The Senate Foreign Relations committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on the president’s ability to authorize nuclear weapons, something lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have debated since President’s Donald Trump threatened North Korea with “fire and fury” in August.
“This discussion is long overdue,” Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said in a statement ahead of the hearing, adding it was the first time since 1976 that the Senate or House “have looked specifically at the authority and process for using U.S. nuclear weapons.”
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on authority to order the use of nuclear weapons will begin around 10 a.m. ET Tuesday. Watch live in the player above.
Among those expected to testify are General C. Robert Kehler, former commander of the United States Strategic Command; Peter D. Feaver, a professor at Duke University; and Brian McKeon, former acting undersecretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Defense.
“Fire and fury” were among several threats the president and Kim Jong Un exchanged in August over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The country launched several tests in the weeks that followed, including two that sent missiles over Japan. During the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York in late September, North Korea’s foreign minister said he considered Trump’s tweets to be a declaration of war.
Tuesday’s hearing comes as Trump wraps up a 12-day tour of Asia, planned in part to reassure American allies in the region that he could handle growing threats from North Korea — and also that he would not further provoke Kim Jong Un. A North Korean defector told the PBS NewsHour last month that even a limited attack by the U.S. could trigger all-out war.
Compared to “fire and fury,” Trump’s remarks about North Korea to South Korea’s assembly were tamer, analysts said.
“Do not underestimate us. And do not try us,” Mr. Trump said during last week’s speech. “America does not seek conflict or confrontation, but we will never run from it.”
Last month, Corker led a similar hearing on authorization for the use of military force, featuring Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Former President George W. Bush signed the military’s current war authorization into law in 2001.
“The president’s de facto ability to initiate conflict has grown in an age of advanced technology, including the use of unmanned drones, and war from a distance, where large numbers of boots on the ground are not necessary to conduct a very significant military engagement,” Corker said during that hearing.
PBS NewsHour will update this story as it develops