Call Of The Day: Limit The President's Ability To Wage War

Trump's intemperate statements and tweets about North Korea have worried many of us—including members of Congress.

At last month's United Nations meeting, the President threatened to totally destroy North Korea.  He has tweeted that "diplomacy is a waste of time, and only one thing will work."

Although the Constitution states that only Congress can declare war, World War II was the last time Congress exercised that responsibility.  In the meantime, war has increasingly become the prerogative of the executive, and many presidents have used their own means to wage war:  "police action" (Truman in Korea); the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (Johnson in Vietnam); the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Bush and Obama in the Mideast); and now, Article II of the Constitution making the President Commander-in-Chief (Trump in Syria).

In January, Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017 (HR 669 and S.200, respectively).  This legislation would prohibit the President from launching a first nuclear strike without getting a declaration of war by Congress.

The crucial issue of nuclear "first use" is more urgent than ever, now that Trump has the power to launch nuclear war at a moment's notice.  However, these bills are currently languishing in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

WHO TO CALL:

Senators Kennedy and Cassidy; Representatives Steve Scalise or Cedric Richmond

Senator Bill Cassidy:  DC Office:  202-224-582; Metairie office:  504-838-0130; Monroe:  318-324-2111; Lake Charles:  337-493-5398; Alexandria:  318-448-7176

Senator John Kennedy:  DC office: 202-224-4623; New Orleans:  504-581-6190; Lafayette:  (337) 269-5980; Monroe:  (318) 361-1489; Alexandria:  (318) 445-2892; Baton Rouge:  (225) 926-8033; Shreveport:  (318) 670-5192

Because of how Congressional districts are drawn, New Orleans residents have either Richmond or Scalise as their representative. If you don't know who your representative is, you can look it up by entering your home address on the U.S. House of Representatives website.

Representative Steve Scalise:  DC OFFICE:  (202) 225-3015; METAIRIE OFFICE:  (504) 837-1259

OR

Representative Cedric Richmond:  DC OFFICE:  (202) 225-6636; NEW ORLEANS OFFICE:  (504) 288-3777

Reminders:  Identify where you're calling from (town and zip code is fine) so they know you're an actual constituent.  ONLY CALL YOUR OWN REPRESENTATIVE.  Be concise – the office will get through more calls that way.  Be polite and don't argue with the staffer – they don't set policy. If you get a voicemail, then leave a message.  And if you get a busy signal – call back later!

Sample Script:

Hi, my name is [Your Name] from New Orleans, zip code 70118 [or wherever you're from].

I'm calling today because I'm concerned about the President's recent tweets about North Korea which appear to promote nuclear strikes.  Since the Constitution gives Congress the exclusive right to declare war, I'm urging you to provide checks and balances on the Executive branch.  Specifically, I'd like you to cosponsor the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017, or introduce similar legislation of your own.

Thank you for your time and your hard work answering the phones.  Stay safe out there. 

This call is courtesy of Metairie Indivisible.