tv U.S. Senate Sens. Menendez Corker on Yemen War Powers CSPAN March 20, 2018 1:39pm-2:00pm EDT
not interested in exercising our article i authority on the issue of warmaking. >> in other words, no matter what one's view may be about the wisdom of the war, to go to table is to advocate our constitutional responsibility. >> we are not interested in even having ain debate here about questions, complicated questions of legal authority for serious military engagements overseas. >> let me just concur with senator murphy. if you think it is a good idea for the united states to be involved in the war in yemen and saudi arabia, you can vote against the resolution. but i can think of no reason at all white and a member of the congress would vote to table this resolution and prevent that discussion. and i would hope that we would have strong support against any motion to table and allow that
debate to gote forward. and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. >> mr. president, i want to thank senator lee thank senator leahy, sanders and murphy as well as the other cosponsors of the resolution that we are debating for their commitment to elevating this debate in the united states senate. i agree with my colleagues that this is an important debate with significant implications in that representatives must serve as an effect to check on the executive p ranch to protect the national security interest of the united dates have been responsive to her constituents. this debate is about how we best leverage the tools in our national security toolbox, including military tools to protect u.s. national security. and although the resolution focuses on one particular element m of the policy, limited military support, basically
refueling intelligence and advice to the saudi coalition, and i encourage my colleagues to expand the aperture of this debate so we may call on the administration to assert real leadership, diplomatic out and nonmilitary resources to move the conflict in yemen towards a political trap. as a member of the foreign relations committee, i remind my colleagues it is this committee that has the jurisdiction over the questions over use of. forc. i remind my colleagues that it's also under my leadership as chair oft this committee that twice voted on authorization for the use of military force when in 2013 in response to the transcendence of regime with use of chemical weapons and in response to the rapid rising spread of the islamic state. i remind my t colleagues that these two committees doesy underscore my commitment to open debate, my willingness to take tough and my enduring commitment
to a robust role for the legislative branch of the u.s. government and the use of force and oversight of that force. now i am pleased chairman corker has agreed to the war in yemen. i think a hearing before the senate foreign relations committee is critically important and to look at the u.s. military support of the saudi coalition and our overarching u.s. policy for resolving the war in yemen. ima appreciate the chairman has also made a commitment to a markup in the committee and the near future over legislation that deals with the question of yemen. and i also welcome his commitment to markup in a ums, authorization for the use of military force in the committee. those are significant and actually will go a l long way
towards an important process about how we deal with this challenge. in considering senate resolution 54, i encourage my colleagues to assess the best way to promote core u.s. in the middle east, including pushing back on iran's aggressive and destabilizing actions across the region, countering terrorism and ensuring the freedom of navigation. to achieve these goals, our long-standing policies have been to partner with members of the cooperation council to promote the security and stability of the arabian peninsula. as they consider this resolution, we must fully grasp the situation on the ground in the scope of tax on one of our additional security partners. saudi arabia has been covered yet many originated attacks inside the territory on a scale that no american would accept. ballistic and scud missile attacks aimed at major saudi population centers, cross-border attacks by iranian backed to
houthis and that is significant. having said that, i shared the concerns of a majority of my colleagues regarding the conduct of the saudi led coalition operations. the unacceptable scale of civilian casualties, severity of the humanitarian crisis and the lack of momentum on all sides towards a political trap to negotiate an end to this conflict. the saudi coalition significant responsibility for the magnitude of human suffering, 75% of the the population is in need of humanitarian assistance in more than 8 million are on the brink of famine. the conditions have also led to the worst outbreak of cholera in modern history with an estimated 1 billion people suspected to be infected. boo-hoo these bear much responsibility for the violence comes in the saudi led campaign has played a significant role in exacerbating the current humanitarian capacity. must remember that the houthis
internationally recognized and lawful government of yemen and continue the conflict by resisting a political solution. so, we asked the saudis to have a political solution, but we need to houthis to engage in a political solution as well. we also have to remember that the houthi t insurgency has vasy expanded the opportunity for al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. at the same time, i worry that withdrawal of limited u.s. military support to the saudi coalition will weaken our leadership and our ability to influence a political settlement and improve humanitarian conditions and could even make the situation worse. let us be clear eyed about who will most benefit from an absence of american power. as has been done throughout the region, iran will continue to expand its proxy power enter its revolutionary guard, iran will
continue shipping weapons to boo-hoo these in violation of the arms embargo with an emboldened iranian patron, will continue their campaign with yemen in their attacks on saudi arabia. meanwhile, other nations in the region will be left questioning the commitment i of the long-tem security partner, the united states. saudi arabia's darkest hours, ballistic missiles are of in saudi arabia and lebanese hezbollah on the border training fighters while iran continues to transfer vehicle equipment. we risk sending -- and is not reliable. acrossro the world from canada o the united kingdom, president trump has damaged our credibility as a reliable partner, even for some of our most stalwart allies. we must push against those concerns and show her allies that the united states upholds its international commitments. consideration of withdraw support for the saudi coalition must c be taken in concert with
other ways in which the united states is working to end this war. the totality of u.s. policy, which i fear is to bolster our diplomatic humanitarian and political presence to help solve the crisis and the human suffering, to assert practical concerted leadership. the administration effectively abdicated leadership on the united states. there is no military solution to this conflict and a political settlement is necessary. this administration is actively dismantling the state department and antagonizing the united nations, the two entities that have the potential to play the most critical roles in moving towards the political settlement in addressing the humanitarian crisis. we have vacancies for the middle east and the ambassador in riyadh a failure of leadership.
but the danger approaches her diplomatic institutions, will not be in a position to promote solutions and our military once again will be called to do the critical work of diplomacy and development, distracting attention from other counters, a failure ofai leadership. regarding a broader diplomatic strategy, the administration also develops a comprehensive strategy to confront iran, including holding iran accountable for continuing to provide missile supplies and training to the houthis. across land and sea, but amazed hezbollah operatives and yet we have seen no action for illegal it could be. they have not made one designation for iranian violations of arms embargoes as directed by the legislation passed 98 to two in the adversaries for sanctions act. again, a failure of leadership.
i expect the administrations reticulated and implement a comprehensive strategy for addressing yemen that includes conditions for continuing to support the saudi coalition, a strategicll push for a political settlement. efforts to alleviate the human suffering and comprehensive strategy to push back on iran's destabilizing actions. this includes countries that will continue to facilitate ball at c a minimum pushback on irans actions. i will continue pushing the administration to assert critical american diplomatic leadership rooted in the values and democracy of human rights and d dignity. so based upon chairman corker's commitments to those hearings in future markups and based upon the totality of the situation, i will vote to table the motion to discharge from the committee because i am not ready to abandon our partners to face an existential threatto from iran n amok in yemen, but my support is
not unconditional and i will demand responsive actions. i want to see as i told the saudi arabia a renewed commitment towards a political b track by the saudi coalition. i want to see consistent demonstrations of commitment to humanitarian access. i want to see a follow-through in pledges of assistance to stabilize and rebuild yemen by the members of the saudi coalition. i want to see energy and diplomacy from the trump administration. this week's visit of crown prince mohammed bin salman is an opportunity to press forward on a path for ending the war and addressing the civilian suffering. that certainly was my message to him. the limited support the united states provided leverage, not the trump administration needs to use it. in conclusion, i invite my colleagues on the senate foreign relations committee to join me in holding the administration to
account and pushing the administration to use their leverage to drive this conflict towards a political traffic. i invite my colleagues to join me in conducting oversight of our policies t and programs to counter iran's activities in the region, including caps. i want to be very clear that myt vote today is not a blank check for u.s. military support, nor an endorsement of the current policy and strategy. and finally, not a thumbs-up to saudi coalition that we should continue business ast usual. i expect to see improvements as i previously stated and i would reviewew future decisions with respect to potential arms sales and the type of extreme scrutiny. there is no more timeo to waste. we must move towards a political settlement to end the war in yemen and the people of yemen will see improvements in their situation immediately. i look forward to working with all of my colleagues to ensure they are working towards a
policy that embraces american leadership in promoting a solution in alleviating the devastating humanitarian suffering in yemen. i look forward to this continuing debate before the senate foreign relations committee. with that, i yield the floor. >> mr. president. >> senator from tennessee. >> i want too thank the senator from new jersey, make that the ranking member of the foreign relations committee for his comment and today we met with the crown prince ofra saudi arabia. very impressive young man who's transforming the country. we talk about the importance of our relationship no doubt, but we strongly, strongly pushback on what is happening right now in yemen and asked them to take strong corrective actions. i was there whenas this occurred and certainly express the same. we also talked about the enrichment that they are pursuing in some of the concerns that existed there. i want to thank the ranking member for his leadership in the words you just gave.
that may speak to the debate we are having on the floor. this is a very entrepreneurial move. i don't say that to be pejorative. i know that one of the members is on the judiciary committee that is bringing this to the floor and i can imagine some highly important judicial issue not being debated in the judiciary committee, but just being wafted to the floor for debate. i know that it's not the way the judiciary committee operates. one of the other members is on the energy committee. i can imagine them complex cap-and-trade bill being offered at instead of being worked through the committee or some ethanol bill i or some other tye of building work to the committee, somebody brings it directly to the floor. that is what is happening here today. i certainlyis don't shy away frm this debate. i appreciate f the fact which
mcconnell understood the very few members of our body on the foreign relations committee, service committee or taken a particular interest in even know much about what is happening in yemen. and a lot t is happening there. i appreciated the briefing last week to give members a sense as to what is occurring there. but the proper way to deal with these issues is to deal with them inld committee. you would think maybe there is some yemen legislation that the committee is holding and not acting on. if that is not the case. any of these numbers could have offered yemen legislation relative to this issue and the committee would take about. that has not occurred. let me tell you what is happening in the committee. we have a bill that is being worked on by senator jan and shaheen dealing with this very issue. with they are building support,
working with the administration to make sure the definitions are correct. they've had number of people involved with them. we plan to have a yemen hearing in the next few weeks that deal with this issue, but also to take up appropriate legislation. that is the way that we typically deal with issues of such importance. let me say this. this is an issue of great importance. not only the tremendous humanitarian crisis that is occurring in yemen, the of the assad supported by a grant, but also saudi arabia's own security, but also affects the way we deal with other countries. many people here understand fully that right now or recently we've been involved in the same kind of activities with friends as they dealt with issues in mali, refueling, helping them with intelligence issues. and so, this is something again that we need to take up in a serious way and that committee
so.ommitted to doing what i hope will happen today as members of the body will let the foreign relations committee do its job and that we will bring a bill forth that we can properly debate and amend. i am hoping that later today on an authoring table motion, members of this body would respect that most of the foreign relations committee that deal with this,t issue. let it go back to committee, with the commitment that we plan to bring forthth legislation to actually deal appropriately with many of the issues relative to yemen and saudi arabia iran and ourselves. but they mention one other thing. we have been working for some time to deal with the authorization for the use of military force. it has been an issue before us for many years and it is the replacement and revision of the 01, 02 at ums that many have had
concerns about because it's been so long since they were enacted. we have activities taking place around the world, still based on those two authorizations. we have a markup on a ums on april 19th scheduled to try to revise, so we can give people an opportunity to weigh in on this issue on the t floor. by the way, the way to a ums is being constructed at present when we go into new countries, when we take on new groups, the senate would have the ability to weigh in on those issues. so i would just like to say to the body and those who are lookingot in, we are not shying away from this debate. there is no legislation whatsoevers that has been hauled up on this topic. legislation has been introduced soon in a bipartisan way to deal with this terrible issue that's taking place inn yemen. we will have aea hearing. we will have a markup and in
addition to that, we will have a markup on a new a ums to do with the issues that are countries dealing with around the role of al qaeda, isis and other entities associated parties. with that, mr. president, i want to let people know that it's kind of the way we deal with things around here. none of us are happy with the current data is, but i think a better way for us to come up with a proven solution to what is happening there is to go through the normal committee process. i hope members of the body will respectha that. either way, the ranking member, by the way, this policy has been taking place in yemen started under the obama administration, same exact policy. the senate has acted on it by voting fors appropriations so it's not as if we have not taken action ourselves through the ncaa, various state department authorizations. so we've got that upon it.
there were concerns about what is happening there. legislation is going to be introduced to try to deal with the senate the way we deal with complicated issues. no one is shying away from the debate. we just deal with it in the orderly, appropriate way. >> mr. president, later today the senate will be voting on a privileged resolution that i spoke on yesterday offered by three of our colleagues. simply put, it would direct the president to cut off all u.s. support for the saudi led coalition in yemen. now, some people may be looking at a world map to figure out where yemen is and what the import of this conflict may be. but suffice it to say that this is another proxy war being conducted against the u.s. and ital