State Dems: Please don’t give Trump sole authority over nukes
By Sean Harding / WNPA Olympia New Bureau
OLYMPIA — Democratic lawmakers have asked the U.S. Congress to ensure the President does not have the sole authority to launch a nuclear strike, except in cases of retaliation to a nuclear attack.
The state House and Senate each presented memorials to the federal government and president requesting to make it U.S. policy not to use nuclear weapons first.
“Your Memorialists respectfully pray that Congress take appropriate steps to move back from the brink of nuclear war by establishing a system of checks and balances to ensure that the President shall no longer have the sole, unchecked authority to launch nuclear weapons, except in circumstances of retaliation to a nuclear attack,” the memorial reads.
Senate Joint Memorial 8006 was heard in the Senate Committee on State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections on Friday.
The document cites Washington’s unique role as the being home to the largest collection of nuclear weapons in the Western Hemisphere; the trillions of dollars required to update and maintain the U.S. arsenal; the global “catastrophic human, environmental, and economic consequences” of a nuclear strike; and the “inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and to live a life free from the threat of nuclear weapons” for all Americans, as reasons for Congress to take action.
“Ever since the beginning of the Cold War, our greatest fear: that nuclear weapons of some nation would fall into the hands of a leader who was deranged, psychopathic or mentally ill,” said Bruce Amundson with Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. “We’re much too close to that right now.”
“It’s particularly important for the state of Washington to take point on this,” said Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Beacon Hill, who prime-sponsored the Senate version of the memorial. “Because we have more nuclear weapons in our state than any other state … that makes us a prime target.”
Sens. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, David Frockt, D-Seattle, Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, and Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, co-sponsored the Senate document.
The House companion document, Joint Memorial 4008, was introduced by Reps. Gael Tarleton, D-Seattle, Steve Tharinger, D-Sequim and Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle.
“With the Trident base at Bangor, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the naval base in Bremerton, Boeing: we are targeted in the eventuality of a full-scale nuclear attack,” Amundson said. “This Puget Sound area would be incinerated.”
If approved by the full Legislature, copies of the memorial would be distributed to President Donald Trump; the president of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and each member of Congress from the state of Washington.
“I think we need to not just lead by example for the benefit of the world. But for self-preservation sake,” Hasegawa said.
Citizen diplomacy is alive and well in Washington State today. Join us.
Read the story of Citizen activism in the 1980s. Open Borders, by Betsy Bell.
Watch this live recording of the testimonies given by our very own WPSR/WANW Coalition members: Louise Lansberry, John Repp, Lisa Johnson, Glen Anderson; Bruce Amundson, Laura Skelton, Jade Lauw, Mary Hanson, Rodney Brunelle, and William Burns!
On Friday Feb. 22, Washington State Legislators said “No More!” to nuclear proliferation and are standing up to Nuclear War and the New Arms Race.
These multiple nuclear crises are finally being addressed with a bold and visionary pair of initiatives in the Washington State Legislature. These Joint Memorials were led by Sen. Hasegawa in the Washington Senate and Rep. Tarleton in the House and propelled by the public, call for the U.S. Congress to “take appropriate steps to move back from the brink of nuclear war.”
The Washington Against Nuclear Weapons coalition applauds Sen. Hasegawa and his colleagues for holding a hearing on Senate Joint Memorial 8006 Friday, February 22nd, 1:30 PM, by the Committee on State Government, Tribal Relations and Elections.
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Published by Betsy Bell
Betsy Bell, born before WWII in New York City, spent her formative years in the Jim Crow town of Muskogee, Oklahoma. As a Girl Scout, she began her social justice activism working with a bi-racial team to integrate public schools after the 1954 Supreme Court decision mandating the end of school segregation. After completing her BA and MA at Bryn Mawr College, she began an academic career in Lawrence, Kansas where her husband taught. In Lawrence, she advocated for reproductive rights with Planned Parenthood. She lives in Seattle where she has held several career positions. Twice widowed, Betsy has published two short memoirs and several poems.
For the past fourteen years, Betsy has worked with the Seattle area faith communities toward economic justice through the Jubilee USA Network. Betsy believes in the power of ordinary citizens to create a positive, inclusive and just society.