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bill Progress

  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      House Committee on Foreign Affairs
    IntroducedJanuary 24th, 2017

What is it?

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.


Congress and the President.


A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) introduced this bill to restrain a president from launching a nuclear first strike against an enemy of the U.S. unless Congress gives its authorization. In a press release, Lieu said the 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.”

This legislation has the support of 58 cosponsors in the House, including 57 Democrats and one Republican. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has 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.


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


Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017

Official Title

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