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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  November 28, 2018 2:00pm-4:00pm EST

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quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the call of the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: mr. president, i ask consent that my remarks begin at this moment and not at minute or so ago. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: mr. president, we have -- we all know we have a constitutional obligation as u.s. senators to provide advice
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and consent to a president's nominee. it's not advice and rubber stamp. it's advice and informed consent. i do my best to scrutinize each nominee on the merits regardless of party, decide whether they deserve a lifetime appointment to a federal bench. and during my 44 years in the senate, i've actually voted for more republican-nominated judges than almost all but one or two republican senators in this body today. the simple fact, though, if you you've that standard, you must give informed consent, you run into a situation with thomas farr. given mr. farr's track record of working to
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systematically dismantle the franchise for thousands of african american voters, thomas farr becomes one of the most controversial nominees of either party i've ever encountered. someone who's made a career out of attacking a sacred constitutional right, indeed the very right that gives democracy its name, simply does not belong on the federal bench. let's begin with his role on jesse helms' senate campaign in 1990, a campaign i remember very, very well. the department of justice alleged that senator helms' campaign sent thousands of postcards to heavily african american precincts, falsely telling voters that they were ineligible to vote and threatening prosecution against those who did. mr. farr served as the top lawyer to senator helms at the time.
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he appears to have misled congress about his role in that bray discern voter -- that brazen voter suppression scheme. i recall very well both of them said -- in fact, when senate judiciary members asked mr. farr what he knew about or provided any counsel on the decision to send these postcards, mr. farr said he hadn't learned about their existence until after they were mailed out. a former d.o.j. official stated mr. farr definitely knew about the postcards before they were sent out and that mr. farr's response to congress was just plain contrary to the facts. setting aside this outrageous attempt at voter suppression, each senator in this chamber should care whether a president's nominee tells the truth.
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if the nominee won't tell us the truth, especially when they're under oath, they're unfit to take another oath, the oath of judicial office. mr. farr's embrace of voter suppression appears only to have grown after his work on the helms campaign. in 2013 he chose to defend north carolina's racially restrictive voting law, a voting law that the fourth circuit struck down because it targeted african americans with almost surgical precision. undeterred, between 2014 and 2017, mr. farr again filed numerous lawsuits alleging it gerrymandered. in each of these cases higher courts found north carolina's
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gerrymandering to be unconstitutional. there is a pattern here. it's deeply troubling. mr. farr has dedicated his skills as a lawyer to suppressing the right to vote for minorities. his refusal to acknowledge under oath his involvement in disenfranchisement of operations make him doubly unqualified for the federal bench. all senators who care about the right to vote and who care about the right of this body to hear the whole truth on a president's nominee especially when they're under oath, i urge you to vote no on mr. farr's nomination. i remember as a child going to the voting booths with my parents in montpelier, vermont, and watching them vote, and they emphasized to me and my brother and my
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sister how important it was to be able to vote. that democracy required that. when our children are growing up, we say the same to them. always vote. no matter who you vote for, vote. it is a sacred right. i've been in countries where people fought revolutions, had family members die for the right to vote, but they all show up. everybody who's left showed up when they can vote. and i want to think that my grandchildren will have the right to vote when they grow up. all of my grandchildren, no matter what color their skin is, that they have the right to vote. that should be the same for everybody's child, everybody's grandchildren in this country. mr. farr doesn't think that should be the case. he does not think that
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people of color should be able to vote. that's wrong. such a person does not deserve my vote or any other senator's vote to sit on the federal court. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: i ask consent the call of the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: mr. president, i ask consent that further quorum calls, the time of the quorum calls be equally divided between the two leaders. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. the presiding officer: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: there was a classified meeting that the united states senators were invited to on a bipartisan basis. democrats and republicans. it's rare. we don't do it very often. we do it when there is something
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of important national security. what we came to discuss today was saudi arabia, and that discussion really focused on our guests, the secretary of state, mr. pompeo, and the secretary of defense, mr. mattis. and they talked to us about our relationship with saudi arabia for obvious reasons. hardly anyone in the world could have missed what happened over the last several weeks when a man named khashoggi went into the consulate in istanbul and never came out. we have the video that shows him entering that building. for the longest time there was a debate as to what actually happened to him, all sorts of stories were manufactured and fabricated. it turned out that the turks had access to audio recordings of what actually happened inside that consulate. they eventually made them public, released them to the
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governments of saudi arabia as well as to the united states. and we came to learn that mr. khashoggi, a frequent critic of the saudi royal family, was murdered. he walked into that consulate and never walked out alive. some group flew in from riad, saudi arabia, ambushed him, killed him, and as hard as it may be to believe, brought with them a bone saw so they could dismember him and take parts of his body out to be destroyed or buried somewhere in turkey. that story eventually emerged and president trump was confronted repeatedly, what are we going to do about this? saudi arabia is supposed to be one of our allies. we have arms agreements with them. we are involved in a lot of of things relative energy and national security. for a lot of the time the pre was dismissive and said, i spoke to the royal family and they
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denied it and they had nothing to do with it. once the recordings were released by the turks, once the world came to grips with what actually happened to mr. khashoggi, serious questions were raise about this outremain whyus -- outrageous abuse of human rights at the hands of the saudi regime. there was a lot of specks about who -- speculation about who order and who knew about it. there were 15 to 17 people close to the crowned prince of saudi arabia have been implicated to the point where the trump administration finally acknowledged that we have to do something, we have to take a stand even when it comes an ally. if you read the history of the united states relationship with saudi arabia, it has a lot to do with oil. for the longest time we counted on the middle east for oil. we looked the other way, helped
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them, and they made a fortune in the process. the object ewe -- the opulence in saudi arabia rivals any royalty in the modern world. in the lavish lifestyles of the saudi princes as they travel around the world has been well documented. the united states has looked the other way many times because we needed the oil or as a strategic ally or strategic partner. those his time have changed in some respects. we are becoming more energy independent. we are not as dependent on saudi arabia as we once were for energy supplies to fuel our economy. and in the meantime, something else has happened within the kingdom. there's been a transition of power to the crowned prince who is known as m.b.s. he is a young man in his 30's and he nounsed when he came -- announced when he came to power he was going to make real changes in saudi arabia.
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one breakthrough he announced was that women would be allowed to drive cars. in the west it is almost comical to think that is a concession, but in saudi arabia, that is progress giving women in roles that they deserve. they he got engaged in foreign policy and started doing things that were hard to explain, one after the other. one was the decision to take the prime minister of lebanon and to basically put him under house arrest when he visited from lebanon into the royal kingdom. then to have a confrontational relationship with qatar, a country we rely on for support in the region. and then of course what brings us to the floor later this afternoon for an important, maybe historic vote, he decided that the saudis would invade yemen. invade yemen because they believe the iranians were
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establishing a power base there and because there was aggression from yemen against saudi arabia. that decision to begin this war in yemen sometime in the recent past resulted in outcomes which no one could have predicted. there are about 28 million people who live in yemen. we estimate that 14 million of them, half of the people living in that country, are subjecting -- are subjected now to a famine which threatens their very lives. we know that thousands, over 80,000 children have been killed so far in the war in yemen. what is the role of the united states? well, it's hard to define it in specific terms. at one point -- i think it's been discontinued now, but at one point we were fueling the bombers that the saudis sent into yemen, releasing the bombs which killed civilian populations and other innocent
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people. at one point -- and i think it's still the case -- we are assisting them in targeting the areas in yemen where they're going to drop their bombs. so the united states has not been on the sidelines. we've been involved. our military, the best in the world, has been involved helping the saudis with this invasion of yemen. they've discontinued the fueling mission but other things continue. and the question we have to ask ourselves now is why are we there? by what constitutional authority -- and it's this little book here that is supposed to guide our conduct -- by what constitutional authority is this administration and the department of defense waging a war in yemen? it isn't because of any vote on the united states senate or the house of representatives. though the constitution is explicit that the declaration of war is in the hands of congress, really in the hands of the
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american people through congress, in this case whatever is going on in yemen has never been expressly approved. what they hearken back to was a measure which was passed on the floor of the senate 17 years ago. and i remember because i was here. it was after 9/11. who will ever forget that when 3,000 innocent americans were killed by terrorists that crashed planes into the world trade center in new york and then into a field in pennsylvania. do you know the nationality of the terrorists who were on those planes, the ones who cam deered them and killed these innocent americans? saudis. they were all saudis. and yet we passed this resolution saying we can use force. the united states can to retaliate against them. and i voted for it. we found them in afghanistan. we went after them. but did anyone -- could anyone
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have possibly imagined that that vote 17 years ago gave authority to our government today to engage in a war in yemen? true there are terrorists on the ground in almost every country in the middle east, and you can justify our military involvement by saying we're fighting terrorism. but let's be honest. this constitution did not want a generic declaration of war. it wanted us to be careful when we chose those battlegrounds. so today we had a briefing by the secretary of state mr. pompeo which i cannot recount in detail because it was in a classified setting. but we do know this. this morning that same secretary of state authored an article in "the wall street journal" about this issue. it's entitled the u.s.-saudi partnership is vital by secretary of state mike pompeo. i'd like to read the opening paragraph of secretary of state pompeo's statement when it comes
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to our relationship with saudi arabia and the war in yemen. here's what he wrote. the trump administration's effort to rebuild the u.s.-saudi arabia partnership isn't popular in the salans of washington where politicians of both parties have long used the kingdom's human rights record to call for the alliance's downgrading. he goes on to say, the october murder of saudi national jamal khashoggi in turkey has heightened the cooperate -- the capitol hill caterwauling and media pileon but degrading u.s.-saudi ties would be a grave mistake for the national security of the u.s. and its allies. it's a long article. read it in its entirety and draw your own conclusions. but the first paragraph sets the tone. we are not discussing our role with saudi arabia in the salans
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of washington. we're discussing them in the united states senate. why? because we were elected to do just that. the american people entrust us with the foreign policy of the united states and decisions that need to be made about whether we commit american tax dell lars -- tax dollars or american lives in a military conflict. it isn't some group of academics. it's members of the united states senate duly elected who are facing their responsibility to debate it today. and listen to these terms that the secretary of state uses. the october murder of khashoggi has heightened the capitol hill caterwauling and media pile pileon. caterwauling. we don't use that much. i looked it up to make sure i understood. it's the sheiking of cat -- shrieking of cats in a fight. so the reaction of a cold-blooded murder of an
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american resident, a saudi citizen, the dismemberment of his body and disposal in ways we can't explain is caterwauling? to me it's a reflection of your values. and rightfully people around the world are protesting that this sort of activity could happen. and that's why we're bringing this measure before the senate this afternoon. i see my colleague from indiana is here. i thank him for his leadership in that. i'll close with this. i'm reluctant to display this picture. it was on the front page of a major newspaper in the united states. but i want those who wonder why we're in this debate and why we are caterwauling about the assassination of mr. khashoggi to understand what is really the issue that we are debating and voting on. amal hussain who died at the age of 7 in yemen. my heart is broken, her mother said. she died just a few days after that picture was taken.
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she's a victim of famine in yemen. this is what the decision is all about on the floor of the united states senate. will we continue to expend american taxpayer dollars, even american lives in support of the saudi regime and their invasion in the war in yemen. i understand the threat of iran and i understand we have to stand up to their aggression when and where it takes place. but did we enlist in this war? did the american people have a national debate about this war? did we vote in the united states senate to engage in this war? the answer is clearly no. i'll be supporting this resolution that will come before us this afternoon. i thank my friend from indiana for waiting an additional moment as i completed my remarks. i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the senator from mitch began. a senator: mr. president, i rise today in opposition to the nomination of kathleen kraninger to be the director of the consumer financial protection bureau or cfpb. mr. peters: this is one of the most important positions, a job that is dedicated to protecting consumers from fraudsters, from predatory lending and dangerous financial products that can drive families to bankruptcy. miss kraninger does not have the experience or the values to hold such an important job. in fact, she has fully endorsed this administration's ongoing efforts to systematically dismantle protections for consumers. this time last year, i led over 40 of my colleagues in writing
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to the president urging him to nominate a professional, bipartisan expert with a proven record of being tough on financial institutions that rip off consumers. instead, this administration has spent the past year working to gut the cfpb under interim director mulvaney. they have frozen data collection of consumer complaints and undermined enforcement tools. they have slow walked enforcement actions and weakened protections for our service members and seniors. they have stripped the fair lending office of enforcement powers and closed the office of students and young consumers. miss kraninger supports all of these actions and all of these actions run contrary to the mission and to the purpose of the consumer financial protection bureau. this nominee is not a bipartisan professional with a proven record of financial enforcement.
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she is a politically driven choice who will dismantle protections for the men and women currently serving in our military and for our veterans, our students and seniors, and all american consumers. mr. president, i had the honor of serving on the dodd-frank conference committee where we finalized the strongest wall street reform bill in a generation and created the cfpb. i have spent the past decade qendzing -- defending the cfpb from one attack after another, efforts to cut off its funding, efforts to make it harder for them to hire qualified staff, and efforts to make it harder for them to put in place important new protections for the american people. and, mr. president, it is unconscionable that this administration will now spend the coming years attacking the cfpb from within by putting in place leadership that fundamentally does not believe in protecting consumers.
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we need to hold financial bad actors and special interests accountable, not let them set the cfpb's agenda. my democratic colleagues and i told the president this a year ago, and i'll say it again. the nation needs a professional, bipartisan expert with a proven record of being tough on financial bad actors to run the cfpb. we must have a director that is focused on the prosperity of all american families and not payday lenders and fraudsters. miss kraninger does not meet the standard and so i will oppose her nomination and i urge my colleagues to join me. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. young: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana.
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mr. young: mr. president, i rise today to discuss my vote on the motion to discharge senate joint resolution 54. now, this resolution is a joint resolution to direct the removal of the united states armed forces from hostilities in the republic of yemen that have not been authorized by this congress. as my colleagues well know, since march of 2017, i focused on the humanitarian crisis in yemen and ending the civil war that has made it so much worse. during that time period, i've spent as much time as anyone i can conceive of here on capitol hill focusing on this humanitarian tragedy in yemen. this national security disaster. i've studied all sides of this issue and tried to approach it with the seriousness it deserves. now, before saying where i'm going to come down on today's vote, i'd like to discuss why i oppose this resolution, senate joint resolution 54 in march.
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what's happened since then and why i plan to vote the way i do today. in march i voted to table senate joint resolution 54. in a speech here on the senate floor on march 20, i explained my three reasons for doing so at that time. first, i expressed concern the bill hadn't been considered and marked up by the senate foreign relations committee of which i am a member. second, i said it would never become law because the administration has threatened to veto it. and even if congress were able to override a veto, i said it would fail to achieve its stated objective because the administration rejects the premise that the legislation is related to hostilities in yemen. and third, i said i wanted to introduce legislation that could actually pass and provide the administration with the leverage it needs to pressure the government of saudi arabia to do two things.
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number one, end the civil war in yemen. and number two, improve the humanitarian situation. which transpired -- what's transpired since then? well, i along with senators shaheen, collins and coons, introduced senate joint resolution 58 on april 11. our bill required the secretary of state to repeatedly certify that the government of saudi arabia is taking urgent steps to end the civil war in yemen, alleviate the humanitarian crisis, and reduce the risk to civilians. and if he cannot make these written, detailed, and unclassified certifications, the legislation would prohibit u.s. air refueling for saudi-led coalition aircraft conducting missions exclusively focused on the civil war in yemen. we, in a bipartisan way, worked successfully to ensure that the
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senate foreign relations committee and the senate armed services committee passed versions of our legislation. we then worked in a bipartisan way to ensure it was included in the national defense authorization act, section 1290, which the president of the united states signed into law. in september , pursuant to section 1290, secretary of state pompeo sent to congress the required submission requiring saudi actions in yemen. now, secretary pompeo chose not to use the national security waiver and instead certified that saudi arabia was indeed taking urgent steps to end the civil war in yemen, to alleviate the humanitarian crisis, and to reduce risk to civilians. now, there were numerous problems with the secretary of state's certifications.
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number one, the secretary certified that saudi arabia was undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure resulting from military operations in yemen. that was not a credible certification because we saw in the preceding months a dramatic increase in civilian casualties and deaths. number two, the secretary certified that the saudis were complying with applicable agreements and laws, regulating defense articles purchased or transferred from the united states. that also was not a credible certification because the secretary's own memorandum of justification for the section 1290 submission explicitly said the saudis were not doing so. the document was directly and explicitly self-contradictory.
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in summary, as a group of us wrote in a letter i led on october 10 to our secretary of state, it was difficult to reconcile known facts with at least two of the certifications. in other words, the secretary section 1290 is the law of the land, a statute signed into law by the president of the united states, was not credible. despite repeated requests for answers to our questions regarding saudi arabia and yemen, we couldn't get responsive sore timely answers from the administration. after repeatedly calling for the administration to do so, i appreciatived the -- appreciated the decision to no longer provide air refueling to the sawed subsidies in yemen. again, ippreciateed that decision. -- i appreciated that decision. however, i was disappointed that the administration didn't use section 1290 to end the air
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refueling. why is this important? such an approach would have demonstrated respect for the law, and this article 1 -- in this article 1 branch of government. it the would have also provided the administration additional leverage to persuade the saudis to support our objectives, not the saudis' objectives, our objectives in yemen. i also thought the claim that the sawed subsidies requested shall the saudis requests an end was lamentable. in our october 10 letter, seven of us -- again, a bipartisan group -- asked for answers in a umin of questions related to saudi arabia and yemen and the section 1290 certification. we asked for a response by october 31. failing to receive those answers from the administration on november 15, more than two weeks after the deadline, i worked
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with ranking member menendez to introduce the saudi arabia and yemen accountability act s. 3652. among other things, this bill seeks to ensure effective congressional oversight of u.s. policy on yemen, provide leverage to push the stake holders in yemen's civil war toward a political process, and address the world's worst humanitarian crisis. i'm told this is the worst crisis since the 1940's. yesterday -- yesterday, the day before a potential vote on this legislation, we finally received a response to the october 10 letter. it was late, and it was unresponsive. and for me the briefing today with secretaries pompeo and mattis, though appreciated,
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raised more questions than it answered. so met me now turn to today's vote. well, recall my reasons for voting to table this in march . i wanted it to go through the foreign reels committee and i wanted something that could actually become law. and with the support of the chairman and the ranking member, that's exactly what we did with my legislation, which ultimately became section 1290 of the defense bill and was signed into law. now, unfortunately, as i've laid out, the administration did not take that law seriously, and it submitted a certification with highly troubling and problematic elements. so that puts moo he in a very different place than last march plus, with 14 million people on
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the verge of starvation in yemen and things getting worse by the day, there's no time to lose. i believe the senate must speak clearly that we expect all parties -- all parties to the civil war -- to come urgently to the negotiating table to end the civil war. now, let me lay out my thoughts on iran. and the big picture. there's of course iranian influence in yemen. iran is the worst's worst state sponsor of terrorism and iran has played an immoral and illegal role in yemen. i will take a back seat to no one as an iran hawk. i've studied the situation in yemen as closely as anyone and i believe the best way to oppose iran in yemen and stop ballistic missile attacks on our partners is to bring all parties to the negotiating table.
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to end this civil war, and to address the humanitarian crisis. famine and the indiscriminate targetings of civilians will only push more yemenis towards iran and its proxies, giving tate ran increased opportunities to threaten americans, our allies, and our interests. if you're not sure about this, ask yourself the following questions -- does iran have more or less influence in yemen now than it did a year ago or than it did when the civil war started? will iran have more or less influence in yemen if the civil war continues indefinitely? solely from an anti-iran perspective, i think an objective assessment of those questions demonstrates the need to end the civil war and the need to pursue an inclusive
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political solution that seeks to drive a wedge between the houthis and tehran. in addition, there's no way we're going to make any real or sustainable progress in the world's worst humanitarian crisis unless we end the civil war. end respecting the civil war would also allow us to focus more effectively on isolating and killing members of isis and al qaeda in the arabian peninsula in yemen. so to counter iran to help 14 million people on the verge of starvation into -- and to more effectively go after isis and aqip, we need the civil war over now. the united states has leverage with the saudis to help bring this about, and we need to use all of that leverage
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immediately. we have not done so thus far. since march of 2017, i've tried to give the administration all the leverage it needs to accomplish the outcomes i've laid out. the administration has failed to fully utilize the leverage i've provided, and so i have no choice. based hon that history, based on those facts, based on our national security interests, based on our humanitarian principles, i plan to support senate joint resolution 54 today. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: thank you very much, mr. president. mr. president, i rise rise today to express my concern about the humanitarian crisis in yemen and share my views on the resolution that is currently before us. the conflict in emwhyen has persisted for far too long. i strongly support the efforts
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of the u.n. special envoy for yemen, martin griffith, to bring the internationally recognized government of yemen and the houthis to the negotiating table in the near future with the goal of reaching a sustainable political solution. i also welcome the call by secretary mattis and others for a cease-fire that would provide space for such negotiations to occur while also providing a measure of relief to the yemeni population that has suffered so who are riskily during this conflict. according to the united nations, half of yemen's population are on the brink of famine and entirely reliant on external aid aid for their own survival. these challenges have been exacerbated by mass displacement in much of the country and recent fighting in the vicinity of hudaydah, one of yemen's only functioning ports, through which the food and supplies enter the country. even when food is available for
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purchase, reports indicate that currency inflation has made it too expensive for most to afford this food. more must be done by both the coalition and the houthis to facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid into and throughout yemen. i also have significant concerns about persistent reports that civilian casualties and damage to infrastructure in yemen caused by both the houthis and the coalition of armed forces led primarily by saudi arabia and the united air be a emirates. according to the united nations, there have been nearly 17,000 documented civilian casualties since the beginning of the conflict, although that number is likely much liar i have g.n.p. the difficulty of investigating such incidents in a conflict zone. most of these casualty have been the result of air strikes led by the saudi-led coalition. unfortunately, well-intentioned efforts by the united states to help the coalition avoid civilian casualties have not
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produced such results. far too many of the strikes by the coalition have killed or injured civilians and resulted in the destruction of infrastructure needed to provide basic services to the population, thereby exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. secretary pompeo's september certification that the coalition is taking demonstrable action, in his words, to reduce the risk to civilians does not seem to be borne out by the facts on the ground. according to reports, civilian casualty incidents increased dramatically over the summer. indeed, secretary pompeo's own certification acknowledged that recent civilian casualty incidents indicate insufficient implementation of reforms and targeting processes and investigations have not yielded accountability measures into the behavior of pilot missions into yemen. any u.s. support to the saudi-led coalition needs to be considered in a thoughtful and
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deliberate manner. from a policy perspective, we should distinguish between assistance that is provided for defensive or noncombat purposes and that which could be used to enable offensive military operations in the yemeni civil war. i support the announcement by secretary mattis that the u.s. would no longer provide air support to the saudis. earlier this year i led an effort with senator blumenthal and a a number of other colleagues to raise concern about the apparent inability of the department of defense to account for required reimbursements for members of the saudi-led coalition for aerial refueling support provided by the united states. we were informed yesterday afternoon that as a result of this inquiry the department has found errors in accounting and would now be seeking full reimbursement from saudi arabia and u.a.e. for refuel
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august support provided for march 2015 through september of this year, an action that is expected to recover millions of dollars to the u.s. taxpayers. going forward, i believe that any u.s. assistance to members of the saudi-led coalition should be explicitly linked to the following objectives -- first, enabling counterterrorism objectives against al qaeda and isis. second, defending the territorial integrity of saudi arabia and the u.a.e. third, preserving freedom of navigation in the maritime environment around yemen. and, fort enhancing the training and professionalism of their armed forces with the primary focus on the adherence to the law of armed conflict and the prevention of civilian casualties. with particular regard to defense against ballistic missiles and threats, the united states cannot be in the position of providing targeting information in yemen that would be misused by saudi or u.a.e.
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forces either deliberately or through carelessness. i recently joined a bipartisan group of colleagues introducing a bill that would advance these principles. among other things the bill would suspend defensive weapon sales to saudi arabia, prohibit a resumption of u.s. refueling of saudi-led coalition aircraft and require sanctions for persons blocking humanitarian access and those who are supporting the houthis in yemen. i believe these actions would contribute to a resolution of the conflict in yemen by making the best use of the tools and leverage available to the united states. the united states can and should engage with the saudi-led coalition if there's a possibility we can help minimize collateral damage by providing them with training and advice on best practices. to date such engagement by u.s. military personnel has resulted in the incorporation of a no strike list and to target development procedures, a session of the use of cluster
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munitions and formation of joint infinite assessment teams to investigate strikes that result in collateral damage. these are positive steps, but it's clear that the coalition has not sufficiently minimized the impact of the war on yemeni civilians and more must be done. both saudi rain -- saudi arabia and u.a.e. face a significant threat from rebels armed with missiles. there have reportedly been dozens of attacks against saudi arabia since the spring of 2015 including its numerous civilian targets. i support the right of our partners to defend themselves against these threats and believe that u.s. intelligence for strictly for defense operations not to be used for defensive operations in yemen is appropriate. i continue to support u.s. engagement for the purposes and in accordance with the principles outlined above. activities which i do not believe conflict with the war
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power resolution. the resolution before us would make clear that congress does not support the introduction of u.s. forces into hostilities in yemen, absence an affirmative authorization for the use of military force. i commend my colleagues senator sanders, murphy, and lee for their continued efforts to keep focus on the need to bring an end to the violence in yemen. when we last considered this resolution eight months ago, i was hopeful that an negotiated settlement of the conflict was attainable and expressed concern about the possibility of escalation. i also hoped that the principles i articulated above could be rigorously adhered to. unfortunately since that time, fighting in yemen has continued to intensify, civilian casualty incidents have risen, and the humanitarian crisis has only worsened. the status quo cannot persist and the u.s. senate should take every opportunity to make its views clear. for that reason i intend to support this resolution. moreover, the administration
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must make it clear to the saudi-led coalition and the houthis that there's no military solution to this conflict and the time has come to reach a negotiated settlement. the conflict in yemen has negatively impacted the strategic security, interest of the stawd dis, -- saudis, and the until. it has emboldened iran and relieves pressure on al qaeda and isis. more importantly it has resulted in the largest humanitarian disaster facing the world in recent memory. it is time for this war to stop. it is also appropriate to reassess our relationship with saudi arabia in response to the brazen murder of jamal khashoggi and other violations of human rights. we must ensure all individuals who played a role in directing, planning, and carrying out the murder are held accountable. despite denials by the president, it is inconceivable to me that such an operation would be conducted without at
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least the awareness of crown prince mohammed bin salman, if not in its planning then certainly in its immediate aftermath. the crown prince controls all levels of power in saudi arabia and it's no coincidence that those who have been publicly identified as most directly responsible for the murder include these closest advisor and numerous members of the saudi royal guard. if the saudis are now being honest despite repeated denials and shifting explanations for the disappearance of khashoggi, then they should voluntarily submit to an independent, international investigation. president trump should also publicly release a declassified assessment of our intelligence community with respect to what role saudi crown prince bow ham med bin salman and other saudi leaders had in the murder. finally, the senate should immediately take up and pass the bipartisan saudi arabia accountability and yemen act of 2018. comprehensive legislation to
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ensure effective congressional oversight of u.s. policy toward saudi arabia and yemen. and demand meaningful accountability for the murder of jamal khashoggi. with that, mr. president, i will yield the floor and i also note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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mr. lee: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: i ask unanimous consent to suspend the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lee: mr. president, i stood before this body in march of this year to protest our country's unconstitutional intervention in saudi arabia's blood did i war -- bloody war in yemen. i was proud to stand with my
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colleagues, senator sanders and senator murphy, to file a discharge motion of our resolution, s.j. res. 54, that would remove u.s. armed forces from yemen. at that time members of the foreign relations committee requested additional time to study the issue and to debate the resolution in the foreign relations committee. the chairman of that committee, my friend and colleague from tennessee, senator corker, requested this with the commitment to, quote, bring forth legislation to actually appropriately deal with many of the issues relative to yemen, saudi arabia, and ourselves. close quote. so with that, the senate voted to table the motion. since then, the committee has held a hearing on this issue and introduced a separate, bipartisan bill to address it. but no further action has been taken. and so today, eight months
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later, the bloodshed continues, still abetted by the united states, even amidst further revelations of saudi depravity. it is long past overdue that congress remove u.s. forces from yemen, as recent circumstances is only confirm. today we have the chance to remedy our course of action and to did what the constitution -- and to do what the constitution and justice demand. the situation in yemen is dire. the war has killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians, human beings, lest we forget, each one of them possessing immeasurable dignity and inherent worth. it has created refugees, orphans, widows, and it's also displaced countless families. the numbers are staggering, nothing short of it. since 2015, more than 10,000
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civilians have died and 40,000 have been wounded. in an attack just a few months ago, a bomb was dropped on a school bus that killed 40 young boys who were on a school trip and wounded another 56 children. by what few americans knew until recently is the u.s. military has actually been make the crisis worse by helping one side bomb these innocent civilians. so how did we get entangled in this crisis to begin with? well, in march of 2015, saudi arabia launched a war against the houthi rebels, shortly after the houthis out offed the saudi-backed government in the capital city of sanaa. u.s. military forces were authorized to provide logistical and intelligence support to the
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saudi-led coalition. u.s. military support has continued since then, including midair refueling, surveillance, reconnaissance information and target selection assistance. in other words, we've been supporting and actively participating in the activities of war in yemen. but article 1, section 8, of the constitution states that congress shall have the power to declare war. congress, not the president, not the pentagon, not someone else in the executive branch, not any other part of government but congress. the founders could not have been any clearer about this, and they did so, mr. president, with very good reason. the founders set up our system of government in such a way as to protect the people from the dangers associated with the excessive accumulation of power in the hands of a few. we know from experience and we
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knew then from our young nation's experience under british rule that bad things happen, especially in at a national level, when too few people exercise too much power and that power goes unchecked and nowhere is this more evident than in the case of the power to declare war. so the founders placed that power squarely in the legislative branch, the branch where honest, orientation and public -- honest, open, and public debate is supposed to happen, most accountable to the people through elections at the most regular intervals. as alexander hamilton pointed out in "federalist paper" number 69, this power with a not be exercised by the executive branch so that it would be less like lay to be abused, just like it was when the king of england acted in and of himself, by himself to send his country and
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ours, for that matter, into war. now, some opponents of our resolution claim that our involvement in yemen is somehow constitutionally justified under the war powers act of 1973. this isn't true now, it is true that the war powers act makes it possible for the executive branch of government acting alone to use armed forces in cases of emergencies and subject to certain limited, defined time constraints. but the conflict in yes, ma'am by no means -- in yemen in no way shanks our form constitutes a threat to the safety of the american citizens and our involvement has far surpassed the allotted time constraint. the houthis, while no friends of ours, are a regional rebel group, one that does not itself threaten american national security. in fact, the longer we fight
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against them, the more reason we give them to hate america and embrace the opportunists who are our true enemy in the region -- iran. the more we prolong the activities that destabilize the region, the longer we harm our own interests in terms of trade and broader regional security. the war powers act also states that the assignment of u.s. armed forces to coordinate or participate in hostilities of a foreign country constitutes a conflict of war, and some have argued that we have not been engaging in hostilities is and therefore have not violated the war powers act. but this claim, too, falls flat on its face. we've specifically aided the saudi coalition -- saudi coalition, as defense secretary jim massties said in december of
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2017 is our military is helping the saudis, quote, make certain they hit the right thing, close quote. in other words, we're helping a foreign power bomb its adversaries. if that doesn't constitute hostilities, i don't know what does. finally, some critics say that this resolution would somehow hurt our efforts to combat terrorism in the region, specifically al qaeda and isis. however, the resolution explicitly states that it would not impede the military's ability to fight these terror groups. in fact, u.s. involvement in yemen has arguably undermind the argument against al qaeda's affiliates. the state department report on terrorism for 2016 found that the conflict between the saudi-led forces and the houthi insurgents has actually helped al qaeda in thate laborrian peninsula and isis's yemen branch to deepen their inroads across much of the country.
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it appears that our involvement in yemen accomplishes no good at all, only harm, and serious, consequential harm at that. the situation in yemen now poses a true humanitarian crisis. the country is on the brink of rampant disease and mass starvation. an estimated 15 million people don't have an ssess to clean water and sanitation and 17 million don't have access to food. more innocent lives are being lost every single day. my position on this has not changed for the past eight months. but with the taking of another innocent life -- that of jamal khashoggi,the circumstances have only further deteriorated. intelligence suggests, despite his repeated denials, that the crown prince of saudi arabia himself ordered the murder.
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saudi arabia's moral did he pravity has only been -- depravity has only been made plainer. this is not an ally that deserves our support or military intervention on its behalf, especially when our own security is not itself on the line. on the contrary, to continue supporting them in this war would be bad diplomacy and undermine our very credibility. no, u.s. intervention in yemen is unauthorized, unconstitutional, and immoral. and we must not -- we cannot delay voting to end our involvement and our support of saudi arabia any further. if we do, we have ourselves to blame for our country's lost credibility on the world stage. and, more importantly, our own consciences will bear the blame for the thousands of lives that will surely continue to be lost. the founding fathers had incredible wisdom in requiring
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these issues, issues of american blood and american treasure, to be debated and discussed between two equal branches of government. they understood that matters of war and alliances must constantly be reconsidered and reevaluated and in an open, honest, and public manner. that is one of our most solemn duties in this body, and it's the opportunity that lies squarely before us today. we owe it to the sons and daughters of the american people who put their sons and daughters in harm's way to defend us. we owe it to their parents and their families. we owe it to ourselves, who have taken an oath to uphold, protect, and defend the constitution of the united states. i urge my colleagues to vote in favor of the motion to discharge the resolution. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president? officer the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: i ask unanimous consent to speak for up to ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: mr. president, let me thank senator lee for his leadership on this resolution. at a time when many bemoan the lack of bipartisanship is you're seeing it here today, people coming together around an issue of enormous concern. and i thank senator lee, and i want to thank senator chris murphy of connecticut, also one of the leaders in this efforts, and the other 17 cosponsors of this resolution. mr. president, in a half-hour or so, we're going to be casting one of the most important foreign policy votes that we have cast in recent years. it is a vote to demand that the humanitarian crisis in yemen be
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addressed. it is a vote that will tell the despotic dictatorship in saudi arabia that we will no longer be part of their destructive military adventurism, and it is a vote, as senator lee just mentioned, that says that the united states senate respects the constitution of the united states and understands that the issue of war making, of going to war, putting our young men and women's lives at stake, is something determined by the u.s. congress, not the president of the united states. it is a congressional decision, not a presidential decision, whether that president is a democrat or a republican. mr. president, in march of 2015, under the leadership of mohammed
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bin salman, then saudi defense minister and now the crown prince, saudi arabia and the united arab emirates intervened in yemen's ongoing civil war. let us be clear, yemen has been a poor and struggling country for many years, but as a result of the saudi-led intervention, yemen is now experiencing the worst humanitarian disaster in the entire world. and one of the poorest countries on earth as a result of this war, according to the save the children organization, some 85,000 children have already starved to death. 85,000 children already dead and millions more
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face death, face starvation if this war continues. according to the united nations, yemen is at risk of the most severe famine in more than 100 years, with some 14 million people facing starvation. further, yemen is currently experiencing the worst cholera outbreak in the world with as many as 10,000 new cases developing every week, according to the world health organization. cholera is a disease spread by infected water that causes severe diarrhea and dehydration and will only accelerate the death rate and the misery in that country. the cholera outbreak as it happens has occurred
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because saudi bombs have destroyed yemen's water infrastructure, and people are no longer able to access clean water. the fact is that the united states, with limited media attention, has been saudi arabia's partner in this horrific war. we have been providing the bombs that the saudi-led coalition is using. we have been refueling their planes before they drop those bombs, and we have been assisting with intelligence. in too many cases our weapons are used to kill civilians, as is now well known, in august there was an american-made bomb that obliterated a school bus full of young boys, killing dozens and wounding many more. a cnn report found evidence that american weapons have been used in a string of such
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deadly attacks on civilians since the war began. according to the nonpartisan monitoring group -- independent monitoring group yemen data project, between march 2015 and 2018, more than 30% of the saudi-led coalition's targets have been nonmilitary. 30%. a few weeks ago i met with some brave human rights activists from yemen, and they are urging congress to put a stop to this war, and they told me that when yemenis see "made in u.s.a." on the bombs that are killing them, it tells them that the u.s.a. is responsible for this war. and that is the sad truth. and this is not the message that the united states of america should be sending to the world. mr. president, the bottom line is that the
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united states should not be supporting a catastrophic war led by a despotic regime with a dangerous and irresponsible military policy. above and beyond the humanitarian crisis, this war has been a disaster for our national security and the security of our allies. the administration defends our engagement in yemen by overstating iranian support for the houthi rebels, while iran's support for houthis is of serious concern to all of us, the fact is that the relationship of iran and the houthis has only been strengthened with the intensification of this war. the war is creating the very problem the administration claims to want to solve. the war is also
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undermining the broader effort against violent extremists. a 2016 state department report found that the conflict had helped al qaeda and the islamic states, the yemen branch, quote, deepen their inroads across much of the country. so, mr. president, this war is both a humanitarian disaster and a strategic disaster in our fight against international terrorism. further, let us never forget that saudi arabia is an undemocratic monarchy controlled by one family: the saudi family. in a 2017 report by the conservative cato institute, saudi arabia was ranked 149th out of 159 countries in terms of freedom and human rights. for decades the saudis
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have funded schools, mosques, who promote an extreme form of islam called wahhibism. in saudi arabia today women are treated as third-class citizens. women still need the permission of a male guardian to go to school or to get a job, have to follow a strict dress code and can be stoned to death for adultery or flogged for spending time in the company of a man who is not their relative. earlier this year saudi activist mujane, a leader in the fight for women's rights was kidnapped from abu dhabi and held in saudi arabia. she is currently being held without charges. the same is true of many other saudi political activists. sadly, president trump continues to proclaim
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his love and affection for the saudi regime. the brutality and lawlessness of that regime was made clear to the whole world, made clear to the whole world with the murder of dissident saudi journalist jamal khashoggi in the saudi consulate in turkey. pathetically, as part of his continuing respect for authoritarian regimes around the world, president trump rejected the findings of the c.i.a.'s assessment that the saudi crown prince was responsible for that murder. finally, and an issue that has long been the concern of many of us, and senator lee touched on that very thoughtfully, it is the united states congress, not the president of the united states, who under our constitution has war-making responsibility. and for too long on the
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democratic and republican presidents, we have abdicated that responsibility. so today i say to my conservative friends, respect the constitution, reclaim congress' rightful role on the issues of war and peace. congress has not authorized the war in yemen, and, therefore, that war is unconstitutional, and that must change and must change now. mr. president, we are going in a few minutes to undertake a very, very important vote, and i hope that all of my colleagues, democrats, republicans, independents, will vote to discharge this resolution. thank you. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee.
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mr. corker: i know that senator inhofe is trying to catch a flight, and i want to be very brief. but do we know the order here? the presiding officer: there is no consent request setting up an order. a senator: mr. president, through the chair, i'm happy to yield to the chairman. i understand senator inhofe wants to -- i think speak to this issue. mr. menendez: he doesn't want to speak to this issue. okay. i'm happy to yield to the chairman or i'm ready to go, whichever way you want. mr. corker: i might -- we'll both speak very briefly. why don't you go ahead and then i'll go. the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. menendez: mr. president, i rise today to speak to senate resolution 54, legislation brought forward by senators lee, sanders, murphy, and others more than eight months ago. the past two years have reminded us time and
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time again of the urgent responsibility of the congress to perform real checks and balances and to steadfastly defend our american values both at home and abroad. i thank them for their continued efforts throughout this intervening months to shed light on the devastating humanitarian crisis in yemen and to make sure this body fulfills its oversight duties. over the last three and a half years the tragic humanitarian crisis in yemen has continued to deteriorate. more than 10,000 people are dead, 14 million people on the brink of starvation. we've seen the heartbreaking photos of malnourished, starving children on the brink of death. we've learned in u.n. reports of the cholera outbreaks that jeopardize more than 10,000 people every week, and we've come to the conclusion that the status quo cannot stand. back in march i joined a majority of my colleagues in voting to table this resolution with the understanding that the senate foreign
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relations committee would hold hearings on to how fully to weigh our options in yemen, and the hope that the administration would strategically leverage our limited military support for the saudi coalition to lessen civilian casualties, to influence a potential political settlement, or at the very least prevent the situation from getting worse. at the time i also made clear to this body, to the president, and to the saudi government that our relationship and our limited military support was not and is not a blank check. i had hoped the administration would provide convincing evidence that our military support was in fact reducing civilian casualties, a goal we heard repeatedly emphasized by u.s. officials. i had hoped the administration would use this foreign policy tool to advocate for a meaningful political process. unfortunately, this administration has failed to adequately address either problem.
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the saudi coalition has not provided any more confidence in its operations, despite being reassured that our engagement with the saudis was decreasing civilian casualties, the facts on the ground speak far more powerfully against those assertions. on a broader scale, we are seriously evaluating our bilateral relationship with saudi arabia. the bombing of a school bus full of children and other civilian targets is not something i want america's fingerprints on. make no mistake, the united states and saudi arabia do share common security interests. saudi arabia faces real and imminent threats from yemeni-originated attacks inside its territory from bliss tim and scud missile attacks aimed at major saudi population centers to cross-border attacks by iranian-backed houthis. meanwhile iran continues destabilizing behavior across the middle east and the terrorists with al qaeda and the arabian pinal take advantage of
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the -- peninsula take advantage of the security breakdown. i believe the united states must support our partners in the face of real and imminent threats, but over the past year i have failed to see how continued u.s. military support for the saudi-led coalition operations in yemen have in fact promoted our interests or indeed the long-term interests of the saudi population. as i said in march, this particular resolution raises the question of how we leverage all of the foreign policy tools at our disposal to advance peace and prevent the tragic loss of more human life. today it's clear to me that the status quo is not advancing these critical interests. the limited military support we are providing the saudi coalition is not our best tool, and today i offer my support for discharging something i normally oppose, discharging a resolution from the committee. i call on the administration again to develop a cogent
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strategy in concert with the international community to compel all the parties to the negotiating table, to ensure that the millions of yemenis at risk of starvation receive the humanitarian support that is ready to be delivered. i've also worked with senators young and reed, graham, shaheen, collins, as well as my colleague, senator murphy, to introduce legislation with reference to saudi arabia accountabilities and yemen act of 2018. i had hoped that the committee would consider this legislation and have a vote on it in this congress. in the aftermath of the murder of u.s. resident and journalist jamal khashoggi and in the whitewashing that the trump administration has performed to avoid real consequences for those who ordered his death, this legislation is needed now more than ever. without a real diplomatic or real strategy there is no end to the conflict. there is no end to the violence many there's no end to the human
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suffering. it's time to bring this resolution to the floor for the full consideration of the senate. over the last few months i have seen nothing to convince me that the united states efforts in yemen do anything to secure our national security interests or reflect america's values to freedom and human rights. i continue to believe in absence of american leadership undermines our interest and the security of our allies. american presence does not necessarily mean american leadership. this should be driven by purpose and moral clarity. if we lose that sense of purpose, we lose sight of the very values that makes america the leader of nations. that is what we have lost sight of here. mr. president, with that, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: mr. president, i rise to speak of the issue
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before us. and i too have on every occasion done what is necessary to keep us from alienating an ally, saudi arabia. i think i was the last man standing here under the obama administration in trying to make that our that the jasta bill at the time ended up being correct in such a manner that it wouldn't have unintended cons questionses. it did so. but to stand with others to make sure we did not block arm sales and that we did not do those things that might undermine our relationship. let me talk through for those who are tuning in what the process is. today we have a vote on discharging this piece of legislation out of the foreign relations committee. that is all that is happening today. there's an executive calendar where we have cloture votes pending on nominees. that will burn off. and sometime next week, after
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this is discharged today, if it is so successfully, there will be another vote to actually proceed to this bill. if we proceed to the bill, then what happens is a series of amendments are voted upon and then there's another vote at the end of that as to whether people actually support the product that is created. so i just want to make it clear today what i'm not doing today is voting for the substance that is before us. i reserve the right to do so. but i'm voting on our ability to have a debate as it relates to our relationship with saudi arabia. we had a briefing today that was very unsatisfactory. but by two people i highly respect, secretary mattis and secretary pompeo are two people i worked closely with. i found their briefing today to
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be lacking and i feel in substance we're not doing those things that we should be doing to appropriately balance our relationship with saudi arabia between our american interests and our american values. there's been a lot of rhetoric that's come from the white house and from the state department on this issue. the rhetoric that i've heard and the broadcast that we've made around the world as to who we are have been way out of balance as it relates to american interests and american values. as i said this morning when we were having this briefing, i hope that in the ensuing few days, maybe this afternoon, the administration themselves will take steps to rectify this balance in an appropriate way. as to whether the crowned prince was involved in this killing, it's my belief that he was. it's my belief that he ordered it. i don't have a smoking gun. but what i do know is that he is
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responsible for this agency that carried out the killing. he has done nothing to show ownership over what has happened. that is is an affront, not just to the american people, but it's an affront to the world. the administration, in their broadcast -- in their referring to this issue, has been way out of balance as it relates to what is important to us, buying arms from us and neglecting this other piece and not demarshing the leadership of saudi arabia and in an important way. so what i'm doing today is i am voting to discharge out of our committee this bill. there will be another opportunity next week to decide whether we proceed to it. as i said to the administration again this morning, it's my hope that they will figure out a way to bring american interests and american values into balance and they can cause a saudi arabiaian
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government to take appropriate ownership over what has happened in the killing of this journalist. that, to me, would be the best solution. if not, we'll have another decision to make, and that will occur next week as we decide whether we want to proceed to that, and then after that, proceed to dealing with the issue of saudi arabia. then there will be another point in time where we can decide whether we like the substance that may be created in an amendment process going through this. so today i do support -- i support this piece of legislation. i support -- excuse me. i support discharging this piece of legislation so that this body can have a fulsome debate about our relationship with saudi arabia, what has happened with the journalist, and the important issue of the war in yemen and all the things that we need to be doing as a country to counter what iran is doing in the region.
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with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. corker: mr. president, out of respect for senator inhofe and a personal issue he has to deal with, we yield back time and hope we would be able to vote early. the presiding officer: all time is yielded back. the question is on the motion to discharge. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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