May 15, 2019

Van Hollen Bipartisan Senators Introduce Resolution Honoring Richard Lugar’s Legacy, Pushing to Continue Global Non-Proliferation Efforts

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen along with a group of bipartisan Senators introduced a Senate resolution honoring the legacy of the late Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN). The resolution recognizes Lugar’s enormous contributions to nuclear non-proliferation, and pushes for the U.S. to continue its leadership in advancing global non-proliferation efforts, including by considering extending the New START Treaty that Senator Lugar championed from his post on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Van Hollen was joined on the resolution  by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Todd Young (R-IN), Rand Paul (R-KY), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Mike Braun (R-IN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Tina Smith (D-MN). A House version of the resolution was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives today by Congressmen Brad Sherman (D-CA), Jim Banks (R-IN), Bill Foster (D-IL), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), and Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN).

Former Senator Richard G. Lugar, whose life is being honored today in Indianapolis, passed away on April 28th, 2019. Lugar, who served in the Senate from 1977 to 2013, left a remarkable legacy in the halls of Congress, particularly as a foreign policy leader. Lugar was instrumental in ushering in the New START Treaty, which continues to cap Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal, helping to unwind the Cold War arms race of the mid-20th century. The Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, commonly known as the “Nunn-Lugar Program,” eliminated 7,600 nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union.

“As a young staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I saw Senator Lugar’s tireless efforts to reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation first-hand. In the spirit of bipartisanship, he worked with members on both sides of the aisle to create a safer world,” said Van Hollen. “We must continue to move forward with his legacy in mind, and that’s why I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bipartisan resolution. I will continue working to promote arms control and non-proliferation objectives – including the extension of the New START treaty – in the U.S. Senate.” 

“I greatly enjoyed serving with Senator Lugar, and I will never forget watching his leadership in ratifying the New START treaty in the Senate. It wouldn’t have happened without him,” said Merkley. “At a time of increasing global threats and volatility, the non-proliferation efforts that Sen. Lugar championed are as important now as ever. We must not return to the nuclear-weapon ‘Wild Wild West’ – the era before 1972 when the United States and Russia aimed tens of thousands of nuclear weapons at one another – unbound by any treaty establishing the rules of the road. Instead of abandoning these treaties that reduce nuclear risk, in particular the New START Treaty, the U.S. should step up to ensure that future generations may never have to relive the ‘duck and cover’ drills I experienced in elementary school.”

“Today, as we honor the life of Senator Richard Lugar, we also focus on carrying on his legacy with this resolution and our continued commitment to nuclear non-proliferation. At a time when nuclear proliferation was civilization’s greatest threat, Senator Lugar helped save the world. Today, our world is once again facing the threat of nuclear weapons being developed by rogue regimes in Iran and North Korea. While Indiana and our entire country lost a great leader in Senator Lugar, the safety and security of our world now falls to us and carrying on his work to ensure the world remains free of the threat posed by nuclear weapons,” said Young. 

“There was no greater champion in the U.S. Senate for stopping the spread of nuclear weapons than Senator Richard Lugar,” said Markey. “His partnership with Senator Sam Nunn resulted in one of the singularly most important nonproliferation agreements in the world. Passage of the Nunn-Lugar Act was instrumental to the safe and secure end of the Cold War. It kept the world safe from the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction, and continues as a global nonproliferation mainstay. I am proud to co-sponsor this resolution to honor his legacy.”

“Senator Richard Lugar is a towering figure in Hoosier history and one of the greatest statesmen to ever serve in the U.S. Senate.  It’s an honor to work for Hoosiers from his seat and his desk on the Senate floor where he served our state with distinction for over 30 years and I’m proud to join this resolution honoring him,” said Braun.

“Senator Richard Lugar was a true statesman and patriot, a leader who served with such integrity and intelligence.  He was one of the finest Senators with whom I had the privilege of serving.  Senator Lugar made such a positive difference not only as a mayor and a Senator, but also globally where his foreign policy expertise, especially on nuclear non-proliferation, was widely respected.  At the Lugar Center, he continued to promote the bipartisanship that was a hallmark of his work in the Senate.  I’m honored to join my colleagues in honoring his service to our country and continuing his important legacy of working to reduce the world’s production and stockpiling of nuclear weapons,” said Collins.

“The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (NewSTART) has created stability and successfully prevented a dangerous nuclear arms race. It is critical that President Trump continues the decades-long bipartisan tradition of common-sense nuclear arms control and that he works to extend this treaty to retain limits on Russia’s nuclear arsenal,” said Gillibrand. “America should continue to lead – not abandon – arms control, and use that leverage to convince more countries to adhere to arms control agreements.”

“This is about recognizing Senator Richard Lugar’s legacy, and continuing to chart our nation—and the world—on the path the statesman forged by being a champion of nuclear non-proliferation efforts,” said Smith. “We honor Senator Lugar, and we’re committed to continuing his work to make the world a more safe and peaceful place for future generations.”

The Merkley-Young resolution honors Senator Lugar’s legacy, and calls for the United States to continue critical non-proliferation efforts by:

  • Encouraging all parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to comply fully with the treaty;
  • Maintaining support for the International Atomic Energy Agency, which regulates nuclear technology and conducts international inspections for nuclear weapons compliance;
  • Considering an extension of the New START Treaty, which is set to expire in February 2021, and beginning negotiations with Russia to secure and reduce nonstrategic nuclear weapons in a verifiable manner;
  • Condemning Russia’s violation of the Intermediate-Range Forces (INF) Treaty, and urging them to come back into compliance while refraining from steps that would set off an arms race on the European continent ; and
  • Pursuing a verifiable and comprehensive arms control agreement with Russia and China.

A copy of the full resolution can be found here.