tv U.S. Senate Yemen War Powers CSPAN March 21, 2018 8:50am-9:51am EDT
fishing and fearless jones. plus over 40 critical acclaim books and mystery series. during the program would be taking your phone calls, tweets and facebook messages. our special series in-depth fiction addition with walter mosley sunday april 1 live from noon to 3 p.m. eastern on booktv on c-span2. >> the u.s. senate blocked a vote to in you smoke involvement in the yemen civil war. senator bernie sanders joined mike lee and chris murphy to talk about the war powers legislation. this is one hour. >> mr. president, pursuant to section 1013 of the department of state authorization act fiscal year '19 84 and 1985, and in accordance with the provisions of section 601b of the international security assistance arms export control
act of 1976, i make a motion to discharge senateoi joint resolution 54 from the committee on foreign relations. >> under the previous order there are four hours of debate on the motion equally divided between the proponents and the opponents. >> thank you, mr. president. mr. president, article 1, section 8 of the constitution states in no uncertain terms that, and i quote, congress shall have power to declare war, end of quote. let me repeat it. article 1, section 8 of the constitution states, it is congress that t has the power to declare war. the founding fathers gave the powerut to authorize military conflicts to congress, the branch most accountable to the people. not to the president but to
congress, and that is the issue that we're going to be debating today. mr. president, for far too long congress under democratic and republican administrations have abdicatedts its constitutional role in authorizing war. the time is long overdue for congress to reassert that constitutional authority. and that is what today is about. and that is why i and 14 cosponsors of this resolution, senators leahy, murphy, warren, broker, durbin, leahy, markey, feinstein, wyden, berkeley, blumenthal, hillebrand, shots and baldwin, that is what we are doing with senate joint resolution 54.
what we are saying is that if congress wants to go to war in yemen or anyplace else, vote to go to war. that is your constitutional responsibility. stop abdicating that responsibility to a president, whether it is a republican president, or in the past, democratic presidents. mr. president, i expect that colleagues today will be arguing about what the word hostilities means within the context of the 1973 warow powers resolution. what does the word hostilities mean? and some will argue that american troops are not out there shooting and getting shot at, not exchanging fire, gunfire, with their enemies. and that we are not really
engaged in the horrifically destructive saudi led war in yemen. that's what some will argue on the floor today, that we are really not engaged in hostilities. we are not exchanging fire. well, please tell that to the people of yemen whose homes and lives are being destroyed by weapons marked made in the usa, dropped by planes being refueled by the u.s. military on targets chosen with u.s. assistance. only in the narrowest, most legalistic terms can anyone argue that the united states is not actively involved in hostilities alongside of saudi arabia in yemen.
and 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 not something that is on the front pages of the newspapers or covered terribly much in television. 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 emergency relief told us that yemen was on the brink of, quote, the largest salmon the world has seen for many decades, in this court from the united nations -- famine. so far in this country of 27 million people, this very poor country, over 10,000 civilians have been killed, and
40,000 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. more than 20 million people in yemen, over two-thirds of the population of that country, need some kind of humanitarian support, with nearly 10 million in acute need of assistance. more than 1 million suspected cholera cases have been reported, representingor potentially the worst cholera outbreak in world history.
that is what is going on in yemen today ass a result of the saudi led war there. and here is, mr. president, the bottom line. if the president of the united states, or members of congress believe that support for this war is in the united states interest, and i think some do, if you think that the united states right now for our own interests should be involved in the civil war in yemen being led by saudi arabia, then members of the united states senate should have the courage to vote for u.s.n participation in that war. nothing more complicated than that you want to come to the floor of the senate, take the case why you think it is good
public policy for us to be involved in that civil war in yemen, come to the floor and oppose our resolution. but what i hope very much that we will 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 to continue aiding saudi arabia in this humanitarian disaster. if you believe, as i do, that we should not get sucked into the civil w war, which is 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 have made that decision when you vote against final passage. in other words, if you support the war, have the courage to vote for it. if you don't, support the resolution that senator lee, senator murphy and i have introduced. mr. president, let me give you at least two reasons why congress must reassert its constitutional authority over the issue of war and why we cannot continue to abdicate that responsibility to the president. and those is everything to do with the two most significant -- those have -- in the modern
history of the united states, the war in iraq and the war in vietnam. and in both of these cases congress sat back and failed to ask the hard questions, as to administrations, one republican, one democrat, led us into conflicts disastrous consequences. interestingly, today is an historically significant day for us to debate this resolution. .. today -- on march 20, 2003, the war in iraq began and the bombs started falling in baghdad. 15 years ago today. i was one of those who opposed th to go today. i was one of those who opposed the iraqi war in the beginning
and today it is 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. had it not been for the war in arrack, isys would almost certainly not exist. that war deepened hostilities between sunni and shia communities in iraq and elsewhere, it exacerbated a regional conflict between saudi arabia and arrack. and undermined american diplomatic efforts in the
israeli-palestinian conflict. and researchers found, nearly half 1 million people. as a consequence of that war. that led to the displacement of 35 million people inside and outside arrack, putting stress on the ability of surrounding countries to deal with these refugee flows. in europe, large numbers of people fleeing the syrian war generated a backlash in european countries, giving rise to anti-muslim, anti-intimate sentiments. it led to the deaths of some
4400 american troops, and others, the war in a rack cost us trillions of dollars that could have been spent on healthcare, and environmental protection. the iraqi war like so many other military conflicts had unintended consequences, it made us less safe, not more safe. the bush administration lied, saddam hussein's regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and fissile material in a year,
that was natural. vp dick cheney lied when he told us, quote, there is no doubt that saddam hussein now has weapons of mass destruction, no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends and allies and against us. not true. no one disagreed that saddam hussein was a brutal, murderous dictator but it is now known he had nothing to do with 9/11 but the bush administration lied to the american people, arrack had no weapons of mass distraction. it was not connected to 9/11. the american people was misled by the bush administration into believing the iraq war, to prevent another 911. congress did not challenge them on those planes in a way that
congress should have, with disastrous consequences. that was a republican administration. let me tell you about a democratic administration where once again congress refused to assert its constitutional responsibilities and let us go back to 1964, to a conflict that began on similarly false premises. pres. lyndon johnson cited an attack on a us ship in the gulf of thompson as a pretext for escalating the us intervention in vietnam and sending more and more and more troops into that quagmire. but we now know from declassified recordings that
johnson himself doubted that that ship, the uss matus, had come 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 military involvement in vietnam. and we now know secretary of defense robert mcnamara 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 a paper for the united states naval institute, quote, the evidence suggests a disturbing and delivered attempt by secretary of defense mcnamara to distort the evidence and mislead congress, end of quote. patterson interestingly enough quotes another author who
wrote, quote, to enhance his chances for election johnson and mcnamara deceive the american people and congress about events and the nature of the american commitment in vietnam, use the questionable report of the north vietnamese attack on american naval vessels to justify the present's policy to the electorate and diffuse presidential candidate barry goldwater that lyndon johnson was a resolute and soft in the foreign policy arena. interestingly enough, mr. pres. that arthur is hr mcmasters, donald trump's current national security advisor. lyndon johnson's administration misled congress and the american people into that war just as the bush administration misled us into the war in a
rack. what disasters both of those wars were. the war in vietnam nearly destroyed an entire generation of young people, almost 60,000 died in that war and god knows how many came back wounded in body and spirit, almost destroyed an entire generation and congress abdicated its responsibility in vietnam as it did in arrack -- iraqi. the truth about yemen is that us forces have been actively engaged in support of the saudi coalition in this war, dividing intelligence, the planes his bonds have killed thousands of people and made this humanitarian crisis, us involvement in the human war
has proven counterproductive to the effort against our qaeda civilians, the state department, in 2016, found that the conflict within saudi led forces has helped al qaeda and isys's yemen branch to deepen their inroads across much of the country. in other words as we see again when there is chaos, when there is mass confusion, isys and their allies are able to jump in. you ran's support is of serious concern, this war has increased, not decreased opportunity for irani and interference, the trump administration has tried to justify our involvement as necessary to push back on he
ran. another administration told us invading iraq was necessary to confront al qaeda and another told us the vietnam war was necessary to contain communism. none of that turned out to be true. we should have asked congress at those times, should have asked the hard questions which they didn't ask. congress should have taken its constitutional role seriously and didn't but the constitution demanded it and that is what my cosponsors and i are doing today. let me just conclude, i see my colleague sen. lee who has been very active in standing up for the constitution on this issue and i will yield to him in a minute. the bottom line, it is not complicated, the constitution is clear, the u.s. congress
decides whether we go to war. there is no question in my mind that by aiding saudi arabia the way we are doing that we are assisting in war, we are in a conflict. if members of the senate think that conflict makes sense for good public policy for the united states of america, vote on the resolution. if you agree that it is a bad idea, support it but what i would urge in the strongest possible terms is members of the senate have got to go the abdication of constitutional responsibility, vote yes, vote no. do not vote to table this resolution, inductive constitutional responsibility and i will yield to my
colleague sen. mike lee. >> sen. from utah. >> the issue we are confronting today deals with separation of powers outlined in the united states constitution. our system of government was set up in such a way for the excessive accumulation of power in the hands of a few. we knew from experience under british rule that bad things happen especially on the national level. people exercise too much of the power nowhere more evident than in the case of the war power. much of the revolutionary struggle that led to the creation of our nation resulted from wartime activities undertaken by a monarch. it is important to remember the
same concerns and the constraints placed in our constitution, as we run the government to a half century later. i'm happy to be with sen. sanders, the discharge motion for our resolution. in the chamber today, physically with us, tuning in at home, listen closely, on the unauthorized middle east war that the government of the united states of america is supporting and actively participating in as a co-belligerent. this war in yemen has killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians, each one possessing innate immeasurable worth and
dignity. this has created refugees, orphans, widows, cost millions of dollars, has arguably undermined terrorist threats like isys. i will expand on these unfortunate facts, let's focus on one thing. the military involvement in yemen has not been authorized by congress as required by the constitution, article 1 section 8 of the constitution states congress shall have the power to declare war, congress, not the president, not the pentagon, not someone else in the executive branch of government but congress. in 2015, then president obama initiated military involvement in yemen.
without authorization from congress, the current administration has continued obama's war. sen. sanders, sen. murphy, cosponsors and die, 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 before this body and before the house of representatives and ultimately secure authorization from congress just as the constitution demands under article 1 section 8. it if on the other hand they cannot defend this war and they cannot persuade the majority of members of this body, majority of members of the house of
representatives that this is a war that needs to be fought, then it needs to end. let's have an honest reckoning about this war today. before this debate gets underway in earnest, there are a few points i would like to clarify. let's talk about your ran for a moment. those who these did fire on a u.s. navy vessel, that 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 approve it as the constitution requires but overall there are conflicting reports about the extent of uranium support for the rebels. what we do know is this. they are a regional rebel group that does not itself threaten the united states. they are no friends of ours,
neither are they serious threat to american national security. the longer we fight against them the more reason we give them to hate america and embrace the opportunists who are our true enemy in the region, you ran. the more we prolong activities that destabilize the region the longer we harm our own interests in terms of trade and broader regional security. the bottom line, mr. pres. is this what we are 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. you ran's influence was much clearer in other parts of the middle east with other groups,
the murderous terrorist group. if you want to counter a ran let's have that debate in congress, and equip the administration with 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 about isys for a moment. our resolution would not impede the military's ability to fight terror groups like isys inside yemen. this removes the removal of us forces from hostilities in yemen accept, accept, united states armed forces engage 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 the notion that this would somehow jeopardize our ability to fight terrorism. the pentagon and executive branch long insisted that it has adequate authority under the authorization for use of military force and acted in 2001. adequate authority under the 2001 au mf to fight against isys. if they at the pentagon and elsewhere in the executive branch, or any of my colleagues now claim this resolution specifically needs to exempt operations against isys, what would it make of her previous confidence in the 2001 au mf? they lost faith in that document overnight? or merely using this argument as a pretense to oppose our resolution.
i personally believe the 2001 au mf has been stretched too far. our resolution is completely agnostic on this point. it is entirely agnostic about whether counterterror operations against al qaeda and isys can proceed in the wake of the resolution. our resolution is specific and relates specifically to the houthis. nothing in this bill may be interpreted as a au mf. with regard to saudi arabia and the ongoing visit of crown prince mohammed bin salmon in washington dc have been deeply concerned about our illegal war in yemen since its inception. and have taken steps to end our
involvement in that war. i presented questions to our combatant commanders on this topic just as i have for other unauthorized operations in the past. i had hoped the new administration might take prompt action to end our unauthorized activities in yemen. sadly that has not occurred. after countless missed opportunities and some broken assurances, my colleagues and i decided to take matters into our own hands and by matters, those matters that are specifically already in our hands, 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 relationship but the crown prince should understand that this protracted and
non-conclusive war, only hurts his government's stability and legitimacy, he too should want a quick end, saudi arabia was an indispensable partner in the region. and and the credibility lending and ever. it does not find in any way, shape or form to coincide with the crown prince's visit. it was drafted with one thing in mind which was to make sure before we put us blood and
treasure on the line, before we put sons and daughters of the american people who serve in harm's way into an area in which hostilities are ongoing, to get involved in combat capacities is ruined. we know it to them, we know it to their parents and families and ourselves to uphold, protect and defend the constitution of the united states to do it the right way. and not just the constitution required them and the reasons the constitution requires that. and a greater capacity to impact our government, our standing in the world, our own security and the lives of those
who were sworn to protect us. if we do it in the right way, not just through the appropriate branch of government that the appropriate branch of government because that is the only place where open, honest, public debate can occur. somewhere in the military chain of command to undertake particular action, this is one of the reasons to declare war, to get us involved in the first place requires action by congress because this was 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, every partisan combination. a number of areas including regulatory policy, trade policy
and the exercise of war power. it starts to atrophy, the constitution means less, less able to protect the american people. that is why this resolution matters and i urge my colleagues to support this resolution. let's do it the right way. >> senator from vermont. >> i asked my colleague from utah a simple question. i ask whether he agrees with me or not. it seems to me we are talking about two separate issues here. it seems to me we are talking about two separate issues, one of which is a no-brainer. the no-brainer is the constitution is very clear that it is the united states congress, not the president, who determines whether or not we go to war and we are
currently in an unauthorized war in yemen and the first vote if there is an attempt to table this would be absolutely unacceptable because we would be abdicating our decisionmaking and the second vote is the vote on whether it is a 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 people in the senate accept 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 that question it is congress that gets to decide whether or not to go to war. it is not the executive branch.
for that very same reason, when we have brought up this resolution, calling into question whether or not we have authorized that war and continue in the absence of an authorization for that war, if we are asked to table that, that very request amounts to a request for abdication of our constitutional responsibility. a favorite song of mine called free will came out several decades ago. if you choose not to decide you have still made a choice. if we choose in this moment is table this resolution we are making a choice to be 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. that cannot happen on our watch. >> let me concur with what sen. lee just said. there may be disagreements
about the wisdom of being allied with saudi arabia, honest disagreements about that but there cannot be and must not be abdication of constitutional responsibility in terms of making that decision. if you think us participation in the war in yemen is a good idea you can vote against the resolution. if you agree with us that it is a bad idea, support our resolution, but simply to abdicate your responsibility on this issue would be absolutely irresponsible. i would hope that we would have virtually unanimous support voting against the effort to table, let us get into the debate about the wisdom of the war. i would hope members support
the resolution but let us at least have that vote and not abdicate our responsibility. >> mr. pres.. >> senator from utah. >> some of her colleagues from time to time may ask us how we would define the term hostilities and what the united states might be doing that triggers the definition. i welcome that discussion. it is important to note the code is somewhat vague, defining hostilities broadly to mean any conflict subject to the laws of war. i don't view the broad definition as problematic. it is 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 has changed over the years and it will continue to change as the nature of international relations changes, the technology we use in war changes and develops. it doesn't mean we are not involved in hostilities. i welcome further discussion on this matter. let's look at the fact of our involvement in yemen today. since 2015 us forces have aided this out a coalition with midair refueling and target selection assistance. or as defense secretary jim mattis set in december 2017, our military is helping to make certain they hit the right thing. in other words we are helping a foreign power bomb its
adversaries in multiple ways. if that doesn't include and amount and constitute hostilities, such words have lost their meaning. there are those within the executive branch of government who would define the term hostilities so narrowly it would apply only when our armed service personnel are on the ground firing upon or being fired upon by an enemy force. if they define it that way it is what the executive, one of the reasons we have to remember there is a natural tension built into the constitutional structure to make sure not all
power is concentrated on any one branch of government. is one reason alexander hamilton pointed out in federalist number 69, the war power is not exercised by the executive in our system of government. in this instance as in many others the executive in our system of government would differ from the monarch from parliament. the king could ask in and of himself to decide when to take us to war. one of the reasons it matters here. when we see the definition of hostilities narrowed to the point that very often it will not exist given the way we engage in hostilities today, given modern technologies that allow us to engage in actss
that anyone would have to acknowledge, conflict, hostility, they can still explain it away 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 on an argument based on a very narrow, cramped, distorted interpretation of hostilities. when people ask what we think the resolution would do if it would pass, first of all it is clear we are engaged in hostilities because when we are involved as a cobelligerent, involved in midair refueling,
identifying targets for the saudi led military coalition in yemen against the houthis, those are combat operations, clearly hostilities. even if they did not constitute hostilities according to war powers resolution, it is crystal clear, and aerial targeting assistance, intelligence sharing, and specific activities against the houthis in yemen, nothing more and nothing less. >> senator from vermont. >> now i speak only for myself and tell you why i am so motivated about this resolution
and that is if we think back on the modern history of our country and we think of the two most significant foreign policy decisions and that is the war in iraq and the unbelievable unintended consequences that those two destructive wars had, what we conclude is in both of those wars, one under democratic president, one under a republican president, the congress abdicated its responsibility, did not ask the right questions and in both instances we got into those terrible terrible wars based on lies. 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 war in iraq. it just seems to me if nothing else, based on those two examples of what the war in vietnam did and what the war interacted, congress has got to take a deep breath and understand that the people who wrote the constitution were not fools. they said it must be the elected people closest to the constituents to debate these issues, who know decisions being made will result in the loss of life of people in their own states and we have abdicated that responsibility. no one can predict whether the decisions made by congress will be good decisions with regard to war and peace or if we will do better than presidents, i don't know. but at the very least we have got to accept our responsibility, not simply take the word of presidents 2 in the
two most recent wars have lied to the american people. once again, i know there may be differences of opinion regarding the wisdom of the us being involved in the war in yemen. if you think it is a good idea vote against our resolution. there should be no difference of opinion about accepting our responsibility under the constitution to vote on whether or not it is a good idea. did you one more time? i would yield. is that all right with you? >> mr. pres.. >> senator from utah. >> one question we get from time to time, sen. sanders mentioned previous wars and how this may or may not relate to previous wars. how does this impact or
influence operations where the united states is engaged somewhere else in the world. the passage of this resolution means every other type of revolution anywhere else in the world would have to stop too and what about our global counterterrorism activities? we get those questions. the reason we drafted the resolution was to bring our activities in yemen into line with our laws as expressed in the constitution. if we are fighting unauthorized wars in other places around the globe and those wars need to be authorized by congress or else they would need to end. importantly, however, this resolution does not itself make law or set precedent for other operations. this resolution applies just to
this conflict in yemen against the houthis. each conflict or operation not to be evaluated on its own merits and measured against national interests and any existing authorizations for use of military force. so we can't evaluate this resolution as something that requires us to swallow the entire elephant at once. it is just focusing on one issue and one part of the world and we need not take any sky is falling approach that this will immediately jeopardize everything else we are doing in any and every other part of the world. global counterterror operations under title 10 or title 50
involved us action but arise in different ways. any other activity we undertake or authority we cite introducing our armed service personnel into hostilities cannot serve as a substitute for congressional action contemplated by the constitution. the power to declare war belongs to congress and not to the executive. just because government breaks the rules often and sometimes with impunity does not mean it has the right to break the rules nor does it mean certainly that we shouldn't callout rule breaking where we see it going on. that is a debate for another day. the resolution before us today is specific to our activities
against the houthis in yemen. it does not authorize or the authorized military force in any other part of the globe against any other flow. the resolution specifies it does not interfere with existing operations against al qaeda and its affiliates. the resolution is narrowly tailored to end our efforts to assist forces fighting against the houthis and only narrowed to address a black-and-white situation not covered by any existing authorization for the use of military force. counterterror operation supported by the 2001 au mf and other legitimate authorizations would not be affected by this resolution. i would like to yield the floor to sen. murphy. >> senator from connecticut. >> i'm grateful to join with the cosponsors of the
resolution, important to pick up on what sen. lee was putting down, the notion that this is a limited resolution that speaks to our participation in an unauthorized illegal partnership with the saudis to bomb yemen. it does not affect our partnership with saudi arabia and others in the gulf region to continue to confront terror, al qaeda specifically, allowing 2001 authorized activities to go forward but it is important to note if you care about that priority taking on al qaeda, taking on isys in the region you should support debating our resolution because all the evidence suggests the continuation of the civil war inside let yemen is making a qap the arm of al qaeda that
has the clearest intentions to attack the homeland and isys both more powerful. they control much more territory than they did at the beginning of this civil war and if you take time to meet with yemeni americans this bombing campaign is not perceived as a saudi bombing campaign but as a united states saudi bombing campaign. we are radicalizing yemeni people against the united states. add to this new information that suggests our partners in the coalition not directly working with al qaeda are starting to arm very unsavory militias inside yemen that are filled with the type of people, the type of extremists individuals that could easily turn the training from the coalition, weapons they receive against the united states.
if you care about the mission against terrorism you should support debating the resolution but the reasons we are here today, we needs to have a debate on lack of authorization for military force because it is time to do our constitutional duty. the administration told us that we do not have the authority as united states congress to weigh in on military activity by the administration unless there are two armies firing at each other on the ground in an area of conflict. that is the administration of definition of hostilities and that is a definition that has been used by democrats and republicans lose this is not exclusive to the trumpet ministration. the problem with that is it 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 is happening in
yemen today meets the definition of hostilities between shown pictures on this floor before the entire cities that have been wiped out, 10,000 plus civilians have been killed, the largest outbreak of cholera in the history of the world in terms of what we have recorded. that is hostility in the united states is clearly engaging in those hostilities because we are helping with refueling the planes, supplying ammunition. if we see to unlimited executive authority with respect to this engagement there is no end to that. let me speak to what is happening on the ground. there is 0 evidence us participation in this coalition has made things better. civilian casualties are not getting better. the day after christmas 60 civilians were killed in a series of airstrikes. reports that last month the saudi's engaged once again in something called double tapping
in which they target an area where civilians live, wait for the emergency responders to arrive and then hit again. something that is not allowed by international humanitarian law. the humanitarian catastrophe is getting worse, not better. maybe, most importantly, battle lines inside yemen are not changing. the saudi's have been telling us for years to stick with us. if you keep helping us bomb the yemeni people we will win this war, get back control. that is not happening. at the beginning of this war the houthis controlled 70% of the population. today they control 70% of the population inside yemen. if we continue to support the bombing campaign nothing will change except more people will die, more civilians will be hit by the bombs we hope to drop and al qaeda will continue to control big portions of that
country and so sen. lee notes this resolution is not on the merit of our engagement, it is on whether or not we have legal justification to be there. let's admit if you consider the merit other than backing the play of our historic ally, nothing to suggest our participation making things better rather than worse. >> let me ask the same question i asked sen. lee. with you agree that we are dealing with two separate issues here and the first issue is a no-brainer. it is whether or not congress, the senate of the united states accepts its constitutional responsibility on issues of war. we are now engaged in a war in yemen with saudi arabia. the constitution, article 1
section 8, congress determines whether the country goes to war. i believe that will happen in a few hours, a motion to table will come up. would you agree with me that it would be an act of cowardice and irresponsibility, abdication of congressional responsibility 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 what this first vote is. it is do we want to talk about whether there is authorization to perpetuate this war and by voting to stop debate, to table
this motion and refrain from proceeding to a conversation about this topic we are signaling in a very clear way to the administration and the american public that we are not interested in exercising our article 1 authority on the issue of warmaking a. >> no matter what one's view about the wisdom of the war, to vote to table is to advocate our constitutional response ability. >> a signal to the administration that we are not interested in even having a debate about complicated questions of legal authority for serious military engagement overseas. >> let me concur with sen. murphy. if you think it is a good idea for the united states to be involved in the war in yemen you can vote against our resolution but i can think of no reason at all why any member of the congress would vote to
table this resolution and prevent that discussion and i would hope that we would have strong support against any motion to table and allow the debate to go forward. with that, mr. pres. i yield. >> mr. pres.. i want to thank senators lee, sanders, murphy and other cosponsors of the resolution we are debating for their commitment to elevating this debate in the united states senate. i agree with my colleagues that this is an important debate with significant implications and as elected representatives of the american people we must serve as effective check on the executive branch, fulfill our commitment to protect the national security interests of the united states and be responsive to our constituents. this is about how we best leverage the tools in our national security toolbox