H.R.669 / S.200 – Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act

Photo of Congress member Representative Ted Lieu

To prohibit the conduct of a first-use nuclear strike absent a declaration of war by Congress.

You might favor this bill if:
►  You believe launching a first-use nuclear strike would constitute a major act of war and this decision should be made by the representatives of the people and not by a single person. Since this bill does not apply to retaliatory strikes and only applies to unprovoked nuclear strikes, this bill would not impede on time sensitive situations. Nuclear strikes should be a last resort war tactic and having congressional approval on a first-use strike would help keep it that way.

You might oppose this bill if:
►  You believe that denying the president of even the possibility of launching a unilateral nuclear first strike can give our enemies leverage. A nuclear launch might be time sensitive and having a congressional approval might delay the process of a time sensitive matter. National security should not be dependent on partisan politics; The President should have full authority in order for him to do his job correctly.
Introduced House Senate President Law

The Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act would prohibit the President from using the Armed Forces to conduct a first-use nuclear strike unless such strike is conducted after a congressional declaration of war expressly authorizing such strike.

A “First-use nuclear strike” is defined as an attack using nuclear weapons against an enemy that is conducted without the President determining that the enemy has first launched a nuclear strike against the U.S. or an ally of the U.S.

The bill states: “The framers of the Constitution understood that the monumental decision to go to war, which can result in massive death(s) and the destruction of civilized society, must be made by the representatives of the people and not by a single person.”

“Trump’s brand is to be unpredictable and rash, which is exactly what you don’t want the person who possesses the nuclear football to be,” Rep. Lieu said, sponsor of the House version of the bill. “We introduced this bill under the Obama Administration but Trump’s Presidency has highlighted just how scary it is that any president has the authority to launch a nuke without Congressional consultation. I believed in 2016 what I still believe now: launching a weapon that has the power to instantly kill millions of people is an obvious act of war. Regardless of who sits in the Oval Office, Congress has the constitutional duty to decide when a nuclear first strike is warranted. As we’re now coming to realize, we could be one tweet that insults the president away from catastrophe.”

“No American President, and certainly not Donald Trump, should have the power to launch a first use nuclear first strike absent such an attack without explicit Congressional approval,” Sen. Markey said, sponsor of the Senate version of the bill. “It would be immoral, it would be disproportionate, and it could only be considered an act of war – something our morals and our Constitution make clear no single person should be able to do alone. I thank Rep. Lieu for his continued partnership on the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act, and we will continue to work with our colleagues to get this critical legislation passed.”


Sponsored by: Rep. Lieu, Ted [D-CA-33].

Cosponsored by: 1 Rep / 45 Dem.

See list of cosponsors.


Sponsored by: Sen. Markey, Edward J. [D-MA].

Cosponsored by: 1 Rep / 12 Dem.

See list of cosponsors.

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