tv Sens. Coons Rubio CSPAN March 6, 2018 1:33pm-1:53pm EST
interviews with members of the senate foreign relations committee. one from each side of the aisle. ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming our first guest from the state of delaware, senator christopher coons. [applause] thank you for coming today. >> thank you. thank you to aipac for a great conference and a chance to join you again. >> senator coons you just returned from a trip to israel. we're talking about a backstage and it sounds as if it was fascinating and you had an opportunity to meet with prime minister netanyahu in the syrian border and what is your candid sense of his real security situation coming away from the trip? >> it was a great trip because it was bipartisan and there were four republicans, three democrats, senator lindsey graham and i led this trip and we had a chance to visit jordan in israel. in israel we spent four days looking at it security situation
and i was really struck in my ears as a senator i haven't seen an immediate security situation as threatening as today. think about it. we've got in sinai, isis burning both israel and egypt, hamas digging tunnels. to fire rockets and in lebanon. hezbollah embedding tens of thousands of advanced munitions and rockets running the north of israel and we took a helicopter tour of all of this and then got a briefing from the golan heights with general the deputy chief of staff of the idf. in syria, field state where you have both vices still active in hezbollah, shiite militias, the iyer tc under a russian air cover. i run increasingly and aggressively challenging israel and recently, directly sending it around into israeli airbase. it's important that we make clear that when iran and russia challenge israel directly they are also challenging the united states.
we need was all and stand together. [applause] >> that sounds serious. as you mentioned the trip was part of a bipartisan congressional degradation led by us senator gran with several of your colleagues. in this incredibly partisan time how important is it that israel remained a bipartisan issue and how possible do you think that is? >> that is where you come in. frankly, keeping us support for israel, american engagement with israel, not just on security issues but also on innovation and technology in our shared values it is absolutely essential because there are so few things that bring up together in congress these days. we need to show the world that we can sustain a bipartisan commitment to israel to security and to its thriving is the only democracy in the middle east and the most vital ally in the middle east.
[applause] >> we were talking backstage about the delegation also travel to jordan which, of course, has a critical and evolving relationship with israel. what was your takeaways from that part of the trip? >> we had a remarkable dinner with the king and heard from him and security concerns, yes, but more economic concerns that i've heard before. there is 650,000 syrian refugees in jordan and the downward pressure on their economy is markable. the imf is pushing them to make it very difficult forms and i think we need to do more to invest in jordan's economic stability. king abdulla represents a version of islam that is moderate, they are a counterterrorism partner to israel in the united states and they are an island of stability in an otherwise chaotic region and i think we can in should do more to support jordan. [applause] >> last night we heard from ambassador haley about us efforts to combat bias in the un and this is an issue you care deeply about and you and senator
rubio, the two of you work very well together and authored a letter to the un secretary-general calling for efforts to put out this anti- is really biased and what impact do you think that letter has. >> one of the great things about my working partnership and my friendship with marco is that were on the foreign relations committee together and that is nice in important but we are also on the appropriations committee the specific on the funds the united nations. our communication the secretary-general that have pressed for more transparency, more efficiency and serious effort to combat the anti- israel bias in the un has produced some early results. investor nikki haley has been a strong and capable and good leader in this part but we should be doing more to push back on anti- israel bias. frankly, anti-semitism in the united nations. [applause] >> you mentioned that you and senator rubio work well together and you introduced legislation, of course, for security and expanded us israel cooperation
in a number of fields. can you tell us a little more about the initiative and why you decided to be the effort. >> having just come back from this ripping trip to israel for we got to meet with ambassador freedman and his great team at the embassy with the minister of defense and the prime minister we got the security briefing i just described and i thought it was important to act. you know, the theme of this year's conference is to use to lead and i think it's important that we pull together in a bipartisan way and demonstrate that congress has israel's back every bit as much as the president does. it's a bill that would legislatively authorize the ten year mou at the .3500 million a year fiscal system support and that's a floor, not a ceiling. [applause] rubio's bill will also make sure that israel has
access to decision guiding munition and to ammunition and other munitions should conflict come. it also ensures that we are more tightly coordinated on critical areas like cyber security and making sure that we sustain israel's qualitative military edge and continues partnerships between united states and israel that teach about our values between other initiatives that show the world how we promote peace and promote development together. so between mo un security package, between support for precision guided munitions, loan guarantee and our value partnership i think i just happen to think that the rubio's bill is a great idea. this is where you come in. [applause] if you are going to choose to lead it is my hope and my expectation that in your time today coming to the hill you will help us secure more cosponsors. as of right now, rubio has two
back. my hunch is that you get to work on capital today will have not 20, not 50 but 70 or 80 cosponsors of this bill and we need you, please come do the work in lead. [applause] >> senator, what do you think once everybody gets their what are the prospects are you optimistic? >> i'm optimistic because i think the security situation is dire. i think the values that unite us are important and enduring and i think the prospect of our working together for the entire pro-israel community and across the entire range of members of congress to demonstrate to the world that when i iran test israel like it never has before went russia provides air cover for that testing and when hezbollah and hamas threatened from north and south that we will continue to be the most reliable ally israel could possibly have and that we will
show that in a democracy we can come together to support this through citizen advocacy. >> senator chris, thank you for your time. let's give him another round of applause. thank you. [applause] ♪ >> as i mentioned, our next guest is also a senior member of the senate foreign relations committee from across the aisle. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome florida senator marco rubio. [applause]
senator rubio, thank you for being here. >> thank you for having me. i've never spoken to group for. >> it's a big group. >> is a sea of faces. >> seven years, i'm glad to be here. >> you been busy. >> yes, ma'am. >> senator rubio you're a strong track record for israel and you have that dodger political career. where does that passion come from? >> paintings. i've always pointed to america should be a friend of our friends and certainly standing with our allies in support and israel is a strong ally. it's one of the strongest in the world. second israel stands for everything we hope the middle east will become. free enterprise, democracy that is pro- american and if had more countries like that in the middle east our lives could be simpler. and then the third is israel has a unique purpose like any other nation on earth is graded for specific purpose and in the aftermath of the holocaust to ensure there was never again not be a homeland for the jewish
people and an ability to defend themselves when anti-semitism turns into violence. [applause] >> i was talking to senator clinton's that fact that you authored that letter last year to the un secretary-general calling for efforts and the letter signed by every single one of your colleagues all 100 senators and in an era of such partisan politics -- [applause] what you think me that bipartisan agreement so possible? >> i used to joke we could get 100 senators to honor santa claus but we got a hundred on board with israel. it's a testament to the work of this organization and so many others. it needs to remain that way. i would caution you that today's congress is reflection of 20 and 30 years and you have to project 20, 15 years the congressional delegation will be made up of the men and women that today are
in colleges are graduating from university and if you want to see the future of this cause you to look there and i'm deeply concerned about what is happening in college campuses in america and this embedded anti-semitism we see. [applause] we need to tackle that. >> secretaries of defense mattis said last month that everywhere we find trouble in the middle east you always find iran engaged and i had a conversation with the admiral and he said the same thing. this should be our top focus in the middle east. from your perspective is america doing enough to push back? >> you have to understand what they're doing. the trying to drive us out of the region and doing it after combination of shiite militias in partnering with different countries. you see them trying to use the kurdish situation in iraq and reaching out to the kurds and supporting president assad and the work they do with hezbollah you see them everywhere in the
their taking advantage of the gulf so it's a strategic effort on the parts to drive the united states out of the region and become the predominant regional power so every single one of those issues is one we have to confront. can't be pushed out of the iraq conversation and pushed out of the syrian solution whatever else really happened there with stability. it's clear that we need to make clear to the world that our relationship is not symbolic which doesn't just end with the move of a embassy but has a notion that we will support israel militarily, financially, economically to ensure they can withstand anything that comes their way as ec has blood developed capabilities in lebanon that are greater than they've ever been. [applause] >> do you think that on capitol hill and in the ministration there's an understanding of what you just articulated?
are you optimistic about that focus? >> i think there's an understanding that we want to be supportive of israel. the of work to do, i think, to put it comment approach together to show that the issues are linked and that iran's effort in iraq or ultimately tied to their ability to encircle and rackley for israel. be it through proxies or directly. i think we need to do more work on that front. we just can't keep the irania iranian -- that includes going after israel if using hezbollah out of lebanon and or increasingly in syria so we need to tie those things together. they are interrelated connect to some extent this takes me to the next question. we were just talking to senator tonight about this legislation you introduce to support not only security assistance to israel but expanded us israel cooperation in a number of fields. i assume this is why you think it's a critical effort because you have to dig in. >> and senator coons said something on the floor, it's not just a feeling but administrations come and go but
if it is in the law for the next ten years that means the next administration whatever party that is in six years from now whenever that may be will inherit a law that has codified the memorandum of understanding and makes clear world the us has a legal commitment, not just a moral one but a legal obligation to come to israel and continue provide help. [applause] >> now, senator coons said everybody in this room should head to capitol hill to show support. >> for our bill, right. >> what is your view of the prospects? >> they are good for your work will make it better. there's a lot of issues and there's thousands and thousands of bills and sometimes it's the process of showing up in saint will you please sign on because of you can get 67, 80 cosponsors given how tight the floor is in terms of getting bills passed this is one of those things we
might be able to do it without even a vote on it the unanimous consent process and the more responses we have and the more of a party you make it today on the hill the higher the prospects are. and hopefully we get it done. we see the finish line here and it's a key day and we need your help to go to that today. [applause] >> speaking of other legislation you bothered legislation with senator shaheen and it has passed to the chambers and it sounds as though negotiates on the way in a compromise bill can you update us on the status. >> we already did this. this is 2.0. we did 1.0 about three years ago, has blood then adjusted and now were adjusting. every time they move we will move to follow them but i want to leave you with one thought. the risk that hezbollah poses out of lebanon is severe. the capability same with the iranians by them and allow them now to manufacture their own rockets and potentially try to overwhelm israel's defenses at some point. it is important that we do everything we can to cut off any financial stream they are using
to fund this activity and that is why 2.0 is so important. after you talk about rubio coons talk about this one although this one is past we are trying to reconcile the differences and i think the prospects are high we can get that done. >> terrific. while the administration has included funding for security systems to israel and its budget request they continue to seek international up and spending. you have been a vocal supporter of robust international affairs and why do you think this funding in general is so important and how do you make that case to your constituents. >> everyone needs to take a deep breath. no congress in history of the public has taken the presidents budget on as a pastor. we will not turn out number two, and international assistance i'm all for account ability. i do not want americaolgainst us or against our values. by the same token it is international systems is less
than 1% of our overall budget. it's not charity. it is a direct investment in national security and in strengthening institutions in partner nations and frankly, it's a with money in the long term. we will continue to be vigorous as for that. >> do you feel that when you try to talk to your constituents at home that they understand that the track. >> a lot of people think foreign aid is 30 or 40% of our budget. when you explain is less than 1% in the world of examples outside of the middle east, south korea is to be foreign aid recipients. today there the ninth or tenth largest economy in the world and they are pro- american democracy. columbia was a failed nationstate that today is our strongest ally in south america. all a direct result of your investment and i think we need to continue to look for opportunities to run the world in addition to continuing to invest in our existing alliance. >> finally, this is a chance for you to other some more advice to the room.
we have seen turnover in congress in recent years and yesterday a great friend of the us israel relationship, senator cochran, chairman of the senate appropriations committee announced his assignment. what impact does that turnover have on your work and what advice do you have for a pack on how to build support with new members of congress? >> a lot of members of congress, the state level do not have a deep level of expertise and foreign policy. when i came to the state level i knew more about it because i lived in miami and foreign policy, trust policy in miami but in general people are tackling but it really is. in general it's not that they don't care about foreign policy but someone who has been a governor or a state senator is not an issue that they are aware of and so one of the things that is most diff about what effect does is it isn't someone from halfway across the country talking to you but you are all assigned someone is working with you that from your community from your state that has a state not just in the future of this country and of the world but in
your community. those relationships are critical and they are important and i encourage you to continue to do that. especially with the members who will be inclined to be supportive but may not be fully aware of all the things that are out there and that are said that are not accurate but the state of affairs in the region or about the differences between the different parties involved in the region. it really is important early on in the members career to try to get in front of them and state with facts and figures in historical data that backs up strong us israel alliance. >> i hope you have been taking notes. senator rubio, thank you so much for your time. let's give him another round of applause. [applause] >> good morning, a back. thank you for that warm welcome. i'm honored to be here once again at the policy conference. [applause]