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tv   U.S. Senate Sens Menendez D-NJ Corker R-TN Young R-IN Inhofe R-OK on...  CSPAN  December 13, 2018 8:43am-9:21am EST

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prime minister in lebanon. things that no one would think would be appropriate for international norms. so with that iq before. i i know the other speakers coming down. we may disagree on process but many of the issues that that is brought up today i agreeee wholeheartedly with. >> mr. president, i rise today to discuss s.j. res 54, appointed statement from the united states senate that the status quo in yemen is not tenable. that we will not stand idly by as the president lends our country's name to the calamitous military forays of another nation and our security partners across the world do not have a blank check. to my knowledge this is the
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first time since as considered a joint resolution under this provision, which is directly derived from the war powers resolution. this is ante important step to researching congress' role in authorizing the use of force. i was proud to see a strong show of support for the procedural vote to move this resolution forward, and i hope that my colleagues above-cited i'll content to embrace that moral fortitude. more please support senator young's amendment to this resolution which i understand senator sanders also supports. this language would clarify that refueling operations definitively cosseted u.s. support for hostilities in this context, and i know that he has been very focused on this issue of yemen and a critical voice in the senate on this crisis. some may have been holding out hope that the administration would show a good faith effort
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to hold the saudi coalition accountable for its actions in yemen, or to hold the saudi government and the crown prince accountable for all of their actions. well, we haven't seen that leadership. on the contrary i believe in spite of concrete evidence the trump administration is intent on doing nothing to hold the saudi government or the crown prince responsible for their actions. as we debate about four to address the tragic humanitarian crisis in yemen, and to hold the saudi coalition and the houthi combatants accountable for their actions, children in yemen continue to starve. people continue to die. and more reports about torture of detainees continue to emerge. sadly, we don't actually know the extent of the devastation pick some key managing organizations on current estimate that as many as 50,000
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people have died, with more than 14 million on the brink of starvation. save the childrenen recently posited that as many as 130 children are dying each and every day. we may, not know the exact numbers but we know enough to know that the conflict in yemen has produced the world's worst humanitarian crisis. the saudi coalition must take responsibility for its actions and like with the houthis and their iranian backers also bear the burden of this tragedy. the united states can take concerted strategic fit four steps to our involvement, anypl involvement, promotes a net positive outcome. for regional stability, for our own security interests and for the yemeni people. we can invest in the u.n. led talks in sweden. we can hardly promote diplomacy as a path forward to solve this
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conflict, which our own defense and diplomatic leaders concede has no military solution. but let's be clear. this resolution is very important and i wholeheartedly support it. and i were of that can be preserved with only germane amendments. but theel resolution itself will not stop the war in yemen. nor what some of stop the innate human suffering nor put it into human rights violations. what this resolution does do, however, to send a strong message to the status of the united states global leadership. it's a message this is the united states will not stand by the countries even those we have important security relationships flagrantly violate the national norms. the united states must concert moral l leadership on the global stage. we mustud proudly embrace the immutable fact that our strongest relationships are
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those rooted in shared values like respect for human life, like respect for basic democratic freedoms, like respect for international institutions and norms that we ship to promote a safer and more prosperous future. when we fail to call out egregious offenses, the slaughter of innocent civilians, the murder of american residents and a journalist jamal khashogg, effective kidnapping of heads of state, just to name a few, we contribute to the steady erosion of fundamental freedoms and values that have driven us to a position of global strength. this resolution is a clearar message that as the president of the united states will not stand up in defense of our values, we in the united states senate will. when this president selectively condemns some violations one day and then inexplicably ignoring, condones them another day, congress will act as an
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effective check and balance, as a coequal branch of government we will defend american values. we work to promote our long-term security interests. atrn the end of the day, the sai government must take responsibility for its actions come for this ugly war does not serve saudi arabia's own long-term interests. achieving a path toward stability and prosperity demands the saudi government holds itself to a higher standard. it must treat its citizens with dignity and respect. and must engage its partners in the region and response efforts to protect its borders of ever-growing iranian threats. shortsighted capricious actions will not serve saudi arabia's long-term interests. yet the united states has an important relationship with saudi arabia but we must also be true to our own long-term interests, and that means we cannot sit idly by waiting for the crown prince and the saudi
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government to act. it should be clear to anyone in this body thatin the resolution we're considering today is just one part of this effort. i'm proud of what across party lines with senator young, read,, graham and others in introducing the compresses saudi arabia accountability in yemen act. this bill calls for a limited suspension of offensive weapons sales in saudi arabia, private u.s. refueling of saudi coalition aircraft engaging yemen, sanctions, persons blocking commission axis, sanctions supporting the houthis in yemen, mandates global magnitsky sanctions of persons responsible for the death of american residents jamal khashoggi. unfortunately, we've not been able to get to this legislation in the timeframe that we have but let me be clear, we will continue to work at it and we do not want to see a weak substitute that degrades the
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intent of tangible actions of the senate. i hope after we get through this important vote on this resolution that at the end of day, whether it be in this congress or the next, that the only thing that we do with reference to jamal khashoggi is not just an expression of our outrage, we needha to do somethg far more than that if were going to send a global message. the time for waiting and posturing is over. this is mr. schiff made abundantly and disappointingly clear that it will not act unless we forced it to. president trump is made clear over and over again the only way he takes the high road is if he is dragged up to it kicking and screaming. the status of islam seek no incentive to change their behavior. it's time for the senatent to a. it's time to stand up for the very values that define us as a nation. passage of the resolutione to this is signal to the world that the unitedth states senate will
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hold saudi arabia accountable including the war on famine, contentment we consider additional measures to make clear what we stand for as a nation. with that, mr. , mr. president,i yield the floor. >> mr. president? >> the senator from tennessee. >> i want to thank the senator from new jersey for his concern about this issue, and he and i, you know, i voted to dispense on the site of the committee. i concerned about this particular legal issues that are retreating here but ie wanted this debate to take place on the floor. and ior thank him for his conces about the way the crown prince of saudi arabia is conducting himself, about the war itself and about and had the saudis and others have o been, and show a little concerned, show a little concern for the citizens that live in yemen.
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i appreciate his efforts. i know we are, it's very unlikely to come to an agreement on the bills he has offered, and i can understand why he would rather start the next year with the bill that he feels is stronger i some operational concerns but i like the thrust of a very much. understand knowing we are not going to come to conclusions issue, you would rather start this next w congress out with te strongest message and bill that you can put forward. but id do want to thank thank r offering it. and i hope that again with operational concerns work after my perspective helped he comes law. i hope the thrust of it becomes law. i thank him for that. i think in for his concern for the people of yemen and i thank him in particular for his tremendous disdain for what the crown prince has done relative to the journalist. and while you're right, you're
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right that is expressing outrage in itself is not enough. i agree with that 100%. i do hope that once this is done,at so that we don't confuse that with what's happening here on thisul particular message, if you will, that is taking place, you're right it's likely to change policy. the only thing that will change policy is a refined hernandez young bill that will be dealt with next year. but i do hope we will have the ability after this is over, after this is dispense with tomorrow, i hope we can speak to the outreach. i think it helps us as it relates to the second magnitsky letter that we simply i think it helps reinforce the fact that we hold him accountable. and i think there could be some good there and also think that as relates to saudi arabia, a strongi admonishment of the cron prince, i think they care about
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that whole lot more than we might think. so i hope that i wish you a you move ahead with this of the peace. like see some changes. i won't be a commit help make this happen but i thank you for the thrust her i appreciate the message that is being put forth now and i do hope that collectively before we leave here this year we can admonish strongly but we believe the crown prince has been involved in, that is the murder of a journalist. >> let me just say that personal i appreciate your good intentions and commitment to having a process where the resolution could move forward, to keep it within a germane sphere. i know that was one of the things that you said very early on, , which i brace and i'm glad for your leadership in that
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regard. i think passing this will be important, and i would urge all of our colleagues to vote for. i look forward to when you present the resolution that you talked about with reference to the crown prince. i do think that if you bring that forward, that it is likely something i will support because i think it is important to make it very clear that you cannot kill with impunity just because you are our ally, and that human rights and democracy are still values that we, at least in the united states senate, lee are an integral part of our foreign policy. because countries that observe human rights and democracy at the end of the day and share our deepest values are most reliable allies and less likely to dreck is in conflict and other areas pics debate and discussion when
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the distinguished senator offers of that. but i will reiterate and i appreciate your somewhat endorsement, somewhat reservation. it's critical. anna senator young is done so what be done in a moment, that we need to do more, even though i would probably embrace the senator is doing, then just say we are outraged, that the crown prince of saudi arabia is complicit in the killing of jamal khashoggi. there's a long list of things the crown prince is already done beyond that, some of which i mentioned in my remarks, but at the end of the day, if all we do is expressed outrage, and anybody in the world, any leader in the world, any country who we have a relationship, well, they will publicly slap us on the wrist but that will be the sole consequence. and if that is the total
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consequence, then at the end of the day people will act with impunity. and when you do that, we go down a dangerous path, not just for those who live in those countries that may be subjected to some type of indiscriminate and, you know, executions and other gross violation of human rights, we sent a global message that it is a downward spiral. that's what i know i and some my colleagues will join briefly to talk about that we intend to pursue this in the next congress, want to see happen. i appreciate that you support that sentiment and look for to continue to worker with you untl the very endio of the session. >> mr. president, before yielding to senator young so we can make his amendment pending, i just want to follow and say that look, i do want to go on record and saynd that i support the provisions of your bill that
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block for a period of time offensive weaponry sosa saudi arabia. i support that. i also support provisions off te bill that sanction people who are blocking humanitarian aid to the people there. senator knows and his staff knows we've got some operational issues, and then others are going to get worked out. anna know that the way he's taught legislation and get to where you really want to be, you start out strongly and another senator knows he's not going to pass it this year. and if i was a senator from new jersey i would be going about it exactly the way he's going about it. so i dous appreciate it and i he we doit passes into law with soe of the other provisions so that there is a price to pay for what is taking place. with that i you before. mr. president, i call it my commitment for 080.
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>> the clerk will report the minutes for senator senator fra ms. shaheen proposes amendment number 4080 on page four, line 21 at at the end the following, for purposes of this resolution in this section the term hospitals include in-flight refueling of non-united states aircraft conducting missions as part of the ongoing civil war in yemen. .. collins and coons are now
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co-sponsoring. amendment 480 would attend joint resolution 54 by defining the term hostilities to include quote, in-flight refueling of non-united states aircraft conducts missions as part of the ongoing civil war in yemen. unquote. in other words, this amendment would prevent the resumption of u.s.-saudi coalition aircraft. aircraft in too many instances have been responsible for indiscriminate bombing in violations of international human rights law. that's all this amendment would accomplish. it does not define the term hostilities or broadly for the war powers resolution or in any other instance. before discussing the amendment in more detail, allow me to zoom out and see how i see the broader picture related to saudi arabia and yemen. the civil war in yemen is as many now know is an unmitigated
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human disaster. the longer it continues, the more influential iran and terrorists groups will become in yemen. 14 million people are on the verge of famine and it's getting worse by the day. famine and indiscriminate targeting by saudi arabia will push them towards iran and its proxies, giving terrorists to our partners and american interest. it's in our interest as well as our principles that the administration use all available leverage to end the civil war in yemen without delay. the only way to end this civil war and make significant and durable progress on the humanitarian crisis is through an inclusive political process. everyone agrees on this. it's positive that the parties to the conflict ever are
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talking in sweden as part of the u.n.-led envoy peace process. we want the administration to succeed. and i commend them for the encouragement of the talks. there are many pitfalls in the peace process so we have to do all we can to support this effort here in congress. since march of 2017 i've sought to underscore the importance of the humanitarian crisis in yemen and provide this administration leverage that it can use to pressure the saudis to support an urgent and good faith effort to end the civil war and to stop using food as a weapon of war. in that effort, i've used every available tool as my disposal as a member of the senate foreign relations committee. that's included, for example, a resolution that passed by the
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senate. letters, even a hold on the nomination of our former secretary of state's top lawyer at the department of state before the administration understood, as they do know you, the importance of having a negotiated political settlement between all the parties. but as i have provided additional leverage to the administration over a period of time, we have to acknowledge that the civil war has continued, the world's worst humanitarian crisis has deteriorated further. iran's influence has only increased, and the saudry crown prince has unfortunately been left with the impression that he can get away with almost anything, including murder. to be clear, with or without amendment 4080 senate joint resolution 54 may never become law, even in that case, i believe adoption of amendment
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4080 today would send an even stronger message at a critical moment to our saudi partners that we expect them to do everything in their power to end this civil war. now, some may argue no additional pressure is needed. i've heard that argument. i reject that argument and here is why. on october 30, secretaries pompeo and mattis called for a cease-fire in yemen within 30 days. those 30 days for those who are checking your calendar, came and went on november 29th. yet the saudi coalition has continued air strikes. i have a hard time believing that if secretary mattis picked up the phone and told riyadh to knock off the air vikes in yemen that the saudis would ignore him. if that call hasn't occurred, there may be a problem. if it has, and the saudis ignored at that demand, then that may be a problem. either way we may have a really
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pig problem on our hands. it is not in our national security interest to sit idly by as the saudis ignore the clear demands of our secretary of state especially when we're members of the coalition, our taxpayers are funding these military exercises that are exacerbating the worst humanitarian crisis in generations, destabilizing a country where iran and al qaeda and isis have a foothold. so let's support our secretaries of state and defense and let's support them in their efforts. let's give this administration yet more leverage vis-a-vis the saudis. the number of innocent people confronting famine is growing by the day. innocent people are being bombed. iran and terror groups are benefitting from the status quo. the saudis have ignored our
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secretary's call for a cease-fire. so my question to my colleagues and capitol hill still undecided how they might vote with respect to this amendment that i'm bringing up is what are we going to do about it? what are you going to do about it today? because you have an opportunity to do something about it. today, even if this resolution does not become law we can take an important step and send the right message to riyadh. there's no doubt that the houthis have engaged in absolutely abhorrent behavior in yemen and takes two sides to negotiate. but we don't have much leverage over the houthis. we have significant leverage over the saudis and we must utilize it. consider if senate joint resolution, this senate joint resolution under consideration does become law, then my amendment would ensure that it accomplishes its stated purpose with respect to air refueling.
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now, some may continue to argue that the u.s. is not engaged in hostilities in yemen. it's a war. our taxpayers are providing funding. there's intelligence support and logistical support, and refueling of aircraft carrying bombs, but some will argue that we're not engaged in hostility in yemen. in other words, the senate joint resolution absent my amendment risks leaving the status quo in place in yemen. with my amendment, the legislation would ensure that the administration cannot resume refueling of saudi aircraft, conducting missions related to the civil war. to those principled colleagues, and there are a number of principled colleagues out here on this issue who are conversant on the issue and studying it for a good deal of time, i have great respect for
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them. and precedence related to the war powers resolution or other situations, let me be clear, my amendment explicitly says that this definition for hostilities only applies to this resolution we're considering today, and only to this case. i would also reiterate that my amendment would not reschool district u.s. refueling on our own aircraft. and would not restrict refueling of other aircraft for missions focused on al qaeda and associated forces so we've got it covered. otherwise united states looking to send the right message to the saudis and those changing the situation in yemen should start this. the underlying resolution, here again principled and serious people are on both sides of the war powers resolution debate. and i see merits on both sides
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of that argument. the president is indeed the commander-in-chief. that said, the founders also established clear article one constitutional war powers and responsibilities for congress. for me today, in this situation and only with respect to yemen, i believe a reasonable reading of the constitution leaves plenty of room for a yes vote on this resolution. our humanitarian principles and national security interests require it. with that, i urge my colleagues again to support amendment 4080 and to support passage of the underlying resolution, and send a message to riyadh. thank you, mr. president. >> mr. president. >> senator from tennessee. >> i wonder if-- to the president i'd like to ask the senator from indiana, then what you're saying is, you're doing everything you possibly can to ensure that if
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your amendment passes, never in the future will your amendment be relied upon to say that if we're refueling, that means that we're involved in hostilities, is that correct? >> i think the chairman for clarification, so that i can further clarify for the record that this amendment only applies for purposes of this resolution and in the section i offered it. so let's say in mali, for example, our country in the future were involved in refueling operations of our partner or allies' aircraft. this wouldn't apply. this would establish absolutely no precedent. we've had national security legal counsel look at this. we've taken a belt and suspenders approach. no reasonable reading of this could construe this to
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establish any legal precedent that ought to cause concern to anyone concerned. >> mr. president, i would ask again for the senator, then for those of us, many in this body including i think the senator from indiana, that would worry that the mere refuelling that may take place in mali, where maybe we're supporting french troops. >> yes. >> or the refueling in other places, the mere refueling of another country or another-- in another country, the mere refueling itself you're saying, by voting for your amendment, you have no intention of ever creating the precedent that another senator could use the war powers act simply because of refueling taking place, is that your intention? >> my intention is to only
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address the situation in yemen and that is precisely what this amendment does, nothing more, nothing less. so, back to the example of mali, and french aircraft. there would be absolutely no application of this amendment to that conflict, to the refueling of those aircraft, or to our own aircraft. that's why we have-- we've doubled up on clarifying precautionary language so no one could conceivably construe in any legal analysis that makes any level of common sense that-- or legal sense, because the two don't always seem to be consistent, but we've had
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attorneys look at this and it applies narrowly only to this context and i'm not sure-- i will entertain any more questions, but i feel as though i'm restating this. it's a very important matter so i'm glad the chairman gave me an opportunity to answer. >> mr. president, i appreciate the senator from indiana answering those questions. we are today, as you know, establishing precedents on numbers of things. number one, we overwhelmingly decided if the war powers resolution is used in this manner that only germane amendments can be put forth. i think that was a big step forward as it relates to this type of debate and in using the war powers resolution as it is being used. i did want to get the record, the senate records to be very, very clear that the senator from indiana, should his
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amendment pass in no way trying to create a scenario if we're refueling someplace that automatically means we're involved in hostilities. what he's doing is trying to address this specific issue and once we've had this in the record and hopefully future united states will rely upon the record to look at what is taking place today, i want to thank the senator for his amendment and tell him that i plan to support it. >> i thank the chairman. >> mr. president. >> senator from oklahoma. >> mr. president, this is been the center of a lot of discussion and it is a little confusing. i think there are a lot of things that everyone in here agrees with, but how we're
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going to express ourselves has to come down on all possibilities of the options that are there and i want to start off by saying that i oppose the sanders-lee provision. i think it-- the resolution would have us find that since march of 2015 members of the united states armed forces have been introduced into hostilities in yemen between the saudi-led coalition and the houthis, including providing to the saudi-led coalition, and refueling-- if enacted they could pull all u.s. support from the saudi-led coalition in yemen. the sanders-lee provision is flawed because it pre assumes
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we're engaged in military action in yemen. we're not engaged in military action in yemen. a lot of discussion about refueling. i don't see any stretch of the definition that would say that this is-- that it falls into that category. the truth is with the exception of the defense strike on october, that was 1916, the u.s. forces are not engaged in direct military action in yemen. the limited military support and intelligence sharing by the u.s. to the saudi-led coalition does not introduce u.s. forces into hostilities, nor is the u.s. involvement in hostilities imminent, given the circumstances at hand. u.s. forces in support of the coalition do not currently demand, command, coordinate, accompany or participate in the movement of saudi coalition forces in the counter houthi operations.
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as of november 11th of this year, the united states armed forces ceased repealing support so that's no longer an issue. even if it were an issue, this is not one that would constitute the category that we have been talking about. so the saudi coalition, the counter-houthi operations in yemen, even though the refueling support, we were providi providing, if that were going on today, it would not account for hostilities. i would oppose it. i don't know which one of these resolutions is going to be on the floor for a vote and what order they will be on the floor, but the resolution has been put together by senator corker and our leader. i think is the best solution to the problem that we're confronted with right now. like many of my colleagues, i was deeply disturbed by the killing of the saudi journalist
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jamal khashoggi at saudi arabia's consulate in istanbul in october. i deplore everything in conjunction with that and while there are not-- it may not be a smoking gun as such, i believe the saudi arabian leadership is responsible for mr. khashoggi's death and those responsible must be held responsible. and the trump administration's important decision to sanction 17 saudis for their roles in mr. khashoggi's murder. at the same time saudi arabia is an important middle eastern partner vital to the security of our regional allies including iz r israel and saudi arabia is essential to countering iran. we know that and we know how ten use things are in that part
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of the world. we don't have that many friends, we can't afford to lose any of them. while we must be frank with our partners when something is wrong. we must be cautious in damaging a strategic relationship that goes back over half a century. for this reason, i'm hoping that the resolution will be introduced and in which case i will be supporting the resolution that the leader and senator corker has introduced. it criticizes the saudi government for its recent behavior and encourages to get on the right path, the right path to redouble its reform efforts and respect the rights of the citizens and work tornados a peaceful resolution in yemen. and the choices that we have, this is clearly the best choice out there. with that i'll yield the floor. >> thank you, mr. presid

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