President’s Power to Use Nuclear Weapons, & More from CRS

11.14.17 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The President’s authority to use nuclear weapons — which is the subject of a congressional hearing today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — was addressed in several recent publications of the Congressional Research Service.

A new CRS Legal Sidebar addresses the unresolved question: Can Congress Limit the President’s Power to Launch Nuclear Weapons?

A detailed new CRS memorandum examines “Legislation Limiting the President’s Power to Use Nuclear Weapons: Separation of Powers Implications.”

See also Defense Primer: President’s Constitutional Authority with Regard to the Armed Forces, CRS In Focus.

The uncertain scope of presidential authority to order the use of nuclear weapons was identified as a serious policy problem in 1984 by the late Jeremy J. Stone, then-president of the Federation of American Scientists. In an article published in Foreign Policy at the time, he concluded that “presidential first use [of nuclear weapons] is unlawful.”

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Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act, November 8, 2017

The Rohingya Crises in Bangladesh and Burma, November 8, 2017

Lebanon, updated November 9, 2017

Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations in Brief, updated November 9, 2017

El Salvador: Background and U.S. Relations, updated November 3, 2017

Guatemala: Political and Socioeconomic Conditions and U.S. Relations, updated October 17, 2017

Why is Violence Rebounding in Mexico?, CRS Insight, November 8, 2017

Comprehensive Energy Planning for Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, CRS Insight, November 6, 2017

Resolutions of Inquiry: An Analysis of Their Use in the House, 1947-2017, updated November 9, 2017

Government Printing, Publications, and Digital Information Management: Issues and Challenges, November 8, 2017

Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, CRS Insight, November 9, 2017

Natural Disasters of 2017: Congressional Considerations Related to FEMA Assistance, CRS Insight, November 2, 2017

Refugee Admissions and Resettlement Policy, updated November 7, 2017

U.S. Circuit and District Court Nominees Who Received a Rating of “Not Qualified” from the American Bar Association: Background and Historical Analysis, CRS Insight, November 9, 2017

Consumer and Credit Reporting, Scoring, and Related Policy Issues, updated November 3, 2017

The U.S. Science and Engineering Workforce: Recent, Current, and Projected Employment, Wages, and Unemployment, updated November 2, 2017