July 01, 2020

Cortez Masto, Rosen, Coons Introduce Legislation to Require Congressional Approval for Any Nuclear Testing in Nevada

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) led Senators Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) in introducing legislation to ensure no president can unilaterally decide to resume explosive nuclear testing by establishing a congressional approval process for any future nuclear testing in Nevada, and across the country. The No Nuclear Testing Without Approval Act will ensure Congress is involved should there be an effort by any Administration to resume explosive nuclear testing, while also balancing the United States’ national security interests and considering the long-term impacts for Nevadans. Currently, the Nevada National Security Site is the only facility in the nation equipped to accommodate underground nuclear testing, and the Nevada delegation stands opposed to the resumption of explosive nuclear testing in the state.

Senator Cortez Masto also filed the No Nuclear Testing Without Approval Act as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, along with Senators Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

“The decision to conduct an explosive nuclear test should not be made without congressional approval, and should never be made by a president hoping to gain political points,”  said Senator Cortez Masto. “The No Nuclear Testing Without Approval Act would require Congressional approval for any future testing and ensure that the decision to conduct tests is based only on technical need or a threat to national security. I’ll continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure that Nevada is not taken advantage of, and that this Administration understands the long-term impacts of explosive nuclear testing and prioritizes the health and safety of Nevadans.” 

“Nevadans do not want to return to a time when nuclear testing was allowed in our state, putting the health and safety of Nevadans in jeopardy,” said Senator Rosen. “Our legislation would require congressional approval before any future explosive nuclear weapons test were to take place. I will continue working in Congress to ensure oversight, safety, and accountability before any nuclear testing action is considered.”

“The United States has not carried out an explosive nuclear test in nearly three decades, and we should not rush to break this moratorium without careful consideration of the consequences,” said Senator Coons. “Congress must rein in the president’s authority, and this bill would do so by requiring congressional approval before any such test can occur. If a future president believes the United States needs to carry out such a risky action, he or she must demonstrate to Congress that the test is in the interest of the American people and our security.”

“Because there is no current or foreseeable need for the United States to resume nuclear weapon test explosions, safeguards should be put in place to ensure that no president may resume U.S. nuclear testing for any purpose, without clear reason, without adequate debate, and without Congressional approval,” said Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association. “This legislation would help ensure that President Trump or any future president cannot bypass Congress and the American people and resume nuclear testing—a consequential action that would very likely set off a new and dangerous global arms race that would undermine U.S. and international security.”


The No Nuclear Testing Without Approval Act (NNTWA Act) would establish a congressional approval process for any proposed future testing while enabling the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to sustain its central mission to maintain the safety, security and reliability of the United States' nuclear weapons stockpile. The legislation updates the Atomic Energy Defense Act by requiring a Joint Resolution of Approval for any proposal to resume explosive nuclear testing, which may only occur after a foreign state has conducted a nuclear test or if the heads of all three national security laboratories and the commander of the United States Strategic Command assess that there is a technical need. Additionally, any Administration’s proposal must be accompanied by a detailed report including alternative options and why testing would be in the best national interest. The passage of any Joint Resolution of Approval would require a supermajority of 67 Senators.