Why are US lawmakers seeking to limit Trump’s powers?

Alwaght – Since his election as the 45th president of the US, Donald Trump has become a source of worry to a large part of the American political community. Many American politicians have been worried that once Trump decides to materialize his campaign promises, the US interests and its global image will be at stake and his measures can bring forth crises to the US that can be greatly disastrous for the years, or even the decades to come.

Trump’s irksome measures that have caused serious concerns among Americans, particularly the lawmakers at the Congress could be counted as:  pulling the US out of international deals such as, Trans-Pacific trade deal, Paris climate agreement, Iran nuclear deal , as well as scrapping the Obamacare healthcare system, building a wall on the border with Mexico, moving the US embassy to al-Quds (Jerusalem), imposing high tariffs on imports, and threatening North Korea with nuclear strike.

What ruffles the feathers of the American political figures and also the media is the fact that their president is not as professional and competent as a standard global statesman and so cannot make an accurate understanding of the political and social conditions. His foreign policy approach is largely labelled as mercantilist. This issue became a tope case of concern to the political elites and various layers of power structure, particularly the Congress, stimulating them to devise a mechanism to curb his extremism. Some senators pushed bills to restrict his powers. Last week, the House of Representatives has unanimously passed an amendment to ban President Donald Trump from declaring a war on Iran without the Congress’s approval. The bipartisan amendment on Wednesday received approval from the House as part of the US National Defense Authorization Act of 2019.

The fact is that Trump’s predecessors for decades held similar presidential powers and even faced security threats larger than what the current administration is dealing with but the lawmakers and other layers of power have never been as concerned about their preceding presidents’ actions and strategies as they are now. For instance, during the Cold War period, 1945-1991, the US and the Soviet Union as the two main rivals even were likely to start a nuclear war but during the period the American lawmakers did not make a new attempt to draw a line between the president’s legal powers in military and security areas. There are two major reasons behind the US political legislators’ bid to put limits on the Trump’s powers:

Trump’s Crisis-making policies

Certainly, the key source of discomfort of the lawmakers and power circles is the possible crises stemming from Trump’s policies and decisions. Since his arrival at the White House, Trump caused levels of trouble to his country in various areas. This reflected threats to relations with Washington’s traditional allies in different parts of the world. Examples are not few– causing distress to the relationship with the European Union, disturbing the NATO order and balance, fueling nuclear race in the Korean Peninsula, and also provoking security and economic tensions with China. The worries even deepen if we know that beside a firebrand like Trump there are other warlike figures shaping the ruling body of the White House like Vice-president Mike Pence, the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the National Security Advisor John Bolton, and the Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Together forming a circle of power-runners, they have the potentials to foment a huge crisis for the US.

From another aspect, Trump’s foreign policy approach, as many analysts put it, is shrinking American soft power and isolating Washington on the global stage. Since the Second World War, various American administrations launched different aid programs to the counties and international organizations and also took pro-democracy and human rights gestures to get toeholds in other parts of the world for the final aim of easier implementation of their foreign policy. But Trump since the beginning raised “America first” slogan, scaling down the military and financial aids to the allies, a factor promoting downturn of the US influence and soft power. Stirring a commercial war against China, asking Europe to raise its share in NATO spending, cutting funding to the international organizations, and exiting from economic, cultural, political, and environmental pacts draw only a small picture of the Trump’s policy during the first year of his presidency. A messy situation like this sparks efforts by the lawmakers to introduce legal mechanisms to restrict the president’s powers.

Concerns about superficial and naïve view of international cases

The American lawmakers are also growing increasingly obsessed with Trump’s naïve and simplistic look at the international issues. An example is the US-North Korea tension escalation later last year. At that time, Trump threatened to destroy the East Asian country with a push of a button of the nuclear weapons. The remarks caused uproar not only at home but also across the world, with many blaming him and arguing that the president of the US should not make things worse with such threats without pondering the consequences. On January 24, 2017, Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Congressman Ted W. Lieu of California introduced the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. This legislation was meant to prohibit the US president from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress.

In general, the Congressmen and media since last year have heaped criticism on Trump’s inexperienced dealing with the global issues, arguing that his heart’s desire needs to be checked by the Congress.