Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker to hold hearings on use of nuclear weapons

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker to hold hearings on use of nuclear weapons

November 13th, 2017 by Staff Report in Breaking News

FILE - This Oct. 6, 2011 file photo shows Senate Banking Committee member Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., listening during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. In a surprise announcement, the two-term lawmaker said Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, the he will not seek re-election in 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Photo by The Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Sen. Bob Corker held a hearing today at 10 a.m. on the president's authority to use nuclear weapons.

As North Korea threatens nuclear attacks and President Donald Trump promises a "major announcement" this week on U.S. policy toward that nation, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker says his Foreign Relations Committee will open a hearing Tuesday on the president's authority to use nuclear weapons.

In a statement released by his office, Corker said: "A number of members both on and off our committee have raised questions about the authorities of the legislative and executive branches with respect to war making, the use of nuclear weapons, and conducting foreign policy overall.

"This continues a series of hearings to examine those issues and will be the first time since 1976 that this committee or our House counterparts have looked specifically at the authority and process for using U.S. nuclear weapons. This discussion is long overdue, and we look forward to examining this critical issue."

Trump is winding up a 12-day, five-nation tour of Asia, during which North Korean leader Kim Jong Un referred to the president as a "dotard" and "destroyer" who "begged for nuclear war" on the trip. KCNA, a state-controlled outlet, said "nuclear war may break out at any moment" because of "reckless moves of aggression" from the U.S., according to the Express newspaper in the U.K.

The president responded in a tweet describing Kim as "short and fat," but also told news media in Vietnam on Sunday that friendship with the isolated nation would be "a good thing for, I can tell you, North Korea and it would be a good thing for the world."

ABC News reported Trump said he will make a statement from the White House on Wednesday.

"It will be a very complete statement as to trade, as to North Korea, as to a lot of other things," Trump said, according to ABC. The network also reported White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump would announce at the "end of the trip" his decision on whether to officially re-list North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism.

An administration official said Monday that a recommendation had been formally presented to the president and he was considering it, ABC reported.

Corker's statement said Tuesday's meeting follows an Oct. 30 hearing with State and Defense secretaries Rex Tillerson and James Mattis on authorizations for the use of military force.

Some in Congress have debated the need to revise and reauthorize the legislation passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that allows the U.S. military to go after terrorists across the world.

After the Oct. 30 hearing, Corker and ranking Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., told reporters he hoped to pass a new authorization out of committee "fairly soon."

"We want to discuss what provisions are most likely to make it through, but fairly soon," Corker told ABC News. "I don't know why we would wait. We had a great hearing. We had a good classified briefing. We all know the subject matter. If we're ever going to attempt to do this, I don't know why we would wait beyond the next several weeks."

Corker highlighted a proposed new authorization for military force drafted by Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. Their version would sunset after five years and require the administration to notify Congress if it sends troops to new countries not specifically named in the authorization. It does not ban ground troops.

"I think they've done a pretty good job in laying that out," Corker said.

In August and again in October, Mattis and Tillerson told the Foreign Relations Committee the Trump administration believes the original use of force authorization allows the U.S. to go after the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

However, they said any new authorization should not have geographical limitations, sunset after a few years or have operational restrictions such as a ban on ground troops.

This story was updated Nov. 13 at 11:59 p.m.