A bill introduced by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) won applause from anti-war groups on Tuesday, as the congressmen called on Congress to pass legislation prohibiting any U.S. president from launching a preemptive nuclear strike—while some anti-nuclear campaigners warned that the proposal is only the bare minimum that can be done to avoid nuclear war.
Lieu and Markey re-introduced the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2019, repeating a call that’s been made in the past by several lawmakers, demanding that President Donald Trump and all future presidents obtain congressional approval before launching a first-strike nuclear attack.
“Trump’s brand is to be unpredictable and rash, which is exactly what you don’t want the person who possesses the nuclear football to be,” Lieu said in a press conference. “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.”
“Regardless of who sits in the Oval Office, Congress has the constitutional duty to decide when a nuclear first strike is warranted,” he added.
The legislators’ announcement came days after it was reported that the U.S. government is developing a new warhead, and just before an expected announcement by Trump that he will withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, claiming that Russia has violated the agreement.