Sending Office: Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
Reaffirm Congress’s Constitutional Power over a First Strike on North Korea
Be an Original Cosponsor of the No Unconstitutional Strike on North Korea Act
Deadline for Original Cosponsors is Wednesday, October 18, COB
Current Original Cosponsors and Co-Leads (8): Conyers, Massie, Khanna, Jones, Pocan, McGovern, Lee, Lieu
Endorsing organizations: Ploughshares Fund, Council for a Livable World, Arms Control Association, Win Without War, Indivisible, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Peace Action, Union of Concerned Scientists, Beyond the Bomb
We write to request your support for this important piece of legislation that will seek to reinforce the intent of the Framers of the Constitution and ensure that President Trump cannot launch an unconstitutional strike that experts say would lead to catastrophic
war on the Korean Peninsula.
Both the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973 already require an affirmative authorization from Congress before our nation engages in military action abroad against a state that has not attacked the U.S. or our assets abroad. As Section
2 of the War Powers Resolution of 1973 makes clear, absent a declaration of war or a specific statutory authorization approved by Congress, only a “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed
forces” can justify military action undertaken without Congressional authorization.
Few decisions are more needing of debate than a move to launch attacks, or declare war, on a nuclear-armed state such as North Korea.
Military action against North Korea was considered by the Obama, Bush and Clinton Administrations, but all ultimately determined there was no military option that would not run the unacceptable risk of a counter-reaction from Pyongyang that could immediately
threaten the lives of as many as a third of the South Korean population, put nearly 30,000 U.S. service members and over 100,000 other U.S. citizens residing in South Korea in grave danger, and also threaten other regional allies such as Japan. Recent polling
shows that more than two-thirds of the American people believe that the U.S. should attack North Korea only if North Korea attacks first, and Congressional debate would ensure the American people have a voice in the decision, as the framers of the Constitution
This legislation adds an additional safeguard to the current prohibitions on waging war or unprovoked military action without Congressional approval by restricting any funds for such a strike unless there is an authorization from Congress that comports
with well-established legal and constitutional standards. There are exceptions to account for current legal and constitutional standards for repelling a sudden attack, defending our allies, and rescuing U.S. personnel. The legislation also calls for
a diplomatic resolution to the conflict.
If you have any questions, or if you would like to sign on, please reach out to Erik Sperling in Rep. Conyers’ office (firstname.lastname@example.org, 5-5126) or Seana Cranston in Rep. Massie’s office (Seana.email@example.com,
John Conyers Jr., Thomas Massie, Ro Khanna, Walter Jones, Barbara Lee, James P. McGovern, Mark Pocan, Ted Lieu
Members of Congress
The No Unconstitutional Strike Against North Korea Act
Whereas the President is currently prohibited from initiating a war or launching a first strike without Congressional approval under the U.S. Constitution and U.S. law;
Whereas the Constitution in Article I, Section 8, grants Congress the sole power to declare war;
Whereas George Washington wrote that “The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.”
[From George Washington to William Moultrie, 28 August 1793]
Whereas Alexander Hamilton wrote that “’The Congress shall have the power to declare war’; the plain meaning of which is, that it is the peculiar and exclusive duty of Congress, when the nation is at peace, to change that state into a state of war.” [Hamilton
Papers, Examination Number I, 17 December 1801]
Whereas James Madison wrote that “The power to declare war, including the power of judging the causes of war, is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature … the executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not
cause for declaring war.” [Madison Papers, Helvidius, Number 4, 14 September 1793]
Whereas section 2(c) of the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93–148; 50 U.S.C. 1541) states, “the constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United
States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency
created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces”;
Whereas the American people, America’s allies in Asia, and the entire world have been deeply troubled by escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula;
Whereas recent polling demonstrates that more than two-thirds of the American people believe that the U.S. should attack North Korea only if North Korea attacks first;
Whereas the United States has approximately 28,500 servicemembers stationed in Korea who would be placed in grave danger if an active military conflict were to erupt;
Whereas, on August 14, 2017, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford stated, “The United States military’s priority is to support our government’s efforts to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through
diplomatic and economic pressure”;
Whereas, on August 10, 2017, Defense Secretary James Mattis stated that armed conflict with North Korea “would be catastrophic”;
Sec. __. Prohibition on unconstitutional military strikes against North Korea.
(a) In general.- None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Defense or to any other Federal department or agency may be used to launch a military strike against North Korea or introduce the Armed Forces into hostilities
in North Korea before the date on which Congress declares war on North Korea or enacts an authorization described in subsection (b).
(b) Authorization of military strikes.- An authorization described in this section is an authorization that meets the requirements of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1541 et seq.) and that is enacted after the date of the enactment of this section.
(c) Exceptions.- The prohibition under subsection (a) shall not apply with respect to the introduction of the Armed Forces into hostilities to repel a sudden attack on the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces, or its allies;
nor does it apply to the deployment of United States Armed Forces to rescue or remove United States personnel.
(d) Rule of construction.- Nothing in this section may be construed to relieve the Executive Branch of the restrictions on the use of force or the reporting requirements stated in the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1541 et seq.).
Sec. __. Sense of Congress in support of a diplomatic resolution to growing tensions with North Korea.
(a) It is the sense of Congress that a conflict on the Korean peninsula would have catastrophic consequences for the American people, for U.S. servicemembers stationed in the region, for United States interests, for U.S. allies the Republic of Korea and
Japan, for the long-suffering people of North Korea, and for global peace and security more broadly, and that actions and statements that increase tensions and could lead to miscalculation should be avoided.
(b) It is the sense of Congress that the President, in coordination with U.S. allies, should explore and pursue every feasible opportunity to engage in talks with North Korea on concrete steps to reduce tensions and improve communication, and to initiate
negotiations designed to achieve a diplomatic agreement to halt and eventually reverse North Korea’s nuclear and missile pursuits and to move toward denuclearization and a permanent peace in the Korean peninsula.
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0