tv U.S. Senate Sens. Menendez Corker on Yemen War Powers CSPAN March 21, 2018 9:50am-10:10am EDT
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 including military tools to
protect us national security. although the resolution focuses on one particular element of us policy, limited military support, refueling, intelligence, advice to the saudi coalition i encourage my colleagues to expand the aperture of this debate so we may call on the administration to assert real leadership, and nonmilitary resources to move the conflict in yemen towards a political track. as a ranking member i remind my colleagues in this committee, the jurisdiction over the questions of use of force. i remind my colleagues results under my leadership, twice voted on authorization for use of military force, one in 2013 in response to the use of chemical weapons against the syrian people and in 2014 in response to the rapid rise and spread of the islamic state.
i remind you to underscore my commitment to open debate, willingness to take tough votes and my enduring commitment to a robust role for the legislative branch in use of force and oversight of that force. i'm pleased the chairman agreed to hold public witnesses on the war in yemen. a hearing before the senate foreign relations committee is critically important, and to look at the us military support of the saudi coalition and overarching us policy for resolving the war in yemen. i appreciate the chairman has made a commitment to a mark up in the committee in the near future over legislation that deals with the question of yemen and i welcome his
commitment to mark up an authorization for the use of military force in the committee. those are significant and will go a long way towards an informed process how we deal with this challenge. in considering senate resolution 54 i encourage my colleagues to assess the best way for military interest in the middle east including pushing back in the destabilizing access across the region. and ensuring freedom of navigation. to achieve these goals our long-standing policy has been to partner with members of the gulf cooperation council to promote the security and stability of the arabian peninsula. as we consider this we must fully grasp the situation on the ground and scope of attack on one of our traditional security partners. saudi arabia has endured attacks in the territory on a
scale that no american would accept. ballistic and scud missile attacks aimed at saudi population centers, cross-border attacks by uranian back to houthis and both are significant. having said that i share the concerns of a majority of my senate colleagues regarding the conduct of the saudi led coalition operations. the unacceptable scale of civilian casualties, severity of the humanitarian crisis and seeming lack of momentum on all sides to the political track to negotiate a end to this conflict. the saudi coalition bears significant responsibility for the magnitude of the destruction in yemen. 75% of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance and 8 million around the brink of famine. this led to the worst outbreak of cholera in history with estimated 1 million people
suspected to be infected. the houthis bear responsibly for the violence, the saudi campaign has played a role in exacerbating the current humanitarian capacity. the houthis that overthrew the internationally recognized and lawful government of yemen and continue the conflict by resisting a political solution, we ask the saudis to have a political solution but we need the houthis to have a political solution as well. we also have to remember the insurgency is vastly expanded, the opportunities for al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. i worry that withdrawal of limited us military support to the saudi coalition will weaken our leadership and the ability to influence a political settlement and improve humanitarian conditions and could even make the situation worse. let us be clear eyed about who will benefit from absence of
american power. the political vacuum throughout the region coming here and will continue to expand its proxy power and through its revolutionary guard, you read will continue shipping weapons to the houthis in violation of the arms embargo. with an emboldened uranian patron they will continue their campaign with yemen and attacks on saudi arabia. other nations will be left questioning the commitment of long-term security partner, the united states. in saudi arabia's darkest hours, population centers in saudi arabia. training houthi fighters, and lethal equipment. we risk sending a signal to our partners in the united states does not rely on them. from canada to the united kingdom, donald trump damaged
our credibility for stalwart allies. we must push against those concerns and show our allies that the united states upholds its international commitments. consideration of withdrawal must be taken in concert with other ways the united states is working to end this war. the totality of us policy which i fear is lacking. the solution is to bolster our humanitarian and public presence to solve this crisis and end human suffering, to assert practical concerted leadership. so far the administration abdicated leadership on the global stage. we have heard senior officials assure us there is no military solution to this conflict, any political settlement is necessary. this administration is actively dismantling the state department and antagonizing the potential to play the most critical role toward a political settlement in the
humanitarian crisis. the secretary of state for the middle east, the ambassador in riyadh, a failure of leadership. the dangerous approach to diplomatic institutions, we will not be in position to promote political solutions and our military once again will be called on to the could do the critical work of diplomacy and development distracting attention from other pressing challenges, a failure of leadership. regarding a broader double medic strategy the admin station failed to develop a preventive strategy to confront you ran including holding you ran accountable continuing to provide missile supplies and training to the houthis. across land and sea, we know lebanese hezbollah operatives are in yemen but we have seen no sanctions and no action of the security council for the solicitor google -- illegal activity. there has not been one
designation for uranian violations of arms embargoes as directed by the legislation passed 98-numtwo encountering american adversaries through sanctions act, a failure of leadership. i expect the administration to articulate and implement a comprehensive strategy for addressing yemen that includes conditions for continuing to support the saudi coalition. a strategic push for political settlement, efforts to alleviate human suffering and competence strategy to push back on he ran's destabilizing actions in yemen including tough diplomacy with countries that will continue to facilitate or at a minimum fail to push back on he ran's actions. i will continue questioning the administration to assert critical americans of american leadership rooted in human rights and human dignity. based upon chairman corker's commitments to those hearings
and future markups and based on the totality of the situation i will vote to table the motion to discharge from the committee because i am not ready -- partners face a threat from you ran and yemen, my support is not unconditional and i will demand responsive actions. i want to see the crown prince of saudi arabia earlier today a renewed commitment towards political track by the saudi coalition. ..n alleviating the humanitarian crisis. i want to see a follow-through in pledges of assistance to stabilize and rebuild yemen by the members of the saudi coalition. i want to see energy and diplomacy from the trump administration. this week's visit of crown prince mohammad bin salman is an opportunity to press forward on a path toward ending the war and addressing the civilian suffering. suffering. and addressing the civilian suffering. that was my message to him. the limited support the united states provides as leverage, now
the trump administrationn, needs to use it. inco conclusion i invite my colleagues on the senate foreign relations committee to join in holding the administration to account and pushing the administration to use all leverage to drive this conflict towards a political stop. i also thought my colleagues to join in conducting oversight of our policies and programs to counter iran's activities in the region, including implement in. filing of what to be very clear that my vote today is not a blank check for u.s. military endorsement of the current policy and strategy. and finally got a thumbs up to saudi coalition that we should continue business as usual. i expect to see improvements on all fronts as i previously stated. i would review future decisions with respect arm to ourselves d other votes with that type of extreme scrutiny. there's no more time to waste. we t must move toward a politicl settlement to end the war in yemen and the people of you must
the improvements in the situation immediately. ial look forward to working with all of my colleagues to ensure that working towards a policy that embraces american leadership in promoting political solution and alleviating the steady and humidity suffering in yemen. i look forward to this continued senate foreignhe relations committee. >> mr. president? >> the senator from tennessee. >> mr. president, i want to thank the senator from new jersey my good friend the ranking member on the foreign relations committee for his comments, and today we met with the crown prince of saudi arabia, very impressive young man whose transforming the country. we talked about the importance of our relationship no doubt but we strongly strongly push back what is happening right now in yemen andsk ask them to take strong, corrective action spirits i was there when this occurred and certainly expressed the same. we also talked about the
enrichment that they are pursuingre and some of the concerns that existed there. i just want to thank the ranking member for his leadership and words he just gave. let me speak to the debate we're having on the floor. this is a very entrepreneurial move. i don't saye that to be pejorative. i know that one of the members is on the judiciary committee that is bringing this to the floor, and i can imagine, highly important judicial issue not being debated in the judiciary committee, but just being walked to the floor for debate. i know that's not the way the judiciary committee operates. one of the other members is on the energy committee. i can imagine some complex cap-and-trade bill being offered, and instead of being worked through the committee or some ethanol bill orr some other type of bill, instead of it being worked through the committee, somebody just figures to bring it directly to the floor and so that's what's happening here today.
i certainly don't shy away from this debate. i appreciate the fact that mitch mcconnell understood that very few members of our body, unless they are on the foreign relations committee, armed services committee or have to take particular interest even know much about what's happening in yemen, and a lot is happening there. and so i appreciated the briefing that took place last week to give members a sense as to what is occurring there. but the proper way to deal with these issues is to deal with them in committee. you would think may be there some yemen legislation that the committeeom is holding and not acting on. that's not the case. any of these members could have offered yemen legislation relative to this issue, and committee would take it up. that has not occurred. let me tell you what is happening in the committee. we have a bill that is being worked on by senator young and
senator shaheen dealing with this very issue. building support. they're working with the administration to make sure their definitions are correct and they that numbers of people involved with them. we plan to have yemen hearing in the next few weeks to deal with this issue, but also to take up appropriate legislation. that is the way that we typically deal with issues of such imports. let me say this. this is an issue of great importance. not only affects the tremendous humanitarian crisis that is occurring in yemen, the radicalization of the houthis supported by iran, a proxy of iran, but also saudi arabia's own security but also affects the way we do with other countries. i think many people here understand fully that right now or recently we'ven been involved same kinds of activities with france as they dealt with issues in molly refueling,
helping them some with intelligence issues. and so this is something again that we need to take up in a serious way and the committee's is committed to doing so. what i hope will happen today is that members of this body without the foreign relationsor committee do its job and they will bring a bill for that we can properly debate and amend. so i'm hoping that later today that when offer a tabling motion, members of his body respect the members of foreign relations committee that deal with this issue. medical back to committee with the commitment that we plan to bring forth legislation to actually deal appropriately with many of the issues relative to yemen, saudi arabia, iran, and ourselves. let me mention one other thing. we've been working for some time to deal with the authorization for use of military force. it's been an issue that's been before us for many years and
it's the replacement and revision of the aumf that many people in his body have had concerns about because it's been so long since they were and acted. we have activities that taking place around the world still based on those two authorizations. we have a markup on an aumf on april 19th, scheduled to try to revise so we can give people an opportunity to weigh in on this issue on the floor. by the way, the way the aumf is being constructed at present, when we go into new countries, when we take on new groups, the senate would have the ability to weigh in on those issues. i just would like to say to the body and those who are looking in, we are not shying away from this debate. there's been no legislationee whatsoever that has been held up on this topic. legislation is being introduced
soon in a bipartisan way to deal with this terrible issue that is taking place in yemen. we are going to have a hearing. we will have a markup and in addition to that will have a markup on a new aumf to do with the issues that are conjugated with around the world with al-qaeda, isis and other entities that event associated parties. so with that, mr. president, i just want to let people know that's kind of the way we deal with things around here. none of us are happy with the current status. but i think a better way for us to come up with a proven solution for what is happening there is to go to the normal committee process. i help other members of the body will respect that. i'm glad, by the way, the ranking member, by the way, this policy has been taking place in yemen, started under the obama administration, same exact policy. the senate has acted on it by voting for appropriations so it's not as if we are not taken
action ourselves. we have done that to the ndaa. we have done that to various state department authorizations. so weer have acted upon it. there are concerns about what's happening there. legislation will be introduced to try to deal with this and then the way we deal with complicated issues. no one is shying away from the debate. we just hope to table list and move it back and deal with it in the orderly, appropriate way. >> mr. president, i rise today to express my concern about the continued deterioration of the situation in yemen and to share my views on the resolution that is currently before us. the military conflict in yemen has gone on for too long and it has affected tens off millions f civilians who face displacement, famine and widespread cholera outbreak. according to the united nations, more than 15,000 yemenis have been killed or injured since the war began in march of 2015.