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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  September 10, 2013 10:00am-2:01pm EDT

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>> senator corker released a statement reacting to a russian proposal that would have syria place chemical weapons under international control. in it he said, quote, while at this point i have healthy skepticism this offer will change the situation, i do know it never would have been floated if the senate foreign relations committee had not approved authorization for the use of force last week. we will get more reaction on syria with the senate gaveling in right now. the chamber will take a break from 12:00 to 2:15 eastern so senators can meet with president obama on capitol hill. we will bring you any reaction from those meetings and we go live to the floor of the u.s. senate. to pray with power. bless today the work of our lawmakers, empowering them to accomplish your purposes on earth, guided by your wisdom and courage.
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inspire them to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with you, as you give them the gifts of increasing awareness and openness of heart. teach them to bring harmony from discord and hope from despair. we pray in your eternal name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i move to proceed to calendar number 166.
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the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to s.j. res. 21, the motion to use armed forces against syria. mr. reid: mr. president, following remarks of mine and senator mcconnell, there will be a period of morning business until 11:00 a.m. this morning. at 11:00, we'll resume consideration of the motion to proceed to the syria resolution. the time until noon will be divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees. the senate will recess at -- from noon until 2:15 to allow for our caucus meetings. the leader and i have talked. this morning and prior to this morning with regard to the energy efficiency bill. we automatically go to that at 11:00. what we're trying to work out is a way that we can go to that bill. senators shaheen and portman have worked for more than a year
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to come up with a bill. we haven't done an energy bill around here in a long time, so there is a desire on both sides to move forward on this. shaheen and portman have bipartisan amendments they want to be able to offer to their bill. i have expressed to the republican leader we need to -- when, whenever that is, we finish this syria thing, i would like permission to move to that, and once we get on the bill, if we get something from the house, for example, the c.r., something like that, i have told the republican leader and everyone that wants to hear that we don't have to finish the energy efficiency all at one time. we want to have an amendment process, we will do that, but i don't want to have to start filing cloture on a motion to proceed again. so we have instructed our staffs to try to come up with something before 11:00 that we can agree.
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i repeat, there will be amendments offered and we will have an adequate time to work on this. we may not be able to do it all at one time, but we'll do it and finish this legislation. mr. president, we're engaged in a very important debate. the syria debate is one that can't be taken lightly, and i believe that no one has taken it lightly. the discussion and the bipartisan resolution under consideration are simply too important to be rushed through the senate or given short shrift. so it's right and proper that the president be given an opportunity to meet with senators from both parties, as he is today. he will meet with us at 12:30. when he finishes with us, it is my understanding he will report to the conference of senator mcconnell. in addition to that, he's going to address the nation tonight. he's going to speak directly to
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the american people about the potential for limited military action in syria. he's going to do that at 9:00 tonight. as i said last night, it's appropriate to allow other conversations to go on. we now have as a result of some work done by other countries, france, russia and we understand syria is involved in this, this is aimed at avoiding military action. we'll have to see if this works out. it's very important to understand that the only reason russia is seeking an alternative to military action is that president obama has made it plain and clear that the united states will act if we must. our credible threat of force has made these diplomatic discussions with syria possible. the united states shouldn't withdraw from the direction we're taking as a country. if there is a realistic chance, and i certainly hope there is, to secure syria's chemical
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weapons that brought further atrocities of the assad regime, we shouldn't turn our backs on that chance, but for such a solution to be plausible, the assad regime must act quickly to prove their offer is real, not merely a ploy to delay military action or action of the united states senate. any agreement must also ensure chemical weapons in the hands of syria can be secured, and this can be done in an open process, even in the midst of this ongoing war that we have in iraq. any agreement must ensure that syria's unable to transfer its dangerous chemical weapons to the hands of terrorists in that area. such intent would be met with a rapid response, and it would be robust for the united states. so i am pleased that the administration's c this offer. i am pleased that other countries are involved, in addition to russia. it's my understanding syria --
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i'm sorry. it's my understanding that france is heavily involved as of a few hours ago, and i think that's the right direction at this time. we move forward but under the general criteria that i have suggested and outlined. the senate should give these international discussions time to play out but not unlimited time. that's why although there is support to move forward and debate this bipartisan resolution reported by senators menendez and corker, they did a terrific job for the committee last week. i didn't rush to file cloture as i indicated last night on a motion to proceed to this. we don't need to prove how quickly we can do this but how well we can do this. the syrian regime should fully understand that the united states is watching very, very closely. the assad regime should be warned our country will not tolerate this breach of human decency and long-held
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international consensus and its use of chemical weapons. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the order with respect to s. 1392 which is the energy efficiency legislation be modified so that the motion to proceed be agreed to at a time to be determined by me with the concurrence of the republican leader, not consultation with him, but with concurrence with him. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, first, i'd like to welcome the president to the capitol today. members on both sides of the aisle are eager to hear from him and to share their own thoughts. we look forward to a spirited and constructive exchange.
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it is often said that of all the questions we face as lawmakers, none is more serious or indeed more difficult than the question of whether to commit ourselves to military action. that's why it is so important for us to have this debate, to lay out the arguments for and against military action in syria, to let the public know where we stand on this issue and why. but if debates like this are always challenging, in some ways this one has been even more difficult. not because of some political calculus, although senates will always expect that. no, this debate has been made more difficult because even those of us who truly want to support the commander in chief have struggled to understand the purpose of the mission. over the past several days, i've spoken with a lot of people, a lot of kentuckians, and i have to tell you most of them aren't
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exactly clear about the mission themselves or shy about saying so. what i have told them is that i understand their concerns, i share them. i also appreciate the war weariness out there, but then i tell them there are other potential concerns that we can't ignore here either. chief among them is the fact that the credibility of the commander in chief matters, and related to that is the fact that we can't afford as a country to withdraw from the world stage. so no one should be faulted for being skeptical about this proposal, regardless of what party they're in or for being dumfounded, literally dumfounded at the ham-handed manner in which the white house announced it. there is absolutely no reason, no reason to signal to the enemy when and how and for how long you plan to strike them, none.
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as i've said before, you don't send out a save the date card to the enemy. and yet, there are other important considerations to keep in mind here as well that go beyond the wisdom or the marketing of the proposal. i have spent a lot of time weighing all of these things. i have thought a lot about america's obligations and the irreplaceable role that i have always believed and still believe america plays in the world. and i have also thought a lot about the context about this president's vision and his record and what it says about whether we should be confident in his ability to bring about a favorable outcome in syria. because how we got to this point says a lot about where we may be
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headed, and that's why before announcing my vote, i think it's important to look back at some of the president's other decisions on matters of foreign policy and national security and then turn back to what he's proposing now in syria, because in the end these things simply can't be separated. now, it's not capital a state secret i'm no fan of this president's foreign policy. on the deepest level i think it comes down to a fundamentally different view of america's role in the world. unlike the president, i've always been a firm and unapologetic believer in the idea that america isn't just another nation among many, that we are indeed exceptional. as i've said, i believe we have a duty as a superpower without imperialistic aims to help maintain an international order and balance of power that we and other allies have worked very
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hard to achieve over the years. the president, on the other hand, has always been a very reluctant commander in chief. we saw that in the rhetoric of his famous cairo speech and in speeches he gave in other foreign capitals in the other early of his administration. the tone and the policies that followed were meant to project a humbler, more withdrawn america. and frankly, i'm hard pressed to see any good that came from any of that. any list would have to start with the arbitrary deadlines for military withdrawal and the triumphant declaration that guantanamo would be closed within a year without any plan of what to do with its detainees. there were the executive orders that ended the c.i.a. detention
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and interrogation programs. we all saw the so-called reset with russia. and how the president stated commitment to a world without nuclear weapons led him to hastily sign an arms treaty that did nothing to substantially reduce its nuclear stockpile or its tactical nuclear weapons. we saw the president announce a strategic pivot to the asian pacific region without any real plan to fund it and an effort to end the capture and interrogation and detention of trifs as well as the return of an old idea that terrorism should be treated as a law enforcement matter. after a decade long counterinsurgency in afghanistan we've seen the failure to invest in the modernization needed to make this pivot to asia meaningful. specifically, his failure to make the kind of investments
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that are needed to maintain our dominance in the asian pacific theater in the kind of naval, air, and marine corps forces we'll need there in the years ahead could have tragic consequences down the road. his domestic agenda has also had obviously had serious implications for our global standing. while borrowing trillions and wasting taxpayer dollars here at home, the president has imposed a policy of us austerity at the pentagon that threatens to undermine our stabilizing presence around the globe. and, of course, we've seen how eeger the president is to declare an end to the war on terror. unfortunately, the world just hasn't cooperated. they haven't cooperated with the president's vision or his hopes.
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far from responding favorably to this gentler approach, it's become arguably more dangerous. we've learned the hard way that being nice to our enemies doesn't make them like you. or clear a path to peace. i understand that the president ran for office an an antiwar platform, that his rise to political power was marked by a determination to get us out of afghanistan and iraq, and declare an end, an end, to the war on terror. i know 50ed rather focus on his domestic agenda, but the ongoing threat from al qaeda and its affiliates and the turmoil unleashed by uprisings in africa and the middle east not to mention the rise of chinese military power make it clear to me at least this is not the time for america to shrink from the world stage. the world is a dangerous place. in the wake of arab spring, large parts of the sinai, of
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libya, of syria are basically ungoverned. we've seen prison breaks in iraq, pakistan, libya and the release of hundreds of prisoners in egypt. terrorists have escaped from prisons in yemen, a country no more ready to detain the terrorists at guantanamo now than they were in 2009. and the flow of foreign fighters into syria suggests that the civil war there will last for years. regard less les of whether assad is still in power. yes, the president deserves praise for weakening al qaeda's senior leadership but the threat we face from al qaeda affiliates is very real. these terrorists are adaptable. they're versatile. lethal. resilient. and they aren't going away. pockets of these terrorists extend from north africa to the persian gulf and it's time he
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faced up to it. and it's time to face up to something else as well. international order is not maintained by some global police force which only exists in a liberal fantasy. international order is maintained, its backbone is american military might. which brings me back to syria. for two years now syria has been marred in a ferocious civil war with more than 100,000 killed with conventional arms. that's according to u.n. estimates. this tragic situation has promoted many to look to the united states for help. so one year ago president obama made a declaration. if assad used or started moving chemical weapons, he'd do something about it. well, as we all know on august 21 of this year that red line was crossed.
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the president's delayed response was to call for a show of force for targeted limited strikes against the regime. we've been told that the purpose of these strikes is to deter and degrade assad's regime's ability to use chemical weapons. so let's take a closer look at these aims. first, no one disputes that the atrocities committed in syria in recent weeks are unspeakable. no one disputes that those responsible for these crimes against the innocent should be held to account. we were absolutely right, of course, to condemn these crimes. but let's be very clear about something, these attacks, monstrous as they are, were not a direct attack against the united states or one of its treaty allies. and just so there's no confusion, let me assure everyone that if a weapon of
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mass destruction were used against the u.s. or our allies congress would react immediately with an authorization of use for support and i would introduce the resolution myself. so no leader in north korea or iran or any other enemy of the united states should take any solace if the u.s. were not to respond to these attacks with an action against syria. we will never, never tolerate the use of chemical weapons against the united states or any of its treaty allies. second, in the course of administration hearings and briefings over the past several days, secretary of state kerry has revealed that assad has used chemical weapons repeatedly, repeatedly, over the last year. so there's a further question here about why the administration didn't respond on those occasions. third, assad, as i've
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indicated, has killed tens of thousands of people with conventional weapons. is there any reason to believe he won't continue if the president strikes or his limited as we're told they would be? fourth, what if degrading assad's control of those weapons if in doing that you make it easier for other extremist limits like those associated with alnuzz a front and al qaeda to actually get hold of them themselves? or what if by weakening the syrian military you tilt the military balance toward a fractured opposition that's in no position to govern or control anything right now? i think the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff recent suggested in a letter to congress that the issue here isn't about choosing between two sides in syria, it's about choose not one among many sides.
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and that in his summation, even if he were to choose sides, the side we chose wouldn't be in a position to promote their own interest or ours. that's the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. and then there's the question of how assad himself would react to u.s. action in syria. if assad views an air campaign as preparation for regime change, then he may lose all constraint in the use of his arsenal, chemical or otherwise and lose any incentive whatsoever to move to the negotiating table. it's very clear that the unintended consequences of this strike could very well be a new cycle of escalation scheation which then drags us into a larger war than -- that we're all seeking to avoid. some have even suggested the humanitarian crisis surrounding the syrian civil war could actually be made worse, worse, as a result of even targeted
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u.s. strikes. in the end, then, the president's proposal seems fundamentally flawed. since if it's too narrow, it may not deter assad's further use of chemical weapons, but if it's too broad, it risks jeopardizing the security of these same stockpiles potentially putting them into the hands of extremists. and that's why i think we're compelled in this case to apply a more traditional standard to whether to proceed with the use of force. one that asks a simple question: does assad's use of chemical weapons pose a threat to the national security interest of the united states? and the answer to that question is fairly obvious. even the president himself says it doesn't. now, one could argue as i've suggested that there is an
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important national security concern at play that we have a very strong interest in preserving the credibility of our commander in chief regardless of the party in power, and in giving him the political support that reinforces that credibility. this is an issue i take very seriously. it's the main reason i wanted to take my time in making a final decision. but ultimately, i've concluded that being credible on syria requires presenting a credible response. and having a credible strategy. for all those reasons, i've indicated, this proposal just doesn't pass muster. indeed, if through this limited strike the president's credibility is not restored because assad use he chemical weapons again, what then? and new targets aimed at toppling the regime which end up jeopardizing control of these
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chemical weapons stashes allowing them to fuel into the hands of al qaeda or others intent on using them against the united states or our allies where would the cycle of escalation end? now, last night we learned about a russian diplomatic gambit to forestall u.s. military action through a proposal to secure and destroy the syrian chemical weapons stockpile. this morning there are initial reports that suggest syria is supportive of it. let me remind everyone that even if this is agreed to, it's still a long way off to reaching an agreement at the united nations, to syria gaining entry to the chemical weapons convention and eventually securing and destroying the stockpile. as weaver seen in my state of coi i kentucky where we've been working for 30 years to finally destroy a stockpile of chemical
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weapons, destroying chemical weapons is extremely challenging and requires a great deal of attention to detail and safety. nonetheless, this proposal is obviously worth exploring. but more broadly, and this is my larger point, this one punitive strike we're debating could not make up for the president's performance over the last five years. the only way, the only way for him to achieve the credibility he seeks is by embracing the kind of serious, integrated national security plan that matches strategy to resources, capabilities to commitments. and which shows our allies around the world that the u.s. is fully engaged and ready to act at a moment's notice in all the major areas of concern around the globe. whether it's the mediterranean, the persian gulf, or in the south china sea. and just as importantly, that
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he's willing to invest in that strategy for the long term. in syria, a limited strike would not resolve the civil war there. nor will it remove assad from power. there appears to be no broader strategy, to train, advise and assist a vetted opposition group on a meaningful scale as we did during the cold war. what's needed in syria is what's needed almost everywhere else in the world from america right now, a clear strategy and a president determined to carry it out. when it comes to syria, our partners in the middle east, countries like turkey, jordan, saudi arabia and israel, all of them face real consequences from instability, refugee flows and the growth of terrorist networks. responding to this crisis requires a regional strategy and leadership. what we have gotten instead is an administration that seems
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more interested in telling us what the mission is not, more interested in telling us what the mission is not than what it is. we've gotten the same timid, reluctant leadership that i have seen from the president for nearly five years. as i have said, this decision was not easy. when the president of the united states asks you to take a question like this seriously, you do so, because just as our credibility in syria is tied up with our credibility in places like iran and north korea, so, too, is the credibility of the commander in chief tied up to a large extent with america's credibility in general. there is no doubt about that. so let me repeat, i will stand shoulder to shoulder with this president or any other in any case where our vital national security interests are threatened. our treaty allies are attacked or we face an imminent threat.
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as for israel, very few people, if anyone, expect that syria would test its readiness to respond on its own, which just goes to show you the importance of credibility on the world stage. as prime minister netanyahu put it last week, the enemies of israel have very good reason not to test its might, but the prime minister should know nonetheless that america stands with him. i have never been an isolationist and a vote against this resolution shouldn't be confused by anyone as a turn in that direction, but just as the most committed isolationist could be convinced of the need for intervention under the right circumstances when confronted with a threat, so, too, do the internationalists among us believe that all interventions are not created equal. all interventions are not created equal.
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and this proposal just does not stand up. so i will be voting against this resolution, a vital national security risk clearly not at play. there are just too many unanswered questions about our long-term strategy in syria, including the fact that this proposal is utterly detached from a wider strategy in the civil war there and on the specific question of deterring the use of chemical weapons, the president's proposal appears to be based actually on a contradiction. either we will strike targets that threaten the stability of the regime, something the president says he does not intend to do, or we will execute a strike so narrow as to be a mere demonstration. it's not enough, as general dempsey has noted, to simply alter the balance of military power without carefully considering what's needed to preserve a functioning state after the fact.
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we cannot ignore the unintended consequences of our actions, but we also cannot ignore our broader obligations in the world. i firmly believe that the international system that was constructed on the ashes of world war ii rest upon the stability provided by the american military and by our commitments to our allies. it is a necessary role that only we can continue to fulfill in the decades to come, and especially in times like this, the united states cannot afford to withdraw from the world stage. my record reflects that belief and that commitment, regardless of which party has control of the white house. we either choose to be dominant in the world or we resign ourselves and our allies to the mercy of our enemies. we either defend our freedoms and our civilization or it crumbles. so as we shift our military focus to the asia pacific, we
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cannot ignore our commitments to the middle east, to stability in the persian gulf, to an enduring presence in afghanistan, to hunting down the terrorists that would threaten the united states and its people, and when the commander in chief sets his mind to action, the world should think he believes it. when the commander in chief sets his mind to an action, the world should think he believes it. frankly, the president didn't exactly inspire confidence when he distanced himself from his own red lines in stock home last week. it is long past time the president drops the pose of the reluctant warrior and lead. you can't build an effective foreign policy on the vilification of your predecessor alone. at some point, you have to take responsibility for your own actions and see the world the way it is, not the way you'd like it to be. if you wish to engage countries
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that have been hostile, so be it, but be a realist. know the limits of rhetoric and prepare for the worst. for too long, this president has put his faith in the power of his own rhetoric to change the mind of america's enemies. for too long, he has been more interested in showing the world that america is somehow different now that -- now than it has been in the past. it's humbler. it isn't interested in meddling in the affairs of others or in shaping events. but in his eagerness to turn the page, he's blinded himself to the worry olympic trends and developments from tunisia to damascus to tehran and in countless places in between. a year ago this month, four americans were senselessly murdered on sovereign u.s. territory in benghazi, and just last month the president ordered the closing of two dozen more
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diplomatic posts stretching from the bay of africa to the bay of bengal. as i have indicated and as the decision to close these embassies clearly shows, the terrorist threat continues to be real. expressions of anti-americanism are rampant throughout africa and the middle east, even more so perhaps than when the president first took office. so the president's new approach has clearly come with a cost, and for the sake of our own security and that of our allies, it's time he recognized it. because if america doesn't meet its international commitments, who will? that's one question that those on the left who are comfortable with a weakened america can't answer because the answer is too frightening. no one will. that's the answer. if this episode had showed us anything, it's that the time has come for the president to finally acknowledge that there is no substitute for american might. it's time for america to lead
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again, this time from the front, but we need strategic vision in the middle east and in many other places around the world to do it. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business until 11:00 a.m., with the time equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees, and with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: mr. president, i listened carefully to the statement made by the republican senate leader. he is a member of the loyal opposition. it's no surprise that he's critical of the policies of president barack obama. that is the nature of the debate, the american debate which takes place on the floor of this chamber on a regular
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basis. but in fairness to this president, there are some things that were not mentioned. this president, under his leadership, has brought the war in iraq to a close. this president is bringing the war in afghanistan to a close. this president, with the best military minds and the best military talent in the world, has made osama bin laden a piece of history. he was captured and killed, the man who sadly led an attack on the united states that cost almost 3,000 innocent lives has been dispatched because of the leadership of this president and the wonderful abilities and talents and resources of the united states military. so to stand here and criticize this president as some reluctant warrior is unfair.
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yes, i would say in some instances, i would want a president to be a reluctant warrior, to think twice before america's engaged in a war, to think twice before this country commits its troops to a foreign theater. certainly, as of this moment having lost more than 5,000 brave americans in iraq and afghanistan, we know the terrible price that's paid by the men and women who so bravely represent this country, and i would like every president to think twice before committing those troops to battle. reluctant, yes, but wise, yes, i want a wise warrior, too. i listened to the senator from kentucky criticize the president because he's -- quote -- "telegraphing his punches when it comes to what's going to happen in syria." well, he can't have it both ways. this president could make a unilateral decision and attack without even consulting congress and thereby maintain the element
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of surprise, or he could do as this president's done and follow what he considers to be our constitutional requirement of a national debate before we engage in military action. so i would say to the senator from kentucky don't criticize the president for letting us know what he might do when he turns us over to -- turns this over to congress to debate. it's something most of us in congress should welcome. i also take exception to this notion that we have somehow abandoned our commitment to the world, this notion that what we hope to do in the pacific is unreachable or the closing of embassies because of danger is problematic or that there is austerity in the department of defense. it's hard to reconcile those statements from the republican side of the aisle with the fact that repeatedly we have asked for a conference committee on the budget to work out our budget differences when it comes to funding the department of defense and our nation's
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national defense, and time and again the republicans have objected, objected to even sitting down, trying to work out differences so we can restore some of the funds cut through sequestration. you can't have it both ways. don't criticize the president for not spending enough money when it comes to our nation's defense and then stand by the sequestration which continues to cut even more from that same department and many, many others. as for the war on terror, what the president has said, there comes a moment and we have reached it where we can't always be on a war footing. it causes a nation to make decisions which in the long haul may not stand the test of time and history. the president has said yes, there is a war on terrorism, but we have got to real resume our leadership in this world with the view of a stable nation, not always thinking about the war-time status we face. and i listened to the senator from kentucky who talks about saving money and cutting
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budgets, trying to hang onto that relic of times gone by at guantanamo where we are spending so much money, hundreds of thousands of dollars for each prisoner to be kept at guantanamo when we know full well that at least half of them should be releaseed, carefully released and shouldn't be maintained at guantanamo. today we have hundreds of convicted terrorists safely incarcerated in the federal pen penitentiaries of america, including one in illinois in marion, and the people of the nearby community wouldn't even know it because they are safely incarcerated. let me say a word, too, about this issue of syria. you can't on the one hand criticize this president for stepping up and saying we need to take action, if necessary, to stop the use of chemical
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weapons, and then on the other hand say he's a reluctant warrior and that he doesn't support it. how in the world do you reconcile those two points of view? the president has shown leadership on this. what he has asked is for the congress to follow. what i heard from the republican senator from kentucky is he's not interested in following that leadership. and let me also add this putten putten -- putin overture that we find some peaceful way to resolve this, i hope it turns out to be true and is something that works. if it does, give credit where it's due. this president stepped up and said we have to challenge the use of chemical weapons in syria, even if it doesn't affect the united states directly or its allies directly, we have to stand up to them, and if this putin overture leads to some containment of those -- or destruction of those chemical weapons, give the president credit for it. don't criticize him for not leading. he has shown more leadership on this issue than, frankly, many
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politicians of either party wanted to face. i think when it comes to a credible strategy, this president has one. it's a strategy which is ending two wars, which has put an end to the leader of that terrible terrorist attack on the united states on 9/11. it's a strategy which has improved the image of the united states since this president has come to power over the last several years, and it's a strategy that we can build on in the future. but we need to make certain that what we do is done with an eye toward the reality of this world that we live in. it is a dangerous world. and it's one where the united states may be called on to lead at times when we don't want to lead. we cannot be isolationist, the united states has a responsibility in this world and that responsibility has to be used very carefully. this president understands that.
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i hope that at the end of the day that we can, in fact, see a peaceful resolution of the chemical weapons issue in syria. i hope that we can find a way to harken back to ronald reagan where we can trust that will happen but verify it as well. that would be the right ending to this. i think the president has taken the right position, and i also want to add something, when it comes to the nation of israel, our closest and best ally in the middle east, they understand what we are trying to do with chemical weapons in syria, and they've made it clear through their friends in the united states and other ways that they support it without fear of retaliation by syria. they're ready according to prime minister netanyahu for whatever syria chooses to do. we shouldn't be any less forceful or less committed when it comes to ending the threat of chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the middle east.
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mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from mamp. mrs. shaheen: i ask unanimous consent that i be permitted to speak for up to ten minutes and following my remarks senator portman are permitted to speak for up to ten minutes in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. ms. sheen: -- ms. ?een mrs. shaheen: i know we've heard this morning what is rightfully at the forefront of all of our minds this week is the debate over whether to authorize the use of force in syria. this is a very serious matter as we all know. it raises a number of geopolitical and national security issues, and the decision to undertake military action is not one to be taken lightly. i'm very aware that people are war weary, that they're concerned about the consequences of the use of military force.
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consequently, i think we should pursue every possible diplomatic solution prior to engaging in military action and i welcome the possibility of international cooperation to secure and destroy syria's chemical weapons stockpile. i hope that russia is being serious and that they will take real, legitimate actions to quickly follow through on what they have raised with their effort to try and encourage assad to give up his chemical weapons to international control. i'm working with some of my colleagues on the senate foreign relations committee on an amendment to the resolution that would incorporate this new development and pressure the syrians to ensure that we see credible, concrete steps in any possible effort to place their chemical weapons under international inspection. i look forward to hearing from the president today and this
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evening and i look forward to the debate later this week as we consider the situation in syria. i do want to take a few minutes this morning to talk about legislation that was previously scheduled to be debated on the senate floor this week. the energy savings and industrial competitivenessness act, also known as shaheen-portman. i know the president has been very involved in energy issues for all of his time in public life and i do peesht the work that he did as a -- appreciate the work he did as a member of the house, i know he's following this debate very closely and i appreciate that, senator markey. this bill is one that senator rob portman and i have been working on for three years, and i appreciate that he's come to the floor today to talk about it as well. we've had three years of meetings, negotiations, broad stakeholder outreach in an effort to craft the most
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effective piece of energy legislation with the greatest possible chance of passing both chambers of congress and being signed into law. shaheen-portman is a bipartisan effort that reflects an affordable approach to boost the use of energy efficiency technologies, it will create private-sector jobs, save businesses and consumers money, reduce pollution and make our country more energy independent. it will have a swift and measurable benefit on our economy and our environment. we just in the last few weeks saw a study from experts at the american council for an energy efficient economy which found that this legislation has the potential to create 136,000 domestic jobs by 2025. all while saving consumers billions of dollars and reducing pollution. efficiency is the cheapest, fastest approach to reduce our
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energy use. energy saving techniques and technologies lower costs and free up capital that allow businesses to expand and our economy to grow. perhaps equally important, energy efficiency has emerged as an excellent example of a bipartisan and affordable the country to immediately grow our economy and improve energy security. in addition to being affordable, efficiency is widely supported because its benefits aren't confined to a certain fuel source or a particular region of the country. it's clearly one of the policy areas where we really can come to a common agreement. so it's no wonder that energy efficiency legislation, shaheen-portman, enjoys such large and diverse support. it's received more than 250 endorsements from a wide range of businesses, environmental groups, think tanks and trade associations, from the u.s. chamber of commerce and the
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national association of manufacturers to the natural resources defense council. now, i'm hopeful that the senate will return to shaheen-portman when we have finished debating the serious issue of syria, and i appreciate the commitment of our leadership on both sides of the aisle in the senate to do this. i recognize that this will be the first time a major energy bill has reached the senate floor since 2007 and therefore it's only makes sense for to us have a robust energy debate that allows for amendments from both sides of the aisle to be considered. i look forward to working with my colleagues to find an agreement on the way forward. i thank my good friend, senator portman, for his partnership in bringing this bill to the floor. i want to also thank the majority and minority leaders as well as chairman wyden and ranking member murkowski for all
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of their support as we've gone through this process and hopefully will bring this bill to the floor in the next couple of weeks. thank you very much, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: mr. president, we rise today at a time of great debate here in this chamber and in this country about what the appropriate response should be by the united states to the horrific use of chemical weapons by the government of syria. that's a debate that will unfold over the next days here, and we'll see as the situation continues to develop what actually comes to the floor. but the president of the united states has asked for our input in the united states senate and a what today we're focused on the most important question an elected representative is requested asked to respond to, and that is whether to commit america to military combat. to that end, we've all spent time looking over intelligence
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reports, we've participated in classified intelligence briefings, i've also had the opportunity to meet with top members of the administration. from the administration i've received i do believe that the government of syria used chemical weapons against its own people. and i believe an international response is appropriate. but i do not believe that the administration's proposal of a u.s. military strike is the right answer. there's no guarantee it will prevent assad's use of chemical weapons, i don't believe it will end the senseless bloodshed in syria, i don't believe it will bring stability to the region that's so critical to our national security. i don't believe it's will enhance israeli's -- israel's security and i don't believe it's nested in a broader strategic plan for the region. the situation we face in syria today is partly the result of a failed foreign policy.
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it's time for a change of course. we need a comprehensive long-term strategy first, not a strike, then the promise of a strategy. which is what the administration has proposed. strike first, strategy later, is a recipe for disaster. if the current resolution comes to the floor as a result, the current resolution being considered, i would not be able to support it. america must also look to her interest at home. senator shaheen just talked about that. without a doubt, the ongoing chaos in is syria has served to remind us again of the volatility that has plagued the middle east for many years. it should serve as a wake-up call. as a country, we have for way too long been dependent on dangerous, and volatile parts of the world for our foreign energy needs. particularly foreign oil. we've seen the impact at the price at the pumps even in the
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last couple weeks here. we've certainly seen it in our economy and the roller coaster we've seen it with energy prices up and down. as a result, the need for american energy independence is not just a matter of the economy or economic security or energy security. it's also a matter of national security. given these realities, i think it's incumbent upon us now more than ever to pursue a true all-of-the-above domestic energy strategy. we've got to find ways to produce more energy here at home and just as importantly, we've got to figure out how to use less by wasting less. we'll save money, we'll save energy, we'll make our economy more competitive and create create more jobs and yes, reduce our dependence on foreign oil. the pieces of legislation that i joined with the senator from new hampshire on that we introduced just before we left for the august recess takes important steps towards that goal of reducing the amount of energy
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waste in this country. senator shaheen just talked about it. it's called the industrial savings competitiveness act, we were supposed to be debating it, it's absolutely critical we are debating syria instead but i do hope we can take up this legislation after the scawtion discussion over what we do with regard to the situation in syria. this bill, the energy security bill, is bipartisan, it's bicameral in the sense there is support in the house and the senate for it. it is as senator shaheen said, a bill that reduces our energy waste and moves us towards energy independence. according to a recent study, it's estimated to aid in the creation of 130,000 new jobs saving consumers over $13 billion a year by the year 2030. that's why it's no surprise it's supported by such a broad grope group as senator shaheen talked about. that support is one big reason it passed the energy committee
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with a strong bipartisan vote of 19-3. simply put, the legislation we've proposed makes good environmental sense, makes good energy sense and good economic sense. it's a rare example around here of bipartisanship which ought to be encouraged in a automatic of areas but certainly this is one where we can find common ground. i want to thank the majority leader this morning and the minority leader for working out a unanimous consent that allows us to move forward on this commonsense approach in the coming days and in that debate we'll talk more about the legislation, how it helps manufacturers on the global stage, how the savings companies will accrue from energy efficiency will lead to better paying jobs, we'll talk about how our legislation helps train the next generation of workers with the skills they need to inteetd in the growing energy efficiency field and makes if federal government practice what it preaches to reduce the waste in the largest user of energy in the world which is our federal government. and we'll describe how our bill
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accomplishes these goals with new mandates, no mandates on the private sector, new spending, entirely offset, and, again, a commonsense approach that is bipartisan. i look forward to that discussion, i look forward to seeing the energy savings and skill stril exeives act become law so this nation can achieve a true goal of an all-of-the-above energy strategy and make us less dependent on these dangerous and volatile parts of the world. mr. president, i yield back my time. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the married. mr. reid: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. reid: i would ask unanimous consent that be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: mr. president, i now ask unanimous consent that we proceed to executive session to consider calendar number -- calendar number 191, that the nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider be made, laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate, that motions be in order to the nomination be printed in the record and the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate then resume legislative session. the presiding officer: without objection. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the
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senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to s.j. res. 21. under the previous order, the time until 12:00 noon will be equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees, with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call which i will suggest in just a few seconds, that the time during that be equally divided between the majority and minority. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: thank you, mr. president. i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: this week we have a very difficult set of questions to answer as it relates to syria
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in the ongoing crisis there, but in particular, we have a question to answer as it relates to what the united states should do. so i rise this morning to express strong support for this authorization to degrade bashar al-assad's chemical weapons capability and deter the future use of these horrific weapons. now, i made this determination based upon the evidence, and the national security concerns of the -- national security interests of the united states, both national security interests today as well as in the future. the resolution that's before the united states senate right now does not allow for the deployment of u.s. combat troops on the ground in syria. i will not support nor do i think there will be much support in this chamber, but i will not support any measure that would involve u.s. boots on the ground in syria, and this resolution
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specifically speaks to this concern, and i am quoting in part the resolution -- quote -- "the authority granted in section 2-a does not authorize the use of the united states armed forces on the ground in syria for the purpose of combat operations." unquote. so it's important that we make that point. as we've all seen, especially in the last few days, the situation in syria is in flux, especially in the last 24 hours. the russian government put forth a proposal yesterday which would have international monitors take control of syria's chemical weapons in order to avert a u.s. military strike. i am open to this diplomatic discussion, however not without caution and not without skepticism. diplomatic solutions are always a preferred path and military strikes should always be the last resort. i think prior to this proposal, we were at that point of a last
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resort, but the only reason that this proposal is on the table is because of the credible threat of force that is being debated here in washington, but even most significantly being debated across the country. the authorization itself should still go forward because it will keep the pressure on the syrian regime for a diplomatic solution. now, let's spend a couple minutes on our own national security interests. in march of 2011, as reported by the u.s. state department, multiple news sources, including cnn, reported -- and i'll submit for the record a report from cnn on this -- that the syrian government authorities had arrested 15 school children, school children in the city of darr for spray painting
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antigovernment slogans. these young people were reportedly tortured while in custody and authorities resorted to force when their parents and others in the community called for their release. within one week, the police had killed 55 demonstrators in connection with the early efforts to provide opposition to the assad regime. the regime committed countless atrocities during the next two yes ofhis conflict, culminating in the unspeakable use, the indiscriminate use of chemical weapons on august 21. so, mr. president, i would submit for the record a report from cnn dated march 1, 2012, and ask that it be included in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: now, this report is march of 2012, but it looks back in a retrospective fashion on what happened in those early days of the opposition coming together in 2011, and i will
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read in pertinent part part of what cnn said about what happened when these school children were demonstrating against the regime. they talked in this report about -- about the young people, as i mentioned, not just protesting but spray painting their -- their beliefs against the -- against the regime, and at the time not a lot of people around the world were focused on what was happening in syria. but let me quote in pertinent part. at one point, one of the -- one of the commentators -- one of the citizens on the street was saying the people didn't want to go against the regime. people thought that this -- this -- this leader, mr. assad, was better than his father.
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nobody wanted to go face to face with him. but then, of course, it was young people, in this case even school children, who led the way, who led the way to -- to -- to take him on. so i submit that for the record because this -- this opposition started on the streets of syria, in this case in darr, starting with -- starting with young people, but of course continued from there, and we know that the regime itself has the largest chemical stockpile in the region, one of the largest in the world. we know that mr. assad used these weapons against his own people, not only on august 21 but on multiple occasions prior to that in a much more limited way. we also know that he has the capacity, the will and unfortunately the track record to use these weapons against innocent civilians. we also should remember that we have troops and other military
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and diplomatic personnel in the region, in the middle east. even syria's acquisition, even syria's very acquisition of -- of chemical weapons threatens our national security. in 2003, the congress of the united states -- and some people have forgotten about this -- the congress of the united states in 2003 passed the syria accountability and lebanese sovereignty restoration act of that year. this act explicitly states that congress found, the united states congress made a finding -- quote -- "that syria's acquisition -- and i'm underlining that word acquisition -- of weapons of mass destruction threatens the security of the middle east and the national security interests of the united states." unquote. so this congress ten years ago made a determination that the
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acquisition of chemical weapons was a threat to our national security. we are in a different world now. syria not only acquired them but has now used them multiple times on their own people, the most recent being the horrific scenes that we all saw in some of the videos that are now part of the public record. so there is clear and convincing evidence of the direct involvement of the assad regime, the forces of the assad regime and senior officials in the planning, execution and aftermath and attempts to cover up the august 21 attack. this was graphically evident in the 13 authenticated videos released by the senate intelligence committee showing the results of chemical weapons used in the damascus suburbs on august 21. these videos were shown to the intel committee on thursday and played on cnn on saturday.
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so many americans have seen them and if you'd like more information about those, you can certainly going go to my web site and i'm sure many others as well. it's clear the regime violated international law as relates to chemical weapons. we know that the regime committed a barrage of terror across the country with the sole aim of remaining in power. so we have to ask ourselves when a dictator or a terrorist organization uses chemical weapons in violation of international law, that regime or terrorist organization must pay a price or not, i would argue that they must pay a price. we simply can't condemn this crime against humanity. it is in the national security interests of the united states for the administration to have the authorization to act. the regime in iran in -- and the terrorist organization hezbollah and the regime in north korea are watching very closely and it's imperative we
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take steps to address this threat. let me talk for a few minutes about the regime in iran and hezbollah. what happens in syria is of great consequence to our security interests as relates to that regime and hezbollah. that regime meaning the iranian regime. their support for hezbollah through syria has resulted in constant plotting against the united states and its allies. the assad regime in syria is the conduit of this relationship between hezbollah and the iranian regime itself. so i support this authorization of targeted and strategic military action to hold the syrian regime accountable and because it will diminish the ability of iran and hezbollah to conduct acts of terror and to protect american lives if we hold them accountable and, of course, the syrian people. indeed, other than al qaeda, other than al qaeda, hezbollah has killed more americans than
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any other terrorist organization in the world including 241 marines in 1983. hezbollah has consistently partnered with iran's islamic revolutionary guard corps to bolster assad's campaign of violence in syria, further destabilizing the region. the regime in iran has provided funds, weapons, tactical advice and fighters to the syrian government forces. just this year, iran's support to assad has increased with reported daily resupply flights to syria. the syrian regime poe gloazs a stockpile of chemical weapons that we cannot allow to fall into the hands of terrorists. iran and hezbollah are already -- some people in washington miss this. they're not on the sidelines. they're already on the battlefield. and i would argue iran and hezbollah are on two battlefields, certainly they're
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on the battlefield in syria itself but also the daily battlefield of terrorist acts, plotting against the united states and other countries as well. failure to bring action and failure to hold syria accountable after such a horrific crime will only serve to embolden the iranian regime and embolden the organization hezbollah and others to expand terror across the world. iran's status as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism is well established, and its proxies have perpetuated attacks against the united states, israel and our allies. emboldened by iran's support, hezbollah has conducted terrorist attacks since its inception in the early 1980's, including western targets. hezbollah has become more aggressive, more aggressive in the last few years and has executed attacks not only in the middle east but on two other
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continents, south asia and europe. just two years ago a plot was uncovered to blow up a restaurant in georgetown right here in washington, d.c., to kill the saudi ambassador to the united states along with u.s. officials and average citizens who are american. when the iranian backed attacker was questioned he referred to the potential killing of americans as -- quote -- "no big deal"-- unquote. i'll submit the statement of the department of justice official report on the plot for the record and i'd ask consent that this report by the department of justice entitled two men charged in alleged plot to assassinate saudi arabian ambassador to the united states, i'd submit that for the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: so the list goes on. we know that in june of 1996 the bombing of khobar towers in saudi arabia where 19 u.s. air force personnel were killed, that's another example of
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iran-backed terrorist activity. it goes back as far as i mentioned to 1983 and the 241 marines killed in a truck bombing in brute. there -- beirut. there were new reports that strongly suggest an iran backed plot was underway to kill a u.s. ambassador in 2011. hezbollah has consistently partnered with iran to do just that. but the national security interests of the united states is even more significant than that. it's not simply the green light it would send to iran and hezbollah as it relates to terrorism, if we don't take the right action here it would send a green light or a message and a green light to iran as relates to their nuclear program. we know that their regime, the iranian regime is intent on developing nuclear weapons capability. i've supported a variety of measures to prevent iran from
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acquiring that capability. condemnation only of syria would emboldened iran and undermine our efforts to prevent the iranian regime from developing a nuclear weapon. every member of congress will have to weigh the consequence of giving the green light to the use of chemical weapons and contemplate what it will mean for enemies like the enemy regime and hezbollah who plot against the united states every day. i'm like a lot of members of congress. after receiving several intelligence briefings, i have more confidence than even before that we have a significant national security imperative to authorize the president to act as relates to syria. i have no doubt that mr. assad used the weapons, chemical weapons against his own people and it's evident that he crossed more than one red line. i support this limited and proportional scope of authorization for the use of force. by the way, this authorization would be probably the most
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limited authorization in recent american history. so i believe that congress must stand united on this issue and we've got to make sure that we not only hold the regime accountable but make sure that we're doing everything possible to send the right message. two more points before i conclude, mr. president. one of the best rationales for the reason that we were taking the steps that i hope we take was set forth in an op-ed this weekend by nicholas chris-off in in -- cristophe in "the new york times," it's entitled "pulling the curtain back on syria" and i'd ask that this op-ed be submitted for the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: i think one of the most important lines in here, i of course won't read the entire op-ed but here's what mr. kristoff says. "while there are many injustices
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around the world from darfur to eastern congo, take it from one who has covered most of them, syria today is the world capital of human suffering." there are few journalists, few americans who have more credibility on the issue of what's happening to children and to vulnerable populations around the world than nicholas kristoff. for him to say the world capital of suffering is in syria, the world capital of human suffering is in syria is a powerful and compelling statement. that brings me back to where i started, mr. president. i started walking through the early days of this opposition to a repressive regime against mr. assad. the people who led the way in large measure were children or young people. making the case against his regime. one of the harrowing and very
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disturbing elements of this entire crisis, this war that's raged on for more than two years now, is the impact it's had on children. i received a report today that came from save the children who have enormous credibility not only on children's issues worldwide but they are actually save the children personnel on the ground in syria. and i'd note for a record, the children crisis in syria and ask that to be included in the record as well. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: that documents in great detail the human suffering of children, the impact this has had on millions of syrian children. but, of course, maybe the most graphic and disturbing example of that was the footage that every -- virtually every american has had an opportunity to view. the hundreds and hundreds of children who were killed
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instantly in this horrific chemical weapons attack by one estimate more than 400, maybe as many as 426 children killed. so when we confront this, we can't simply say this is just another -- anotherrer horrific situation around the world. when you consider what this regime did to schoolchildren, arresting them and by many accounts torturing them at the beginning of this opposition, all the way through to the attack on august 21, we're summoned by our conscience to consider what happened to children and what will continue to happen to children in syria and places around the world unless we act in some fashion. or unless we hold this regime accountable. i want to be open to the possibility maybe there's a breakthrough here, that we can remove this terrible threat from
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syria and wipe out the chemical weapons threat by giving total and complete control of chemical weapons to an international force. but the burden of proof here is on syria and the russian federation, and they have to deliver very specifically in a very short time frame if they expect us to agree to this. but we should be hopeful and consider this the country, but at the same time we can't divorce ourselves from the reality of what happened here, the consequence of not acting, and also the long-term and short-term national security interests of the united states which i think are overwhelming and compelling in this instance. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor --
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mr. president, i have seven unanimous consent requests for committees too meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: i would always ask consent that we recess. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate previous order, the senate >> the senate is taking a break. your typical tuesday break for their weekly party lunches, although this will be a little bit longer. that's because in the cats and republicans will meet with president obama on capitol hill shortly on the resolution to authorize military force against syria. we expect the senate to gavel back in at 2:15 p.m. eastern.
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live coverage on c-span2. in the next couple of hours over the next couple of hours we will hear from you, your thoughts on what you like your from president obama tonight. he speaking at 9:00 eastern from the white house on the authorization to use military force. if you're a democrat the number jews is (202)585-3885. republicans (202) 585-3886. independence, (202)585-3887. we will look at our facebook called, supporter of post, the number of tweet using #cspanchat. our house armed service committee which is continuing and we'll hear from some of those folks as well who are on twitter. the facebook pulled again, your thoughts on military intervention in syria. support or oppose. before we get to your calls we will be joined by alex bolden of
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hill covering the issue. as we said about noon eastern, nine hours before the presidents speech, witty things stand in the senate? >> guest: well, looking increasingly unlikely we will get a boat on the resolution that passed out of foreign relations committee last week. that's because the nose are piling up. and because something that was expected to pass easily now will have a very tough time passing. and so i think the leaders are looking for an excuse not to have this vote right now and that excuse was provided by the russian government. and the french government who are now negotiating a deal with syria to broker the transfer of president assad's chemical weapons stockpile to the international committee. and so the senate will wait to let those talks move forward, and while the international negotiators are talking, a group of senate negotiators, for
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republicans, for democrats including senator john mccain of arizona and charles schumer of new york, are trying to put together an alternative use resolution that would make any military strike contingent on the international talks, success or failure. so basically what you're talking about that if the u.n. does not successfully remove these chemical weapons from syria, only then military strike would be authorized. >> so this is an evolving story this morning as you mentioned the story out of russia and the story out of france, moving this to the united nations and to talk about this group of senators, bipartisan group of senators. irresolution as i understand it from you would say that any up and strike would delay that action until the united nations has a chance to do with the issue? >> guest: it would call on the united nations to pass a resolution stating that assad did indeed use chemical weapons against his own people.
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it would require the united nations to pass a finding of fault resolution and then it would also require the u.n. to remove the chemical stockpile from syria. if those two things didn't happen then it would give the green light to president obama to launch military strikes. so basically it's essentially a reworked version of what the senate foreign relations committee passed last week that takes into account the fast developing news on the international front. >> host: as the president comes to capitol hill to meet with the democratic caucus and the republican conference at the party lunches, news at this are the senator markey of massachusetts, the new senator from our searches its -- issued a statement he will vote against the resolution. is this something, does this add to your vote? >> guest: well, mark tidd was undecided before. he voted present during foreign
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relations market now he's a definite no. that's bad news for harry reid to the other development this morning is mitch mcconnell, the senate republican leader announced he is also a no. it makes it even tougher for the democratic leadership to bring over those republican yeses, at the end of last week, democrat leaders were anticipating democratic defections in the double digits. that meant they needed to win 15-20 republican votes to get this resolution passed. with mcconnell now coming out against it and another member, and lamar alexander, former member of leadership close to call with all of them coming out against this, gop support is breaking the no. the gop division is breaking a no. it makes senate passage of the resolution that was widely expected to pass last week much more tenuous. so if this doesn't pass the senate and house which is supposed to be an even heavier left is all but unreachable. so i think harry reid is glad
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that the extra time to work on this vote in the negotiation between france, russia and syria gave him that extra time. >> hosttime. >> host: alex bolton on the hill covering the story from capitol hill. you can read his report at the hill.com. thanks for the update. >> guest: glad to give it to you. >> host: let's get to your calls and, to what you want to from president obama this evening, 9:00 eastern. live coverage on c-span. north carolina, first up, republican line, joann, good afternoon. >> hello. i've listened to both john kerry and the several speakers on c-span in the senate, and i would say that the strategic plan for a long-term solution to this problem is essential before we do anything. and the real enemy here is not assad. it is terrorism sponsored by
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iran and groups like hezbollah and other terrorists. get the right enemy in view. and secondly, recognize that assad as a puppet of iran doing whatever they say and russia is clobbered in with iran. iran is the enemy. focus on the strategic plan and the president needs to be clear who the enemy is. it is not assad and chemical weapons. it is much broader than that, chemical weapons are a tool. get the strategic plan passed. if it means paying no to limit strike then say no matter if it means cooperating between the two houses of congress and the parties, get something done. >> host: that video we are showing is live coming to you from the house armed service committee. they are underway, hearing from secretary kerry, secretary hagel and general dempsey for just over two hours or so but a couple of tweet some comments that we are getting on that coverage. the armed services committee. this one is from a leila who
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says gop members of the hearing with john kerry asking tough questions, not the pandering seen by democrats. another few, house members would stop political grandstand for the american people. this is a serious matter. democratic caller, what do you want here from president obama tonight? >> caller: i want to hear that we go ahead and, go ahead with the strikes. we should have dated already. instead of giving everybody a false hope and everybody thinking that they can get away with anything if we don't follow through with this. >> host: john, thank you for your comment. deal is in leavenworth kansas. go ahead john, hello? go ahead. >> caller: thank you for taking my call. i have a couple things to say. i was a desert storm vet, and i turned around and i come back and everybody was always saying
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that how we should of went on to baghdad. the invasion of kuwait was the nation. and then as far as the iraqi invasion, the mass destruction, i believe that the weapons were there. he accused -- he had used them on the kurds, they hid them in the sand or disperse them to syria or iran. so now we know that they are inferior and we know iran has got them and we know north korea has got them. >> host: tonight, bill, you want to hear more specific proof from the president? is that what it's going to take? >> caller: no. i think we should stand with the president. i think if the president matches what he's done we wouldn't be to the point where we are right now. i think russia would never, never even brought up this idea putting them on our international control. i think everybody could've put
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them under international control years ago. we have plenty of conventional weapons. i can do just as much destruction their chemical weapons are not a deterrent anymore. for war. all they are are at last resort. if you're losing just trying to exterminate people use a can of raid. >> host: the president is on his way to capitol hill. he's not up on capitol hill already meeting with the senate democrats at about 12:30 p.m. eastern and after that with republicans. the senate itself will gavel back in at 2:15 p.m. eastern. we will see where they go from there, depending on what they take up, if there's another resolution being developed as alex bolton mentioned. is to look at some of the numbers that hill was reporting, account today, we can bring those numbers up for you. the whip count for the senate, projected number for the senate
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is supporting the resolution is a total of 26, and against or leaning no is 27. and decided in the senate is 47. not sure that number includes senator markey either. in the house, meanwhile, leaning yes or yes, 30 do. leaning no arnault, 185. 125 and decided. myrtle beach, south carolina, independent line, go ahead. >> caller: yes. i'm 27 year old, 27 year rather veteran of the cold war. we won the cold war because we stood up and we were strong. i want to the president go to congress and demand that they show some courage. we will only win and come out on top if we demonstrate that we are strong, and as long as the military, you know, the secret
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police can assure them that we have the capability to ruin assad's day because of what he did. i think we need to do it. i'm okay with what the other senators are trying to do with a very short delay, but russia has to be held to the fire. so do the syrians. and i really don't trust either one of them very much. thank you very much for listening to you. >> host: on c-span2 mortar calls and comments coming up as we wait for the senate to return at 2:15 p.m. each of the president obama will meet with senate democrats and republicans, and webcammers up on capitol hill waiting for any possible comment after those meetings. the president speaking tonight at 9:00 eastern. we will have that live for you on c-span. our caller mentioned russia, and russia of course late yesterday introduced the possibility of resolving this situation with
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syria and taking international control of those chemical weapons. response from secretary kerry in his opening statement this morning. we will show you some of that and back to your comments. >> we challenge the regime to turn him over to the secure control of the international community so that they could be destroyed. and that, of course, would be the ultimate way to degrade and that her assad's arsenal, it is the ideal weapon, ideal way to take this weapon away from him. assad's chief benefactor, the russians, have responded by saying that they would come up with a proposal to do exactly that. and we've made it clear to them, i have come in several conversations with foreign minister lavrov, that this cannot be a process of delay. this cannot be a process of avoidance, it has to be real, measurable, tangible.
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and it is exceedingly difficult to i want everybody here to know to fulfill those conditions. but we are waiting for that proposal. so we are not waiting for long. president obama will take a hard look at it, but it has to be swift. it has to be real. it has to be verifiable. it cannot be a delaying tactic. and if the u.n. security council seeks to be the vehicle to make it happen, that cannot be allowed to sell to become a debating society. now, many countries, many of you in the congress, from those who wanted military action to those who were skeptical of military action, want to see if this idea could become a reality. but make no mistake, make no mistake about why this idea has any potential legs at all. and why it is that the russians have reached out to the syrians, and why the syrians have
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initially suggested they might be interested. a lot of people say that nothing focuses the mind like the prospect of a hanging. well, it's the credible threat of force that ha has been on the table for these last weeks that as for the first time brought this regime to even acknowledge that they have a chemical weapons arsenal. and it is the threat of this force and our determination to hold assad accountable that has motivated others to even talk about a real and credible international action that might have an impact. so how do you maintain that pressure? we have to continue to show syria, russia, and the world that we are not going to fault the stalling tactics. it's a challenge we laid down, that is going to have the potential to have a real proposal. it is only because of the threat of force that we are discussing
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today, and that threat is more compelling if congress stands with the commander-in-chief. >> host: earlier today city announced they would be accepting that russian proposal by the story continues to evolve at about the same time secretary kerry was making those comments, here's a story in the hill. the white house, president obama agreed to back the u.n. efforts there president obama backing united nations efforts to secure series chemical weapons stockpile, the white house said on tuesday. the french government earlier today had made that proposal. and on top of that a report came out about 20 minutes ago, russia is opposed to a u.n. resolution on syria. that's from the french foreign minister tweeted by afp. your thoughts on what you want hear from president obama tonight. chicago is next to joseph on the democrats line. >> caller: how are you doing? >> host: fine, thanks transport i think we should go along with russia, give them a
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time limit on the situation. we are a country that we don't have no problems, everybody needs to stick together, thousand of my needs to stick together behind the president. if we have to vote for the strike, go for the strike to give russia a time limit that they must carry out. >> host: what does that time limit look like? a week, two weeks? >> caller: i'll say they have already caught syria, i would give him at least 40 hours. >> host: joseph, thanks for the comments. republican line, graham, hello there. >> caller: hi. my feeling is that we are making a mistake if we attack syria. because we've already compounded this with our intervention in
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egypt and with the other despots in that area. we've accomplished, haven't accomplished anything. even in iraq, which i was four when bush went into iraq, but look what happened there. we withdrew the troops before that government was fully in place. so here, the syrians have done nothing to us, and they certainly are not a threat to us without brass military power. and i think we should abide by the will of the people and even get the congress an opportunity to react, thoughts and concerns about this, and let them vote, and let the president take all these things into consideration and then make an analysis on. >> host: we will have more of
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your calls and comments. a quick check of our facebook poll, asking if you would support a military intervention in syria. rapidly you can see it so far in our poll that there's a lot more opposing than supporting the numbers supporting 177, opposing 1455. albert in california on the other's line. >> caller: hello. i just want to say i agree with a previous caller. it is a very big mistake if we do attack syria, because we've got to understand, syria has big allies in the region. in the mediterranean rush as the ships that already deployed in the mediterranean. china has as well. this is not libya. this is not a simple airstrike that the president and all of the politicians are saying. this is something that can lead to a lot of death and help the president makes a good decision
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by saying to agree with the russians and hopefully there's a peaceful way to resolve this matter. i understand that this is a very bad regime, but the opposition isn't necessarily innocent themselves. it's a very difficult situation and the u.s. can help but a military strike is not the way i see this battering the situation post mature democrats -- >> host: two are democrats line. go ahead with your comment. >> caller: can you hear me? >> host: yes, we can. go ahead. >> caller: i was listening to the previous people talking, and i think that we should listen to what rush has to say and what syria has to say about getting rid of the weapons of mass destruction. but also i think that if that doesn't happen, i think that the senate and the house should go along with the president.
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>> host: thanks for your call. more than coming up here on c-span2. we are keeping our eye on you -- senators are now in their weekly party meetings taking on a bit of extra seriousness this week with the president attending both the democratic caucus meeting, which should get underway in about 10 minutes or so, and the republican conference meeting. and the senate itself coming back at about 2:15 p.m. eastern together any comments, et cetera, before the sentencing we do hope to have a story on c-span2. this morning mitch mcconnell, the republican leader, announced his opposition to the authorization of military force. here is his tweet sure that after. he includes a youtube clip from the senate video. we'll show you next the opening comments from the senate this one from the majority leader and from mitch mcconnell. >> we are engaged in a very important debate.
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the serious debate is one that can't be taken lightly and i believe no one has taken it lightly. the discussion and the bipartisan resolution under consideration is simply too important to be rushed through the senate, are given short shrift. so it's right and proper president be given an opportunity to meet with senators from both parties as he is today. he will meet with us at 12:30. when he finishes with us it's my understanding he will report to the conference of cinema. -- senator mcconnell. he will address the nation tonight. he will speak directly to the american people about the potential for limited military action in syria. he will do that at 9:00 tonight. as i said last night, it's appropriate to allow other conversations to go on. we now have as a result of some work done by other countries,
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france, russia and we understand syria is involved in this, and this is in avoiding military action. we'll have to see if this works out. very important to understand. the only reason russia is seeking an alternative to military action is the president obama has made it plain and clear that the united states will act if we must. our credible threat of force has made his diplomatic discussions with syria possible. the united states should withdraw from the direction we're taking as a country. if there's a realistic chance, and i certainly hope there is, to secure serious weapons which have -- we shouldn't turn our backs on that chance. but for such a solution to be plausible, the assad regime must act quickly to prove their offer israel, not merely a ploy to delay military action.
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any agreement must also a short chemical weapons in the hands of syria can be secured. and this can be done in an open process. even in this ongoing war that we have going in iraq are in agreement must assure -- dangerous chemical weapons to the hands of terrorists in that area. such attempt would be met with a rapid response and it would be robust for the united states. so i am pleased the administration is considering this offer. i am pleased that other countries are involved, in addition to russian. it's my understanding syria -- i'm sorry, it's my understanding that france is heavily involved as of a few hours ago. and i think that's the right direction at this time. we move forward but under the general criteria that i suggested, outlined. the senate should give these international discussions time
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to play out, but not unlimited time. that's why although their support to move forward and debate is bipartisan resolution, reported by senators menendez and corker, did occur -- terrific job on the committee last week. i didn't rush to file cloture as indicated last night, and a motion to proceed do this. we don't need to prove how quickly we can do this, but how well we can do this. the syrian regime should fully understand the united states is watching very, very closely. the assad regime should be warned, our country will not tolerate this breach of human decency, long held international consensus in its use of chemical weapons. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent with respect to s. 1392 be modified so that the motion
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proceeding be agreed to at a time determined to be by me with the concurrence of the republican leader, not consultation with them but with concurrence with them. >> is there objection? >> without objection, so ordered. >> mr. president? >> the republican leader. >> mr. president, first i would like to welcome the president to the capital today. members on both sides of the aisle are eager to hear from him, and to share their own thoughts. we look forward to a spirited and constructive exchange. it is often said of all the questions we face with lawmakers, none is more serious or indeed more difficult than the question of whether to commit ourselves to military action. that's why it is so important for us to have this debate. to lay out the arguments for and
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against military action in syria. to let the public know where we stand on this issue, and why. if debates like this are always challenging, in some ways this one has been even more difficult. not because of some political calculus, the senate will always suspect that, no. this debate has been made more difficult because even those of us who truly want to support the commander in chief has struggled to understand the purpose of the mission. over the past several days, i've spoken with a lot of people, a lot of kentuckians are connected chile, most of them are not exactly clear about the mission themselves, or shy about saying so. what i told and as i understand their concerns. i share them. i also appreciate the war weariness out there, but then i tell them there's other potential concerns and we can't
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ignore here either. chief among them is the fact that the credibility of the commander-in-chief matters. and related to that is the fact that we can't afford as a country to withdraw from the war. so no one should be faulted for being skeptical about this proposal, regardless of what party they are in, or for being dumbfounded, literally dumbfounded at the matter in which the white house announced it. there's absolutely no reason, no reason the signal to the enemy when and how and for how long you plan to strike them. none. as i said before, you don't send out a save the date card to the enemy. and yet there are other important considerations to keep in mind here as well that go beyond the wisdom or the marketing of the proposal.
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i've spent a lot of time waiting all of these things. i've thought a lot about america's obligations and the irreplaceable role that i've always believed, and still believe, america plays in the world. and i've also thought a lot about the conduct of this presents a vision and his record, and what it says about whether we should be confident in his ability to bring about a favorable outcome in syria. because how they got to this point says a lot about where we may be headed. and that's why before announcing my vote i think it's important to look at packets and the presidents of the decisions on matters of foreign policy and national security, and then turned back to what he's proposing out and syria, because in the end, these things simply can't be separated.
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now, it's not exactly is the secret that i'm no fan of this president's foreign policy. on the deepest level i did it comes down to a fundamentally different view of america's role in the world. unlike the president, i've always been a firm and unapologetic believer in the idea that america isn't just another nation among many. that we are indeed exceptional here as i said, i believe we have a duty as a superpower without superrealistic aims, to maintain an international order and balance of power that we and other allies have worked very hard to achieve over the years. the president, on the other hand, has always been a very reluctant commander-in-chief. we saw that in the rhetoric of his famous cairo speech, and in speeches he gave and other
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foreign capitals in the early days of his administration. the tone and the policy that followed were meant to project a humble and more withdrawn america. and, frankly, i'm hard pressed to see any good that came from any of that. any list would have to start with arbitrary deadline to military withdrawal, and the triumphant separation at guantánamo would be closed within a year, without any plan of what to do with its detainees. there with the executive orders that ended the cia's detention and interrogation programs. we all saw the so-called recess with russia, and how the president stated commitment to a world without nuclear weapons led him to hastily sign an arms treaty with russia that did nothing to substantially reduce its nuclear stockpile, or its
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tactical nuclear weapons. we saw the president announced the strategic pivot to the asia-pacific region. .. detention of trifs as well as the return of an old idea that terrorism should be treated as a law enforcement matter. after a decade long counterinsurgency in afghanistan we've seen the failure to invest in the modernization needed to make this pivot to asia meaningful. specifically, his failure to make the kind of investments that are needed to maintain our dominance in the asian pacific theater in the kind of naval, air, and marine corps forces we'll need there in the years we'll need there in the years could have tragic consequences down the road.
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his domestic gypped today also obviously had serious implicationssl for our global standing while borrowing trillions and wasting taxpayer dollars here at home, the president has imposed a poll sieve austerity at the pentagon that threatens to undermined our stablizing presence around the globe. of course we've seen how eager the president is to declare an end to the war on terror. unfortunately the world just hasn't cooperated. they haven't cooperated with the president's vision or his hopes. far from responding favorably to this gentler approach, it has become arguably more dangerous. we've learned the hard way being nice it our enemies doesn't make them like you or clear a path to peace. i understand that the president ran for office on an antiwar platform. that his ricerm to political por
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was marked by a determination to get o us out of afghanistan and iraq and declare an end, an end, to the war on terror. i know he would rather focus on his domestic agenda but the ongoing threat from al qaeda and its affiliates and the turmoil unleashed by uprisings in north africa and the broader middle east, not to mention of rise of chinese military power make it clear to me at least this is not the time for america to shrink from the world stage. the world is a dangerous place. in the wake of the arab spring large parts of the sinai, of libya, of syria, are now basically ungoverned. we've seen prison breaks in iraq, pakistan, libya and the release of hundreds of prisoners in egypt. terrorists also escaped from prisons in yemen a country that is no more ready to detain the terrorists at guantanamo now
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than they were back in 2009. and the flow of foreign fighters into syria suggests that the civil war there will last for years. regardless of whether assad is still in power. yes, the president deserves praise for weakening al qaeda's senior leadership but the threat we face from al qaeda affiliates is very real. these terrorists are adaptable. they're versatile, lethal, resilient, and they aren't going away. pockets of these terrorists extend from north africa to the persian gulf and it's time he faced up to it. and it's time to face up to something else a as well. international order is not maintained by some global police force which only exists in a liberal fantasy. international order is maintained, its backbone, is american military might.
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brings me back to syria. for two years now syria has been mired in a ferocious civil war with more than 100,000 killed, with conventional arms. that's according to the u.n. estimates. tragic situation has promoted many to look to the united states for help and so one year ago president obama made a declaration. if assad used or started moving chemical weapons, he would do something about it. well as we all know on august 21st of this year that red line was crossed. the president's delayed response was to call for a show of force for t targeted limited strikes against the regime. we've been told that the purpose of these strikes is to deter and degrade assad's regime's ability to use chemical weapons. so let's take a closer look at
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these aims. first, no one disputes that the atrocities committed in syria in recent weeks are unspeakable. no one disputes that those responsible for these crimes against the innocent should be held to account. we were absolutely right of course to condemn these crimes. but let's be very clear about something. these attacks, monsterous as they t are, were not a direct attack against the united states or one of its treaty allies. and just so there's no confusion, let me assure everyone if a weapon of mass destruction were used against u.s. or one of our allies, congress would react immediately with authorization of use of force and support of a overwhelming response. i would introduce the resolution myself. so no leader in north korea or iran or any other enemy of the united states should take any solace if the u.s. were not to
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respond to these attacks with an action against syria. we will never, never, tolerate the use of chemical weapons against the united states, or any of its treaty allies. second, in the course of administration hearings and briefings over the past several days secretary of state john kerry has revealed that assad has used chemical weapons repeatedly, repeatedly, over the last year. so there's a further question here about why the administration didn't respond on those occasions? third, assad, as i've indicated has killed 10 of thousands of people with conventional weapons s there any reason to believe he won't continue if the president strikes or is limited as we're told they would be? fourth, what if degrading assad's control of those
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weapons, if in doing that you make it easier for other extremist elements like those associated with al-nusra front and al qaeda, to actually get ahold of them themselves? what if by weakening the syria military you tilt the balance toward a fractured opposition which is in no position to control or govern anything right now? i think the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff general dempsey put this issue best when he suggested in a letter to congress the issue here isn't about choosing between two sides in syria. it is about choosing one among many sides and that in his estimation, even if we were to choose sides, the side we chose wouldn't be in a position to promote their own interests or our. that's the chairman of the joint chiefs. and then there's the question of how assad himself would react to u.s. action in syria. if assad views an air campaign
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as preparation for regime change, then he may lose all constraint in the use of his arsenal,th chemical, or otherwi. and lose any incentive whatsoever to move to the negotiating table. it's very clear that the unintended consequences of this strike could very well be a new cycle of escalation, which then drags us into a larger war than we're all, that we're all seeking to avoid. some have even suggested that the humanitarian crisis surrounding the syrian civil war could actually be made worse, worse, as a result of even targeted u.s. strikes. in the end then the president's proposal seems fundamentally flawed. since if it is too narrow it may not deter assaud's further use of chemical weapons. if it is too broad it risks jeopardizing the security of these samele stockpiles, poe
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potentially putting them into the hands of extremists and that's why i think we're compelled in this case to apply a more traditional standard whether to proceed with the use of force. one that ask as simple question. does assad's use of chemical weapons pose a threat to the national security interests of the united states? and the answer to that question is fairly obvious. even the president himself says, it doesn't. now one could argue as i have suggested that there is an important national security concern at play that we have a very strong interest in preserving the credibility of our commander-in-chief regardless of the party in power and in giving him the political support that reinforces that credibility. this is an issue i take very seriously. i wanted main reason
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to takeea my time in making a final decision. but ultimately i've concluded on syria requires presentingqu a credible response and having a credible strategy. for all those reasons i've indicated this proposal just doesn't pass muster. indeed, if through this limited strike the president's credibility is not restored because assad uses chemical weapons again, what then? and new targets aimed at toppling the regime which end up jeopardizing control of these same chemical weapons starns, allowing them to fall into the hands of al qaeda or others intent on using them against the united states or our allies, where would the cycle of escalation end? now last night we learned about a russian diplomatic gambit to forestall u.s. military action
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through a proposal to secure and eventually destroy the syrian chemical weapons stockpile. this morning there are initial reports that suggest syria is supportive of it. let me remind everyone that even if this is agreed to, it is still a long way off to reaching an agreement at the united nations. to syria gaining entry to the chemical weapons convention, and to eventually securing and destroying the stockpile. as we'vees seen in my own statef kentucky where we've been working for 30 years to finally destroy a stockpile of chemical weapons, destroying chemical weapons is extremely challenging. and requires a great deal of attention to detail and safety. nonetheless, this proposal is obviously worth exploring. but more broadly, and this is my larger point, this one punitive strike we're debating could not
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make up for the president's performance over the last five years. the only way the only way for him to achieve the credibility he seeks is by embracing the kind of serious, integrated, national security plan that matches strategy to resources, capabilities to commitments, and which shows our allies around the world that the u.s. is fully and ready to act at a moment's notice in all the major areas of concern around the globe. whether it's the mediterranean, the persian gulf, or in the south china sea and just as importantly, that he is willing to invest in that strategy for the long term. in syria, a limited strike would knot resolve the civil war there nor will it remove assad from power. there appears to be no broader strategy to train, advise and assist a vetted opposition group on a meaningful scale as we did
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during the cold war. what's needed in syria is what's needed almost everywhere else in the world from america right now, a clear strategy and a president determined to carry it out. when it comes to syria our partners in the middle east, countries likeur turkey, jordan, saudi arabia, and israel, all of them face real consequences from instability, refugee flows and the growth of terrorist networks. responding to this crisis requires a regional strategy and leadership. what we'ven got eninstead is an administration seems more interesting interest telling the mission is not, more interested in telling us what the mission is not than what it is. we've gotten the same timid, reluctant leadership that i've seen from the president for nearly five years. as i've said this decision was not easy. when the president of the united
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states asks you to take a question like this seriously you do so. because just as our credibility in syria is tied up with our credibility in places like iran and north korea, so too is the credibility of the commander-in-chief tied up to a large extent with america's credibility in general. there's no doubt about that. so let me repeat. i'll stand shoulder to shoulder with this president or any other in any case where our vital national securities are threatened. our treaty allies are attacked, or we face an imminent threat. as for israel, very few people, if anyone, expect that syria would test its readiness to respond on its own. which just goes to show you the importance of credibility on the world stage. as prime minister netanyahu put it last week, the enemies of israel have very good reason not to test its might.
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but the prime minister should know nonetheless that america stand with him. i've never been an isolationist and a vote against this resolution shouldn't be confused by anyone as a turn in that direction but just as the most committed isolationist could be convinced of the need for intervention under the right circumstances when confronted with a threat, so too do the internationalists among us who believe that all interventions are not created equal. all interventions are not created equal. and this proposal just does not stand up. so i'll be voting against this resolution a vital national security risk is clearly not at play. there are n just too many unanswered questions about our long-term strategy in syria, including the fact this proposal is utterly detached from a wider
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strategy in the civil war there and on the specific question of deterring the use of chemical weapons, the o president's proposal appears to be based actually on a contradiction. either we will strike targets that threaten the stability ofth the regime, something the says he does not or we will execute a strike so narrow as to be a mere demonstration. it's not enough as general dempsey has noted to simply aller of the balance of military power without carefully considering the what is needed to preserve a functioning state after the fact. we can not ignore the unintended consequences of our actions. but we also can not ignore our broader obligations in the world. i firmly believe that the international system that was constructed on the ashes of world war ii rests upon the stability provided by the american military and by our commitments to our allies.
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it is a necessary role that only we can continue to fulfill in the decades to come and especially in times like this, the united states can nots, affd to withdraw from the world's stage. my record reflects that belief and that commitment, regardless which party has controlled the white house. we choose to be dominant in the world, or we resign ourselves and our allies to the mercy of our enemies. we either defend our freedoms and our civilization, or it crumbles. so as we shift our military focus toit the asia-pacific, we can not ignore our commitments to the middle east, to stability in the persian gulf, to an enduring presence in afghanistan, to hunting down the terrorists that would threaten the united states and its people, and when the commander-in-chief sets his mind to action, the world should think he believes it.
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when the commander-in-chief sets his mind to an action, the world should think, he believes it. frankly the president didn't exactly d inspire confidence whn he distanced himself from his own red lines in stockholm last week. it is long past time the president drops the pose of the reluctant warrior and lead. you can't build an effective foreign policy on the vilification of youry predecessr alone. at some point you have to take responsibility for your own actions and see the world the way it is. not the way you would like it to be. if you wish to engage countries that have been hostile, so be it but be a realist. no the limits of rhetoric, and prepare for the worst. for too long this president has put his faith in the power of his own rhetoric to change the minds of america's enemies. for too long he e has been more interested in showing the world that america is somehow
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different than it has been in the past. it is humbler. it isn't interested in meddling affairs of others or shaping events but in his eagerness to turn the page, he has blinded himself to the, worrisome trend and developments from tunisia to damascus, to tehran and in countless places in between. a year ago this month, four americans were senselessly murdered on sovereign u.s. territory in benghazi. and just last month, the president ordered the closing of more than two dozen diplomatic postsre stretching from west africa to the bay of bengal. as i indicated and as the theseon to close embassies clearly shows, the terrorist threat-con continues to be real. expressions of anti-americannism are rampant throughout africa and the middle east perhaps more so than when the president took office. so the president's new approach
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has clearly come with a cost and for the sake of our own security and that of our allies it is time he recognized it. if america doesn't meet its international commitments, who will? that is one question those on the left who are comfortable with a weakened america can't answer, because the answer is too frightening. no one will. that's the answer. if this help sewed has showed us anything, it is that the same has come for the president to finallyck acknowledge that there is no substitute for american might. it is time for america to lead again. it is this time from the front. but we need strategic vision in the middle east and in many other places around the world. to do it. mr. president, i will yield the floor. >> senate republican leader mitch mcconnell this morning as the senate came in announcing his opposition to the resolution
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authorizing military strike against syria. the senate is in recess. they're in their weekly party meetings. both the republicans and democrats hearing from president obama who is on capitol hill. kelly o'donnell of nbc news reporting on the arrival of the president saying, applause overheard as president arrives for the democrat's senate meeting that from about 20 minutes ago. he is also meeting with republican as well. here on c-span2 we expect to be able to take to you comments from senators as they leave those meetings. if they're making comments we'll have those for you from the ohio clock area just outside the u.s. senate. both democrats and republicans meeting with the president. we're opening up the phone lines to find out what you want to hear from president obama tonight when he speaks to the nation. at 9:00 eastern. the numbers to use for democrats, 202-585-3858. be republicans, 202-585-3886
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and. dan from texas. thanks for waiting. what do you want to hear from president obama tonight? hello, texas, are you there? i think we lost, i think we lost dan in texas. there you go. go ahead with your comments. >> caller: okay. i am a vietnam veteran. and, you know, we don't know what's going to happen here. even if you remove the gas canisters that they got all this stored in, how many plans do you see on that will reproduce this stuff? and you know, are we going to end up on the ground anyway? i understand we got troops over there in plain clothing already. now this is from stuff that's, friend that, you know, know stuff, know what they're talking about because they're working for different groups. i won't name them but the thing is, is who is going to finance this war? you know. that is one of my biggest questions is. we can not afford this kind of a
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war. we don't have troops anymore. we've been weakened. dod has been cut so much, even our medical, as disabled vets have been cut and you know, this is, it is really irritating to sit back and watch all of a sudden jump up after libya, after "fast & furious", watching the guns come into the united states, which illegal guns are being sold here that are m-16ss, different things in the way of a gun you want you can just about buy for $600. that is by illegal people coming across that border down there and, they're living right in my area right here. >> host: dan, let's here from new york. john's there on the democrats line. what do you want to hear from the president tonight when he speaks? >> caller: i would like to have him stop all this madness. this is ridiculous. the, our country does not need this. there is no reason for us to be
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in syria. we have too much going on here. we have working-class people that are taxed to the max. we have no money. people that work hard every day have to choose between food and paying their bills. this is not the america -- i'm a marine corps vet. i love my country but this is ridiculous. this is terribly ridiculous. our government needs to take care of our people. not everybody else. we, it is almost seems like we live in a terrible society -- society. senate who makes rules that doesn't apply to them. what, i don't get it! i don't get it at all. >> host: john, thanks for your call. john says he is a military veteran. i don't have the story up on the screen for you but a report from ed o'keefe from the "washington post" is telling how military veterans of iraq and fan began in the congress plan
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to vote -- afghanistan. i will read this for you. so far only veteran two members, tom cotton, republican of arkansas, and adam kissinger, republican from illinois who sits on foreign affairs committee. ed writes, those opposed to the military action, this is in house, benvilo from michigan. ron de santis from florida. tim griffin, joe heck. tammy duckworth of illinois. steve stivers are opposed to. leaning against military action in the house according to the washington post, representatives james broaden stein. doug collins of georgia. mike kaufman of colorado. duncan hunter of california and undecided brad winstrop and scott perry, both republicans. those are figures from the "washington post." this is the hill whip count so far in terms of the house. 32 supporting, 185 against and
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125 in favor. just a moment or two here on c-span2, we'll show you some comments of senator richard durbin who spoke shortly after senator mcconnell spoke announcing his opposition to the resolution but here's a statement out from ed markey of massachusetts. the new senator from massachusetts. his statement read in part, i can not support the resolution because it is too broad. the effects of a strike are too unpredictable. because i believe we must give diplomatic measures that could avoid military action a chance to work. let's go to homeland, california. eileen is on our others line. eileen, make sure you mute your television. go ahead with your comment. what do you want to hear from president obama tonight? >> caller: i want to hear that he is going to go in and take care of business. i want the congress to stand by him. and the senate. and that's all i got to say. >> host: okay. let's hear from freeport, new
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york. ken in freeport, new york, democrats line. >> caller: yes. i will try to remain calm. reluctantly i just wish that the congress and the people of the country support our president. something has to be done. i'm not necessarily sure of this being done but our closing our mind to what happened in syria, based on our economy or our fear of what might happen if we strike, and i'm sick and tired of hearing mcconnell calling him a reluctant warrior. he didn't say much when the reluctant warrior sent three helicopters in to get osama bin laden. a act of war, flying over a neutral country to get osama bin
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laden. he didn't shirk from that duty. that's all i have to say. >> host: secretary of state john kerry has wrapped up his testimony before the house armed services commits tee. that hearing is ongoing. we're covering that life on c-span3 and c-span.org. we'll show you to you, later in our program schedule as well. before he left the hearing some comments here, a tweet from spencer ackerman of "the guardian." he says kerry closes would hope for a peaceful, diplomatic way to respond to this. this is a tough lift and i don't want people to think it is easy. some of the comments of secretary kerry tweeted by "the guardian", spencer ackerman. richard durbin, after senator mcconnell expressed his opposition to the resolution came to the floor. here is what he had to say. >> let me say this issue of syria. you can't on one hand criticize
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this president for stepping up to we need to take action if necessary to stop the use of chemical weapons and then on the other hand say he is a reluctant warrior and doesn't support it. how in the world do you reconcile those two points of view? the president has shown leadership on this. what he has asked for the congress to follow. what i heard from the republican senator from kentucky he is not interesting in following that leadership. let me also add, this putin overture, that we find some peaceful way to resolve this? i hope it turns out to be true and something that works and in it does give credit where it's due. this president stead up and said we have to challenge the use of chemical weapons in syria, even if it doesn't affect the united states directly or its allies directly, we have to stand up to them. and if this putin overture leads to some containment of those, or destruction of those chemical
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weapons, give the president credit for it. don't criticize him for not leading. . . >> but we need to make certain that what we do is done with an eye toward the reality of this world that we live in. it is a dangerous world, and it's one where the united states may be called on to lead at times when we don't want to lead. we cannot be isolationist. the united states has a
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responsibility in this world, and that responsibility has to be used very carefully. this president understands that. i hope that at the end of the day that we can, in fact, see a peaceful resolution of the chemical weapons issue in syria. i hope that we can find a way to hearken back to ronald reagan where we can rust -- trust that will happen, but verify as well. that will be the right ending to this. i think the president has taken the right position. and i also want to add something. when it comes to the nation of israel, our closest and best ally in the middle east, they understand what we are trying to do with chemical weapons in syria. and they've made it clear through their friends in the united states and other ways that they support it without fear of retaliation by syria. they're ready, according to prime minister netanyahu, for whatever syria chooses to do. we shouldn't be any less
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forceful or less committed when it comes to ending the threat of chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the middle east. mr. president, i yield the floor. >> host: and we're live on c-span2 taking your thoughts and your comments on what you want to hear from president obama tonight. he speaks at 9:00 eastern, looking at video live from just outside the senate. the ohio clock area. and we will have comments from members as they wrap up their meetings with president obama, both the democrats and republicans are hearing from the president today on capitol hill. the senate will be back in about an hour and ten minutes, gavel back in for that. just to let you know, too, we'll have live coverage tonight at 9:00 eastern, and that will be on c-span, c-span radio and c-span.org. and you can, ahead of that, weigh in online on our facebook poll, facebook.com/c-span. support or oppose military intervention in syria.
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here's las vegas, daniel, thank you for waiting, republican line. what do you want to hear from the president tonight? >> caller: yeah, thank you very much. you know, i never hear anyone discussing the economic impact this is, a strike would have on our economy. what would happen to the markets? you do know that retaliation in some form will occur, and there will be some sort of escalation in all of this. i never hear anyone talk about it, and i listen to the news a lot. and i think this president is basically a joke. he has no business, he's not a leader. and we need strong leadership. and there is just none. and thank you for taking my call. >> host: thanks for your call. just a reminder, too, if you've called in the last 30 days, make sure that you wait and let others call in in the afternoon. lake city, florida, is next up. hello, lynn? go ahead. >> caller: hi. i've just been watching this,
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and i just hope he gives a detailed plan on what he's going to do. i mean, personally, i'm not behind that in any way, shape or form to. i don't think we should get involved in it. it's none of our business. we have too many problems in the united states that we have to handle right now for ourselves. and like the previous be caller just said, i haven't heard anything. you go over there and you strike, and assad already said he might retaliate against us, then that's just going to draw us deeper into the conflict. you know, i just hope he says that tonight when he speaks, because me personally, we've been at war since i was in the third grade, and it's getting old, and it's tired. and, you know, we can't save the world. that's just how i see it. that's all i have to say. thank you. >> host: you bet. lou anne in new jersey, democrats' line. go ahead. >> caller: hi, how are you today? i'm all for the president taking
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a blind -- if we turn a blind eye to what's going on and we heed to russia's so-called proposed plan, i don't feel we can trust them. they've been blocking everything since, for the last two years anything regarding syria. i have family that is in the military, and i wouldn't want them being over there and being gassed. so i know the economy's bad, i know people are war weary, but we have to look at the future for our children. and people seem to be noncomplacent when it comes to that. so tonight when i hear the president, i want to hear him say, yes, assad is going to be held accountable for, and the united states is not going to turn their eyes. and that's all i have to say. >> host: just an update on where the thing, where the story stands as the caller mention
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russia. here's the headlines, this afternoon at in nytimes.com, jonathan weissman reporting on part of this, white house backs global push to secure syria's arsenal. a bipartisan group of of senators joined the international diplomatic momentum on tuesday to avert an american attack on syria over its use of chemical munitions in that country's civil war, responding positively to a russian proposal aimed at securing and destroying those weapons. the group of smoothers, include -- senators, including some of president obama's biggest supporters and critics, were drafting a resolution that would give the united nations time to take control of the internationally-banned weapons. and a response to that, peter baker of the new york times tweeting, let me show you what tweeting here in the last couple of minutes. russia rejects french-proposed u.n. resolution on syria as, quote, unacceptable. wants nonbinding statement by the security council president instead. couple more calls, let's hear
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from louisville, kentucky. charles, republican line. >> caller: hellosome. >> host: you're on the air, charles, go ahead. what do you want to hear from the president tonight? >> caller: well, i'd like to hear if he wants to control and, you know, the russians have come up with a alternative that if you want to control chemical weapons, let's deal with our own. here in kentucky we have an arsenal of chemical weapons just outside of lexington has leaking, and they keep putting the funds back, you know, pushing it back to congress, and it is at a point where they need to be dry canned. but -- destroyed. and they're trying to work on it, but it's not being achieved. we have our own chemical weapons that we need to take care of,
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sir. >> host: where are those weapons from? are they, obviously, from a previous war? are these very old chemical weapons? >> caller: these go back to world war ii, sir. they're in bunkers. >> host: yeah. >> caller: in lexington. just outside of lexington, kentucky. >> host: all right, thanks for your call. let's hear one more from barbara in hollywood, florida. barbara, you there? barbara, you there? >> caller: hello? >> host: go ahead, you're on the air. >> caller: i know this is a very complicated matter dealing with syria x the middle east -- and the middle east has been at war since the beginning of time. and i feel as though they'll always be at war. and i think i wish some of these politicians and even our own president would think about maybe what if they had to send some of their sons and daughters over there and some of their family members had boots on the
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ground. i myself, i have a year and a half-year-old daughter, and when she gets 18 years of age, i would cringe at the thought of my little girl having to fight a war. >> host: now here's barbara in hollywood, florida, as we look and see the hearing breaking up with secretary hagel and general dempsey that was the house armed services committee wrapping up. we'll show all of that to you later. hello, barbara, go ahead. >> caller: hi. i'm behind the president 100%. i don't like the idea of war, but we have to do something about these chemical weapons more any country. for any country. and i would also like for the republicans to get away from everything being no. this is the president of united states. they need to respect what he says and what he does. this no business has got to stop. he'll give a good speech tonight, he will rally the country whether everybody will
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be behind it or not, i don't know. but it is the correct thing to do. thank you. >> host: thank you. and, again, we'll have live coverage for you, 9:00 eastern on c-span, c-span radio and c-span be.org. here on c-span2 we are waiting for the senate to return at 2:15. we're keeping our eye for possible comments from senators after their meetings with president obama this afternoon. we'll have those if we are able to bring them to you live, we will. we just saw the hearing wrap up, the house armed services committee hearing wrap up. want to show you next the opening statements from secretary of state john kerry. >> chairman mckeon, ranking member smith and distinguished members of the committee, privileged to be here this morning with secretary hagel and general dempsey. and we are, all of us, all three of us, very much looking forward to a conversation with you about
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this complicated, challenging but critical issue that our country faces. and we don't come to you lightly. i think secretary hagel and i particularly come here with an enormous amount of respect for this process, for what each of you go through at home and the challenges you face with constituents and the complexity of this particular issue. so this is good. it's good that we're here, and we look forward to the conversation. and as we convene at this hearing, it is no exaggeration at all to say to you that the world is watching. and they're watching not just to see what we decide, they're watching to see how we decide it. and whether or not we have the ability at this critical time when so much is on the line in so many parts of the world of
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challenges to governance writ large. it's important that we show the world that we actually do have the ability to, hopefully, speak with one voice. and we believe that that can make a difference. needless to say, this is one of the most important decisions that any member of congress makes during the course of their service. and we all want to make sure we leave plenty of time here for a discussion. obviously, this is a very large committee, and so we'll try to summarize in these comments and give the opportunity more the q&a -- for the q&a. but i just want to open with a few comments about questions that i'm hearing from many of your colleagues and, obviously, from the american people and what we read in the news. first, people ask me and they ask you, i know, why we are choosing to have a debate on
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syria at a time when there's so much that we need to be doing here at home, and we all know what that agenda is. let me assure you, the president of the united states didn't wake up one day and just kind of flippantly say let's go take military action in syria. he didn't choose this. we didn't choose this. we're here today because bashar al assad, a dictator who has chosen the meet the requests for reform in his country with bullets and bombs and napalm and gas, because he made a decision to use the world's most heinous weapons to murder more than -- in one instance -- more than 1400 innocent people, including more than 400 children. he and his regime made a choice, and president obama believes and
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all of us at table believe that we have no choice but to respond. now, to those who doubt whether assad's actions have to have consequences, remember that our inaction absolutely is guaranteed to bring worse consequences. every one of you here, we, all of us, america will face this if not today, somewhere down the line when the per missiveness of not acting now gives assad license to go do what he wants. and threaten israel, threaten jordan, threaten lebanon, create greater instability in a region already wracked by instability, where stability is one of the greatest prior ties of our -- priorities of our foreign policy
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and national interests. and that brings me to the question of what's really at stake here? you know, does this really affect us? i met earlier today with steve chabot and had a good conversation. what are you hearing? i know what you're all hearing. the ip instant reaction of a lot of americans anywhere in our country is, whoa, we don't want to go to war again. we don't want to go to iraq, we don't want to go to afghanistan. we've seen how those turned out. i get it. and i'll speak to that in a minute. but i want to make it clear at the outset as each of us want to make it clear is what assad has done directly affects america's security. we have a huge national interest in containing all weapons of mass destruction. and the use of gas is a weapon of mass destruction. allowing those weapons to be used with impunity would be an enormous chink in our around por
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that we have built up -- our armor that we have built up over years against proliferationment think about it -- proliferation. think about it. our own troops benefit from that prohibition against chemical weapons. i mentioned yesterday in the briefing, many of you were there and some of you i most from decorations, otherwise i know many of you have served in the military, some of you still in the reserves. and you know the training that we used to go through when you're learning. and i went to chemical nuclear biological warfare school, and i remember going in a room in a gas mask, and they make you take it off and you see how long you can do it, and it ain't for long. those weapons have been outlawed, and our troops in all of the wars since world war i have never been subjected to it because we stand up for that prohibition. there's a reason more that. if we don't answer assad today,
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we will irreparably damage a century-old to standard that has protected american troops in war. so to every one of your constituents, if they were to say to you why'd you vote for this, because you want to protect american troops. because you want to protect america's prohibition and the world's prohibition against these weapons. the stability of this region is also in our direct security interests. our allies, our friends in israel, jordan and turkey are all of them just a strong wind away from being injured themselves or, potentially, from a purposeful attack. failure to act now will make this already-volatile neighborhood even more combustible and may almost certainly pave the way for a more serious challenge in the future. and you can just ask our friends in israel or elsewhere. in israel they can't get enough
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gas masks. and there's a reason that the prime minister has said this matters, this decision matters. it's called iran. iran looms out there with its potential, with its nuclear program and the challenge we have been facing. and that moment is coming closer in terms of a decision. they're watching what we do here. they're watching what you do and whether or not this means something. if we choose not to act, we will be sending a message to iran of american ambivalence, american weakness. it will raise the question, i've heard this question. the secretary of state as i meet with people and they ask us about our long-term interests and the future with respect to iran, they've asked me many times, do you really mean what you say? are you really going to do something? they ask whether or not the united states is committed, and
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they ask us also if the president cuts a deal, will the congress back it up? can he deliver? this is all integrated. i am, i have no doubt, i talked to prime minister netanyahu yesterday, israel does not want to be in the middle of this, but we know that their security is at risk and the region is at risk. i also want to remind you, you have already spoken to this. your word is on the line too. you passed the syria accountability act, and that act clearly states that syria's chemical weapons threaten the security of the middle east. that's in plain writing. it's in the act. you voted for it. we've already decided these chemical weapons are important to the security can of our nation -- to the security of our nation. i quote: the national security interests of the united states are -- the national security interests of the united states
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are at risk with weapons of -- the chemical weapons of syria. the fourth question i've been asked a lot of times is why diplomacy isn't changing this dynamic. isn't there some alternative that could avoid in this. and i want to emphasize on behalf of president obama, president obama's first priority throughout this process has been and is diplomacy. diplomacy is our first resort. and we have brought this issue to the united nations security council on many occasions. we have sent direct messages to syria, and we've had syria's allies bring them direct messages. don't do this. don't use these weapons. all, to to date, to no avail. in the last three years, russia and china have vetoed three security council resolutions
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condemning the regime for ip citing violence or resolutions that simply promote a dialogue to the conflict. russia has even blocked press releases -- press releases -- that do nothing more than express humanitarian concern for what is happening in syria or merely condemn the generic use of chemical weapons. not even assigning blame. they have blocked them. we've brought these concerns to the united nations, making the case to the members of the security council that protecting civilians, prohibiting the use of chemical weapons and promoting peace and security are in our shared interests. and those general statements have been blocked. that is why the president directed me to work with the russians in -- and the region's player toss get a geneva ii
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peace negotiations underway. and the end of conflict in syria we all emphasize today, is a political solution. none of us are coming to you today asking for a long-term military -- i mean, some people think we ought to be, but we don't believe there is any military solution to what is happening in syria. but make no mistake, no political solution will ever be achievable as long as assad believes he can just gas his way out of this predicament. and we are, without question, building a coalition of support for this now. 31 countries have signed on to the g20 statement which is a powerful one endorsing the united states' efforts to hold assad accountable for what he is doing. turkey, saudi arabia, qatar, france and many others are committed to joining with us in
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any action. we're now in the double digits with respect to countries that are prepared to actually take action should they be needed, were they capable of it. more than 25 -- i mentioned, 31 nations signing on to the g12 statement. but our diplomatic hand, my former colleagues, our diplomatic hand only becomes stronger be other countries know that america is speaking with a strong voice here, with one voice. and if we're stronger as a united nation around this purpose. in order to speak with that voice, we need you, the congress. that's what the president did. many of you said, please, bring to congress. be the president has done that. and he's bringing it to congress with confidence that the congress will want to join in an effort in order to uphold the word of the united states of america. not just a president, but the united states of america with
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respect to these weapons of maas destruction. mass destruction. now, i want to be crystal clear about something else. some people want to do more in syria. some people are leery about doing anything at all. but one goal we ought to all be able to agree on is that chemical weapons cannot be under the control of a man so craven that he has repeatedly used those chemical weapons against his fellow syrians with the horrific results that all of us have been able to see. yesterday we challenged the regime to turn them over to the secure control of the international community so that they could be destroyed. and that, of course, would be the ultimate way to degrade with can and deter assad's arsenal. and it is the ideal weapon, ideal way to take this weapon away from him. assad's chief benefactor, the russians, have responded by saying that they would come up with a proposal to do exactly
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that, and we have made it clear to them -- i have in several conversations with foreign minister lavrov -- that this cannot be a process of delay, this cannot be a process of avoidance. there has to be real, measurable, tangible, and it is exceedingly difficult, i want everybody here to know, to fulfill those conditions. but we're waiting for that proposal. but we're not waiting for long. president obama will take a hard look at it, but it has to be swift, it has to be real, it has to be verifiable. it cannot be a delaying tactic, and if united nations security council seeks to be the vehicle to make it happen, that cannot be allowed to simply become a debating society. now, many countries and many of you in the congress from those who wanted military action to those who were skeptical of military action want to see if
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this idea could become a reality. but make no mistake, make no mistake about why this idea has any potential legs at all and why it is that the russians have reached out to the syrians and why the syrians have initially suggested they might be interested. a lot of people say that nothing focuses the mind like the prospect of a hanging. well, it's credible threat of force that has been on the table for these last weeks that has, for the first time, brought this regime to even acknowledge that they have a chemical weapons arsenal. and it is the threat of this force and our determination to hold assad accountable that has motivated others to even talk about a real and credible international action that might have an impact. so how to you maintain that
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pressure? we have to continue to show syria, russia and the world that we are not going to fall for stalling tactics. if the challenge we laid down is going to have the potential to become a real proposal, it is only because of the threat of force that we are discussing today. and that threat is more compelling if congress stands with the commander in chief. finally, let me just direct a -- correct a common misperception. in my conversation steve chabot earlier today, i've talked with many of you, you've told me you hear it. the instant reaction of a lot of americans -- and i am completely sympathetic to it, i understand it, i know where it comes from. i only stopped sitting where you sit a few months ago. i know exactly what the feelings are. people don't want another iraq. none of us do. we don't want afghanistan. but, mr. chairman, with all due
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respect, we can't make decision based -- this decision based solely on the budget. we can't make the decision based solely on our wishes. on our feeling that we know we've been through the wringer more a while. we're the united states of america, and people look to us. they look to us for the meaning of our word, and they look to us for our values, in fact, being followed up by the imprint of action where that is necessary. we are not talking about america going to war. president obama is not asking for a declaration of war. we are not going to war. there will be no american boots on the ground. let me repeat, no american boots will be on the ground. what we're talking about is a targeted, limited but
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consequential action that will reinforce the prohibition against chemical weapons. and general dempsey and secretary hagel will tell you how we can achievement and that. -- achieve that, and their confidence in our ability to achieve that. we're talking about an action that will degrade assad's capacity to use these weapons and to insure that they do not proliferate. and with this authorization, the president is asking for the power to make sure that the united states of america means what we say. mr. chairman, mr. ranking member and member of this committee, i can say to you with absolute confidence the risk of not acting is much greater than the risk of acting. if we fail to act, assad will believe that he has license to gas his own people again. and that license will turn prohibited weapons into tactical weapons.
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and general dempsey can tell you about this. it would make, it would take an exception, a purposeful exception that has been in force or since 1925, and make it the rule today. it would undermine our standing, degrade america's security and our credibility and erode our strength in the world. in a world of terrorists and extremists, we would choose to ignore those risks at our peril. we cannot afford to have chemical weapons transb formed into -- transformed into the new, convenient weapon, the ied, the car bomb, the weapon of everyday use in this world. neither our country, nor our conscience can bear the costs of inaction, and that's why we've come before you at the instruction of the president to ask you to join us in this effort. secretary hagel.
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>> host: john kerry from earlier in the house armed services committee. the hearing has wrapped up. a reminder, president obama is on capitol hill speaking with senators now. we will show you the president's comments tonight. his address to the nation, 9:00 eastern on c-span, c-span radio and c-span.org. we are taking your comments throughout the day on our facebook page of whether you support or oppose military intervention in syria. facebook.com/c-span. and here on c-span2 we continue to take your comments and calls on what you want to hear from the president. the numbers for democrats, it's 202-585-3885. republicans, 202-585-3886, and for all others, 202-585-3887. the hash tag on twitter is c-span chat. let's go to jacksonville, republican line. gene, thank you for hanging on. what do you want to hear
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tonight? >> caller: thank you very much. how many of the 31 nations that have signed on are sending missiles? our president has achieved what he has set out to do. there's nobody talking about benghazi or irs or the laying of obamacare on our shoulders. there's been 82,000-plus people killed in syria, and up til now mr. obama has said not not a thing about it. i don't understand it. why is it all of a sudden our responsibility to do this when the you are the can key is right next door to them -- turkey is right next door to them and a much longer country. this is just over my head. i appreciate your time. >> host: hoarse -- thank you for your call. here's travis if bakersfield, california. >> caller: unfortunately, i really hate to see what's going on. the republicans especially with mitch mcconnell's statement this morning undermining any
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kind of peace efforts. i'm afraid that these republicans -- and they've proven it over the last five years -- that they hate this president more than they hated bin laden. they hate this president more than they hate al-qaeda. >> host: so, travis, is there nothing the president can say tonight to sway those, republicans and others who oppose him on use of force? >> caller: not one single thing. you take, for example, we've had theaters, we've had schools where 5-year-olds, 7-year-olds have been massacred. and these very same people don't even care about their own kids
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to do, to pass any kind of law or find any kind of means to try and stop this killing over here. >> host: appreciate you joining the conversation. we're also keeping our eye on twitter as these, the story evolves on the international scene. here's cnn talking about a meeting this amp, a united nations official saying that the security council will hold an emergency meeting on syria at 4 p.m. eastern. a tweet from afp saying that britain, france and the u.s. will introduce the u.n. security council motion today. and one here from a reuters report tweeted by talking points memo, they say russia proposed u.n. syria proposal is unacceptable. on tuesday a proposed united nations security council resolution holding the syrian government accountable for the use of chemical weapons was unacceptable. they also say that russian
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foreign minister lavrov has told his counterpart in france that they will introduce another resolution. bill neely who's with i-tv says putin says the handover will only work if u.s., u.k. and france renounce their use of force. it sets up a clash at the u.n. security council. and an opinion ear from jeffrey goldberg of bloomberg. it appears that putin is pulling a fast one, not very surprising. and taking a look now at the front page of rt, the headline, syria chemical weapons happenedover will work -- handover will work only if calls off strike. what would you like to hear in the president's speech tonight, maureen? >> caller: i voted for obama twice, and i'm completely against this intervention. i've heard no mention about 9/11, iraq, afghanistan. i'm not trusting what we're being told by mr. kerry.
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i think the american people do need to be listened to on this issue. it's extremely important be, it's a divisive issue. i was with obama all the way, and this is extremely upsetting to me. and we don't need another war. we have enough issues economically going on in this country right now. we cannot afford to do this. so that's basically where i'm at. >> host: here's brian in graphton, west virginia, on our democrats' line. >> caller: how you doing today? >> host: doing fine, thanks, brian. >> caller: what i think wraps it all up, this is a nation of the people, by the people, for the people, and the american people have spoken by the polls shown that most of us, you know, we don't want to do anything with syria. there hasn't been enough proof, and it's time for the government to realize that, you know, that they work for us and that they don't have a blank check to do what they want to do. and that's about basically all i have to say about that. >> host: charles in washington on the republican line.
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>> caller: hi, i just wanted to call in and say this has nothing to do with helping out the people in syria, this has everything to do with the pet row dollar -- petro dollar, and if you don't know what it is, take the time to review history and look it up, people. i think the americans are waking up both on the left, the right and the independents, and we're just tired of what our government -- not just obama, but bush has done -- as well. i am a republican, but i'm liberty-leaning. just look up the petro dollar, people, and you'll understand why we have warmongers in there. and then look up who's getting money from the defense contractor ors. thank you. >> host: a quick look at our facebook poll supporting or opposing the action, the military action, intervention in syria. the support numbers so far, 180. opposing number, 1485. and over 60 with undecided. so over 1600, you can cast your vote at facebook.com/c-span.
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shelley is in everett, washington, on the others' line. >> caller: yes, hello, and thank you for taking my call. next first, i just want to say i was very, very proud of our country when we elected obama. i shed tears. now i want him out of there. i want him impeached. he has done so many things that are impeachable. he needs to go. he has taken our country down. the whole government is taking its people down with out. they're at war on us at home taking our money to use against us via police, via their government tactics. and just like the gal just before me said, they are the only ones that will come out on top of any sort of action that we take over in syria. any defense contractors will get their money, anybody that, you know, with the oil, they'll get their money. nothing to do with the chemical
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weapons. we have used them in the past on our enemies in wars. look at the people, look at the children over in iraq, afghanistan. it's not even what they're saying. we cannot buy any more of their lies. >> host: all right, shelley, let's hear from scott who's on our democrats' line, burlington, vermont. >> caller: hey, how you doing out there? >> host: doing fine, thanks. >> caller: basically, i don't want to see another long, drug-out war. i want to see peace. i'm with obama all the way. i think he's been working against, he's been working with a republican party that does not like him. every time he tries to do something for this country, they get in his way, and they, you know, tell him you can't do that. and that's not right. we don't need another strung-out war. we need to take care of, take care of what's going on at home and get the economy back up. and that's the way i see it.
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>> host: all right, scott, appreciate your calls. more coming up, the senate gaveling back in in about 45 minutes or so at 2:15 eastern. we're keeping our eye on what's called the stakeout position outside of the u.s. senate waiting for probable comments from senators as their meetings wrap up between president obama and both the republican conference and the democratic caucus. next up, though, we want to show you a conversation that we had with alex bolden of the hill. take into account this was about an hour and 40 minutes ago, so things do change. he brought us up to speed on where the senate was as they gaveled out for recess. as we sit here at about noon eastern, nine hours before the president's speech, where do things stand in the senate? what do the numbers look like? >> guest: well, it's looking increasingly unlikely that we're going to get a vote on the resolution that passed out of the foreign relations committee last week. that's because the nos are piling up and because something that was expected to pass easily
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now is going to have a or very tough time passing. so i think the leaders are looking for an excuse not to have this vote right now, and that excuse was provided by the russian government and the french government who are now negotiating a deal with syria to broker the transfer of president assad's chemical weapons stocktile to the international -- stockpile to the international community. so the senate is going to wait to let those talks move forward while the international negotiators are talking, a group of senate negotiators -- four republicans, four democrats including senator john mccain of arizona and charles schumer of new york -- are trying to put together an alternative use of force resolution that would make any military strike contingent on these international talks, their success or failure. and so, basically, what they're talking about is that if the u.n. does not successfully remove these chemical weapons from syria, only then a military
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strike would be authorized. >> host: so this is an evolving story this morning with, as you mentioned, the story out of russia and the story out of france. moving this to the united nations, and you talk about in this group of senators, in this bipartisan group of senators. their resolution, as i understand it from you, would say that any aa proved strike would delay that action until the united nations had a chance to deal with the issue? >> well, we would call on nations to pass a resolution stating that assad did, indeed, use chemical weapons against his own people. it would require the united nations to pass a finding of fault resolution. and then it would also require the u.n. to remove the chemical stockpile from syria. and if those two things didn't happen, then it would give the green light to president obama to launch military strikes. so, basically, it's essentially a reworked version of what the senate foreign relations committee passed last week that
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takes into account the fast-developing news on the international front. >> host: as the president comes to capitol hill to meet with the democratic caucus and the republican conference at the party lunches, news that this hour senator markey of massachusetts, the new senator from massachusetts who voted present in the senate foreign relations committee, just issued a statement that he will vote against the resolution. is this, is this something -- does this add to your vote, the hill vote tally? >> well, markey was undecided before. he voted present during the foreign relations committee markup. now he's a deaf mitt no. so that's -- definite no. so that's bad muse for harry reid. the other important development is that mitch mcconnell, the senate republican leader, announced he's also a no. it makes it even tougher to bring over those republican yeses. and at the end of last week, democrats were anticipating
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defections in the double digits. well, with mcconnell now coming out against it and roy blunt, another member of the leadership and lamar alexander, close to mcconnell, with all of them coming out against this, gop support is breaking to no. the gop position is breaking to no. it makes senate passage of the resolution that was widely expected to pass last week much more tenuous. so if this doesn't pass the senate, then the house -- which is supposed to be an even heavier lift -- is all but unreachable. think reid is very glad to have the exrah time the work on this vote and the negotiations between france, russia and syria give him that extra time. >> host: alex bolton, read his reporting at at thehill.com. we will have live coverage of the president's address at 9:00
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eastern on c-span, c-span radio and c-span.org. and here on c-span2 and c-span radio we are waiting for the senate to gavel back in. expected to come back in at 2:15 eastern. this is the once-a-week weekly party lunches. the president is on capitol hill meeting with democrats and republicans. we're keeping our eye on the stakeout position just outside the senate, so any comments from senator, we plan to bring them to you live here on c-span2 and c-span radio. a couple of comments on where the schedule is so far, lisa tweets, and this was about ten minutes ago: obama meeting with senate democrats is running into overtime. and a tweet from a minute ago or two from dan coats, republican of indiana, saying president obama arriving shortly to speak with senate republicans at capitol on syria. let's hear what you have to say about what you want to hear from president obama tonight. bob is in michigan, democrats'
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line. hi, bob. >> caller: yeah. my concern about this, i spent four decades in the military, and things that go on up there in washington in the foreign countries i've fight in, we need to stop giving them the ammo, the bullets, the tools to make war. just cut 'em all out. block 'em all off. all eastern countries, get rid of them by starving them with ammunition. and put that money onto our deficit and get us out of the debt. that's what i think. >> host: all right. here's louis in miami, florida, on our republican line. miami? hi, louis, go ahead. >> caller: yeah. >> host: you're on the air. >> caller: okay. this is only, i'm against the war many syria. but the way to fix this situation and problem is take all the american people around all the country over there and
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bring them back to u.s.. and then take the money that we are sending over there to all these people, take it off from there. and you're going to see, they're going to stop all the problem they have right away. that's the situation we have now. we continue put some money in there, and these people continue the fight. if you take the money away, this thing we're going to stop, and everybody going to be at war. thank you. >> host: let's go to round rock, texas, next, michael. welcome. >> caller: yes, how you doing there. >> >> host: i'm doing fine. >> caller: yes, i think that a lot of people think that we in the u.s., we should be countries like sweden or switzer lambed, that we should take care of only our problems and don't care about other world issues. but i think we in the u.s., we should realize that we are a superpower. we are the most, you know, strongest nation in the world. and if we want to remain that
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way, we need to protect our interests, and we can't say we don't care about what goes on in other places. >> host: so do you want to hear from the president tonight what specifically our u.s. interests in the region? >> guest: yes. i want to hear what's his interest, but i think he's right. i think we need to do something about it. we need to let the world know that we mean what we say and we say what we mean. i think a lot of people around the world are laughing at us right now, and they think that this is the right time to do what they want because we don't mean what we say. >> host: let's take a look at twitter, c-span chat. folks have been commenting about the senate deliberations and the house armed services committee. joe says -- kerry says, quote, the region is in danger k searching the constitution for region, region not found. this one from nomad, quit beating around the bush and take military action, mr. president. and karen says that's strange that democrats who support this, gassed his people yet they hated bush actions. let's stay out.
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one more here from jason. mr. president, we, your military, are tired both physical hi and mentally, please, no more war. arthur is in lakeland, florida, on our republican line. make sure you lower your television, you're feeding back a little bit. go ahead with your comment. >> caller: yes. thank you for allowing me to come on the air with you. and i'd like to say good day to you. >> host: good to have you here. go ahead with your comments. >> caller: and also i would like to say that i'm very supportive of the president and the action that he plans to take. there was one poet said for whom the bell tolls, and ultimately it tolls for me. today syria, tomorrow america with this poison gas and what have you that is, that hit syria by their own. we are a superpower, and we must
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stand up and step forward. russia, even when they were our allies was not our allies, and they have not been our allies for years and also i would like to say that there are many people who are speaking who are not informed. but the bottom line is the republicans and the rich don't want president obama to succeed. >> host: arthur, thank you more your call. a lot of flashes in the background there, that's photography from presumably senators coming out of their meetings shortly. we hope to hear from some as we stay live here on c-span2. we get the chance here, we'll take you to some comments from -- that caller was from florida, jeff miller, the congressman from florida, had some close questioning of secretary kerry this morning in armed services. here's a look. >> secretary kerry, you just said again there should be no delay, is that correct?
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>> well, i mean, there has to be a reasonable period to try to work this out, obviously. you've got to see whether or not this has any meat to it. and if it does have meat, i think that's important. >> so, again, following up on -- >> the senate has already delay. >> because they don't have the votes, mr. secretary. that's why they delayed. you know that. >> actually, no, i don't -- >> well, i do. >> well, glad you know something. i think this is not -- you know, this should not be a political discussion about whether there are votes or not. >> i'm not being political, mr. secretary. it's the truth. they don't have the votes. read any newspaper in this country, and you will find that out. >> as i said to you, i don't know that. >> should the house delay, or should the house move forward? >> i believe that the senate has made -- >> this is the house of representatives. >> well, i understand. >> sir. >> look, do you want to play politic here, or do you want to get a policy in place? the policy that can be put in
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place is to try to get this particular option of getting control of chemical weapons in place. if you want to undermine that, then play the politics. >> okay. mr. secretary -- >> then i'm asking you -- >> reclaiming my time, sir. mr. chairman? would you, please, ask the witnesses to limit their answers to the questions that are asked? mr. secretary, would you please explain what an incredibly small strike is? >> it's not iraq, it's not iran, it's not a years' war. what i was doing was trying to point out to people that we are engaged in a strike which we have again and again, and if you want to take my comments in tear entirety, i -- in their entirety, i have said this will be meaningful, it will be serious. the assad regime will feel it because it will degrade their military capacity. but compared to iraq, kosovo,
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libya, it's small. it is not any of those things. that doesn't mean that it would be anything less than what i've suggested priestly and the military has -- previously and the military has suggested. we don't do pinpricks. the president has said that, and we've said that. we will degrade, and i believe we will deter. but it is not iraq, afghanistan. and compared to them, it is small. >> has as sad directly -- assad directly threatened the united states of america? >> chemical weapons directly threaten the united states of america. the instability of the middle east -- >> mr. secretary, are we going to strike north korea? >> not at the -- >> they have a larger stockpile than -- >> i beg your pardon? >> do they not have a larger stockpile than syria? >> they have one of the largest stockpiles in the world, and we
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are currently engaged in a very serious effort, which i think you're aware of, working with the chinese. i went at the president's direction -- >> i appreciate, let me -- >> but you don't really want answers, do you? >> i'm trying to -- you're not, sir. >> i'm trying to give you an answer. >> this is not the filibuster. not the senate. we do not filibuster here. >> i'm trying to give you an answer. >> has assad attacked any of our allies? >> not to my knowledge. >> to anybody at desk, whose side are we on? >> with respect to? >> syria, mr. secretary. >> we're supporting the opposition. >> which opposition? >> we're supporting the moderate opposition of the sm -- >> host: take you live now back to the ohio clock area. just outside of the u.s. senate.
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just saw joe manchin of west virginia there, and we're hoping to see some other senators come to the microphone. we'll stay here live and see if we get some comments. >> [inaudible] >> well, i think he's looking for other options, and he was very respectful and receptive of the other people's approach, and he was respectful of mine. >> could you talk about -- [inaudible] >> most certainly, yeah, he's very -- [inaudible] the president's very -- [inaudible] >> how quickly does he want a vote, senator manchin? >> i don't think that basically there's a time element. like to get the international community onboard, and i think that's exactly what he's trying to do. >> do you think your proposal in combination with what the russians are proposing that this might be -- >> i think, basically, we give diplomacy that's being used at the highest level, myself and
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heidi heitkamp have been working on this for over a week, we're hoping that other colleagues now are looking for other ways to look for diplomacy versus first strike, and cha's all it's been. >> what was the president's reaction? >> i think he's receptive to that, but he understands that he wants to keep his finger on the pulse and on the trigger if needed. >> what qualms did he express about the russian plan? >> well, you know, want to make sure that they're serious dealers, serious brokers in and serious players and it's not just rhetoric. i understand that. that's why i believe it should be in the cwc, i said that. ours is very clear, and it gives him the authority at the end. and in 45 days it basically acknowledges the war powers that he has, the war powers act that he can rely on and do what he thinks -- >> what authorizes force? senator levin said he wasn't sure -- >> it's very clear what ours does.
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get right to it. at the end of 45 days if the government of syria does not comply with the convention within 45 days after the date of the enactment of resolution, all elements of national power will be considered by the united states government. he has the right to consider everything and every force they need. >> so that's really requiring another vote -- >> doesn't require another vote. basically, we believe that's constitutional and lawful. >> [inaudible] >> 1925. [inaudible] >> but do you think that was -- today said they won't accept it, and if it's along those lines, they will. [inaudible conversations] >> senator joe manchin of west virginia. democrats have had their meeting with president obama, and he has
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moved on to meeting with republicans. reporters gatt kerring around the podium there, we expect the hear from democratic leadership momentarily here on c-span2 and c-span radio. [inaudible conversations] >> brighter than usual. >> [inaudible] >> i hope so. one of the many questions that were asked, and many questions
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were answered. prior to the president starting the discussion we had in the awe caucus, i showed the 12 or 13-minute video of what took place in that suburb of damascus where little boys and girls dressed in their may t-shirts -- play t-shirts were writhing in pain, retching and dying. you know, these poisons kill little kids quicker than they do people that aren't so young. i think it was a right setting the start the discussion we had with the president.
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what took place on august 21st is a revulsion. i told the caucus that i was sorry we had to do this when we were having lunch, because a lot of appetites were certainly stymied as a result of watching this. the goal of our actions has been to limit or take away from assad, his ability to use these chemical weapons. the pr's credible threat -- the president's credible threat of military action has opened up the possibility that this goal can be achieved through diplomatic means instead of military means. but overlying all of th

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