Dems Introduce Bill Restricting Trump’s Use of Nuclear Weapons
Lawmakers introduced a bill in both houses of Congress Tuesday that would prevent the president from launching a nuclear first strike without a congressional declaration of war. A policy that was long debated — but never seriously pursued — during the Obama administration has now become anything other than abstract after the election of Donald Trump.
Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) introduced legislation meant to pry the nuclear football out of the president’s hands.
“Nuclear war poses the gravest risk to human survival. Yet, President Trump has suggested that he would consider launching nuclear attacks against terrorists,” Markey said in a statement. “Unfortunately, by maintaining the option of using nuclear weapons first in a conflict, U.S. policy provides him with that power. In a crisis with another nuclear-armed country, this policy drastically increases the risk of unintended nuclear escalation.”
Lieu, who has a paper sign reading, “Alternative Fact Free Zone” outside his office, took aim at Trump’s ignorance. “It is a frightening reality that the U.S. now has a Commander-in-Chief who has demonstrated ignorance of the nuclear triad, stated his desire to be ‘unpredictable’ with nuclear weapons, and as President-elect was making sweeping statements about U.S. nuclear policy over Twitter. Congress must act to preserve global stability by restricting the circumstances under which the U.S. would be the first nation to use a nuclear weapon.”
This isn’t the first mention of such legislation — the idea of it has been mentioned on and off for years, advocated by groups such as the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. At a January event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said he is “confident we can deter and defend ourselves and our allies against non-nuclear threats through other means,” adding that he “strongly believes” that “deterring and if necessary retaliating against a nuclear attack should be the sole purpose for the U.S. nuclear arsenal.”