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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.

Impact

Congress and the President.

Cost

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.


Media:

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

AKA

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.

    The responsibility of nukes shouldn't fall to one person - not even the president.
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    I cannot stand Trump and I do not believe he has the proper temperament for this responsibility. I also do not believe that the power should go to the whole Congress. I think the power should fall to a special dedicated bipartisan team appointed by Congress or non-political military officials. I would like to see a special team because that would make the process of what I would consider a time sensitive matter more efficient than the whole of Congress.
    Like (532)
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    This isn't about Trump! No one person can make this decision on their own . Shocking that this is not already part of the presidential authority! Of course one man cannot decide the fate of the world!
    Like (663)
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    This is an important example of checks and balances in action.
    Like (603)
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    Are you joking? Do you know who our president is? A big AYE on this one.
    Like (422)
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    Nuclear weapons should not ever be used, much less without Congress declaring war. There are checks and balances, that's how our government works. We can not bypass the process of democracy for short sighted destruction.
    Like (336)
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    No commentary necessary.
    Like (299)
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    This seems like a no brainer...
    Like (182)
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    It's absurd to consider anything otherwise. A president can not declare war and a nuclear bomb would start a war. Period.
    Like (159)
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    Our president is not sane.
    Like (157)
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    So much power should not be in the hands of only one person.
    Like (133)
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    To those who are saying "what if nuclear weapons are discharged at us first, we shouldn't have to wait for congress" that's not what this bill is prohibiting. The bill is saying the president cannot INITIATE nuclear weapons/warfare unless congress has declared war. If we were attacked first then this would be null.
    Like (120)
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    Yes, a million times, YES. The fate of the world should not rest in the hands of one person. I am shocked that this is not already required.
    Like (107)
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    I have to disagree. If a nuke is launched against us and we have to sit and debate on to retaliate or not, we might as well just let them nuke us. I understand the fear of someone getting this power and abusing it. However passing this will just give the enemies leverage. The president is commander in chief. This authority is under his jurisdiction as the constitution dictates.
    Like (101)
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    If our president can't be transparent enough to tell us his tax returns or his relations with Russia, than he shouldn't have the right to lead us to a nuclear war.
    Like (99)
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    A nuclear first strike should never be one man's decision. Especially not THIS man!
    Like (79)
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    I agree that there should be something before he can fire a nuke, but waiting to declare war is stupid, it takes too long!
    Like (67)
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    This guy is crazy. We can't trust him. Democracy is at risk with him at the helm. He has a lack of knowledge about foreign affairs and poor impulse control. We need as many measures as possible to keep America safe... And it is not safe as long as he is in position.
    Like (62)
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    Giving one person such a power is unreasonable and dangerous. In a perfect world we would be able to still launch a preemptive strike, but not by giving one everything they need to start an unecessary war.
    Like (52)
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    Nuclear should never be the first option and should never be a single point decision.
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