tv U.S. Senate Yemen War Powers CSPAN March 20, 2018 6:27pm-7:28pm EDT
order. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: if there is no further business to come before the senate i ask it stand adjourned under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until 11:00 a.m., the senate finishing up the day using a procedural vote to stop a yemen war powers resolution. while senate lawmakers are expected to finish an online sex trafficking bill later in the week they will need to consider a bill to keep the government open to pass this coming friday. the yemen war powers resolution that accounted for most of the senate debate today and one of its cosponsors, senator bernie sanders, started the debate with the speech on the floor. >> mr. president, pursuant to section 1013 of the department of state authorization act fiscal year 1984 and 1985 and in
accordance with the provision of section 601b of the international security assistant and arms export act of 1976 i make a motion to discharge seven joint resolution before the committee on foreign relations. >> under the previous order there are four hours a debate on the motion equally divided between the proponents and the opponents. >> thank you, mr. president. mr. president, article one, section eight of the constitution states in no uncertain terms that and i quote, congress shall have power to declare war. let me repeat it. article one section eight of the constitution states it is congress that has the power to declare war. the founding fathers give the power to authorize military
conflict to congress in the branch most accountable to the people, not to the president but to congress and that is the issue that we are going to be debating today. mr. president, for far too long congress on the democratic an ad republican administrationca have abdicated its constitutional role in authorizing war. the time is long overdue but congress to reassert that constitutional authority and that is what today is about. that is why i in 14 cosponsors of this resolution, senator lee, murphy, warren, berger, feinstein, that is what we are
doing with senate joint resolution 54. what we are saying is that congress wants to go to war in yemen or anyplace else vote to go to war and that is your constitutional responsibility and stop abdicating that responsibility to a president whether it is a republican president or in the past democratic president. mr. president, i expect that colleagues today will be arguing about what the word hostilities mean within the context of the 1973 war powers resolution and what does the word hostilities mean and some will argue that american troops are not out there shooting and getting shot
at and notng exchanging fire, gunfire with their enemies and that we are not really engaged in the horrifically destructive saudi letter for in yemen. that is what some will argue on the floor today that we are not engaged in hostilities. we are not exchanging fire but well, please tell that to the people of yemen whose homes and livesed are being destroyed by weapons made in the usa and dropped by planes being refueled by the us military on targets chosen with us assistance. only in the narrowest, most legalistic terms, can anyone argue that the united states is not actively involved in
hostilities alongside saudi arabia in yemen. let me take a minute to tell my colleagues what is happening in yemen right now because a lot of people don't know. it's on the front pages of the newspapers or cover terribly much in television and right now in a very, very poor nation of 27 million people that is the nation of yemen in november of last year the united nations emergencyor relief coordinator told us that yemen was on the brink of the largest famine the world has seen for many decades, and the pope the united nations. so far, in this country of
7 million people, this poor country, over 10000 civilians haveil been killed and 40000 civilians have been wounded. over 3 million people in yemen, in a nation of 27 million have been displaced, driven from their homes. 15 million people lack access to clean water and sanitation because water treatment plants have been destroyed and more than 20 millionpl people in yem, over two thirds of the population of the country need some kindn of humanitarian support with nearly 10 million in o acute need of assistance. more than 1 million suspected cholera cases have been reported
representing potentially the worst cholera outbreak in world history. that is what is going on in yemen today as a result of the saudi led war there. here is, mr. president, the bottom line. the president of the united states or members of congress believert that support for this war is in the united states interest and i think some do, if you think that the united states for our own interest should be involved in the civil war in yemen being led by saudi arabiaun then members of the united states senate should have the courage to vote for us participation in that war and
nothing more completed than that. you want to come to the floor of the senate and make the case, you think it's good public policy for us to be involved in that civil war in yemen come to the floor and oppose our resolution. what i hope very much that we would not see today is the tabling of this motion and the refusal by members of the senate to vote up or down as to whether or not we wish we continue aiding saudi arabia in this humanitarian disaster. if you believe, as i do, that we should not get sucked into this civil war, which has already caused so much human suffering, please vote against tabling the motion to discharge and vote
with us on final passage. if you believe that the united states should continue to assist saudi arabia in this war, i urge you to have the courage to tell your constituents that that is your decision and why you made a decision when you vote against final passage. in other words, if you are support the wall, have the courage to vote for it and if you don't, support the resolution that senator lee and senator murphy i have introduc introduced. mr. president, let me give you at least two reasons why congress must reassert its o constitutional authority over the issue of war and why we cannot continue to abdicate that responsibility to the president.
and those have everything to do with the two most significant foreign policy disasters in the modern history, the war in iraq and the war in vietnam. in both of these cases congress step back and failed to ask the hard questions, one republican, one democrat led us into complex with disastrous consequences. interestingly, today is a historically significant day for us to debate this resolution. fifteen years ago, 15 years ago today on march 20, 2003 the war in iraq began and the palms started falling to baghdad 15 years ago today. i was one of those who oppose
the iraq war in the beginning and today it is now probably acknowledged that the war was a foreign policy blunder of enormous magnitude. that war created a cascade of instability around the region that we are still dealing with today in syria and elsewhere and will be for many years to come. indeed had it not been for the war ins iraq isis would almost certainly not exist. that war deepened hostilities between sunni and shiite communities in iraq and elsewhere and it exacerbated a regional conflict of power betweenar saudi arabia and iran and their proxies in places like syria, lebanon and yemen and it
undermined american diplomatic efforts to resolve the israeli-palestinian conflict. the devastation experienced by iraqi civilians was enormous and the reason academic study by us canadian and iraq research has found that over 400,000 iraqi civilians, nearly half million people were killed directly or indirectly as a consequence of that war. that war led to the displacement of nearly 5 million people, both inside and outside iraq putting great stress on the ability of surrounding countries to deal with these refugee flows. we have also seen this more recently in europe as the large numbers of people fleeing the syrian war has generated a backlash in european countries giving rise to anti- muslim and
anti- immigrant sentiments. the war in iraq led to the death of some 4400 american troops and though wounded physical and emotional tens of thousands of others, not to mention the pain inflicted on family members. by the way, that war in iraq cost uss trillions of dollars, money that could have been spent on healthcare, education, infrastructure and environmental protection. mr. president, direct for like so many other military conflicts had unintentional consequences and ended up making us less safe, not more safe. mr.e president, it must be said that the bush administration and the president lied when he told the american people, saddam hussein regime is seeking a
nuclear bomb and with missile material to build one in a year. that was not true. vice president dick cheney lied when he told us both, there is no doubt that saddam hussein now has u weapons of mass action and there is no doubt he will use him against our friends and our allies and against us. dick cheney, not true. no oness disagrees that saddam hussein was a brutal, murderous dictator but is now know that he had nothing to do with 911 but eathe bush administration lied o the american people and iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and it was not connected to 911. the american people one were misled by the bush administration into believing that the iraq war was necessary to prevent another 911.
congress did not challenge them on those claims in a way that congress should have. it had disastrous consequences. that was a republican administration and now let me tell you about a democratic administration where once again congress refused to assert its constitutional responsibility. let us go back to 1964 to a conflict that began on similarly false promises. president lyndon johnson cited an attack on a us ship in the gulf of tonkin as a pretext for escalating the us intervention into vietnam and sending more and more and more troops into that. but we now know from
declassified recordings that johnson r himself doubted that that ship the uss madison had come in under fire on august 4, 1964. as we all know that alleged attack was used to push for the gulf of tonkin resolution authorizing johnson to escalate us v military involvement in vietnam. we now know that secretary of defense misled congress and the public in order to generate support for that resolution. you don't have to believe me, this is what lieutenant commander pat patterson wrote in ad statement in the quote, the evidence suggests a disturbing in deliberate attempt by secretary of defense mcnamara to distort the evidence and mislead congress, and the.
patterson interestingly also propose, to enhance his chances for election johnson and mcnamara deceived the american people and congress about events in the nature of the american commitment in vietnam. they used a questionable report of a north vietnamese attack on american naval vessels to justify the presence politics of the electorate and to defuse republican senator and presidential candidate, barryso goldwater's charges that lyndon johnson was resolute and sought in the foreign policy arena. interestingly enough, mr. president, that author is a charming master, president trumps current national security advisor. lyndon johnson's administration misled both congress and the american people into that war
just as the bush administration misled us into the war in iraq. and what disasters both of those wars were. the war in vietnam nearly destroyed an entire generation of young people, almost 60000 died in that war and god knows how many came back wounded in body, spirit and almost destroyed an entire generation and yet congress abdicated its responsibility in vietnam as it did in vietnam and iraq. mr. president, the truth about yemen is that us forces have been actively engaged in support of the saudi coalition in this war providing intelligence in aerial refueling of planes as bombs killed thousands of people
and made this a humanitarian crisis far worse. us involvement in yemen has also proven counterproductive to the effort against al qaeda's affiliates, the state departme department, country report on terrorism for 2016 found that the conflict between saudi led forces in the the insurgents have helped al qaeda and isis yemen branch to quote, deepen their inroadsh across much of e country. in other words, as we see again when there is chaos and when there is mass confusion isis and their allies are able to jump in. furthermore, while i iran support for the insurgents is a serious concern for all of us the truth is that this war has increased not decreased the opportunities for iranian interference. the trump administration has
strived to justify our and perspective on iran but another administration told us invading iraq was necessary to confront al qaeda and another told us the vietnam war was necessary to contain communists. none of that turned out to be true. we should have asked the congress at those times should have asked the hard questions which they did not ask. the congress should have taken its constitutional role seriously and did what the constitution demanded that it do. that is what my cosponsors and i are doing today. mr. president, let me conclude and i see my colleague, senator lee, who was been active in standing up to the constitution and going to yield to him in a
minute. but here is the bottom line. thehe constitution is clear. the us congress decides whether we go to war and there is no question in my mind that by aiding saudi arabia in the ways that we are doing that we are assisting in war and we are in a conflict. if members of the senate think think that conflict make sense and is good public policy for the united states of america vote downat our resolution and f you agree with senator lee and me that it is a bad idea to support what i would urge in the strongest possible terms is members of the senate have got to end the abdication of its constitutional responsibility and accept it. vote yes, but no. do not vote to table this resolution and duck the constitutional responsibility
that we have. with that, i would yield to my colleague, senator mike lee. >> mr. president. >> senator from utah. >> vista president, the issue we are confronting today is one that deals with the separation of powers outlined in the united states constitution. our system of government was set up in such a way to protect the people from the dangers associated with the accept of the relation of power in the hands of a few. we knew from our experience under british rule that bad things happen especially at the national level. when too few people exercise too much of the power. nowhere is this more evident than in the case of the war powers. in fact, much of the revolutionary struggle that led to the creation of our nation resulted from wartime activities undertaken by a monarch thousands of miles and an ocean
away. it's important today to remember the same concerns and the constraints placed into our constitution as we run our government nearly two and half centuries later. i'm happy to be here with my colleague senator sanders to file a discharge option for our resolution, sj present 24. whether you're present in the chamberhy today or whether you e turning in i at home i hope you are listening closely so that when we can fill you in on the unauthorized middle east for that your government, the government of the united states of america is supporting and actively participating in as a coppola regiment this war in yemen has killed tens of thousands of human beings lest we forget and each one of them
possessing an eight immeasurable worth and dignity. this wared has created refugees, orphans, widows and cost millions of dollars and believe it or not, at the end of the day, it is quite arguably undermined our fight against terrorist threats such as isis. i will expand on these unfortunate backs in a moment but for now let's focus on one thing. our military's involvement in yemen has not been authorized by congress as required by the constitution. article one section eight of the constitution states that congress shall have the power to declare war. congress, not the president, not the pen again, not someone else within the executive branch of government but congress. yet, in 2015 then president obama start initiated the
military environment in yemen and did so without authorization from congress. the current administration has continued obama's war. senator sanders, senator murphy and our cosponsors and i are now giving congress a chance to fix this error by debating and voting on our nation's continued involvement in this unauthorized illegal war in yemen. if, as our opponents claim, this war is necessary then surely they can defend that argument for this body and for the house of representatives and authorization from congress just as the constitution demands under article one s section eight butf on the other hand they cannot defend this war and they cannot persuade a majority of members
of his body and members of the representatives that this is a war that needs to be thought that it needs to end. let's have an honest reckoning about the sport today. for this debate gets underway in earnest there are a few points that i would like to clarify. first let's talk about iran for just a moment. yes, the these did fire on a u.s. navy vessel and this brand that forces the fact that yemenis use the united states as a participant in this war regardless of whether or not congress wants to acknowledge that or approve it but overall there are conflicting reports about the irradiance support for the rebels. what we do know is this that they are a regional rebel group
that does not itself threaten itself while there are no friends of ours neither are they a serious threat to american national security the longer we fight against them the more reason we give them to hate america and embrace the opportunities who are our true enemies in the region are wrong. and the more we prolong activities or destabilize the region the longer we harm our own interests in terms of trade and broader regional security. the bottom line, mr. president, is this. we're spending a great deal of time and treasure to defeat a regional rebel group with no desire to attack the homeland and unclear ties to iran. iran influence is much clearer in other parts of the middle
east for example with the murderous terrorist group hezbollah. if you want to counter iran let's have that debate in congress and vote to this administration with the necessary authorization to use our vast and fearsome military resources to defeat its proxies, not to create new proxies by turning rebel groups against us. let's talk isis for a moment. our resolution would not impede the military's ability to fight terror groups like isis inside yemen because the resolution itself requires the removal of us forces from hostility in yemen except, except and i quote, the united states forces engaged in operations directed at al qaeda or associated forces. that is a direct quote from the
text of the resolution itself. it should put the rest of it should put to rest this notion that this would jeopardize our ability to fight terrorists. the pentagon in the executive branch have long insisted that it has adequate authority under the authorization of military force enacted in 2001, adequate authority under the 2001 a ums to fight against isis. if they at the pentagon and the executive branch or any of my colleagues now claim that this resolution specifically needs to exempt operations against isis then what would it make of their previous confidence in the 2001 a ums. they suddenly lost faith in the document overnight? or are they merely using this argument as he pretendss to
oppose our resolution. i personally believe the 2001 a ums has been stretched too far but ours is completely agnostic at this point. it's agnostic about whether counterterror operations against al qaeda and isis can proceed in the wake of the resolution. ourpr resolution is a specific d our resolution relates specifically to the houthis. nothing in this bill may be interpreted as in a ums. lastly as regard to saudi arabia and the ongoing visits of the crown prince mohammed in washington dc at the moment -- i've been deeply concerned about our illegal war in yemen since its inception. i have taken steps to end our
that war and presented questions to our combatant commanders on the topic just as i have for other unauthorized operations in the past. i had hoped the new administration might take prompt actions to end our unauthorized activities in yemen and sadly, that has not occurred. after countless missed opportunities and some broken assurances, my colleagues and i decided the time to take matters into our own hands and by matters i mean those matters that are specifically already in our hands and those matters that are already granted to the united states congress and to no other branch of government. there may be some short-term impact on the us saudi relationships but overall the conference should understand that this protracted and clearly
non- conclusive for only hurts his government's stability and legitimacy. he too should want a quick and to this conflict. saudi arabia is an indispensable partner in the region and without which the united states would be less successful but the saudi themselves are at an inflection point within their own governments. working with the united states should be a goal for the crown prince and should be a credibility lending endeavor. the resolution before you is the product of years of effort. it was not timed in any way, shape or form to coincide with the crown prince's visit. it was drafted with one thing in
mind which is to make sure that before.s we put us blood and treasure on the line and before we put the sons and daughters of the american people who served in harm's way into an area which hostilities are ongoing. ... capacities in an area where conflict is brewing, we owe it to them, we owe it to their parents, we owe it to their families, we owe it to ourselves having taken an oath to uphold, protect, and defend the constitution of the united states to do it the right way. not just because the not just because the >> not just because the constitution requires that, but also because the reasons the constitution requires that. it makes sense that we were doing something that has a greater capacity to impact our government and our own security,
and the lives of those were sworn to protect us. if we do it in the right way, not just through the appropriate branch of government but through the appropriate branch of government apart because the silly placer open, honest, public debate can occur. something to make a decision within the military chain of command on whether to undertake an action this is one of the reasons to declare war it requires action by congress. this is the branch of the federal government most accountable to the people at the most regular intervals. over the course of decades and congresses in the white house of
every conceivable partisan combination, you have seen a gradual shift in power in a number of areas. regulatory policy including trade policy and including the exercise of the war power to the executive branch. when we don't exercise that power starts to atrophy. the constitution means less and is less able to protect the american people. that's why this resolution matters. i urge my colleagues to support this resolution. let's do this the right way. thank you mr. president. >> the senator from vermont. >> i asked my colleague from utah a very simple question and whether he agrees with me or not. it seems to me, senator lee, that we're talking about two separate issues here. one of which is a no-brainer. on the no-brainer is that the constitution is very clear that
it is the united states congress, not the president who determines whether or not we go to war were currently in an unauthorized war in yemen. and that the first vote if there is an attempt to table this would be absolutely on acceptable. we would be advocating our decision-making under the second vote is on whether we think it is a good idea to be in yemen. which you agree with me that at least on the motion to table, every member of the senate should allow us to go forward to vote against so that the people in the senate except their constitutional responsibility to vote yes or no on the war in yemen. >> i would agree and the answer
is yes response to that question, it is congress that gets to decide whether not we go to war. it is not the executive branch. and for that very same reason, when we brought up this resolution, calling the question on whether or not we have authorize the war should continue in the absence of a authorization, if we are asked to table that, that very request amounts to a request for evocation of our institutional responsibility. a favorite son of mine called free will by the band rush says this if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice. if we choose to table this resolution were making a choice to bill willfully blind to the exercise of a power that belongs to us to allow someone else to exercise it without proper authority, that is wrong and
cannot happen, [inaudible] our watch. >> let me just concur strongly with what senator lee said. there may be disagreements about the wisdom of been allied with saudi arabia on the war in yemen. but, there cannot be a must not be in evocation of constitutional responsibility in terms of making that decision. if you think that u.s. participation in the war in yemen is a good idea you can vote against our resolution. if you agree with us that it's a bad idea, support our resolution. but simply to advocate your responsibility on your responsibility issue would be absolutely are responsible. i would hope we would have virtually unanimous support in voting against the effort to table and let us get into the debate about the wisdom of the
war and voted up or down. i hope the member support our resolution. but let us at least have that vote and not advocate our responsibility. >> the senator from utah. >> our colleagues from time to time may ask us how we would defined the term -- and what the united states might be doing that triggers that definition. i welcome that discussion. it's important tonight that u.s. code is somewhat vague as to that question defining hostilities broadly can mean any conflict subject to the laws of war. i don't view that the definition is problematic.
it's something that allows congress to assess the unique circumstances in each instance on specific grounds at each point in time. our involvement in war and conflict is has greatly changed over the years. it will continue to change as the nature of international relations changes in technology that we use in war changes and develops. does not mean were not involved in hostilities. i welcome further discussion. let's look at the facts of our involvement in yemen. since 2015 u.s. forces heads aided the study coalitions with me there refueling and target selection assistance. whereas jim mattis said, our military is helping the saudis make certain they hit the right thing. in other words, were helping a
foreign power bomb its adversarieadversaries. if that doesn't include an amount to and self constitute hostility, then such words have lost their meaning. there are those within the executive branch of government who would defined the term hostilities so narrowly that it would apply only when our armed service personnel are firing on her being fired upon. by an enemy force. it's understandable that they'd want to define it this way because that puts the executive is one of the reasons why we have to remember there's a national tension built into our
structure to know that not all powers concentrated in any one branch of government. it's one of the reasons why is "alexander hamilton" hamilton pointed out the world power would not exercise in this instance as in many others it would differ from the other systems. the king didn't have to seek a deck declaration of war from parliament. the king could act in and of himself to decide when to take a store. it's one of the reasons why it matters here. when we see the definition of hostility narrowed to the point it won't exist given the way we engage in hostility today given
modern technology to frequently allow us to engage and ask that anyone would have to acknowledge not to combat conflict and hostility, they can still explain it as something the executive can do independently of congress. this resolution will not do anything according to some because we are not engaged in hostilities in yemen. building upon this argument that's based on a very narrow, cramped and distorted definition. some people ask what we think the resolution would do if it would pass, it's clear that we are engaged in hostilities because when were involved as a
co- belligerent, involved in midair refueling and combat flights or identifying targets for the saudi led military coalition in yemen against the who thinks, those are combat operations and clearly hostilities. even if it did not, the text of our is crystal clear namely aerial target assistance intelligence sharing and midflight aerial refueling. our resolutions would in those activities in yemen.
nothing more, nothing less. >> mr. president. >> the senator from. >> and now i speak only for myself on this issue until you why i am so motivated about this resolution. that is that if we think back on the modern history of our country and we think of the two most significant for policy decisions, the war in vietnam and the war in iraq and the unbelievable unintended consequences that those two destructive wars had, what we conclude is in both of those wars, 100 democratic president one under a republican president, the president advocated its responsibility, did not ask the right questions and in both instances we got into those terrible laws based on lies. the administration lied about why we should get involved in
the vehicle more. the bush administration lied has to why we should get involved in the war in iraq. it just seems to me that if nothing else, based on those two examples of what the war in vietnam and the war in iraq to, the congress has got to take a deep breath and understand the people who wrote the constitution were not fools. what they said it must be the people elected people closest to the constituents to debate these issues who know that decisions being made will result in the loss of lives are in their own states. we have advocated that responsibility. no one can predict whether the decisions made by congress will be good in regards to warm peace or will do better than other presidents, i don't know. at the very least, we have to accept our responsibility, not
simply take the word of presidents the two most recent significant wars have lied to the american people. once again, i know there may be differences of opinion regarding the wisdom of the u.s. being involved in the war in yemen, there should be no difference of opinion about accepting our responsibility under the constitution to vote on whether or not it's a good idea. >> mr. president. >> one of the questions we get from time to time is senator sanders mentioned some previous wars and how this may or may not
relate to those previous wars. it's a related question we get that how does this impact or influence operations where the united states is engage somewhere else in the world. with the passage of this resolution means that every other type of resolution in the world will have to stop to and what about global terrorism activities. the main reason we drafted this resolution was to bring our activities in yemen in line with our laws is expressed in the constitution. so for fighting unauthorized wars and places around the globe, then they need to be authorized by congress or else they would need to end.
importantly however, this resolution does not come itself make law or set precedent for other operation. this applies just to this conflict. in yemen. each conflict ought to be evaluated on its own merits and measured against our national interest in any existing authorizations for the use of military force. so, we cannot evaluate this resolution as being something that requires us to swallow the entire elephant at once. this is just focusing on one issue in one part of the world. we need not take a sky is falling approach will say this will immediately jeopardize everything else were doing in any and every other part of the
world. global terror operations under title ten or title 50 involve u.s. action that arise in different ways. any other activity we undertake authority we cite in introducing our armed service personnel into hostilities cannot serve as a substitute for congressional action is contemplated by the constitution. the power to declare war longs to congress and not the executive. just because government breaks the rules often, and sometimes with impunity does not mean it
has the right to break rules nor does it mean that we should not call out rule breaking where we see it going on. that's a debate for another day. the resolution before us today is specific to activities in yemen. does not authorize or de- authorize military force in any other part of the globe. in fact it specifies that it does not interfere with existing operations against al qaeda and its affiliates. it is narrowly tailored to end our efforts and to address a black-and-white situation clearly not covered by any existing authorization for the use of force. counterterror operations supported by the legitimate operations will not be affected by this resolution. i would like to yield the floor to senator murphy. >> thank you mr. president.
grateful to drive for a few moments with the cosponsors for this resolution. it's important to pick up on what senator lee was putting down, the notion that this is a limited resolution that speaks to our participation in unauthorized, illegal partnership with the saudi's to bomb the country of yemen. it does not affect our partnership with saudi arabia and others to continue to confront terror or al qaeda this allows for other activities go forward. it's important to note that if you care about that priority taking on al qaeda and isis in the region, you should support to baiting our resolution. all the evidence suggests that the continuation of the civil
war is making the arm of al qaeda that has the clearest intentions to attack the homeland and isis more powerful. it controls much more territory inside yemen than they did inside the beginning of the civil war. if you take the time to meet yemen americans, they will say this campaign is not perceived as a saudi bombing campaign it's viewed as the united states campaign. where radicalizing the american the people add to this new information that suggests that not directly working with al qaeda are starting to arm some very unsavory militias inside yemen that are filled with the type of people and extremist individuals that could easily turn and take the training they
received against the united states. if you care about the mission against terrorism you should consider debating our resolution. the reasons we are here today, we need a debate on the lack of authorization for military force. it's time for congress to step up into our constitutional duty. the administration told us in a letter to us that we do not have the authority is congress to weigh in on military activities unless there to armies firing at each other on the ground in an area conflict. that is the administrations definition of hostilities. that is a definition used by democrats and republicans. the problem is would allow for the united states through executive decision only to wage
an air campaign against a country that wipes it out without any say from the united states congress. clearly what's happening today meets the definition of hostilities. we have shown pictures of entire cities wiped out. it's the largest outbreak of cholera in the history of the world in terms of what we have recorded. that is hostilities. the united states is clearly engaging in those because were helping with targeting, revealing the planes and so on. if we see to the limited authority to this engagement, there is no end to that. lastly, let me speak to its happening on the ground. there's zero evidence that u.s. participation in this coalition has made things better. civilian casualties are not getting better.
sixty civilians were killed the day after christmas. last month the saudi's engaged in double tapping in which they target an area where civilians live, the way for emergency responders to arrive and then the hit again. something that is now allowed by international humanitarian law. the humanitarian catastrophe itself is getting worse, not better and most importantly, the battle lines inside yemen are not changing. the saudis have been saying stick with us if you keep helping us bomb the mm people we will win this war. that is not happening. at the beginning of this year -- controlled 70% of populations. today they still control about 70% of the population.
if we continue to support this bombing campaign for people will die more civilians will be hit by bombs we helped to drop. so while senator lee notes this resolution is not a merits of our engagement there is on whether or not we have legal justification to be there let's admit that if you do look at the marriage other than packing the play of our historic ally there's nothing to suggest our participation is making things better rather than worse. >> whether you agree with me in two separate issues here the first is really a no-brainer.
we are now engaged in a war with yemen and saudi arabia. the constitution is clear, article one section eight that is a congress i believe will happen in a few hours is a motion to table will. would you agree with me it would be an act of cowardice and irresponsibility, for somebody to vote to table that resolution. >> by voting to table the consideration of this resolution you are voting to stop a debate, a conversation from happening in the united states senate about whether or not proper authorization exists. let's be honest about what this first vote is. it is do we want to talk about whether or not there is
authorization to perpetuate this war. by voting to stop debate and to table this motion and refrain from proceeding to a conversation, we are signaling in a very clear way to the administration and the american public that we are not interested in exercising article one authority on the issue of warmaking. >> in other words no matter what ones you may be about the wisdom, to vote to table -- >> is saying that were not interested in even having a debate about complicated questions of legal authority for serious military engagements overseas. >> let me concur with senator murphy. if you think it's a good idea the united states to be involved in the war in yemen was saudi arabia you can vote against our resolution.
but i can think of no reason at all by any member of congress would vote to table this resolution and prevent that discussion. i would hope that we would have strong support against any motion to table and allow the debate to go forward. without, i yield the floor. >> i want to thank the senators and other cosponsors of the resolution that we are debating for their commitment to elevating this debate in the united states senate. i agree that this is an important debate with significant implications. as the representatives of the american people we must serve as an effective check of the executive branch and protect the security of the united states