U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) reintroduced legislation to prevent the president from launching a nuclear first strike without congressional approval.
Their bill, the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2019 (H.R.669/S.200), was also introduced in the 115th Congress but never made it out of committee. “First-use nuclear strike” means a nuclear weapons attack against an enemy that is conducted without the president determining that the enemy has first launched a nuclear strike against the United States or a U.S. ally.
“No American President, and certainly not Donald Trump, should have the power to launch a first use nuclear first strike absent such an attack without explicit Congressional approval,” Markey said. “It would be immoral, it would be disproportionate, and it could only be considered an act of war – something our morals and our Constitution make clear no single person should be able to do alone.”
Lieu said Trump’s brand is to be “unpredictable and rash” and that’s not what you want in a person in control of nuclear weapons.
“We introduced this bill under the Obama Administration, but Trump’s Presidency has highlighted just how scary it is that any president has the authority to launch a nuke without Congressional consultation,” Lieu said. “I believed in 2016 what I still believe now: launching a weapon that has the power to instantly kill millions of people is an obvious act of war. Regardless of who sits in the Oval Office, Congress has the constitutional duty to decide when a nuclear first strike is warranted. As we’re now coming to realize, we could be one tweet that insults the president away from catastrophe.”
Win Without War Advocacy Director Erica Fein said nearly half of all Americans have no confidence ‘at all’ in Donald Trump, according to a new poll.
“Yet, because of our deeply flawed and dangerous system, if the president decides to launch a nuclear weapon, no one can stop him. It is high time for Congress to add a check on this or any future president’s ability to start a nuclear war,” Fein said.
Federation of American Scientists Director of Nuclear information Project Hans Kristensen said no single person should have the ability to launch a nuclear first strike.
“The Federation of American Scientists supports the effort to limit the ability of President Donald Trump or any U.S. president to launch a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress,” Kristensen said.
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