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tv   U.S. Senate Yemen War Powers  CSPAN  March 20, 2018 11:40pm-12:43am EDT

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- president, pursuant to section 1013 of the state authorization act 1984 and 1985 in accordance with the section of the international security assistance the control act of 1976 and make a motion to discharge resolution 54 on formulation. >> there are four hours of debate equally divided. >> thank you mr. president.
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article one, section eight of the constitution states in no uncertain terms, that congress shall have power to do there were. let me repeat article one section eight states it is congress that has the power to declare war. congress gave the power to authorize terry conflicts that gives the account to the people a not to the president or congress but that is the issue we are debating today.oo mr. president, with the democratic and republican administration has abdicated that constitutional rule to
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authorize war the time is long overdue. that is constitutional authority and that is what today is about and that is why i am and 14 cosponsors of this revolution, that is what we are doing with the senate .resolution 54. what we are planning is if congress wants to go to war in yemen or anything else, vote. venture constitutional sponsor ability.
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and then in the past democratic president. the president but what does that mean in the text but what the hostility mean? but we are not really engaged scribed war in yemen. we really are not engaged. so please tell that to the people of yemen's homes and
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lives by weapons march made in the usa dropped five planes to be killed by the u.s. military but then to have a saudi arabia in yemen. and then to tell my colleagues what is happening in yemen a lot of people don't know. to open the front pages of the newspapers savanna very, very
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poor nation of 27 people, in november last year, the united states and but so far in this century or for those who were wounded there are 3 million in yemenn that have been displaced from their homes. 13million the gatling -- lack access to the wall and if you
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go to the water treatment plants that have been destroyed then and then over two thirds of the population the cholera cases reported representing potentially the worst cholera outbreak in world history. that is what is going on in yemen today as the missiles saudi world affairs. and here is the bottom line. if the president states or members of congress believe
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that support for this war is in united states interest, and i think some do right now our only interest be involved in the civil war in yemen led by saudi arabia the united states senate should have the courage to f vote for participation in that war. when it comes to the floor of the senate to think it is good public policy but also with the civil war in yemen to the floor to oppose our one that i
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and the usual pre-wish we could continue in this please vote again to discharge but you have the courage and to show the judgment while you make that decision one final passage. if you support the war and if
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you don't support the resolution that we have introduced and you take that authority and we significant foreign policy disaster but in both cases congress that back and hard questions. one republican and one democrat get into conflicts with disastrous consequences.
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butay interestingly today is significant for us to debate this resolution. fifteen years ago today, marc march 20 the war in iraq began and the bombs started falling in baghdad. fifteen years ago today i was one of those who opposed that more in the beginning that had a cascade of instability around the region that we are dealing with today in egypt into maria and many if not for
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the war in iraq, isis would certainly not exist. that work keeps the but also in places like syria and lebanon and yemen to undermine those diplomatic efforts to resolve the israeli-palestinian conflict the devastation and experience was an academic and researchers found of all the iraqi civilians and catholic people were killed or indirectly as a consequence of the. that well led to the
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displacement of nearly 5 million people inside and out i have but that has created a backlash but leading to the death of put all of these things could have been spent on healthcare, education
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, infrastructure and environmental protection like so many other conflicts with unintended consequences making us less saf safe, not more safe. it must be said that the bush administration and the president lied when he told the american people quote to bomb his regime is to uncover the nuclear bomb but this one builds it within a year. that was not true. president dick cheney told us there is no doubt no weapons of mass distraction but no doubt use that against friends and allies and us and then to
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disagree when he was in service but now we know he has nothing to dodm with 911 the bush administration lied to the american people iraq had weapons of mass instruction the american people and they were not challenged in the way that they should have. that was a republican administration now let me tell you about a democratic administration where one forgets in congress refuses to assert its constitutional responsibility. lets us go back to 1954 and
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the t conflict that began similarly on a false pretense. president l lyndon johnson invited an attack in the gulf of tonkin as a pretext for escalating u.s. intervention in vietnam and sending more and more troops. but now we know the declassified reporting that johnston himself spouted to come under fire with 1964 that alleged attack was used to push the gulf of tonkin to authorize just to escalate military involvement in vietnam and now we know that the secretary of defense
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mcnamara misled the congress in public to generate a born powers resolution. don't believe me this is what commander for the u.s. naval institute. the evidence is disturbing and deliberate from the secretary of defense mcnamara and then to mislead congress. interestingly there is another and i quote, to enhance his chances for election johnson and mcnamara deceived the american people of offense and the nature of american people to get him out. the questionable spot of the north vietnamese attack and so
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of course in the foreign policy arena but that is hr mcmaster president trumps national security advisor. lyndon johnson's administration misled the american people into that war. just as the bush administration misled us into the war in iraq. and what disasters? the war in vietnam on nearly destroyed an entire generation of young 2000 died in the war so many came back wounded in body organs or it that yet
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congress abdicated its responsibility in vietnam as to. as it did with iraq. the truth of the forcesd actively engaged with the coalition to provide intelligence at the bombs kill thousands of people made the humanitarian crisis far worse yemen has also proven counterproductive to al qaeda as the lady to focus on terrorism 2016 found that the saudi led forces so again
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there is chaos or less confusion isis and their allies can jump that. . . . .on >> another administration said that invading iraq was necessary to prevent al qaeda and another said the vietnam war was necessary to contain communism. none turned out to be true. we should invest congress at those times we should invest the
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hard questions which they didn't ask. congress should have taken its constitutional role seriously and did what the constitution demanded to. that's what my cosponsors i are doing today. let me just conclude. i see my colic has been very active in standing up for the constitution on this issue. i will yield to him and a minute. here's the bottom line. it's not complicated. the constitution is clear. the u.s. congress decides whether we go to war. there's no question in my mind that by eight in saudi arabia we are assisting in war. of members of the senate think
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that conflict makes sense, is good public policy for the united states of america, vote down our resolution. if you agree with senator lee and me that it's a bad idea, supported. what i urge in the strongest possible terms as members of the senate have to and the application of the constitutional responsibility. accept it. vote yes or no, do not vote to table this resolution conduct the constitutional responsibility that we have. i yelled to my colic. >> mr. president, the issue were confronting to is one that deals with the separation of powers
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outlined in the united states constitution. the government was set up to protect the people of the dangers associated with excessive accumulation of power in the hands of a few. we knew from our experience under british rule the bad things happen at a national level when too few people exercise too much of the power. nowhere is this evident that in the case of the work. much of the revolutionary struggle that led to the creation of our nation resulted from wartime activities undertaken by monarch thousands of miles and an ocean away. it's important to remember those same concerns of 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 colic for discharge motion, sj wrist 54.
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whether you're with us or tuning in at home, i hope you listen closely so we can fill you in on the unauthorized middle east war that your government, the government of the united states of america is supporting and actively participating in. this war in yemen has killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians, human beings. each one possessing innate, immeasurable worth and dignity. this war has created refugees, orphans, widows. it has cost millions of dollars. believe it or not it has quite arguably undermined our threat against terrorist threats. i'll expand on these in a moment. for now let's focus on one
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thing. our military's involvement in yemen has not been authorized by congress. as required by the constitution. article one section eight states that congress shall have the power to declare war. congress, not the president at the pentagon, not someone else within the executive branch of government, but congress. yet in 2015 then president obama initiated our military involvement and did so without authorization from congress. the current administration has continued obama's war. senator sanders, senator murphy, cosponsors my giving congress a chance to fix this error by debating and voting other nations continued involvement in
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this unauthorized illegal war in yemen. if as our opponents claimed this was necessary, then surely they can defend that argument before this body and before the house of representatives and ultimately secure authorization from congress just as the constitution demands. but if they cannot defend this war and they cannot persuade a majority of this body that this is a war that needs to be fought, then it needs to and. let's have an honest reckoning about this war today. before this gets underway in earnest there are a few points i like to clarify.
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let's talk about iran for a moment. yes, they did fire on a u.s. navy vessel. this reinforces the fact that yemenis view the united states as a participant in this war. regardless of whether or not congress wants to acknowledge that participation or prove it but overall there are conflicting reports about the extent of iranian support to the rebels. we know that the rebels are group that does not itself threaten the united states. 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 opportunist who are our true
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enemy in the region, iran. the more we prolong activities to destabilize the region longer we harm our own interests. the bottom line mrs. were spending a great deal of time and treasure treasure to defeat original rubble group with no desire to attack the homeland and on fear ties to iran. iran's influence is much clearer in other parts of the middle east with other groups. for example with the murderous terrorist group, hezbollah. if we want to counter iran let's have that debate in congress. vote to equip this administration with the necessary authorization to use
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our vast and fearsome military resources to defeat products is not to defeat and turn rebel groups against us. let's talk about isis for a moment. our resolution would not impede the ability to fight isis inside of yemen. the resolution itself requires the removal of u.s. forces from hostilities in yemen except in a quote the united states armed forces engage in operations directed at al qaeda or other forces. that's a direct quote. it should put the rest of the notion that this would somehow jeopardize our ability to fight terrorist. the pentagon and the executive branch have insisted it has adequate authority under the authorization for military force
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under the 2001 au mf to fight against isis. if that the pentagon and elsewhere or any my colleagues now claimed this resolution is to exempt operations against isis the what we make of the previous confidence. have they suddenly lost faith in the document overnight? or the using this as a pretense to opposer resolution? i believe the 2001 au mf has been stretched too far. ours is completely agnostic. about whether counterterror operations against al qaeda and isis can proceed in the wake of the resolution. our resolution is specific and
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relates specifically to the rebels. nothing in this bill may be interpreted as an au mf. lastly, with regard to saudi arabia and beyond the visit of the crown prince mohammed and washington, d.c. at the moment, i'm deeply concerned about her illegal war in yemen since its inception. and have taken steps to end our involvement in that war. i presented questions to our combat commanders on the topic as i have for other unauthorized operations in the past. i hope the new administration might take action to end our unauthorized activities in yemen. sadly that has not occurred.
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last fall after missed opportunities and broken assurances, my colleagues and i decided it's time to take matters into her own hands. by matters i mean those specifically are ready in her hands. the matters are ready granted to the united states congress and to no other branch of government. there might be short-term impact on the u.s. saudi relationship. but overall the competition understand this protracted and not conclusive for only hurts his government stability and legitimacy. he too should want a quick end to this conflict. saudi arabia is an indispensable partner in the region. without which the united states would be less successful. the saudi's themselves are at a point within the government
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working with united states should be a goal for the crown prince and the 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 before we put u.s. blood and treasure in the line before we put sons and daughters of the american people who serve in harm's way into an area in which hostilities aren't going, to get involved in combat capacities in an area where conflict is
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brewing, we it to them and their families. we are to ourselves having taken an oath to do it the right way. not just because the constitution requires it but also because the reason why the constitution requires it. makes sense that what were doing something that has a greater capacity to impact our government and our security in the lives of those who are sworn to protect us commit if we do it in the right way not just through the appropriate branch of government but through the appropriate branch of government because that's where the only honest discussion can occur.
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this is one of the reasons in order to declare war and get us involved in the war in the first place 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 many decades under the leadership of congress is in white houses of every partisan combination, you have seen a gradual shift of power in areas including regulatory policy and trade policy and the exercise of the war power will we don't exercise that power the constitution means less and is less able to protect the american people. that's why this matters and why i urge my colleagues to support this resolution. thank you.
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>> class my colleague from utah simple question and whether he agrees with me or not but it seems to me that we are talking about two separate issues here. one of which is a no-brainer. the no-brainer is the constitution is very clear that it is united states congress, not the president who determines whether or not we go to war were currently in an unauthorized war in yemen. and the first vote if there is an attempt to of this would be on acceptable. we would be advocating our decision-making. and then the second vote is the vote on whether we think it's a
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good idea to be in yemen alongside. would 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 tabling so that people in the senate except their constitutional responsibility to vote yes or no on the war in yemen. >> i would certainly agree that the answer is yes in response to the question. it is congress like it's to decide whether not we go to work. it is not the executive branch for the very same reason when we have brought up this resolution, calling the question and if we have to authorize that war and should continue for that war, if we are asked to table that, the very request amounts to a request for evocation of our
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responsibility. favorite song called free will by the band rush came out several decades ago. he said if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice. we are making a choice to be willfully blind to the exercise of a power that belongs to us and allow someone else to exercise it without proper authority. that is wrong. that cannot happen on our watch. >> let me just concur strongly. there may be disagreements about the wisdom of being allied with saudi arabia on the war in yemen. they'll be honest disagreements about that. but there cannot be and must not be in evocation of constitutional responsibility in terms of making that decision.
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if you think u.s. participation is a good idea you can vote against the resolution. if you agree it's a bad idea, support the resolution. but simply to advocate your responsibility on this issue would be irresponsible. i would we 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. i would hope that member supporter resolution. let us at least have that vote and not advocate our responsibility. >> some of our colleagues from time to time me ask is how we would define the term
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hostilities. and what the united states might be doing the triggers that definition. i welcome that discussion. it's important to note that u.s. code is somewhat vague defining hostilities broadly could mean any conflict subject to war. i don't necessarily view that is problematic. something that allows congress to assess the unique circumstances of specific grounds at each point in time. our involvement in war and conflict has changed over the years. it will continue to change has the nature of international relations changes in technology that we use in war changes and develops.
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it doesn't mean were not involved in hostilities. i welcome further discussion on this. let's look at the facts of our involvement in yemen. since 2015 u.s. forces have aided coalition with midair refueling and target selection assistance. as jim mattis said, our military is helping the soltis quote makes certainly hit the right thing. in other words, we are helping a form power bomb its adversaries in multiple ways. that doesn't include an amount to and itself constitute hostilities that such words have lost their meaning. there are those within the executive branch of government would define the term hostilities so narrowly would
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apply only when our on service personnel are on the ground firing upon are being fired upon. it's understandable in some respects they want to define it this way because that up with the executive in power. one of the reasons why we have to remember there was a national -- built into the structure to make sure not all powers concentrated in any branch of government. it's one of the reasons alexander pointed out in federalist 69, the war power would not be exercised by the executive in our system of government in this instance and many others the executive would
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differ from the monarch under the old system, the one that was based in london. the king has the power to take great britain to war. the king did not have to seek a declaration of war from parliament. the king could act in and of himself to decide when to take us to war. it's one of the reasons why it matters here. when we see the definition of hostility narrowed to the point that it will not exist given the way we engage in hostility today given modern technologies that frequently allow us to engage in acts that anybody would have to acknowledge amount to combat they can still explain it away has something the executive can do independently of congress. this resolution will not do anything according to some
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because were not engaged in hostilities in yemen. building upon the argument based on the very narrow, crampton distorted definition of a hostilities. when people ask what resolution would do if passed, it's clear that we are engaged in hostilities. because when were involved as a cobelligerent, involved in midair refueling in combat flights, when were identifying targets the saudi led military coup should in yemen, those are combat operations and clearly hostilities. even if we're suppose these activities did not constitute hostilities the text is crystal
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clear about what constitutes hostilities for its purposes, namely aerial targeting assistance, intelligence sharing in mid flight refueling. our resolution within those specific activities against the hippies in yemen. nothing more nothing less. >> mr. president that i speak only for myself on this issue until you why i'm 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 form policy decisions and that is the world vietnam and the war in iraq and the unbelievable, unintended consequences that though it's too destructive worse had come
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out what we conclude is in both of those wars 100 democratic president and one out there a republican president the congress did not ask the right questions and in both instances we got into those terrible wars based on lies. the administration the johnson administration lied about why we should get involved in the war in vietnam, the bush administration lied as to why we should get involved in the word iraq. it seems to me that if nothing else, based on those two events about what the war vietnam to pick congresses, to take a deep breath and understand the people who wrote the constitution were not fools they said it must be
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the elected people closest to the constituents who have to debate these issues and know that decisions being made will result in the loss of life we have advocated that responsibility no one can say whether we better but we need to accept our responsibility not take the words of presidents with the two most significant wars have lied to the american people. once again, i know there may be differences of opinion regarding the u.s. been involved in the war in yemen. if you think it's a good idea vote against the resolution.
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there should be no different will be accepted our responsibility under the constitution to vote on whether or not it's a good idea. >> another question we get from time to time is senator sanders mentions in previous wars and how this may or may not relate to those previous wars. it's a related question we get about how does this impact or influence operations where the united states is engaged somewhere else in the world. with the passage of this resolution means is every other type of operation would have to stop to. and what about our global
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counterterrorism activities. the main reason we drafted this resolution is to bring our activities video you like with her loss is expressed in the constitution. you for fighting on authorize worse in other places around the globe, then those need to be authorized by congress where they would need to end. importantly however this resolution to start itself make larson precedent for other operations. this applies just to this conflict in yemen. each conflict or operation not to be evaluated on its own merits and measured against our national interest in any existing authorizations. we cannot evaluate this resolution as being something
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that requires us to swallow the entire elephant at once. it's just focusing on one issue on one part of the world. we need not take a sky is falling approach that will say this will jeopardize everything were doing anywhere in other parts of the world. global counterterror operations under title ten or title 50 involve u.s. action that arise in different ways. any other activity we take authority recite introducing our armed service personnel cannot serve as a substitute as
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contemplated by the constitution. it does not authorize or de- authorize military force in any other part of the globe against any other phone. they specify -- our resolution is fairly terror alert to end our efforts. it's deliberately narrow to address a black-and-white
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situation clearly not covered by any existing authorization for the use of military force. counterterrorism operations by others will not be affected by this resolution. i would like to yield the floor to senator murphy. >> think mr. president. i'm grateful to join for a few moments with the cosponsors of this resolution. it's important to pick up on what center daily was just putting down, the notion that this is a limited resolution that speaks to our participation in an on authorize an illegal partnership with the saudis to bond the country of yemen.
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it does not affect our partnership with saudi arabia and others in the gulf region to continue to confront share al qaeda. allowing for other activities go for. it's important to note that if you care about that priority taken on al qaeda and isis in the region then he should support debating our resolution. all the evidence suggests that the continuation of the civil war is making the arm of a qaeda that is the clearest intentions to attack the homeland and isis both more powerful. the controls much more territory inside yemen than they did at the beginning of the civil war. if you take the time to meet with the yemeni americans will say it's not a shouting bombing campaign. it's perceived as the united states campaign. were radicalizing united yemen
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people against the united states. that's new information that suggest some of our partners though not directly working with al qaeda are starting to harm some unsavory militias inside yemen that are filled with the type of people and extremists individuals that could easily turn and take the training they received from the coalitions against the united states. so if you care about this you should supporter resolution. we need to have a debate on the lack of authorization for military force. it's time for congress to step up and do her duty. the administration told us that their letter to us that we do not have the authority as united
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states congress to weigh in on military activity unless there are two armies firing at each other on the ground in an area of conflict. that's the administration's definition of hostility. that has been used by democrats and republicans. the problem is that would allow the united states through executive decision only to wage an air campaign against a country that wipes it out without any say to the united states congress. what's happening in yemen today is the definition of hostilities. we short pictures of entire cities that have been wiped out. 10000 plus civilians have been killed. that is hostilities. the united states is clearly engaged in those because we are helping with targeting and
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refueling. so if we cede to this there is no end to this. then he speaks what's happening on the ground. there is zero evidence that u.s. participation in this coalition has made things better. civilian casualties are not getting better. the day after christmas over 60 civilians were killed. reports are less month the saudis engaged in something called double tapping in which they target an area where civilians live they wait for emergency responders to arrive in the hit again. something that is not allowed by international humanitarian law. the humanitarian catastrophe is getting worse. most importantly the battle
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lines inside yemen are not changing. saudis have been saying stick with us. if you keep helping us bond the yemen people we will win this war but that is not happening. at the beginning of this war the rebels control 70s% of the population side yemen. today they control the same amount. more people will die more siblings will be hit by the bombs that we help to drop. a qaeda will continue to control big portions of that country. while senator lee knows this resolution is [inaudible] the merits of our engagements there, it's on whether or not we have legal justification to be there, let's admit that if you consider the merits other than back in the play of our historic ally, there's nothing to suggest or
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participatparticipation there'sg things better than worse. >> whether you agree were dealing with two separate issues. the first is a no-brainer. it's whether or not congress except its constitutional responsibility on issues of war. we are now engaged in a war in yemen with saudi arabia. the constitution is clear, that it is congress that determines whether this country goes to war i believe that will happen in a few hours is a motion to table pokémon. would you agree with me that it would be an act of cowardice and irresponsibility for somebody to vote to table that resolution.
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>> by voting to table the consideration you are voting to stop a debate, a conversation from happening in the senate about whether or not proper authorization exist. so let's be honest about what the first vote is. it is, do we want to talk about whether or not there is authorization to perpetuate this work. by voting to table this motion and refrain from proceeding were signaling that were not interested in exercising article on authority to vote to table it
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sends a clear signal that even having it a debate here. >> if you think it's a good idea the united states to be involved in the war in yemen with saudi arabia you can vote against our resolution. but i cannot think of any reason at all by any member of congress would vote to table this resolution and prevent that discussion. i would hope we would have strong support against a motion to table and allow that debate to go forward. with that, i yield the floor. >> here's a look at life covers for wednesday.
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the house is back at 10:00 a.m. eastern for general speeches with legislative business at 11. on the agenda is a right to try bill that would allow patients to use drugs that haven't been fully cleared by the fda. on c-span two the prime minister's questions is live at 80 and the string followed by the senate foreign relations committee ranking member bob menendez talking about form policy role congressional oversight. then the senate continues work with online sex trafficking. c-span three the intelligence committee exit security measures with kiersten nielsen and jay johnson who is head of dhs during the obama administration. later a hearing on the president's 2019 budget request was sonny perdue. >> are podcasts takes us beyond
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the headlines to explain in depth, one significant news story shaping the conversation in washington and around the country. we'll hear from journalists, policymakers and experts providing background find it on the free radio app and i to google play. an online anytime at c-span.org. >> next, report on the security of the country's infrastructure. committee members to questions from reporters at this 30 minute briefing. >> good morning. >> good afternoon. if you had the flight i did you think it was so morning too. i think everybody for being

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