New Bill: No War in North Korea Without Congressional Authorization

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Tuesday led U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) in introducing a bill prohibiting President Trump from starting a preemptive war against North Korea, absent an imminent threat or without express authorization from Congress. The bill, introduced amidst the escalation of irresponsible rhetoric and contradictory behavior from President Trump and officials in his administration, prohibits funds from being used for kinetic military operations without Congressional approval unless the United States faces an imminent threat or such action is necessary to defend citizens or our allies. 

The full text of the bill is available here.  

“We need to take the president seriously when he threatens war, because the dam could break at any moment. Republican and Democratic Senators are alarmed over the path we’re on, and it’s important we join forces to reclaim Congress’ constitutional role in matters of war and peace before there’s no turning back,” said Senator Murphy. “This bill shouldn’t be controversial since it essentially restates current law, but Congress needs to make it crystal clear that the President does not have the authority to take preemptive military action in North Korea without congressional consent."

“A preemptive strike against North Korea could be catastrophic for the nearly 80,000 American servicemembers who are stationed in the region and for the tens of millions of innocent human beings who live on the Korean Peninsula,” said combat Veteran and Senator Duckworth. “We need our nation’s Commander-in-Chief to show a steady hand and sound judgement, not to engage in irresponsible and dangerous verbal attacks that only serve to escalate an already dangerous situation and put American lives at risk. As the drums of war beat louder each day in both the White House and the Pentagon, I am proud to stand alongside Senators Murphy, Booker, Schatz and Sanders to ensure those in power understand the true costs of war – not just in dollars and cents but in human lives – before they consider starting a conflict that could lead to widespread devastation.”

“Our bill makes it clear that the president does not have the authority to engage in preventive war without approval from Congress, and it goes so far as to tie the purse strings so that the president will have to ask for Congressional approval before taking any preventive action, ” said Senator Schatz. “I want to emphasize what this bill does not do. It does not limit the ability of the United States to protect our allies. Japan, South Korea, and every other ally of the United States should rest assured that we stand with them, and we will have their backs.”

“At a time when President Trump’s rhetoric is growing increasingly belligerent and his foreign policy decisions are becoming even more erratic, this bill reaffirms Congress’ authority and provides a critical safeguard to help keep the President from launching the United States and our servicemen and servicewomen into a pre-emptive war of untold magnitude and destruction,” said Senator Booker. “This important legislation clarifies that the President’s authority to defend the United States from an imminent threat or attack cannot be stretched to include starting an unprovoked war with North Korea.”

Senator Sanders said, “Clearly we have got to do everything that we can to prevent a nuclear war which will likely cost the lives of millions and millions of people. Congress has an enormously important oversight responsibility in matters of war, and this legislation blocking a preemptive strike against North Korea is an appropriate step in fulfilling that responsibility.” 

“The President’s erratic, blustering approach to North Korea has created a huge risk of stumbling into a disastrous war,” said Senator Merkley. “A preemptive strike on North Korea would immediately be met by retaliation that could kill tens of thousands of South Koreans as well as many Americans within hours. This outcome is unacceptable. We need to make sure that Congress exercises its constitutional responsibilities to prevent profound and destructive misjudgments.”