Markey, Lieu Push ‘First Strike’ Bill After Trump Taunts Kim

President to North Korean leader: My ‘nuclear button’ is ‘much bigger & more powerful’

A North Korean ballistic missile during "Victory Day" parade in 2013. (Wikimedia Commons)

Lawmakers are pushing legislation anew that would limit Donald Trump’s ability to launch nuclear weapons on his own after the president taunted North Korea’s leader over the size and lethality of his “nuclear button.”

After North Korean leader Kim Jong-un used part of his New Year's message to remind the world he has a “nuclear button,” Trump responded with a Tuesday evening tweet about his own atomic button.

“Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” the U.S. president tweeted.

Democrats Sen. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Rep. Ted Lieu of California responded by urging their Twitter followers to express support for a bill they are again pushing that would “prohibit the president from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress,” according to a fact sheet.

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Late Tuesday night, Markey’s Twitter account asked people if they are worried “@realDonaldTrump could launch a #nuclear war?” The tweet also plugged the Markey-Lieu legislation.

“No one person should have the power to decide when the U.S. will be the first to use nuclear weapons,” Markey tweeted, also asking people to retweet the post if they agree. (As of Wednesday morning, 3,360 people had done so.)

Lieu’s official account did the same, asking the congressman’s followers if they are “freaked out” by Trump’s threats.

Other Democrats used Twitter to sound alarms, including House Appropriations Defense subcommittee member Tim Ryan of Ohio. He compared the U.S.-North Korean atomic standoff to a previous nuclear standoff.

“When we think of the Cuban Missile Crisis, we tend to think of President [John F.] Kennedy’s deliberative & steady hand,” Ryan wrote, adding Trump “is no JFK.”

Trump’s latest nuclear threat toward the North comes as Kim earlier this week extended an olive branch to South Korea, signaling he wants to open talks about his country participating in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

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On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked if the Trump administration supports such talks amid foreign policy experts’ warnings Kim might be trying to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington.

“Our policy on North Korea hasn’t changed at all. The United States is committed and will still continue to put maximum pressure on North Korea to change and make sure that it denuclearizes the peninsula,” Sanders said. “Our goals are the same, and we share that with South Korea, but our policy and our process has not changed in this.”

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