Lawmakers back push to curtail Trump’s nuclear strike ability

Lawmakers back push to curtail Trump’s nuclear strike ability
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A petition to block President Trump from being able to launch nuclear weapons was presented to Congress on Wednesday after garnering nearly a half-million signatures.

The petition backs the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act, which would deny Trump the authority to launch a first strike with nuclear weapons without a declaration of war from Congress. 

The bill, reintroduced by Sen. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDems lambaste Trump’s ‘outrageous’ EPA chemical safety pick Dems plan to make gun control an issue in Nevada Dem senator pitches ideas for gun control after shooting MORE (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) in January, would not restrict Trump from responding to a nuclear attack by another nation.

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“While it is vital for the president to have clear authority to respond to nuclear attacks on the United States, our forces or our allies, no president should have the authority to launch a nuclear first strike without congressional approval,” Markey said at a press conference alongside 28 file boxes filled with petitions.

“Such a strike would be immoral, it would be disproportionate and it would expose the United States to the threat of devastating nuclear retaliation.”

Markey called the act “absolutely critical during the Trump administration,” pointing to his rhetoric toward North Korea and Russia. He added that the signatures on the petition “are a reflection of concern across our country of the use of nuclear weapons by the president.”

“As long as President Trump has a Twitter account, we need a nuclear no-first-use policy for the United States of America,” Markey said.

The two lawmakers were also joined at the press conference by the bill co-sponsors Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif) and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), newly elected Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and officials from the groups Women’s Action for New Directions and Global Zero. 

Petition organizers handed out red buttons with the word “easy” on them at the press conference, suggesting that it is simple for Trump to order a nuclear strike.

Markey and Lieu have long opposed America's first-strike policy and first introduced a bill restricting the ability to launch a first strike in September, tying the issue to Trump’s comments during the presidential campaign.

Trump has tweeted that the U.S. should “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability” and did not take a first strike off the table during a September presidential debate.

Former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaGeorge W. Bush honors father at benefit for hurricane victims Dem senator: ‘I miss every one of’ our last 5 presidents All five living former presidents appear at hurricane relief benefit concert MORE reportedly weighed changing the first strike policy before leaving office but ultimately did not after advisers argued against it.

The growing tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear program have prompted several new alarming statements from Trump, who said in April that a "major, major" conflict is possible between the U.S. and North Korea.