On Wednesday May 3, at a press conference on Capitol Hill, members of Congress accepted nearly 500,000 petition signatures collected by global security organizations, anti-nuclear weapons advocates, and progressive advocacy organizations in support of legislation that would limit President Trump’s ability to launch a nuclear war.
The petition endorses legislation authored by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) called the "Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act," which would prohibit the President’s authority to launch nuclear weapons first without a declaration of war from Congress. The bill would not restrict the President’s authority to respond to a nuclear attack.
"It’s terrifying that Trump currently has unchecked authority to press the button to launch thousands of nuclear weapons at his command in a matter of moments," said CREDO Campaign Manager Tessa Levine. "Trump’s first 100 days have been marked by series of horrifying demonstrations of his recklessness and incompetence," she continued, "we cannot trust Trump to make rational or informed decisions about the safety of our country and the world," she added. "It’s time to take away Trump’s nuclear football."
"Congress alone has the power to declare war under the Constitution," said Joe Cirincione, President of Ploughshares Fund,"Congress must have that authority when it matters most--the decision to start a nuclear war."
"It is long past time to put checks and balances on the ability to launch nuclear weapons,” said Megan Amundson, Executive Director for Women’s Action for New Directions. "It no longer makes sense, if it ever did, to put the power to kill millions of people in the hands of one person. It is just too dangerous."
'No American president should be allowed to launch an unprovoked nuclear war. The Constitution gives the power to declare war to Congress, and we should not allow President Trump – or any President – to use nuclear weapons except in response to a nuclear attack against the U.S. or our allies. My bill with Congressman Lieu enshrines this commonsense principle into law,” explained Senator Ed Markey (D-MA).
"Our Constitution created a government based on checks and balances and gave the power to declare war solely to Congress. A nuclear first strike, which can kill hundreds of millions of people and invite a retaliatory strike that can destroy America, is war. The current nuclear launch approval process, which gives the decision to potentially end civilization as we know it to a single individual, is flatly unconstitutional," added Rep. Ted Leiu (D-CA), "Furthermore, the single individual currently possessing the sole power to start WWIII is Donald J. Trump. The President has demonstrated a frightening ignorance of the nuclear triad, crowed about being ‘unpredictable’ with our nuclear arsenal, and taken to twitter to make provocative statements about U.S. nuclear posture. For these reasons, I am proud to have introduced the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017 with Sen. Markey to realign our nation’s nuclear weapons launch policy with the Constitution. The fate of humanity just may be at stake."
"One modern nuclear weapon is more destructive than all of the bombs detonated in World War II combined — yet there is no check on Trump’s ability to use the thousands of nuclear weapons at his command. His power to do so is absolute, and once he hits the proverbial red button there would be no take-backs," explained Lillyanne Daigle, Network Campaigner for Global Zero. "That such devastating power is concentrated in one person is an affront to America’s founding principles. The proposed legislation is an important first step to reining in this autocratic system and making the world safer from nuclear catastrophe."
"A nuclear war could literally destroy all human life," said Win Without War Director, Stephen Miles. "It is beyond terrifying to think of someone as erratic and reckless as Donald Trump with that power at his fingertips. No one, least of all someone whose own staff doesn’t trust with a twitter account, should have the power to launch a nuclear war by themselves. It is well past time that Congress fix this deeply broken system."
"Trump has the ability to kill millions of people within minutes. This is a horrifying possibility, especially considering Trump's impetuousness," said Mara Schechter, Campaign Director for Daily Kos. "This legislation would prohibit the U.S. President from launching nuclear missiles without a declaration of war by Congress. Passing it would be an important part of reining in the president's unbelievable unchecked power when it comes to nuclear weapons."
"People are right to feel shocked when they learn that one person—and only one—has the unrestrained authority to launch a US nuclear strike, an attack that could destroy human civilization as we know it,” said Dr. Lisbeth Gronlund, Senior Scientist and Co-Director in the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The current system must be changed—no matter who is sitting in the Oval Office."
"The U.S. was founded on a system of checks and balances to protect Americans from tyranny. The use of nuclear weapons —the most destructive weapon capable of ending life as we know it — should be constrained by checks and balances as well," said Paul Kawika Martin, Senior Director, Policy and Political Affairs, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze). "Thankfully, Representative Lieu and Senator Markey have introduced this legislation to prohibit the President from starting a nuclear war without a Congressional declaration of war."
At the press conference, petition organizers handed out red buttons with the word "easy" printed on them, suggesting that it is way too easy for President Trump to launch atomic weapons.
The following organizations were a part of a nationwide petition effort calling on Congress to support the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act. Groups listed here in alphabetical order:
- The American Friends Service Committee
- Arms Control Association
- Council for a Liveable World
- Daily Kos
- Global Zero
- Just Foreign Policy
- Peace Action
- Ploughshares Fund
- Progressive Congress Action Fund
- Public Citizen
- Union of Concerned Scientists
- United for Peace and Justice
- Win Without War
- Women’s Action for New Directions
For more information, or for interviews with anyone listed above, please contact Brett Abrams at 516-841-1105 or by email at email@example.com