Democratic Congressional Candidate Wants To Limit President’s Ability To Use Nuclear Weapons

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A leading Democratic candidate for an open Congressional seat in the Merrimack Valley is sponsoring a resolution calling on Congress to limit the president’s authority to use nuclear weapons.

State Senator Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover) is the lead sponsor of SD 248, a proposed Massachusetts Senate resolution that asks the state’s members of Congress to “take all necessary steps to establish a system of check and balances with regard to the first use of nuclear weapons and to ensure that the President shall no longer have the sole and unchecked authority to launch nuclear weapons, except in circumstances of retaliation.”

The resolution notes that the president “currently has the sole authority to launch a nuclear attack without any required consultation,” and it expresses concern that “the first use of nuclear weapons against any other nuclear-armed nation would result in retaliation and invite the near total destruction of, Massachusetts.”

On Monday morning, less than 12 hours before President Donald Trump was scheduled to meet with North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un for a first-of-its-kind summit in Singapore, the Massachusetts Senate referred the resolution to the state Legislature’s Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, according to State House News Service.

First-strike nuclear deterrence has been a part of the U.S. defense policy since the Cold War, as a means of preventing larger armies from hostile countries from overwhelming smaller allies. The U.S. defense theory has been that if the president can immediately order a nuclear strike and if adversaries know that, then enemies of the United States will refrain from invading weaker countries allied with the United States.

But on February 2, L’Italien tweeted that her resolution is an effort “stand up against nuclear war.”

Six current members — Jack Lewis, Mike Connolly, Kay Khan, Denise Provost, Natalie Higgins and Carmine Gentile — are co-sponsors of the resolution, as was former Representative Tom Calter before he left the House earlier this year. State Senators Jamie Eldridge, Patricia Jehlen, and Michael Barrett are also co-sponsors of the L’Italien resolution.

All are Democrats.

L’Italien is one of the leading Democrats running for the Third Congressional District seat currently held by U.S. Representative Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell).

Rick Green is the lone Republican seeking the seat.