In an effort to both restore the checks and balances enshrined in our constitution and reduce the risk of nuclear catastrophe, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) have introduced the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2016 in their respective houses of Congress. The legislation would prohibit the President from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress and an explicit authorization for such a strike.
While there are a myriad of reasons that adopting a no-first-use policy would reduce nuclear tensions, this legislation focuses on reasserting Congress’ constitutional responsibility to debate and vote on whether or not we go to war. Reflecting that focus, the legislation includes this useful reminder:
The framers of the Constitution understood that the monumental decision to go to war, which can result in massive death and the destruction of civilized society, must be made by the representatives of the people and not by a single person.
In a press release introducing the legislation, the authors pointed to the large number of Americans who are frightened by the possibility Donald Trump could in fact be that ‘single person’ as an important reason to pass this legislation sooner rather than later. But keeping the focus on the constitutional considerations, Rep. Lieu added that, “Our Founding Fathers would be rolling over in their graves if they knew the President could launch a massive, potentially civilization-ending military strike without authorization from Congress.”
While Trump’s unique candidacy has pulled the issue of nuclear weapons into sharp focus, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office next year, it would serve us well to uphold the principles of our democracy by guaranteeing that no one person has the power to make the ill-advised decision to launch a nuclear first strike. Contact your Senators and Representative today by calling the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask them to co-sponsor the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act.
Categories: Nuclear Weapons