A group of US senators from the Democratic Party in Congress are planning to introduce legislation that would prohibit President Donald Trump from starting a preemptive war against North Korea without congressional approval or absent an imminent threat.
Senator Chris Murphy, and two of his Democratic colleagues, Senators Cory Booker and Brian Schatz, are currently drafting legislation that aims to prevent Trump from launching a military strike against North Korea, nuclear or non-nuclear, without congressional approval.
Murphy warned Monday that if Trump conducted a preemptive military strike on North Korea without congressional approval, it would be a slippery slope toward further violent conflict.
The bill would say the Trump administration “cannot take military action, and can use no funds for military action, unless there is an attack, an imminent attack, or you’ve gotten congressional authorization,” Murphy said in an interview with the Vox news website.
“If the Trump administration uses broad Article II authority to justify an attack against North Korea, there is literally no end to their ability to make war without Congress. Congress would be wholly and completely irrelevant in the question of overseas military action,” he explained.
Several Democrats have expressed concerns over Trump’s provocative rhetoric toward North Korea and worry that the president has made armed conflict with Pyongyang a real possibility.
“I simply do not believe that the Constitution gives the president the ability to conduct military action abroad absent an attack on the United States, or an imminent threat of attack,” Murphy said. “But the president’s advisers seem to be suggesting that they perceive his powers to be much broader than that. This legislation would clear up that discrepancy.”
Similar legislation to limit Trump’s military authority has already been introduced by other Democrats in Congress. The bills are similar but address “different issues,” Chris Harris, communications director for Murphy, told Newsweek.
At a Senate hearing on Monday, Trump’s top national security officials said that the US Constitution gives Trump the power to attack North Korea in certain circumstances.
During testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned Congress against imposing restrictions and conditions on American military forces that allow their enemies “to seize the initiative.”
Mattis and Tillerson acknowledged that Trump doesn’t have permission from Congress to attack North Korea, but they indicated the US Constitution gives him that power in certain circumstances where American nationals and national security interests are being imminently threatened.