Is Donald Trump fit to control the United States’ nuclear weapons? That question has induced cringing among military and foreign policy experts since the early days of his candidacy. Now, two Democratic lawmakers are trying to get out in front of the problem.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) introduced a measure Tuesday that would bar the president from launching a nuclear strike unless Congress formally declared war first. The president currently has the power to use the country’s nuclear arsenal without the consent of Congress.
“Unfortunately, by maintaining the option of using nuclear weapons first in a conflict, U.S. policy increases the risk of unintended nuclear escalation,” Markey said in a statement. “The president should not use nuclear weapons except in response to a nuclear attack. This legislation enshrines this simple principle into law.”
Trump has long been criticized as lacking the self-control and steady temperament that most people would want the commander of a nuclear arsenal to possess. He’s said on multiple occasions that, as president, he wouldn’t rule out the use of nukes.
“A man who can be provoked by a tweet shouldn’t have his fingers anywhere near the nuclear codes, as far as I think anyone with any sense about this should be concerned,” Hillary Clinton said during Monday night’s presidential debate.
Clinton also slammed Trump’s apparently lax attitude regarding which countries have access to nuclear weapons. U.S. nuclear policy has long been based on non-proliferation – the idea that the world should ultimately aim to reduce and limit the number of nuclear weapons in existence.
“It has been the policy of the United States, Democrats and Republicans, to do everything we could to reduce the proliferation of nuclear weapons,” Clinton said. “He even said, you know, if there were nuclear war in East Asia ― well, you know, that’s fine. Have a good time, folks.”
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.