Bipartisan Majorities Favor Prohibiting President from Using Nuclear Weapons First Without Congressional Approval | 5/25/2019 | Staff
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to Withdraw from Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

A new in-depth survey on U.S. nuclear weapons policy finds that 68% of voters (including 59% of Republicans and 74% of Democrats), support Congressional legislation prohibiting the President from using nuclear weapons first without Congressional approval and a declaration of war. An overwhelming 8 in 10, of Republicans as well as Democrats do not support a policy shift in the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review that explicitly declares the U.S. would consider using nuclear weapons first and specifies examples of non-nuclear attacks that would prompt such consideration.

Support - Arms - Control - Party - Lines

Support for nuclear arms control remains very robust across party lines. More than eight in ten (83%), including Republicans (84%) and Democrats (83%), favor the US continuing to have arms control treaties with Russia. Eight in ten (82%, Republicans 77%, Democrats 89%) favor the United States agreeing to extend the New START Treaty. Overwhelming majorities (87%, Republicans 85%, Democrats 90%) approve of the US continuing to abide by the moratorium on nuclear testing.

The study was conducted by the Program for Public Consultation (PPC) and the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM), both in the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. The Center for Public Integrity consulted on the content of the questionnaire. It was fielded January 7 through February 1, 2019 with a national probability-based sample of 2,264 registered voters.

Majority - Ideas - Threats - Instrument - Policy

“A large bipartisan majority opposes ideas for making nuclear threats a more usable instrument of policy and favors continuing efforts to constrain and reduce nuclear weapons through arms control treaties,” comments Steven Kull, director of PPC.

To ensure that respondents understood the issues, they were given short briefings on current debates on US nuclear weapons policy issues. They were also asked to evaluate competing arguments before making their recommendations. The content of...
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