tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN March 20, 2018 2:15pm-4:46pm EDT
are you comfortable with the president going after the special counsel? >> i agree with the president's lawyers that bob mueller should be allowed to finish his job. i think it was an excellent appointment. i think he will go wherever the facts lead him and i think he will have great credibility with the american people when he reaches a conclusion of this investigation. so i have a lot of confidence in him. >> you talked about the senate having enough time to process this bill. senator cornyn indicated that they might have to be here saturday. are you confident this will be wrapped up friday night and are you concerned about having members here on saturday on your side of the aisle when there is this a done protest out front? >> my focus is on finishing this omnibus appropriation which will
fund the government -- >> we will leave this hearing returned to the floor now for live coverage of the u.s. senate. mr. president, one year ago today, the senate judiciary committee oaptd opened its hearing on neil gorsuch. the stanford law review has published my argument made in that hearing and will be repeated if president trump makes another supreme court nomination. today i want to look at the lower courts because no less than 138 positions on the federal district and appeals courts are vacant. that does not include 33 vacancies that will occur in a year or so. everyone must understand the seriousness of this crisis. by itself 138 is just a number.
it's a big number but it needs a frame of reference to know if this is normal or a serious problem that has to be addressed. i certainly don't want to be accused of partisanship so i will rely on the standards and criteria used in the past my my democratic colleagues. let's use some democratic standards to evaluate the number of judicial vacancies that we face today. one standard is that democrats have specifically identified how many vacancies are unacceptable. in february 2000, with a democrat in the white house, democrats said that 39 vacancies was, quote, too high. unquote. in september 2012, with democrats both in the white house and controlling the senate, they declared a, quote, judicial crisis, unquote, when there were 78 vacancies.
now, if 38 vacancies is a crisis, what is the label for 138 vacancies. this is the highest judicial vacancy total since september of 1991, but more than half of those vacancies were fresh from congress creating new judgeships several months earlier. in either total or percentage terms, we face today the most serious judicial vacancy crisis that anyone in this body has ever seen. a second democratic vacancy standard is -- as they did in april of 2014. we can compare judicial vacancies today with vacancies at the same point under previous presidents. if that democratic standard is valid, vacancies today are 35% higher than at this point under president obama and 46% higher than at this point under
president george w. bush. there is a third democratic vacancy standard. in june 2013, and at least far back as april 1999, democrats have complained that the senate was not confirming enough judicial nominees to keep up with normal attrition. well, judicial vacancies today are 30% higher than when president trump took office, and as i said, at least 33 more have already been announced. finally, democrats have frequently said that the 107th congress the first two years of the george w. bush administration should be our judicial confirmation benchmark. during that time, the senate confirmed an average of just over four judicial nominees per month. the sean has so -- the senate
has so far confirmed 28 of president trump's district and appeal court nominees or two per month. take your pick. by any or all of these democratic standards, we face a much more serious judicial vacancy crisis than in years past. in addition to the gravity of this crisis, however, the american people need to know its cause. i can tell you what is not causing this vacancy crisis, president trump started making nominations to the federal district and appeals court on march 21, 2017, just 61 days after taking office, as you can see on this chart. by august of last year, he had made three times as many judicial nominations as the average for his five predecessors of both parties. president trump has nominated 86
men and women to the federal bench since he took office 14 months ago. if the president is making so many nominations, perhaps the problem lies somewhere in the confirmation process. once again, my democratic colleagues can help figure this out. in november of 2013, then judiciary commission chairman patrick leahy spoke about obstructing judicial nominees, quote, in other ways that the public is less aware, unquote. democrats are using such below-the public-radar abstraction tactics at each stage of the confirmation process. the first stop in the confirmation process is the senate judiciary committee. under chairman chuck grassley's leadership the committee has held a hearing for 65 of president trump's judicial nominees, more than any of the
previous five presidents at this point. so that is clearly not the problem. the first sign of democratic obstruction is the unwarranted and partisan opposition to reporting judicial nominations from the judiciary committee. in february 2012, three years in the obama administration, democrats complained that five nominees to the u.s. district court had been reported by the judiciary committee on a party-line vote. this, they said, departed dramatically from senate tradition. today, just 14 months into the trump administration, eight nominees to the u.s. district court have been reported by the judiciary committee on a party-line vote. the present rate of such party line votes in the judiciary committee is more than four times what democrats criticized just a few years ago. the below-the-radar-obstruction
tactics continued when the judicial committee sends judicial nominees to the full senate. democrats, for example, refused to cooperate in scheduling confirmation votes. they can't prevent confirmation votes all together because they abolished nomination filibusters in 2013, but if they can't make judicial confirmations impossible, they are determined to make them difficult, very difficult. here's how they do it. the senate must end debate on a nomination before it can vote on confirmation. the majority and minority have traditionally cooperated to end debate and set up confirmation votes. in march 2014, not for the first time, democrats said that refusing consent to schedule votes on pending nominees was obstruction. when the minority refuses that consent, the only way to end debate and set up a confirmation
vote is the formal cloture process which requires a cloture vote which can add several days to the confirmation timeline, as seen here. since president trump took office, democrats have forced the senate to take 28 cloture votes on judicial nominations compared to just two cloture votes at this point under the previous five presidents combined. even when cloture is invoked, senate rules provide for up to 30 hours of debate before a confirmation vote can -- occur. nearly half the time under president trump it was followed by a confirmation vote on the same day. under president trump that has plummeted to 17%. the average time between cloture and confirmation votes for president trump's judicial nomination is more than 55% longer than it was under president obama.
when a judicial nomination gets out of the judiciary committee, survives an unnecessary cloture vote, and then is subject to postcloture delay, democratic obstruction is still not over in this march 2012, being democrats complained about senators voting against nominees to the u.s. district court who were supported by their own two senators. in fact, democrats called this a new standard of obstruction because it departed so far from senate tradition. okay. let's assume for the moment that this democratic standard is also valid. at this point in the previous five presidencies, from president reagan to president obama u.s. district court nominees had received a combined total of ten negative votes. so far under president trump his
confirmed district court nominees have received 72 negative votes. two weeks ago the pew research center released a new analysis showing that president trump's confirmed judges have, quote, faced a record amount of opposition, unquote. in fact, this analysis concluded that president trump's judges have each received an average of more than 22 negative votes. quote, by far the highest average for any president's judges since the senate expanded to its current 100 members in 1959. unquote. this level of opposition is more than four times what it was under president obama. or should i say, not just opposition, oppositional delay. these tactics don't include high-profile filibusters or headline grabbing confirmation
defeats, but unwritten traditions. that's why they operate below the radar. yet democrats criticized these tactics precisely because they take their toll. individually and especially in combination they can add days and weeks to the time it takes to confirm a single judicial nomination even when the final confirmation vote is unanimous. in november 2013, for example, democrats said that taking cloture votes on unopposed nominees amounted to, quote, obstruction and abuse of senate rules. unquote. at that point almost four years into the obama administration, the senate had taken one cloture vote on a judicial nominee who was later confirmed without opposition, just one. just one. we are only 14 months into the trump administration and democrats have already forced
the senate to take five cloture votes on nominees who were unanimously confirmed. it has already happened twice this month. if doing this twice amounted to obstruction and abuse, what would my democratic colleagues call it five times as often in one-fourth the time. this is just a few of what then-chairman leahy called obstruction tactics that the public might in the be aware of. believe me, there's more where these came from. like i said, i want to avoid partisanship. each of these is a democratic standard. these are democratic criteria. if my colleagues who once thought these were valid standards want to abandon them now, then perhaps they were also wrong the first time around.
otherwise we have to face the conclusions that follow from applying these democratic standards and criteria. we face an unprecedented judicial vacancy crisis. since president trump is making nominations and the judiciary committee under chairman grassley's leadership is steadily processing them, there remains only one explanation for the vacancy crisis we face today -- plain, old fashioned partisan obstruction. democrats are manipulating this process at every stage using the very tactics that they have loudly condemned in the past to make confirmations as difficult and time consuming as possible. even in politics, actions speak louder than words. in july 2012, when there were 76 judicial vacancies, chairman leahy said that, quote, we
should be doing better, unquote. today, with nearly twice as many vacancies, i challenge my democratic colleagues to put actions to those words. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: i would ask for the quorum call to be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reed: mr. president, i rise today to express my concern about the continued deterioration of the situation in yemen and to share my views on the resolution that is currently before us. the military conflict in yemen has gone on for too long and has affected tens of millions of civilians who face displacement, famine, and a widespread cholera outbreak. according to the united nations, more than 15,000 yemenis have been killed or injured since the war began in march of 2015.
the humanitarian situation there has been described as the worst in the world, with more than two-thirds of yemen's approximately 29 million people facing severe food shortages. an outbreak of cholera has already infected at least one million people, marking the worst such outbreak in decades. continued instability in yemen also benefits our adversaries. while we have sought to maintain pressure on al qaeda and the ararian peninsula or aqap and isis, the lack of a functioning government or state security apparatus inhibits our ability to go after these groups. additionally, it's clear that iran has taken advantage of the current situation to spread its maligning influence and provide lethal support to the houthis, thereby further undermining regional stability and security. unfortunately, we have yet to hear any strategy from the administration as to how they would propose to use u.s.
diplomatic leadership to help bring about an end to the conflict in yemen. we still do not have an ambassador to saudi arabia, and occasional visits by white house officials are not a replacement for the sustained diplomatic efforts by our experts in the foreign service. i'm encouraged, though, by the appointment of a new united nations special envoy to yemen, martin griffiths, and hope that the united states government will seek to support his efforts wherever possible. while the primary conflict in yemen is between an iranian iranian-backed houthi insurgency and a saudi-led coalition, the united states is involved. as stated in a letter sent by secretary mattis to congressional leadership this week, in his words, since 2015, the united states has provided limited support to saudi-led coalition military operations to restore the u.n.-recognized government of yemen and preserve saudi territorial integrity from
houthi-aligned forces in yemen. moreover, according to secretary mattis, u.s. forces are not authorized to use force against the houthis but do support the saudi-led coalition with intelligence sharing, military advice, and logistical support, including antiair refueling. last week, the commander of u.s. central command, general votell, testified before the armed services committee that our support to the saudi-led coalition is primarily defensive, in nature and focus on the iranian-supported ballistic missile threat to saudi arabia that originates in yemen, maritime threats to the international shipping in the bab b el-men deb straight and counter terrorism. when the united states provides air refueling to coalition aircraft, we do not know where those aircraft then go. therefore, they could be going to conduct offensive strikes
against houthi targets which may result in civilian casualties, which is a major concern for me. even more troubling, if these aircraft went to conduct strikes against targets outside of yemen, the u.s. would be complicit of much more dangerous and provocative activity. i have concerns about persistent reports of civilian casualties and damage to civilian industry caused by the saudi-led coalition in yemen. far too many of the strikes by the coalition have killed or injured civilians and resulted in the destruction of infrastructure needed to provide basic services to the population. thereby exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. it is also clear that more must be done by both the coalition and the houthis to facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid into and throughout yemen. the united nations and humanitarian organizations continue to express concern about their ability to access
airports and difficulties in distributing aid to vulnerable populations once it is inside the country. it is important that shipments to yemen be subject to inspection by the u.n. verification and inspection mechanism to help be prevent the transit of illicit materials in violation of the u.s. arms embargo, but all parties to the conflict, all parties to the conflict in yemen have a responsibility, including under international humanitarian law to allow access to aid by those in need. so we are faced with a very difficult set of issues, and i certainly commend my colleagues, senators sanders, murphy, and lee, for bringing this issue to the floor. the saudi-led coalition clearly must do more to end this war and must prosecute this war in a way that limits the civilian casualties and humanitarian crisis. on the other hand, saudi arabia and the united arab emirates or the u.a.e., remain important
partners for the united states and we share many common interests in the region, including the fight against al qaeda, isis, and other violent extremist groups. the resolution before us would establish a blanket prohibition on all assistance to the saudi-led coalition, except for the purposes of covering al qaeda and associate forces. while they understand the approach, i hope it would end the conflict. indeed, it may even cause harm as both sides potentially act more violently. we can and should engage if there is a possibility that we can help minimize collateral damage by providing the coalition with training and advice on best practices. general votell testified last week that u.s. assistance has contributed to improvement by the coalition on these issues. specifically, the department of defense has told us that engagement by u.s. military personnel has resulted in the
introduction of a no-strike list. that is a process which actually puts targets off-limits and ensures that pilots and others understand those targets. they have also caused a succession or an ending of the use of custom munitions by sawed forces and the formation of a body to investigate noncombatant casualties. these are positive steps, but it is clear that much more must be done to maximize the impact of the war on yemeni civilians. i support our continued engagement for that purpose. both saudi arabia and the u.a.e. face a significant threat from houthi rebels armed with ballistic missiles. apparently, with the tactical assistance of the iranians. there have reportedly been dozens of such attacks against saudi arabia since the spring of 2015, including against civilian
targets like the international airborne in riyadh, which was attacked in december. i strongly support the right of our partners to defend themselves from these threats and believe that continued sharing of u.s. intelligence for defensive purposes is appropriate, especially in light of the fact that tens of thousands of u.s. civilian, military, and diplomatic personnel also face these threats while living and working in the region around riyadh and throughout saudi arabia. i also have concerns that ending all support to the saudi-led coalition may cause the conflict to escalate. as secretary mattis wrote to congressional leadership this past week, restrictions on our limited u.s. military support could increase civilian casualties, jeopardize cooperation with our partners on counterterrorism, and reduce our influence with the saudis, all of which would further exacerbate the situation and humanitarian crisis. secretary mattis also expressed
concern that withdrawal of our support would embolden iran to increase its support to the houthis, enabling further ballistic missile attacks and strikes on saudi arabia and threatening vital shipping lanes in the red sea, thereby raising the risk of a regional conflict. therefore, i believe that support by the u.s. military of the saudi-led coalition in yemen should not be absolutely prohibited but should be explicitly limited to the following objectives. first, enabling counterterrorism operations against al qaeda and isis. second, defending the territorial integrity of saudi arabia and the u.a.e., including against ballistic missile strikes. three, preserving freedom of navigation in the maritime environment around yemen. and four, enhancing the training and professionalism of their armed forces with a primary focus on adherence to the law of armed conflict and prevention of civilian casualties. our support to the saudi-led
coalition needs to be considered in a thoughtful and deliberate manner. from a policy perspective, we should distinguish between assistance that is provided for defensive and noncombat purposes and that which could be used to enable offensive military operations in the yemeni civil war. and let me be clear, i am not in favor of giving the saudi-led coalition a blank check. in fact, i believe that we should no longer provide air refueling assistance unless it is used to enable aircraft conducting counterterrorism missions pursuant to the 2001 authorization of the u.s. of military force, or countering specific identified threats to saudi territorial integrity. indeed, use of our military assets to support saudi-led coalition efforts or the efforts of other nations to conduct operations outside this narrow scope would raise very serious legal questions.
given its comprehensive approach, i do not believe the sanders resolution is the appropriate vehicle for these issues to receive the careful and deliberate consideration they are due. i understand the foreign relations committee may soon take up this issue, and i urge them to do that, and i look forward to engaging further in those discussions when presented the opportunity. the administration must make clear to both the saudi-led coalition and the houthis that there is no military solution to this conflict and the time has come to reach a negotiated settlement. congress also has an important rule in fitting the policy framework for the u.s. of u.s. armed forces overseas and ensuring u.s. military capabilities are only used for authorized purposes. at the same time, we should not take action that would unduly restrict our engagement with partners for legitimate purposes, and in so doing undermine our ability to help bring about an end to the conflict in yemen, ease civilian
suffering, and defend the territorial integrity of partners. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. thank you. mr. boozman: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. boozman: as you know, our chamber is focused on a heavy subject at the moment, human trafficking. an estimated 25 million people are victims of human trafficking all around the world. smuggling people for forced labor and sex slavery is a heinous crime. it is the kind of crime that we tend to think happens in sam faroff place, but these atrocities are happening all across the globe, sadly including and unfortunately in the united states. in fact, human trafficking appears to be on the rise in our country. according to data released by
polaris which shows a 13% jump in cases reported to the help lines that it runs. since polaris began operating over ten years ago, its help lines have received reports of 203 cases of human trafficking from my home state of arkansas. almost half of those were reported in the last two years. fortunately, our state is fighting back. last year, arkansas legislators approved a law requiring state licensed struckers to be trained in spotting the red flags of human trafficking. using their position on the road, these drivers have the tools to recognize the signs of human trafficking and alert the authorities to any suspicious activity. congress is also increasing its efforts to combat human trafficking. in september, the senate unanimously passed two pieces of legislation to renew existing
programs in support of survivors and help bring perpetrators of these horrific crimes to justice. the abolish human trafficking act provides more resources to law enforcement in its efforts to combat human trafficking and establishes human trafficking justice coordinators at every u.s. attorney's office and at the department of justice. in addition, the legislation helps survivors rebuild their lives by extending the department of justice domestic trafficking victims fund. the trafficking victims protection act reauthorizes key programs to help survivors in their recovery as well as offering specialized training on human trafficking to judges and to federal investigators. we have made progress, but more needs to be done, and the legislation on the floor this week will help by giving law
enforcement and prosecutors additional tools to crack down on crimes involving exploitation of the vulnerable. it will help us take on nefarious actors like backpage who hid behind the communications decency act to avoid prosecution for trafficking crimes. it's time to rip the cover away from these bad actors. we are going to do that by making narrowly crafted changes to the law to ensure websites that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking online are held accountable. knowingly is the key word here. during the last session of congress, the homeland security committee, under the leadership of senators portman and mccaskill, johnson, uncovered just how much backpage knew, and it was a lot. in fact, backpage's operators helped customers modify their ads to hide references to
underage prostitutes. i think we can all agree that rises to the threshold of knowingly facilitating sex trafficking online. should this bill pass -- and i believe that it will in a very bipartisan way -- these bad actors won'ting able to fade -- won't be able to fade quietly into the dark as we are going to give the authority to prosecute websites that violate sex trafficking laws. that's why i support this bill. that's why i cosponsored similar legislation here in the senate. it's also why i supported the inclusion of at least $90 million in federal funding to combat human trafficking. as a member of the senate appropriations committee, i will continue to support funding for these important programs and look forward to the senate completing work on fiscal year 2018 funding bills. i'm pleased to see all levels of government lending their support
to help fight this crime. together we can end this attack on human rights in our states, our country, and around the world. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. young: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. young: mr. president, in light of the vote later today on the sanders-lee-murphy legislation, or senate joint resolution 5,i rise today to discuss the situation in yemen and the path forward. as many know, over the last year i have focused persistently on the humanitarian crisis in yen.
-- in yemen. my activities have been maniful. i have used letters to the administration and the saudi government, an administration nomination, hearings, a senate resolution, and countless meetings, here, and briefings with administration officials, saudi officials and leaders of the n.g.o. community. my goal has been to address exempts to the delivery of -- creditments to the delivery of humanitarian assistance -- food, fuel into the country of yemen. we've seen some progress and i've been encouraged by this. the usaid world food programme cranes have been delivered and the red seaports have been opened. according to the united nations, since the ports were opened, we've seen more than 884,000 metric tons of food and more than 410,000 metric tons of fuel delivered to the ports of huda
hudaydah and loan. why is the fuel so important? without the fuel, you can't run the water treatment facilities and, therefore, the cholera epidemic that has broken out in yemen will only get worse. so 884,000 metric tons of food and over 410,000 metric tons of fuel. this has resulted in the saving of countless lives in yemen. now, look, there is a continued humanitarian crisis in yemen. a lot of problems persist, and we need to address those. we've seen proceeding progress with respect to the delivery of some of the humanitarian assistance i mentioned, but commercial and humanitarian vessels have been offloading their lifesaving cargo less quickly than we would like, and so there is a lot left for us to do. the nationa national security cl
statement issued on march 15 related to yemen indicated there are still over 22 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. this is the world's largest humanitarian disaster. the risk of famine persists for millions of yemenis. the saudi-led coalition continues, unfortunately, to impose unacceptable delays on ships carrying food and fuel into yes, ma'am eny ports. according to the u.n.,ed saudi-led coalition caused 5.9 days of additional delay in the month of february on ships going to the major ports of hudaydah and salif. those delays continue this month. why does this matter? well, this matters, of course, because we don't want people to suffer. it's inconsistent with our basic human values. it's inconsistent with what we americans believe. but when people suffer, it also
exacerbates a national security crisis. it facilitates radicalization. in fact, last week i chaired a foreign relations committee subcommittee on this very topic, on the connection between foo fd and security specifically and instability or radicalization of those who are food-insecure. the hearing demonstrated there is now a strong evidentiary and academic base basis to conclude that it is in america's clear national security interest to address food insecurity as well as a lack of fuel and medicine. a retired marine corps general testified at that hearing, lieutenant colonel kasela. he said, food crises can grow terrorists. food crises can grow terrorists. we will, we've seen a lot of terrorists grown in yemen in recent years. the longer the civil war persists in yemen, the worse the
humanitarian crisis will grow. this will radicalize yet more people and provide even further opportunities to iran to undermine our national security interests and those of our partners. what are our objectives in yemen? that's a fair question. it's one all of us as policymakers and really all americans ought to be asking. well, consistent with our humanitarian principles and our national security interests, i believe we have to continue to pursue two primary objectives. the first, wept to address the -- we want to address the largest humantain crisis in the worldaged the second, we would we want to press all parties to end the civil war. the real question here, because i don't think there's disagreement on those two primary objectives, mr. president -- is how can we best achieve these two kiehl's? that takes me to the sanders-lee-murphy resolution before us today. we need to fulfill our article 1
constitutional responsibilities. article 1, section 8, of the constitution indicates that it is congress' responsibility to declare war. it is congress' responsibility to authorize the use of military force. and i share senator lee's conviction, senator sanders' conviction, senator murphy's conviction that we need to take that responsibility very, very seriously. and this is why i introduced an authorization for the use of military force last year. it's also why i've been working with chairman corker of the senate foreign relations committee, senator kaine and other members of the committee to break a logjam in negotiations, some principle disagreements that exist with respect to what the authorization for the use of military force should look like moving forward. we've finalized and updated aumf
against islamic terrorist groups like al qaeda and isis that will merit consideration in coming weeks. in fact, we heard from chairman corker. he's now offered public assurance that there will be hearings on the issue of authorizing military force. there will be marking up and reporting of legislation so that this 17-year-old authorization for the use of military force can be re-upped, because my own view is whatever one thinks of the legal merits of this long war under the authorizations given in 2001 and 2002, the further away we gret that point in time where a past congress authorized force, the more attenuated that argument is, the less power it has. moreover, we owe it to the men and women in uniform to consistently debate our involvement n. and oversee conflicts. so i commend the chairman for
agreeing with other members of the committee that we need to have hearings and to pass legislation specifically on this matter through the committee of jurisdiction, through what we call regular order. let me share with those who are watching my remarks here today what i believe the wrong approach is. i believe senate joint resolution 54 is the wrong approach. that resolution sidesteps the senate foreign relations committee, doesn't lead to the sort of fulsome debate, doesn't allow us to hear from professional witnesses, members of the administration the way a formal committee hearing and markup would allow. moreover, the legislation is never going to become law. it will never become law. it's an exercise in messaging. now, messaging is important. we need to make the argument.
i respect my colleagues for making their principled arguments, their they're strong in conviction. they make them, each of them, quite articulately. but the administration has already indicated that the president wouldn't sign this into law. the administration has already indicated that they do not regard under the law us as engaging in hostilities which is required to trigg the law they have in-- trigger the law they have invoked. so this will never become law. moreover, we most certainly will not be overriding a president of the united statesdential veto should this pass out of the the senate and the house and go to the president whereupon he would veto t so this will never become law. and the last reason i think senate joint resolution 54 is the wrong approach is because it won't achieve our shared objectives. it would fail to achieve its stated objective because the administration rejects the
premise of the sanders-lee legislation related to hostilities, as i've already stated. so there's a better approach. rather than just criticizing senate joint resolution 54 -- and let me be careful to distinguish between criticizing the legislation which we'll be voting on later and my colleagues, because i've got great respect for my colleagues and their motives. but iwanted to play a more constructive role in this debate the, so i wanted to introduce legislation that would provide leverage to pressure the saudis to actually end the civil war in yemen p. and to actually improve the humanitarian situation. at the same time we have to acknowledge and respond to iran's maligned behavior in yemen as well as the presence in yemen of isis and aqap -- al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. this is ashably the most aggressive and most dangerous
al qaeda franchise in the world. we also have to recognize that saudi arabia's legitimate right to not have ballistic missiles launched into their cities. this is our partner. so i wanted to develop a bipartisan compromise that could actually pass out of the senate foreign reels -- foreign relations committee, be signed by both chambers and be signed by the president of the united states. i think we're well on our way to doing that. i wanted to further legislation that would further its stated purpose. our objectives in yemen ending the civil war and addressing the humanitarian crisis. and so that's why i and senator shaheen now senate joint resolution 55 on march 8. now, since then we've worked with the committee, we've worked with members of both parties, we've worked with the administration and outside experts to further refine our legislation, making numerous
substantive changes and principled compromises. the current version of our legislation would require the department of state to certify in an unclassified and written report that saudi arabia is undertaking the following. number one, an urgent and good-faith effort to conduct diplomatic negotiations to end the civil war in yemen. number two, appropriate measures to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in yemen by increasing access for yes, ma'am enies to food, fuel, and medicine, including through yemen's red seaports, the aircraft in sanaa, and external border crossings with sexual assault and, number three, demonstrable action to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure resulting from its military operations in yemen
including by complying with applicable agreements and laws, regulating the use of cluster munitions and other defense articles and services purchased or transferred from the united states.. if the department of state can't make that certification, then u.s. air refueling missions which are essential to the saudi coalitions operations, they would end. they would be prohibited. given the humanitarian crisis in yemen and our national security interests, i appreciate chairman corker's commitment today to mark up yemen legislation in the senate foreign relations committee when we return from recess in april. so based on this reasoning, which i've laid out quite clearly here today, i plan to oppose the sanders-lee-murphy legislation today. instead i'll support legislation like ours that can actually become law and would provide the administration the leverage they
need to result in real change in yemen. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. feinstein: mr. president, i note that the senator who was to be on the floor is not, so i would ask permission to proceed. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized, without objection. mrs. feinstein: thank you very much, mr. president. i rise today to participate in the discussion on the conflict of yemen. in 2015, i received a phone call from a saudi official informing me that the kingdom was about to take military action in yemen. the official said the conflict would not last long. they would launch airstrikes to push the houthis out of sanaa, restore power and broker a political compromise. that was nearly three years ago,
and the conflict has since grown into the world's worst humanitarian disaster. more than 10,000 civilians have died and more than 40,000 are wounded. more than half of yemen's health care facilities have been destroyed. three-quarters of the population, almost 22 million people, need humanitarian assistance. 11 million require urgent assistance to survive, which means they are close to starvation. the situation for children is especially dire. 1.8 million children under the age of five are malnourished. of that, more than 400,000 are so malnourished that they are now ten times more likely to die. on top of the bloodshed and famine, the people of yemen are
facing an horrific outbreak of cholera. more than one million cases of cholera have been reported, potentially the worst cholera outbreak in world history. more than 2,200 people have died from it. almost a third of whom are children. cholera has spread because more than 80% of the population lack clean drinking water. we can't turn away from suffering because we are a party to this conflict. the united states is providing intelligence, military advice, logistical support, and aerial refueling to saudi arabia. the fact is we are enabling a major proxy war between saudi arabia and iran. we do all that despite there
being no military solution. this has not been a brief war. it has turned into a major war that must end. the longer we permit suffering to continue, the more innocent men, women, and children are going to die. instead of facilitating endless fighting, we should be pushing for reconciliation. i have personally urged saudi and iranian officials to meet to discuss their differences. to my great disappointment, they have refused to do so. iran is expanding its influence across the middle east. it continues to arm hezbollah, back president assad in syria, and support the houthis. saudi arabia and its partners won't back down. just last week crown prince salman said his nation will pursue the same nuclear capabilities as iran.
what does that say to us? but their fight in yemen offers no military solution, only a political resolution will end this miserable war. it's time we separate ourselves from this bloodshed. the united states must make it clear that we won't continue to support unending conflict. and that's why i support the sanders-lee resolution which would require the united states to stop refueling saudi and emirati aircraft. now this seems like just a small step, and it certainly won't immediately end the war, but it is a deeply symbolic one. this resolution will send a clear message that we will no longer enable this proxy war. there's no reason a diplomatic solution can't be found to end this violence.
and a strong push for reconciliation will save the lives of thousands upon thousands of men, women, and children in yemen. but that peace is only achievable if we speak with one voice and pass the sanders-lee resolution. otherwise we will continue to enable this barbaric war. thank you very much, mr. president. mr. menendez: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. menendez: mr. president, i come to the floor with a series of my colleagues from the senate foreign relations committee on the democratic side to enter into a colloquy about this administration's chaotic and incoherent approach to foreign policy, an approach that has left our allies confused and our adversaries emboldened and undermine the united states standing on the global stage. to be fair, the president's own
national security strategy echoes decades of bipartisan recognition that the founding values of the united states democracy, the rule of law should continue to drive our foreign policy. yet, the president himself has shown a fundamental disrespect for these very principles. declining to publicly champion the importance of human rights and good governance, refusing to condemn dictators around the world who brutally repress their own citizens, sew instability -- sow instability across the world or even those who attack the united states, something i fear will ultimately weaken our ability to promote the security and prosperity of all americans. last week some ceremonious firing of our nation's top diplomat was a brazen example
from the president. the reality is it does not serve the interest of the united states when the president undermines its top diplomat from the crisis in the gulf to his outreach to north koreans. secretary tillerson's legacy will be shaped not just by the president's misguided efforts, but also his own ill advised attempts to dismantle the state department leaving the united states without key voices to advance our interests around the world. the administration has failed to even nominate critical high level positions: undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, leaving a void of empowered voices. meanwhile there are gaping vacancies in embassies in some of the world's most troubled regions. as we confront a nuclear arms to north korea, the president has yet to nominate an ambassador to south korea, our critical ally in the peninsula, one who has historically relied upon american assurances and allegiance. similarly, the president took more than a year to nominate an
assistant secretary for east asia pacific affairs. the impact of these vacancies was on full display last week when the president, without the knowledge of his top diplomat, announced a meeting with north korean dictator kim jong un birthday, an assertion -- an assertion that was walked back and modified by the secretary of defense and the white house press secretary. and in the middle east, as the president continues to send more and more american troops, and we face an emboldened iranian regime creeping farther into syria facilitated by the kremlin's military support, he has yet to appoint ambassadors to consequential posts, so saudi arabia, to egypt, to qatar, to turkey, to jordan, which has proved a critical partner in our fight against terrorism in the region and supporting refugees, two essential components of u.s. policy in the middle east. how can we possibly expect to assert american leadership and secure our interests with these
posts unfilled and with no empowered individuals at the department itself? under the president's watch, the number of career ambassadors, which is basically the state department's equivalent to four-star generals at the department of defense, has plummeted by 60%. if we were shedding four-star generals this quickly, we would be sounding the alarm of a national security crisis. we have just one career-level ambassador left at the state department. let me say that again. one career-level ambassador left. and this administration has seen fit to ship him off to an academic institution rather than to engage him in front line diplomacy. we're witnessing a mass exodus of experienced diplomatic and security professionals who have dedicated their lives to this country. this is a forced exodus, and i am deeply alarmed to see reports revealing what we have feared for some time. we just started to learn about
disturbing efforts to purge the broadcasting board of governors and impose a partisan editorial voice on u.s. international media. alarmingly last week press reports highlighted e-mails that provided concrete evidence of the administration's efforts to effectively purge the department of anyone they do not believe would be a purist for the president's vision. e-mails showed political leadership describing some civil servants as, quote, turncoats, leakers, and troublemakers. the conversation showed senior political appointees working with outside organizations engaged in vicious smear campaigns against career civil servants and dismissing death threats against some of these same career officials. diplomats who have served republican and democratic presidents alike, who have spent their careers working to build a
more prosperous and secure world so that a commander in chief would not have to send our sons and daughters into war. this is america. our government functions because of a political civil servants across agencies who dedicate their lives to advancing the interests of the failed associates, from distributing social security checks to negotiating nuclear arm treaties. it's outrageous, it's disgraceful and it's dangerous. we face challenges from every corner of the globe. we simply cannot confront them if we are not present, and we cannot overcome these challenges when the president himself does not acknowledge them. as china's political hrao*erp -- leadership consolidates power and the country pursues an aggressive economic agenda around the world, the president praises these dictatorial moves. meanwhile he failed to deliver
on his promise for better trade deals. latin america, while our president calls our neighbors to the south drug dealers, criminals and rapists, china is expanding its presence in our backyard. in mexico one of the most integral bilateral partners, mexico the second largest of u.s. goods and services in the world, we will soon lose or ambassador as we hear about the russian elections. when it comes to russia, again and again the president's own intelligence officials have made clear the russian government not only meddled in our election in 2016, but continues its interference in the american political system to this day. yet, the president refuses, refuses to condemn vladimir putin or impose congressionally mandated sanctions to hold him accountable for their attack on the united states. i understand today he congratulated him on his quote, unquote election. that is not an election.
putin is seeking to be a czar, not to be a president. the russian government continues its military aggression in ukraine as disph-fgs campaigns across europe. in a brazen plouffe this month, the -- move this month the kremlin used an unlawful chemical agent to commit murder on british soil showing how far they will go if they are unchecked. beyond these great power threats, we must also confront nonstate actors and new tools designed specifically to destabilize free and democratic societies. we must demand more information to learn about cambridge analitica and the efforts of this organization to exploit private information from soerbd soerbd -- social media users around the world. the only way to confront old and emerging threats is to stand united with our allies. we have spent decades building
these alliances based on mutual respect, accountability, and vigorous engagement in the international institutions and security agreements that are essential to promoting peace and security around the world. and and we ourselves must be a reliable ally and partner. we must speak with an authoritative voice. we must have our national security agents executing clear, integrated, coherent strategies. the president himself must champion the fundamental ideas that made america secure and prosperous. democracy, human rights, free expression, values we champion not because simply they're right but also they're strategic. we stand for these values because globally governments that uphold the rule of law, that respect human rights and freedom of expression, that welcome economic competition, these are the nations who form america's most reliable allies, most prosperous economic partners, most strategic security relationships. so let me close, mr. president,
with the american people and the institutions we've built, they remain resilient. now more than ever congress must exercise its role as a coequal branch of government when it comes to our foreign policy. we need republicans and democrats in congress to uphold our duty to conduct oversight, to ensure that bipartisan values that have guided american foreign policy for decades can be executed by an experienced, empowered, fully funded and fully staffed state department. together we must ensure that our reputation as a leader of nations is not eroded by a president's and an administration who thus far in my view far from putting america first threatens to leave america isolated and behind. that is our challenge. that is our choice. and i appreciate that some of my colleagues have joined us in this regard. i will yield the floor, mr. president.
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. mr. udall: thank you, mr. president, for the recognition. i want to say how glad i am to have senator menendez back in the saddle as our ranking member and foreign relations and thank him so much for his speech and thank him for his leadership on our very, very important committee. i want to join my colleagues from the foreign relations committee in their critique of president trump's handling or maybe we would call it the mishandling of foreign policy. i am most concerned how u.s. power, prestige, and diplomacy have been weakened across the world as a direct result of this president. the united states has stood as a world leader of liberal democracy, the rule of law, and human values since the end of
world war ii. our actions abroad have not always been perfect but over the decades, we have earned the world's respect because we have acted on our principles. after the fall of the berlin wall, authoritarian regimes were in retreat. today authoritarianism is back on the march. the president himself even cheers them on, praising vladimir putin, and others who fashion themselves for president for life of one party, repressive regimes. in this president's short, rawkous and chaotic tenure, he has diminished our standing within the world community. he's done that by grossly offending other nations and their leaders, including many of our closest allies by abruptly changing foreign policy with no clear policy basis, by
denigrating countries and an entire continent with comments laced with racism. the president issues conflicting messages, world leaders and international diplomats cannot rely on his word or his tweets. he has plenty of criticism from our friends and allies but little for strong men like vladimir putin. the world is alarmed. it is less stable under this presidency. secretary tillerson had disagreements with the president and early on the president undercut and sidelined him. the day before mr. tillerson was shown the door, the secretary broke with the white house by directly pointing the finger at russia for using a chemical weapon on the ex-british spy in his homeland. the president will not and this incident shows the president
will not tolerate daylight between his own corrupt political beliefs and the views of his lieutenants. during confirmation hearings for mr. pompeo, our committee must find out whether he will hold fast to traditional american values or bend to the president's civility to vladimir putin and other autocrats around the world. the president's own diplomacy has been chaotic and dangerous. he has alienated one of our closest friends and biggest trading partners, this, the country of mexico. he insists that mexico will pay for this offensive wall. he says it's necessary to keep out rapists and criminals. the president has imperiled our relationships with both mexico and canada with his threats to tear up nafta which he seems to say over and over again. in my home state of new mexico,
border communities rely on the integrated border. border communities rely on the economy that has been built up over the last 24 years. we have a trade surplus with mexico. nafta negotiations continue, but there has been a chill on economic activity in states like new mexico, texas, california, and arizona. the president has shaken the world with his grade school taunts about nuclear weapons, a deadly, serious subject. he chided secretary tillerson that talking to north korea won't work undercutting the secretary once again. and then suddenly agreed to meet and even negotiate with king kim jong-un without the careful diplomatic work needed to ensure success. i support diplomacy as the best solution, but rash diplomacy can
easily lead to rash wars and impulsive decision making is extremely risky. i hope the president seriously studies the issues between now and any meeting and brings an experienced team and sets realistic and achievable goals for any negotiation. he must understand that diplomatic failure is potentially catastrophic. a war would likely result in 20,000 casualties a day in the opening week. secretary mattis has warned that we could -- and these are secretary mattis' words. quote, the worst kind of fighting in people's lifetimes, end quote. i do not trust this president to follow the constitutional process required to go to war. that's why i am cosponsoring s. 2047 prohibiting the president from launching a preemptive strike on north korea.
starting a war with north korea would only undermine the security of the u.s. and our regional allies and should not be done without approval of the american people through the congress. the president's attitude toward russia and vladimir putin complicates our ability to gain support for our efforts overseas. russia interfered with our democracy and continues to interfere in the affairs of our allies. this -- there is no good explanation why he has not directed our nation's security agencies to take all possible action to respond to russia's interference with the 2016 election and increasingly we see in these special counsel investigations how russia is playing a bigger and bigger part. there is no reason why this administration took so long to begin to implement congress' sanctions against russia.
special counsel mueller's investigation has already produced indictments against russia and key officials from president trump's campaign. but the president himself does not send the message to deter future interference by russia. the president's failure to fight back, his resistance to sanctioning the russians, and his subserve yans to pew -- subservians to putin betray the trust. the weapons program is mind boggling. director pompeo reportedly shares this hostility, but just last week the commander of the u.s. central command, army general joseph votel testified before the senate armed services committee that the iran deal is in our national interest. defense secretary mattis, joint chiefs of staff chairman general joseph dunford also agree. and our close allies, also
signatories to the deal, agree it's in the international communities' interest. this is not the united states the word has come to know, rely on, and believe in. the president's failure to protect our national interest weakens our position within the world community. morale at the state department is suffering as our foreign policy suffers. any new secretary of state must work to reverse this. this congress and the world have watched as the president and the secretary of state have hollowed out the state department. highly experienced and talented foreign service officers have been fired, pushed out, resigned to menial -- reassigned to menial tasks and ignored. many senior diplomats have just packed up and left. nicholas burns and ryan crocker who served as ambassadors in both republican and democratic
administrations have warned, we are witnessing the most significant departure of diplomatic talent in generations. on the top of retirements, the number of people who took the foreign service exam, dropped by more than half between 2016 and 2017. there is real concern this will have a lasting and negative impact long after the trump administration. director pompeo will need to answer tough questions during confirmation. will he impose congressionally-mandated sanctions on russia? what actions will be taken to counter russia's ongoing cyber warfare? we are on the razor's edge with north korea as chief diplomat, does he support a preemptive strike against north korea? what will he do to avoid a disaster? does he agree with our military leaders about staying in the
iran denuclearization deal? will he certify iranian compli compliance if the facts show compliance. does he support the president's proposal to designate the state department's budget? will he continue secretary tillerson's plan to decrease staff by 8%? what will he do to recover agency morale which we hear over and over is at an all-time low? and will he stand up to this president when long hailed american values are at stake? director pompeo will need to prove to the senate that he will put the state department and the u.s. standing in the world back on track. mr. president, our international partners do not view the united states as the reliable and strong partner they had in the past. dictatorships and harsh regimes are emboldened by our lack of attention to free speech and human rights. president ronald reagan said at
the berlin wall, and i quote here, the totalitarian world produces backwardness because it does such violence to the spirit thwarting the human impulse to create, to enjoy, to worship. end quote. dictators now smirk and echo our president saying fake news about any news outlet that shines a light on their indiscretions. leaders like vladimir putin are emboldened to continue to try to undermine our democracy and sow conflict and division within the american public. the world is less stable without a strong principled united states to lead it. it is imperative that the united states preserve and strengthen its diplomatic power, not sabotage it. with the lack of leadership in the executive branch, congress must step up, particularly the senate foreign relations committee. and i am, as i said at the
beginning, i am so pleased that senator menendez is back there to work with senator corker to try to assert the role that congress should be playing in these very, very important issues. and with that, i would yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. menendez: mr. president, i want to thank my colleague from new mexico, a key member of the senate foreign relations committee for his insights and his input and continuing efforts to make sure we have a diplomacy that in a world that ultimately pursues our national security. i realize there are some colleagues on the way to the floor, senator shaheen, maybe senator cardin. when they get here, we'll hopefully have the chair recognize them at that point. with that i yield the floor and observe the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
mrs. shaheen: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. shaheen: mr. president, i'm pleased to join senator menendez, the ranking member of the senate foreign relations committee, and my colleagues from the committee to talk about the importance of diplomacy as
we look at the many challenges and conflicts that the world is facing right now. from north korea to syria to venezuela, there's really no end in sight for growing tensions and conflict in the world. our military presence in afghanistan is growing. we have approved lethal weapons for ukraine and we're forging a new partnership with nato an iraq. i support -- and iraq. i support these efforts, but without a vigorous capability to back our military, this risks failure. the administration has laid the foundation for a weakened u.s. hand on the international stage. this ultimately places americans at risk, and as secretary of defense jim mattis has said, it forces his men and women to buy more bullets.
even equally critical is the opportunity this provides for the great power conflicts to continue and to fester. now, in november i then-secretary of state rex tillerson with the senate armed services comearm john mccain, to express bipartisan again over the administration's state department hiring and promotion rates. i was told that the statistics we received from the american foreign service association were wrong and that the redesign of the state department is not forcing anyone from their jobs. unfortunately, since that time, the state department has lost even more precious diplomatic talent. congress has received a budget request that cuts even more personnel and foreign service hiring and promotion rates continue to plummet. last month the highest ranking senior foreign service office
tom shannon announced that he too would be retiring. and with his retirement we will have no senior foreign service officers serving in the department's leadership. to date we have only one active career ambassador who will serve in the entire state department, and he's not even working in the building. aside from the mass exodus of critical talent, we're allowing decades of investments made by our diplomats to dwindle along with their ranks. for the past two years the senate has received low budget requests for the state department and usaid. meanwhile our problems aren't declining. the kremlin continues to sow chaos across the globe. china increasingly flexes its muscle by buying strategic
property throughout the middle east and we are facing the greatest refugee crisis since world war ii. our intelligence community repeatedly warns that in this year's mid-term elections, russia will repeat another hybrid operation against a u.s. election. the obvious response to these challenges should not and cannot be to reduce the operational capacity and personnel at the lead agency that's responsible for alleviating global crises and promoting the united states public base throughout the global outreach. that is the state department. just this month "the new york times" revealed that the state department had failed to spend any of thed $120 million to fund the global information center. so that while america is under attack and western democracies are under attack by
disinformation campaigns, the state department's response has been totally insufficient. it has been not to spend any of the money that congress has allocated. it seems the administration is completely unaware of special counselor mueller's indictment against russia's internet research agency. so i want to just spend a minute to read from excerpts from mueller's indictment of 13s russians that came -- 13 russians that came out last month. and i think it reminds everyone if we can look at this through objective eyes, it reminds us all of the threats that we face because of russia's interference. so as stated in mueller's document, the internet research agency, which is a russia organization, engaged in operations to interfere with
elections and the political process. and i'm quoting now from the indictment. by in or around september 2016, research agency's monthly budget for project lakhta exceeded 73 million russian rubles. that is over $1.25 million. so they are spending on a regular basis a million and a quarter in american dollars on this interference operation. so for all of the people out there who think this is a partisan issue, this is not a partisan issue. this is an issue about interfering in our democracy, and we can see how much they are willing to spend to do that.
continuing to quote from the indictment. defendants and their coconspirators traveled and attempted to travel to the united states under false pretenses in order to collect intelligence for interference operations. in or about 2016, the defendants and their coconspirators also used, possessed and transferred without legal authority the social security numbers and dates of birth of real u.s. persons without those persons knowledge or consent. using these means of identification, defendants and their coconspirators opened accounts at paypal, created false means of identification, including fake driver's licenses, and posted on the research agency, the russian entity that is doing this, controlled social media accounts. so think about that.
we know the kremlin's efforts to influence and use the american people to its own advantage. it's laid out pretty clearly in this indictment from robert mueller, and yet somehow the state department is incapable of spending $1 of the money that's been allocated by congress toward countering russia's most overt public messages against the united states. this is truly remarkable and sadly disappointing. the american people deserve better. unfortunately, the global engagement center is not alone in its lack of support from the administration. according to an analysis of data from the office of management and budget the state department spent 79% of the money that congress authorized for the conduct of foreign affairs, the lowest level in the last 15
years. now many of us on the senate foreign foreign relations committee would agree most of our greatest global achievements, the martial plan, the end of the cold war, reduction of nuclear weapons have been secured through diplomacy. without it, i feel we will stray far from brokering deals and instead cause irreparable damage to one of america's resources, our diplomatic corps. that will harm this country's standing in the world and will have us viewed as weak by our great power adversaries. the hollowing out of the state department under this administration will cause irreparable damage to america's diplomatic efforts and it will harm our country's standing in the world. congress has got to step in and make sure this doesn't happen. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
i guess it's been 14 months under president trump's leadership, we've seen a dramatic shift in u.s. foreign policy that jeopardizes our standing globally and our national security. it starts with this administration hollowing out the state department and our capacity to participate in diplomacy. as my colleagues have pointed out, so many vacancies exist today unfilled by this administration. it's not the slowness of the senate in confirming the positions. many of these positions are not even positions that require a senate confirmation. we've seen an exodus of the most experienced people in the state department and the capacity of the state department has been dramatically reduced. president trump's budget speaks volumes about his support for
diplomacy as we see 30% reductions in state department budget being proposed by this administration. and the role of diplomacy in solving international issues have been put at an all-time low. mr. president, there have been many times i disagreed with secretary tillerson, but he at least was an independent voice in the white house as it related to issues on iran or climate change and now his voice has been silenced in this administration. america first is america alone, it's the isolation of our country. we've seen that with the united states under president trump pulling out of the climate talks, the only country in the world. we see it now potentially in iran with reports that the president may unilaterally withdraw the united states from the nuclear agreement, putting the united states as the outlier where we should be putting our attention on iran. this is reflected in the gallup
polls showing that the global opinion towards the united states has dropped dramatically. we see the president embracing oppressive leaders around the world, such as the leader of russia, china, turkey, egypt, and embracing the autocratic practices of the president of the philippines and then he attacks our closest allies, calling into question the transatlantic partnership. perhaps more than anything else, this administration has trampled on america's values. as secretary tillerson said early in this administration, america's interest will no longer be dictated by our values. well that is not what the trademark of america is about. it is about our values. the president has questioned over and over again universally what america stands for when he gave space to hate in his response to charlottesville, when he implies that people that come to our country of certain
religion or races are less favored than others, when he suggests that he cannot have a conflict because he's president of the united states and doesn't have to divest his business interests, or when he says that things that we know they are not true and the president of the united states standing up for matters that are out right lies. that diminishes the value and strength of america in our global leadership. one issue i want to talk about in the time that i have is ignoring one of the greatest national security threats we have and that is what russia is doing the united states under mr. putin. we just saw the most recent election that it was neither free nor fair. the opposition candidates were not allowed do participate or hand picked by mr. putin. he controlled the media and the election took place in an overly controlled legal environment and
it -- it had pressure on the critical voices of the russian people. so we find a russia today under mr. putin that is contrary to the values that we stand for. i authored a report with the other democrats on the committee in january on russia that talked about the asymmetric arsenal that mr. putin uses that includes prop began d we saw this on display when he was asked about what happened in the united states. these are mr. putin's own words according to the trank script as reported by "the washington post." quote, maybe they're not even russians, talking about who attacked our country. referring to those behind the election interference. maybe they're ukrainians or jews, just with russian citizenship. he also speculated that percentages, germany, or asia might have interfered in the election and even russia paid by
the united states government. that type of rhetoric is straight out of the soviet and russia playbook to cast jews and other minorities as undesirables, enemies of the state. as an american jew with family roots in eastern europe and russia, i find that kind of rhetoric to be dangerous and frightening. it is part of mr. putin's grand design. that's what he does. we saw it play out in the ukraine -- in the u.k. just two weeks ago when a person was poisoned in england who was an enemy of mr. putin. we see it play out over and over again. prime minister may spoke out. he cold it -- she called it for what it was. she sent a clear signal to moscow that that type of behavior by russia state against the british people would not be tolerated and there would be consequences. this is how a leader of a great nation should speak out in defense their people to counter
a major threat from a global adversary. but what happened here in washington? the threat that we saw to our own country by mr. putin? the president said virtually nothing. the spokesperson condemn the crime but ignore that likely russian link much the secretary of state later about what the president could not or would not do by calling out the russians. maybe that was his swansong because that's the last thing we heard before he was silenced by mr. trump. never before in america's history has such a clear threat to our national security been so clearly ignored by the president of the united states. the president's difficulty in publicly acknowledging the russia threat and leading our country forward to combat that threat is one of the most perplexing and reckless pieces of mr. trump's disaster foreign policy. we in congress took action. we passed legislation. we passed mandatory sanctions against russia. and yet this administration has not taken fully advantage of the
law we passed. the president needs to protect america's interests, not appease mr. putin. mr. president, the congress' role in shaping advancing u.s. foreign policy has never been more important, and i will continue to advance legislation, conduct oversight, and speak out about these important issues in the name of the american people and the values and norms that define us and our place in this complicated world. i'm proud to be part of the group of senators that'll stand on this floor and work to make sure that we protect our national security. h. interests. i yield the floor. markaz e taiba mr. president? the presiding officer: mr. markey: mr. president? i come to the floor to speak about north korea. i thank the senator from new jersey, the leader of the democrats on the foreign relations committee, for asking
the members to come out here to speak to the foreign policy of the trump administration. north korea is a serious and ever-worsening threat to its people, to our allies, and partners in the region, and to the united states. unfortunately, the trump administration has mismanaged our north korea policy and the potential consequences of failure are too great to ignore. north korea may have bent over backwards to appear conciliatory during the winter olympics and through its offers of talks with south korea and the united states, but kim jong-un has not stopped his dangerous activities. far from it. while the north korean regime is all smiles and opennages it's maligned behavior continues. its engineers race to perfect a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile. north korean laborers around the world, modern-day indentured
servants, send paychecks home to the regime helping fund its illicit military programs. illegal ship-to-ship transfers of refined petroleum products continue. north korea's army of cyber warriors degrees more capable. and the kim's regime's thugs make no effort to scale back rampant abuses. however, president trump's approach to date threatens to make an already bad situation even worse. despite his recent announcement that he would accept a meeting with kim jong-un, president trump has systematically undermined the effectiveness of the u.s. department of state that he will need to make talks successful. and by so doing, he has harmed u.s. foreign policy right as the united states is poised to embark on a crucial diplomatic effort with north korea.
but by firing rex tillerson, president trump threw the state department further into chaos when we need right now -- when what we need right i now is more consistency. the gutting of these state department goes much deeper. it has been badly depleted of both staff and resources by the trump administration and is consistently ignored in the opaque process the white house is using to try to conduct american foreign policy. president trump has stifled dissent, ignored experience, politicized key diplomatic and national security agencies. the special representative for north korea policy, ambassador joseph yung, the lead american negotiator with north korea, has
stepped down. one wonders whether he felt his advice was being heeded. we still don't have a u.s. ambassador to south korea more than a year into the trump administration. we still don't have a confirmed assistant secretary for east asian and pacific affairs. we still don't have a specific envoy for north korean human rights issues. we no longer have a sanctions coordinator. going into talks at the senior most level with a hallowed out state department is no way to peacefully resolve a crisis. to the contrary, it exposes us to greater risk. and as if these vacancies weren't enough, itest goes worse. the trump administration's recently released budget request for fiscal year 2019 would drastically cut state department funding. the state department is already alarmingly underresourced and
understaffed to handle the significant and increasing threats from north korea. yet there is no explanation as to why the president believes that it is prudent to cut diplomatic resources, especially in the middle of a crisis. we deserve an answer as to why the administration believes the state department deserves fewer resources while trying to excuse a wide-ranging strategy of diplomatic engagement and pressure. all the while the white house is subjecting our allies and partners to contradictory statements that cause confusion and damping the prospects of a peaceful solution. we hear different thoughts on different days. before firing him, president trump routinely undercut secretary tillerson and with it our diplomatic high ground, confusing our allies in south korea and japan whose insistence in helping resolve the north korean crisis is indispensable,
only serves to embolden kim jong-un who seeks to drive a wedge between the united states and our allies. we cannot afford to fail. i am concerned that if these talks do not go well, president trump will be able to claim that he tried both economic pressure and diplomacy with neither path solving the problem. he'll be left with the conclusion that the only approach remaining is military force. but we must be clear. there is no military solution to the north korea crisis. today marks the 15th anniversary of the united states' invasion of iraq. although the current situation we face with north korea is not identical to the one we faced in the run-up to the iraq war in 2003, the north korea situation is, in fact, worse. and the consequences are even
more severe. unlike iraq, north korea has nearly completed development of long-range nuclear armed missiles which will be capable of creating nuclear mushroom clouds in our cities. we all agree we need to act to ensure that this never happens. but the only responsible course of action is for the administration to use all tools of american statecraft to reduce the threats from north korea. we have an obligation to american families, service members, and our allies to say unequivocally that we did everything in our power without resorting to armed conflict. let's return the united states of america to the forefront of statecraft, allowing our diplomats to advance our interests without risking a frivolous loss of life. that is what is at stake, as the president moves further away from using the kinds of tools
which are available that can try to peacefully resolve this conflict with north korea. i thank you, mr. president. i yield back. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that senators coons, cardin, lee, sanders, and i be recognized for up to five minutes each and then senator corker be recognized for up to 15 minutes prior to the vote. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. murphy: thank you -- thank you very much, mr. president. mr. president, i'm just back from a trip to a major trans-atlantic conference in europe, and while the europeans have spent a lot of time over the course of the last 12 months handwringing about whether the united states is committed to europe, committed to nato, committed to our common defense, my feeling is that they're kind of over the handwringing.
they are now just making plans to move on without us. they are making plant to protect themselves without us. they are making plans to try to set the rules of the road economically, politically, and cultural around the world without the united states. evidence of that was very clear. the europeans are setting up something called the european defense initiative in which they are going to start doing military planning and purchasing outside of nato because they are just not convinced, not confident that the united states is going to be seriously engaged in nato. that compromises our security as the europeans start to make plans for their defense without us, even though we still have an obligation under the treaty to protect them. over and over you see the world moving on as they watch this massive withdrawal of america from the world. the president said at a rally in
alabama a few months ago, he said, quote, the world starting to respect the united states of america again. well, that couldn't be further from the truth. the pew organization charts other countries' opinions of the united states, and they also chart whether other countries believe that the united states is going to act in the best interests of the world. and the numbers are frankly startling. of the 37 countries this survey, only two of them have higher confidence in the united states under trump than they did under obama. one is a rather statistically insignificant korea. the one that is significant is russia, which by 42 percentage points is more confident that the united states is going to act in that country's best interests. south korea, 88% confidence under obama. 17% confidence under trump. canada, 83% under obama, 22% under trump. germany, 86% to 11%.
and they've come to this belief because, as my colleagues have mentioned, the trump administration has signaled its unwillingness to try to set at moral tone for the world in the way that it budgets. the budget that they presented to us reduces accounts dedicated to countering russia aggression around its periphery around 50%. that is a clearly -- they are clearly on their own they will have no help from the united states. the national endowment for democracy in this budget is cut by $100 million. and so it's no secret that countries like hungary and poland are slipping away from democratic norms. there is not a moral force here in the united states committing to bring them closer to the
ideals of participating democracies. at one point a $6 billion cut in humanitarian aid. saying if you want to solve these problems of famine, you can't look to us anymore. you're on your own again. and a 35% cut in overall international narcotics funding. just when phenomenon is find -- fentanyl is finding its way into the united states they have watched the united states walk away for standing up to the rule of law and to try to protect america's interests. they are making other plans without us, and i hope the next administration will be able to correct for that. but those plans are hard to break once they are made. i hope republicans and democrats will stand up to make sure that
america does not become any weaker in the world than it is today 15 months into this administration. we are less safe as an administration because of this withdrawal from the global stage. it's not too late to try to turn it around. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. coons: mr. president, i join my colleagues on the floor here today to address this afternoon concerns we have the foreign policy of the trump administration. i want to thank my colleague, senator menendez of new jersey, the ranking member of the foreign relations committee, and comment first at the outset on two things that have been widely said that i just don't think are true. first that democrats are bottling up the president's nominees for senior ambassadorial positions or senior department of state nominations and that we're holding key nominees. frankly nothing could be further from the truth. this afternoon in a foreign
relations committee, a whole series of treaties and assistant secretaries of state have been voted out. and i heard it by pundits that democrats are wishing them ill. we are doing what we can to hold him back. i think all of us know we are strongest when we work together. all of us heard the old adage that politics should stop at the water's edge and nothing would make me happier than to see our foreign policy and diplomatic efforts succeed around the world. i do not wish our president ill or the state department a lack of success. but i think it deserves mentioning for the few minutes i'm taking on the floor today that president trump, who promised as a can indicate to be -- candidate to be unpredictable and nontraditional, has overperformed in that category. his policy has been defined by
inconsistency and at times a failure to advance our values. this comes exactly at the time, as my colleague from connecticut was reciting, when our allies and partners crave stability and when our democratic ways of life are on the raise. trump's shock and awe style of governing was demonstrated by his abrupt firing of the secretary of state and the stories that dribbled of how and when and where he was fired. we should not be conducting foreign policy in the same way that one might host a reality tv show like "the apprentice." as i've attended a variety of meetings, i have seen how the president has undermine alliances. let me review how the european and asian and african allies
have seen by withdrawing from the paris climate accord and european allies, by questioning our commitment to nato and by denigrating an entire continent when discussing the value of potential immigrants from africa. real and consistent leadership around the world that reflects american values is needed more now than ever. in the dozen countries i visited at regional security conferences in the past year, i heard the same from vital allies. senator mccain and i traveled to halifax and canada for a whole series of bilateral meetings with close and trusted allies. senator flake and i traveled to africa and senator graham and i traveled to the middle east. in all of these trips what i heard is that our allies are concerned. that they need reassurance about how and where we stand and that in many cases, yes, they are
beginning to move on past us and to reach accommodations with china or russia, having concluded we are not committed to engagement with the world. every time i go on a visit to a foreign embassy overseas, i sit down with our foreign service officers, and i ask about their work and their service and i am overwhelmingly impressed with their professionalism and dedication, our career professionals and diplomats. overwhelmingly the number of vacancies at the senior level and the budget cuts in the state department and usaid has had a significant impact on these people who we count on to advance america's interests and values around the world. on the continent of africa where i have spent a great deal of my time on the foreign relations committee, we are missing ambassadors to some of the biggest and most important countries, south africa and tanzania, and it is a continent where china's presence is not
countered by an america that is robustly engaged. why does this matter? because in this century africa will become the largest growing market for our goods and should be the continent we have the cloaest alliances and partnerships. instead of building partnerships, the trump administration is squandering the current economic momentum and watching from the sidelines as democratic norms deteriorate. as a member of both the appropriations and foreign relations committees, i was gravely concerned for a second year in a row the trump administration budget proposed deep cuts in diplomacy and development. we must recognize that while these investments, yes, serve a humanitarian purpose, they also make us stronger by spreading america values, by building coalitions, less susceptible to terrorism and more prosperous. if we want to remain a global leader, we need a strong state department and usaid that is
sufficiently p funded. let me turn to the matter of russia before i conclude. throughout his administration president trump has not only turned away from some of our critical allies an weakened our commitments but has refused to head on address the multifaceted threats we face from russia. russia's activities, as has been testified to by senior administration officials over many hearings are directly interfering with our democracy, our last election and likely our next election as well as those of our closest allies throughout the world many rather than sending a clear signal to russia that our foreign affairs are not to be meddled with, president trump has turned aside from the challenge and failed to address it. now more than of the united states must lead in the world and i look forward to working with my colleagues on the foreign relations committee on a bipartisan basis to advance our interests. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: mr. president, i take this time because i think this issue is an extremely important issue. it's talking about the authority of the congress of the united states versus the president on introduction of our troops into war or hostilities. and this has been a struggle we have been debating for a long time. congress passed the war powers act over the objections of the president because we recognized the constitution gives us the power to introduce troops into harm's way. the resolution says clearly that the introduction of the armed forces misinto hostilities will how congress to have an expedited process if the administration has not gotten the authorization for the use of that military force. the supreme court decision made it very difficult for us to enforce that causing us to pass
in -- in the state department authorization a process in which a joint resolution could be filed in order for congress to express itself if the president has not sought the authorization for the use of military force. we now have a circumstance where the united states, in my view, the president has introduced american troops into hostilities by assisting the saudis in the refueling missions in regard to the campaign in yemen. to me that is introducing the troops. whether it's right or wrong, congress has a responsibility to respond to this. and i say that knowing that our presiding officer has been very articulate about the need for us to pass an authorization for the use of military force in regards to our campaign and against isis. but here's the challenge we have, the administration and previous administrations have interpreted hostilities in such
a narrow way it would take away from congress our ability to have the authorization for the introduction of american troops into hostile circumstances. yet, compare that with this administration and previous administrations interpretations of the 2001 authorization for the use of military force which we passed after the attack on our country on 9/11. they would have you believe that authorization that was limited to those who -- who planned the attack against us in 9/11 applies to our military campaign against isis in syria. or our isis in yemen or wherever we may find isis anywhere in the world. now, i think that is just an absurd interpretation. and, yes, i know the distinguished chairman of the senate foreign relations committee is on the floor. i think our committee needs to take this issue up. we need to take up what is
happening in yemen with our support of the saudis and what's happening in regard with the authorization for the use of military force. but this campaign has been going on for a long time. congress needs to weigh in, whether we're for it or against it, we need to exert our jurisdiction and we haven't done that and it's very frustrating that those of us who believe very deeply in our constitutional responsibilities assume that responsibility and have a lot of confidence in the distinguished chairman of the senate foreign relations committee, but i question whether we're going to get floor time in the future to debate this issue. i know the chairman will give us time in committee, but will we have time on the floor of the united states senate to debate this issue? and i think we need to debate it and vote up or down whether american troops should be assisting in this mission. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: mr. president, i stand
to urge a no vote on the motion to table. we are involved as he could belligerent -- co-belligerents in a civil war in yemen. now, it's very difficult to dispute the contention that there is no decision made by a government that is more severe, more serious, that carries with it more dire consequences than sending brave young men and women sworn to protect us into harm's way to battle in hostilities. we have been faced with a debate about what amounts to hostilities. we have an executive branch of government that understandably has defined that term narrowly, but in this case so narrowly as to obliterate any meaning behind that word, basically suggesting that we're not in hostilities unless we have people on the ground firing upon an enemy and
being fired upon. that is not always the way modern warfare has been conducted and hasn't been for some time. the fact is we have our military personnel engaged in things in mid-air refueling on combat missions, refueling the combat airplanes of another country when those combat planes are en route to a battlefield, to a theater of warfare. if those aren't hostilities, i don't know what is. we've been told that we need to do this in regular order. let's talk about regular order for a minute. because, as i mentioned a moment ago, there is nothing more serious than sending our military uniformed personnel into hostilities. we have in this body adopted laws and procedures making it possible for us to receive fast-track consideration of measures that indicate that the executive branch of government
has overstepped its power. we are in our third year involved in this civil war in yemen, three years, and yet this hearnt come up for -- hasn't come up for a vote. three years and we haven't had anything come out of committee and voted on the senate floor. three years ought to be long enough. and in fact, the war powers resolution gives us expedited consideration. gives the committee ten days to consider that. the committee has not put anything out. this is why we are well within our rights, well within the boundaries of what's appropriate. in fact, well within what the constitution already grants us, which is the power to declare war. that power, with good reason, was not vested in the executive branch of government. it was vested only in congress. that branch of government most accountable to the people at the most regular intervals. the reasoning this is so important is because before we send our young people into a
place where they could die, we want to make sure that an open, honest debate is held in public view, not behind closed doors at the pentagon or at some other government office building but right here on the senate floor and in the house of representatives. we cannot exercise that power capably and we cannot claim to be mindful, we cannot be deemed faithful to our oath to uphold, protect, and defend the constitution of the united states if we don't look out for our authorities, if we don't make sure that someone else isn't exercising authority that was granted to this body. that authority belongs not to any one person. it belongs to the people. and if we refuse to take this vote today, if we choose instead to table this measure rather than to allow it to come up for a vote on the senate floor, we are choosing not to decide, and we will have still made a choice, a choice to abdicate our responsibility. if we make that decision today,
then shame on us. it is our prerogative as a co-order national branch of government, to do our job, do that which only congress can do. this is in fact a war. there are in fact brave humanitarian concerns presented by that war. and that makes it all the more important, not less important, for us to debate this, for us to discuss this. under the light of day, in public, on the one hand an the senate floor. -- and on the senate floor. mr. president, i urge my colleagues in the strongest terms i'm capable of communicating to vote against the motion to table. thank you, mr. president. mr. corker: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: mr. president, i have enjoyed hearing the discussion about the item before us, and i must say i'd feel a whole lot better about this debate if it was focused on us
refueling french jets going into malley. it's the same exact debate. i assume that these individuals would consider those to be -- but somehow or another that doesn't rise to congressional approval. this one i think is politically tinged. saudi arabia certainly has issues. they've conducted themselves in manners that we wish were better. the crown prince was here today and all of us who met with him demarched him, if you will, on the conduct relative to yemen. and yet at the same time we know that because american folks are involved in refueling and because we're helping to a degree with intelligence, we no he that less civilians are being killed there. we know that. we in that us being there has affected their conduct. but i want to talk about process
here. our sponsors of the bill, who i have a great respect for, have use add very entrepreneurial method to bring this to the floor, and i don't say that to be pejorative. they've reached into the war powers act and pulled out something that was never intended for this purpose. i think everyone understands that. and i think everyone understands that if somehow or another we don't table this, we would have -- we will be setting a precedent here. it will be a situation of first impression where from now on -- from now on, when americans -- when our air force is refueling jets in the air, we're involved in holts. and i don't think that's a standard that we wish to set. but i want to argue this on a different level. it's hard for me to believe that we would take up an issue this -- of this serious nature and not allow the committee of jurisdiction to work its will.
i mean, we had a hearing last week that senator mcconnell set up for all senators to come in and be briefed on yemen. his stated reason for doing that is most people in the senate don't know much about what's happening in yemen. people in the foreign reels committee do and people in ink tell do and people on armed services do. but most of the senate has not been involved. typically the way we work around sheer the committee does its work, it does it's recommendation, works with the administration and you come forgot with a piece -- and you come forth with a piece of legislation. can you imagine with are tax reform if we had some kind of entrepreneurial way of bringing tax reform to the floor without the finance committee working? or bringing fisa to the floor without intel working? that's not the way we're supposed to do things here. so we've got a bill that's being generated right now. it's a bipartisan bill by jeanne
shaheen and todd young. it may not be the bill we don't deal with on -- we deal with on yemen. by the way, i skipped a beat here. i want to learn people's memory as to what we're vote o we're not voting on anything but a decision to discharge the yemen issue from the committee. without the committee taking any action, without the committee having any hearings, this is a vote to say, we're going to skip the foreign relations committee and we're going to set precedent here on the floor in this entrepreneurial way that we reached into the war powers act to find a clause to bring it to the floor which was never intended for this purpose. so what i would say to people is, a better way of handing this would be to table this motion, to let the foreign relations committee do the work that
you've assigned the foreign relations committee to do. we're going to have a hearing on yemen. we got a piece of legislation that is being developed in a bipartisan way with a republican and a democrat to deal with this issue, and let us work our will in the appropriate way. by the way, in a way that actually will generate an outcome, an outcome. in addition, i know that there are members on the floor that have been frustrated. as someone referenced earlier about the 2001-2002 amf still be used. the presiding officer has been very involved in trying to develop a new aumf that would supersede those two aumf's and gives the senate and house the ability to weigh in every four years on these types of actions. we're going to have a markup on a bill that our presiding
officer, that senator kaine from virginia, that senator young from indiana, that many people having involved in. that mark upis going to take place on april 19. soho hopefully the senate will not only have an ability to deal with a bill on yemen that actually will develop a real outcome coming through committee but also have the ability to deal with an amf that will set aside the fact that for years the congress has not weighed in on this issue. to me, that's a much better route. i would urge everyone in this body to instead of following this unique process that's not going to generate an outcome regardless, to allow the foreign relations committee to do its work, to bring a bill to the floor that will generate an outcome, and i am going to make a moe motion in a moment to table this. i realize there may be one more speaker before i do so. mr. durbin: would the senator yield for a brief question? mr. corker: yes.
mr. cornyn: mr. president, i appreciate the leadership of the chairman of the foreign reels committee -- and i agree with hit proposed cut come of this vote. that's not to diminish the importance of issues raised by the senator from utah, the senator from vermont. i do agree with him, it is the preferred, careful, cautious way of dealing with competing interests in a complex world. but i would just ask the senator further to that point whether he can confirm my understanding that actually using this unique process, is it his understanding, as it is mine that there actually be a vote-a-rama? that is, we would end up voting on multiple different proposals, not just this one proposal and create perhaps some confusion and some more chaos into what is admittedly a complex and sensitive foreign relations and national security matter? mr. corker: that is correct. so in closing, mr. president, i
would just ask, just like every other committee here in the senate, hopefully takes its work seriously and does work especially on important matters like this that affect people's lives, that this body would think that a better recommendation would be to table this effort, to have this wild west debate on the floor over the course of the next several hours -- instead of doing it that manner, to give the committee of jurisdiction the ability to work its will with yemen through hearings, through a process, through a process on the committee that actually would bring a bill to the floor that had been thought through and that -- where we had worked with other bodies of government to get it in a place where then it could be amended and dealt with the in a more methodical and appropriate way. and i'd like it remind people one more time, we also plan to
mark up an aumf on april 19 to deal with the lingering issue of having an open situation where we're still dealing with isis and al qaeda and others based on something that was authorized to do in afghanistan years ago. with that, i move to table the sanders motion. i thought i was the last -- i'll yield the floor. i'll yield the rest of my time to senator sanders. mr. sanders: i think -- the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: i appreciate that. but i think i have five minutes of my mone own. the presiding officer: the senator is correct. sand sand i would be delighted to add on nor corker's time as well. but let's see. mr. president, the resolution that we will soon be voting on is really very simple.
it has two basic points. point number one, i and the 14 other cosponsors of this resolution believe that under the definitions laid out in the 1973 war powers resolution, u.s. forces have been introduced into the saudi-led war in yemen, a war which is causing a humanitarian disaster. and i say to my good friend, senator corker, the chairman of the foreign relations committee, this war has been going on for three years. 10,000 civilians in yemen are dead, 40,000 have been wounded, a million are dealing with cholera right now, millions have been displaced. and you come tonight on the floor and you say, we're going to hold a hearing. that's good.
but it's three years too late. and the issue that we are dealing with right now is whether or not the united states senate and the united states congress accepts its constitutional responsibility on the issues of war. and this is not a complicated issue. and i don't think anybody here disagrees. article 1, section 8, of the constitution says not that the president can make war and send our young people into harm's way. it is the congress of the united states that should make war, and our role now in yemen, working with the saudi-led intervention there, is one of hostilities under the law of the united states and the war powers
resolution. not just my view on this. as many may know here, as the suspect the chairman of the committee knows, last november by a vote of 366-30, the u.s. house of representatives agreed with the essence of what senator lee and i are trying to do. and the house passed a nonbinding resolution stating that u.s. involvement in the yemen civil war is unauthorized. every member of the democratic leadership voted for that, as did the republican chairman of the house foreign affairs committee, ed royce. editorial in "the new york times" today, quote, the united states initially deployed forces to combat al qaeda in yemen under post september 11 congressional authorization measures, but congress never specified specifically approved military involvement in the
saudi-houthi war even though the constitution and the 1973 war powers act give congress a role. "the new york times," for too long congress has abdicated its role as america prolonged its stay in some wars an expanded into others and presidents have been too reluctant to share these crucial decisions with lawmakers, resolutions like this, the one we're debating, can and must force serious debate and accountability. you know, i think now -- i say this to my friend, the chairman -- i think now of the two major foreign policy disasters that have taken place in our lifetime -- number one, the war in vietnam. and in that war, a democratic administration under an otherwise very good president, lyndon johnson. he and the secretary of defense misled and lied to the american people with regard to the gulf
of tonkin resolution. that is now established fact as a result of declassified information. and the united states got sucked into that war, and my generation, my generation suffered so terribly. over 60,000 died and many others came home wounded in body and in spirit. the united states congress abdicated its responsibility at that point in 1964. and 15 years ago, oddly enough today, on this day, there was the war in iraq under a republican administration. and the administration lied to the american people again. and where was the congress getting out the facts? you had the vice president of the united states, oh, saddam hussein is building weapons of mass destruction. there's a connection between saddam hussein and iraq and the 9/11 perpetuated. so it was a lie. it was a lie.
and mistakenly congress voted to approve a war based on false information. so what i say, mr. president, today it is time for the congress to accept its constitutional responsibility. i don't know how well we will do. maybe we'll screw it up as well. very possible. but that's what the founding fathers suggested, and i think that they were right. we are closer to the people. the house and senate, than is the white house. this white house or any other white house. so two issues today. do we accept our constitutional responsibility to vote on matters of war? i would suggest that every member of the senate vote yes. don't duck your responsibility. don't abdicate your responsibility. second of all, this war in yemen, in my view, has been a humanitarian disaster as a result of saudi intervention. but the most important vote is do we actually have a vote on whether or not american troops are involved in the war in
yemen. i hope very much we will vote against senator corker's motion to table, and then i hope after we do that we will vote for the resolution which says that it is time for the united states to get out of yemen. thank you. mr. corker: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: very briefly, i just want to set the record straight. the house of representatives voted to say that the war in yemen is not covered by the 2001 aumf. and i think this body would agree. they did not do as was just mentioned by the senator from vermont. as a matter of fact, they decided not to take up this measure that we're taking up today because they thought it was not a good measure to take up. so i don't want anybody in this body to think that the house has already supported this effort. the house not only didn't support it, they wouldn't take it up because they thought it was damaging to our country's foreign policy. so i hope people today will join me in voting to table this motion, to let the committee do
its work as it is supposed to do. let us bring something to the floor that will actually have an outcome, have an outcome, and then let's have a debate down the road on the aumf, the 2001 and 2002 aumf which i hope we will give them floor time. with that, i think the time has ended. i move to table the sanders motion to discharge h.j. res. 54 and i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote: