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house Bill H.R. 669

Does the President Need to be Blocked From Launching a Nuclear First Strike Unless Congress Declares War?

Argument in favor

A U.S. president shouldn’t conduct a nuclear first strike unless an adversary has already attacked America or its allies with nuclear weapons or Congress has given the president that authority. That power in the wrong hands could lead to nuclear armageddon.

Margaret's Opinion
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07/12/2019
Trump is a loose cannon with a short fuse and a very unstable mind. He should never be allowed to have access to nuclear codes
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Joan's Opinion
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07/12/2019
While every POTUS has had such powers since nuclear weapons were developed, Trump is the only POTUS I know of who has been irrational and irresponsible enough to use them - to take foreign lives and put American lives at risk - over something as inconsequential as a personal insult.
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burrkitty's Opinion
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07/12/2019
No American President should have the power to launch a first use nuclear first strike, absent such an attack, without explicit Congressional approval. It would be unethical, disproportionate, and it could only be considered an act of war – something our Constitution make clear that no single person should be able to do alone.
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Argument opposed

To deny the president even the possibility of launching a unilateral nuclear first strike give our enemies leverage. There could be scenarios where there’s only a brief window to launch a preemptive strike before an adversary can attack America or its allies.

Ronald's Opinion
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02/01/2019
No sane person would consider this suicidal idea. America must protect America. Our Constitution places this responsibility on Our President. Nuclear weapons exists. No other country is reasonably discussing giving their own nukes up. We must accept Reality.
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Jim2423's Opinion
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07/12/2019
This is a good Democratic scare tactic. Every President has had that power to use atomic weapons if threatened without Congressional approval. Stop lying to your constituents and the American people.
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Jarsh's Opinion
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07/12/2019
While you may not like the president he is the Commander in Chief. Congress certainly is not a more intelligent option. They are dysfunctional partisans set on gaining party power without regard to the repercussions on the country. This is true of both the R’s and D’s with very few exceptions. Having quick strike ability is important for a president as not only an option but as a deterrent. Congress can choke things back anytime they see fit using the power of the purse.
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What is House Bill H.R. 669?

This bill would prohibit the president from launching a nuclear first strike against a U.S. adversary unless Congress has approved a declaration of war against that country that explicitly authorizes a first strike.

It would also declare that it is U.S. policy to never use a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war. A nuclear first strike would be defined as any nuclear attack against an enemy that is conducted without the president determining that the enemy has first launched a nuclear strike against the U.S. or one of its allies.

Impact

Congress and the President.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 669

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to restrain a president from launching a nuclear first strike against an enemy of the U.S. unless Congress gives its authorization. Observing that President Trump's brand is to "unpredictable and rash," Rep. Lieu said:

"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. 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.”

When he originally introduced this bill, Rep. Lieu said in a press release that there issue "is more urgent now than ever that President Donald Trump has the power to launch a nuclear war at a moment's notice" and added:

“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. Our Founders created a system of checks and balances, and it is essential for that standard to be applied to the potentially civilization-ending threat of nuclear war.”

When he and Rep. Lieu reintroduced this bill in the current Congress, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) said:

"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. 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.”

Win Without War supports this legislation. Its Advocacy Director, Eric Fein, says:

"[B]ecause 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."

The Federation of American Scientists also supports this bill. The Director of its Nuclear Information project, Hans Kristensen, says no president should have the power to start a nuclear war without a declaration of war by Congress. 

In the current Congress, this bill has 46 bipartisan cosponsors, including 45 Democrats and one Republican. Last Congress, this bill had the support of 82 bipartisan cosponsors in the House, including 81 Democrats and one Republican, but it died in committee. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that it's "urgent" for the U.S. to formally adopt a no first-use policy on nuclear weapons.


Of Note: During the presidential campaign, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her surrogates said that Donald Trump would start a nuclear war, after the host of a TV show alleged that Trump asked a foreign policy expert several times why nuclear weapons aren’t used. Trump denied that allegation.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: National Nuclear Security Administration / Creative Commons)

AKA

Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2019

Official Title

To prohibit the conduct of a first-use nuclear strike absent a declaration of war by Congress.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
    IntroducedJanuary 17th, 2019
    Trump is a loose cannon with a short fuse and a very unstable mind. He should never be allowed to have access to nuclear codes
    Like (201)
    Follow
    Share
    No sane person would consider this suicidal idea. America must protect America. Our Constitution places this responsibility on Our President. Nuclear weapons exists. No other country is reasonably discussing giving their own nukes up. We must accept Reality.
    Like (105)
    Follow
    Share
    While every POTUS has had such powers since nuclear weapons were developed, Trump is the only POTUS I know of who has been irrational and irresponsible enough to use them - to take foreign lives and put American lives at risk - over something as inconsequential as a personal insult.
    Like (156)
    Follow
    Share
    No American President should have the power to launch a first use nuclear first strike, absent such an attack, without explicit Congressional approval. It would be unethical, disproportionate, and it could only be considered an act of war – something our Constitution make clear that no single person should be able to do alone.
    Like (132)
    Follow
    Share
    Trump is irresponsible and unpredictable. Protect America and the world from his impulsivity.
    Like (89)
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    Yes. Support Ted Lieu’s bill to prohibit a nuclear first strike - Unless congress declares war there must be no nuclear strikes- or other warfare! Vote Yes on Ted Lieu’s bill.
    Like (82)
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    This is a good Democratic scare tactic. Every President has had that power to use atomic weapons if threatened without Congressional approval. Stop lying to your constituents and the American people.
    Like (56)
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    Take the ability to launch nuclear weapons away from this president. Unfortunately, this step is necessary because he is not stable (nor genius, as he claims).
    Like (55)
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    The president is required to consult congress for other acts of war, this definitely needs to be added.
    Like (49)
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    While you may not like the president he is the Commander in Chief. Congress certainly is not a more intelligent option. They are dysfunctional partisans set on gaining party power without regard to the repercussions on the country. This is true of both the R’s and D’s with very few exceptions. Having quick strike ability is important for a president as not only an option but as a deterrent. Congress can choke things back anytime they see fit using the power of the purse.
    Like (48)
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    This Democrat lead Congress 👀? No friggin' way. Too many are nuttier than a fruitcake. I'll take Trump's discretion over all of them combined.
    Like (36)
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    Please. I don’t trust our current President with our arsenal. I know why the President is the decider on this but this one cannot emotionally handle it, and I desperately don’t want a nuclear war.
    Like (35)
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    Congress can’t get anything done for America. The President can’t wait two years for Congress to act! I have lost faith in most of Congress. The last two and a half years have proven that!
    Like (27)
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    He needs to be blocked. He is not well, holds grudges, is petulant, irrational, a pathological liar, impetuous, untrustworthy, dangerous, and needs to be impeached.
    Like (25)
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    No, the president is the commander in Chief and not congress. This would be unconstitutional.
    Like (25)
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    Abso-fucka-lutely. I think Ray Kroc would agree that if a person deems McDonald’s or KFC as healthy and nutritious diet and that Fox News Channel presents any factual information at all, then that person should not be making decisions about Nuclear war and that person is certainly unfit to be The President Of The United States of America.
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    No matter the president, they need to be able to protect the country.
    Like (23)
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    Congress can’t even pass a budget how do we expect them to declare war. Trump would never drop the bomb unless we were attacked first, he has shown extreme restraint whether it’s the TDS Democrats or Iran, China, North Korea, Russia. #MAGA
    Like (23)
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    Absolutely, Trump is demented and is a threat to the entire globe.
    Like (22)
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    I wouldn’t trust a Democrat with my garden water hose much less the codes to a nuke. My 12-year-old son has more common sense than all the Democrats in the House of representatives. 😂😂😂😂😂😂
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