Senate Must Pass War Powers Resolution and Go Further

Statement by David Wright, Global Security Program, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Feb 12, 2020

WASHINGTON (February 13, 2020)—The Senate is expected to vote today on S.J.68, a bipartisan resolution offered by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) that would block President Trump from taking military action against Iran without explicit congressional authorization. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is one of more than 40 organizations that sent a letter to senators urging them to pass the measure.

Below is a statement by David Wright, senior scientist and co-director of the Global Security Program at UCS.

“Twice in the last year, the Trump administration has taken actions that pushed the country to the brink of war with Iran. The administration has consistently stated that it has the authorization for war with Iran even though Congress has never authorized such action. Under the Constitution, only Congress has the right to declare war, so that a single person can never lead the United States into a senseless, unnecessary conflict.

“This danger is even more pronounced when it comes to nuclear conflict. Under current, outdated U.S. policy, the president has sole authority to order the use of nuclear weapons, with no checks and balances from others in the administration or from other parts of the government. As President Nixon once said, ‘I can go into my office and pick up the telephone and in 25 minutes, 70 million people will be dead.’ No president should have this authority.

“Congress should certainly pass Senator Kaine’s War Powers resolution, but it should go even further, by passing legislation to limit the president’s sole authority to start a nuclear war. In particular, it should pass a bill introduced a year ago that stipulates the U.S. will never launch a nuclear weapon first in a conflict.”