Support Legislation to Limit Trump’s War Powers

The specter of nuclear war is with us this season - this is not a scary story but a frightful possibility. For years as North Korea developed nuclear weapons and missiles, their leaders have threatened to annihilate the United States, now President Trump has adopted the same bellicose style. The armed forces of both countries appear to be taking new steps preparing to engage in war. The Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, says “our goal is not war” but with the leaders of both nations posturing and threatening each other the chances of unintended catastrophe grow. We can resist this danger by supporting Congressional legislation to enforce the War Powers Resolution of 1973 and limit Trump’s authority to unilaterally initiate a nuclear or conventional war with North Korea.

The threat posed by North Korea’s developing nuclear arsenal is real. Repeated “tests” have demonstrated a growing capacity to launch missiles with a nuclear payload that can reach near neighbors and approach territorial United States targets. Indicating their own preparations, civil defense drills are being held in Pyongyang. Considering North Korea’s own immature and unpredictable leader, citizens of the world have reason to fear what Republican Senator Robert Corker calls another “world war.” The consequences of this are beyond the horrors we have known to date.

Trump’s behavior is upsetting our allies and destabilizing the Pacific region. Afraid for their safety and doubting the United States commitment to mutual defense, South Korea, Japan and Australia are each considering developing nuclear arsenals thus ending decades long efforts at international nuclear non-proliferation. If our closest allies and leaders of the developed world violate international non-proliferation protocols it will become impossible to enforce sanctions against North Korea. Technologically sophisticated and wealthy, each of these countries could have their own nuclear weapons on line within a year or two. With each new arsenal the threat of global catastrophe grows.

On October 25th Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut announced that he and Democratic senators, Brian Schatz (Hawaii) and Cory Booker (New Jersey), will be introducing legislation to prohibit the president from taking military action – nuclear or conventional - against North Korea without congressional authorization.  The prohibition would not apply if the US is under attack or facing an imminent attack.  This legislation mirrors two bills already introduced into the House of Representatives – one in January and one last week named the “No Unconstitutional Strike Against North Korea Act”.

The authors of all these bills argue that they are restating existing law – specifically the War Powers Act of 1973 – and aligning with Constitutional provisions which grant Congress the sole power to declare war.  These legislative proposals are limited to North Korea because of President Trump’s bellicosity and the danger posed by North Korea’s arsenals of nuclear and chemical weapons.  By limiting Trump’s unilateral authority, they hope to reduce the dangers perceived by North Korea and to open the door to more serious diplomatic negotiations.

With only two Republican representatives signed on to the recent House bill and no Republican senators yet supporting the Murphy-Schatz-Booker bill it is unlikely that either bill will make it to a floor vote in the near future. We can change that by making our voices heard in support of their efforts.

Call To Action

Call ALL your members of Congress:

Share your concerns about the escalating threat of war and your support for placing a limit on Trump’s ability to recklessly throw us into a war of annihilation.

Tell them you oppose any spending bill that undercuts the State Department’s budget and our ability to carry out international diplomacy.

Insist on diplomacy first and an increase in economic sanctions not only against the North Korean regime but also against the Chinese companies that trade with it or handle its money.