House Democrats have called upon President Joe Biden to provide others in government with the authority to launch nuclear weapons. At the present, and under every previous presidential administration, the sole person with the authority to launch nuclear weapons has been the president of the United States and no one else.
A Monday letter obtained by Politico, penned by California Rep. Jimmy Panetta and signed by nearly three-dozen House Democrats reads, ”Vesting one person with this authority entails real risks. Past presidents have threatened to attack other countries with nuclear weapons or exhibited behavior that caused other officials to express concern about the president’s judgment."
“While any president would presumably consult with advisors before ordering a nuclear attack, there is no requirement to do so,” the letter adds. “The military is obligated to carry out the order if they assess it is legal under the laws of war. Under the current posture of U.S. nuclear forces, that attack would happen in minutes.”
The Congressman said in a Monday tweet that he is “calling on” Biden "to install checks [and] balances in our nuclear command-and-control structure."
The Democrats have offered alternatives to the president’s sole nuclear authority, such as requiring the Vice President and House Speaker to agree with a launch order before it is executed.
Democrats previously expressed concerns with former President Trump’s sole access to nuclear authority. In January, before Biden’s inauguration, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she had spoken with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley about protecting the nuclear launch codes from an “unhinged president.”