman 
from Illinois (Mr. Foster) and a Member opposed each will control 5 
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Illinois.
  Mr. FOSTER. Mr. Chairman, my straightforward amendment would prohibit 
the misguided use of taxpayer dollars to attempt to develop a space-
based missile defense intercept layer.
  As the Chair knows, the Senate-passed version of the National Defense 
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 tasks the Missile Defense Agency 
with developing such a concept.
  Mr. Chairman, we have been here before. The idea of a space-based 
intercept layer has gone in and out of fashion for the last 30 years, 
ever since President Reagan called for defending the United States 
against a massive first strike by developing a Strategic Defense 
Initiative system, commonly known as Star Wars.
  But every time technologically competent outside experts have looked 
at this space-based concept, they deem it unworkable, impossibly 
expensive, vulnerable to simple countermeasures, easy for an opponent 
to destroy, easy to overwhelm with a small number of enemy missiles, or 
all of the above.
  In fact, the former Director of the Missile Defense Agency, Admiral 
Syring said in 2016, that he had:

[[Page H5804]]

       Serious concerns about the technical feasibility of 
     interceptors in space, and its long-term affordability.

  In order to reach an incoming ballistic missile during the first few 
minutes of flight, a large number of interceptors must be stationed in 
low-altitude orbit where they will be very easy for an enemy to 
  A report conducted by the American Physical Society in 2003 concluded 
that in order to ensure full coverage, a fleet of 1,000 or more 
orbiting satellites would be required to intercept just a single 
  To put that in perspective, the United States today currently has 
slightly more than 800 satellites in Earth's orbit, and that includes 
commercial, scientific, and military satellites.
  The National Academy of Sciences estimated that even an austere and 
limited network of 650 satellites would cost $300 billion, or roughly 
10 times the cost of a ground-based system.
  Setting aside the massive cost, a space-based missile defense system 
has inherent vulnerabilities that greatly limit its effectiveness. Even 
with thousands of interceptors deployed, only a few would be within 
range to target an incoming missile, and those could easily be 
overwhelmed by the launch of several missiles from one location.
  And because interceptors must be stationed in low-altitude orbit, 
they could easily be detected, tracked, and destroyed. It is these 
limitations that led Admiral Syring to conclude that:

       Essential space-based interceptor technologies have been 
     worked on only sporadically over the years and, consequently, 
     are not feasible to procure, to deploy, or operate in the 
     near or midterm.

  There is no doubt that a ballistic missile defense, if 
technologically feasible and economically justifiable, would be an 
important priority for our national security. So would be the Star Trek 
warp drive, or the transporter, if they were not technological 
  But as a scientist, and, in fact, the only Ph.D. physicist in the 
U.S. Congress, I think that we have to listen to the experts and do our 
homework before investing hundreds of billions of dollars attempting to 
develop an unworkable system.
  Mr. Chair, I urge my colleagues to join me and vote ``yes'' on my 
amendment, and I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. LAMBORN. Mr. Chairman, I claim the time in opposition to this 
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Colorado is recognized for 5 
  Mr. LAMBORN. Mr. Chair, as noted by Secretary of Defense Mattis:

       Space is a contested domain by our strategic competitors 
     just like air, land, and sea.

  This dangerous amendment would place our country at a disadvantage 
with our strategic competitors by limiting the work that can be done to 
continue our efforts in protecting our dominance in space, and, 
further, from protecting our homeland from intercontinental ballistic 
  With the significant advances being made today by our adversaries in 
key areas, such as hypersonic weapons and expanding nuclear weapon 
proliferation, we must not restrict the Defense Department from 
pursuing options to deploy directed energy in space or any other 
capability that would result in the possibility of boost-phase 
capability that could be deployed from space.
  This amendment, Mr. Chairman, is against even the possibility of 
investigating and going down this road. House authorizers and 
appropriators understand the importance of employing a layered missile 
defense capability, and this dangerous amendment would significantly 
constrain options for developing critical defensive capabilities in a 
gap of our current ballistic missile defense system.
  A proponent of boost-phase missile defense, General Hyten, the 
commander of Strategic Command testified this year that:

       The day you can actually shoot a missile down over 
     somebody's head and have that thing drop back down on their 
     heads, that will be a good day. Because as soon as you drop 
     it back on their heads, that is the last one they are going 
     to launch, especially if there is something nasty on top of 
     it. I think directed energy brings that to bear, although 
     such weapons do not yet exist in the U.S. arsenal.

  Finally, I would also point out that the issue of space-based 
intercept was debated at length last year, passed with bipartisan 
support in the House Armed Services Committee, and that the National 
Defense Authorization Act last year passed with broad bipartisan 
support on the House floor.
  This year, the Senate Armed Services Committee has also provided 
broad bipartisan support on this critical, technological development 
area. Now, is not the time to curtail this emerging potential 

  Mr. Chair, I would urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment, and I 
reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. FOSTER. Mr. Chairman, I spent most of my career as an energy 
particle physicist and accelerator designer, designing and building 
complex technical systems. Nothing is less productive as a use of 
taxpayer money than designing and building a system, attempting to 
build a system that you know from the outset cannot and will not work.
  If there was suddenly a magic new technology, then we can revisit 
this decision. But the fundamental physics and the fundamental 
numerology of the attack versus defense balance in this has not changed 
in the last 30 years as we have examined this issue.
  So I think that just because it would be nice if we could magically 
drop a launch missile back on the enemy's head, if we do not have 
plausible technology that could accomplish that, doing paper designs of 
systems that will not work is a blatant waste of taxpayer money.
  Again, I urge all of my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on my amendment, 
and I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. LAMBORN. Mr. Chairman, well, let me just conclude by saying in 
opposition, if it hasn't been developed yet, you don't know that it 
doesn't work. We have hundreds or even thousands of bright minds. I 
appreciate my colleague's credentials, but we have hundreds of 
scientists and engineers working in the Missile Defense Agency and at 
the government-sponsored laboratories and in other parts of the defense 
community in the private sector, and at the Department of Defense in 
the government sector, and there are possibilities here that are being 
pursued that have great promise, have great potential.
  I think it would just be the height of foolishness to cut it off all 
right now when there is not even any money being appropriated for this. 
It is just even the possibility that the gentleman is trying to cut 
off, when we have potential for something that would be helpful to 
saving our homeland, and making those who want to rain missiles on us 
have to suffer the consequences of those missiles coming back down on 
themselves. So we shouldn't foreclose the possibility and shut the 
  Mr. Chairman, I would urge a ``no'' vote on this amendment, and I 
yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. FOSTER. Mr. Chairman, how much time do I have remaining?
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Illinois has 30 seconds 
  Mr. FOSTER. Mr. Chair, I think this all comes down to technical 
feasibility. Whenever you are thinking of how to spend taxpayer money, 
you must make a judgment call as to what things are just way out there 
and are not going to happen in our lifetimes, and things which have a 
realistic chance of working on the time scale that we are planning for.
  And when all of the experts that you convene to look at this 
unanimously say that this system makes no sense, then it makes no sense 
to spend taxpayer money until we get the breakthroughs that might some 
day make it possible.
  Mr. Chair, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the 
gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Foster).
  The question was taken; and the Acting Chair announced that the noes 
appeared to have it.
  Mr. FOSTER. Mr. Chair, I demand a recorded vote.
  The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further 
proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Illinois 
will be postponed.

                              {time}  1815

  Mr. VISCLOSKY. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

[[Page H5805]]

  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Indiana is recognized for 5 
  Mr. VISCLOSKY. Mr. Chairman, I yield to my colleague from Illinois 
for a colloquy.
  Mr. FOSTER. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Indiana for 
  As the only Ph.D. physicist in Congress, I would like to take a 
moment to highlight the risks of underfunding both nuclear 
nonproliferation and detection.
  When discussing the dangers of nuclear weapons, we often overfocus 
our attention on missiles and missile defense. Unfortunately, 
proliferation challenges are changing significantly, and there are, 
unfortunately, many ways to deliver a nuclear weapon, for example, the 
smuggling of nuclear radiological materials into the United States 
through our maritime ports or borders or through the use of commercial 
and recreational vehicles to deliver waterborne nuclear devices.
  We must focus our resources on developing and deploying technologies 
that will lead to a substantial improvement in our ability to detect, 
verify, and monitor fissile material and devices. And we must continue 
to strengthen our workforce at our national laboratories by continuing 
to recruit the best and the brightest technical experts.
  I note that much of this expertise is the same as will be required to 
ensure complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of North 
Korea's nuclear weapons programs and their nuclear weapons.
  We can have the most expensive missile defense system in the world, 
but unless we address these unconventional threats as well, it is 
simply a false sense of security.
  So it is my hope that, by raising these concerns and rebalancing our 
spending, we will continue to develop new and innovative ideas to 
detect and monitor the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and 
materials and, ultimately, make the world a safer place.
  Mr. VISCLOSKY. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the gentleman's comments 
and acknowledge his expertise as a fellow member of the Nuclear 
Security Working Group.
  I am grateful that Mr. Foster has raised the important subject of 
nuclear smuggling and for his continued commitment to addressing 
nuclear security issues. We must be relentless in developing the 
technologies that will help us identify and counter nuclear smuggling 
before dangerous materials fall into terrorist hands.
  The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review acknowledges the importance of 
nonproliferation and countering nuclear terrorism. But I do not believe 
the document is forward-thinking enough when it comes to developing a 
plan to address future threats. We must continue to invest in research 
and development of nonproliferation technologies so we will have the 
tools that we need to keep our Nation secure in an increasingly complex 
nuclear environment.
  Again, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the gentleman's raising it, and I 
yield back the balance of my time.