tv Sens. Kaine Durbin Lee and Collins on War Powers Resolution CSPAN February 13, 2020 7:13am-7:40am EST
afghan war, we end the iraq war, finally end the wars in yemen and throughout africa. when that day comes she -- i look forward to standing arm and arm to welcome our brave soldiers home. i will continue to fight for the truth that great nations don't fight her picture wars. >> more debate on that war powers resolution is expected before a final vote later today. we follow the senate live on c-span2. a bipartisan group of senators had more to say about the resolution yesterday when speaking to reporters on capitol hill. >> thanks for joining me, this bipartisan group worked hard on
a matter of fundamental importance. we are happy with the vote on the motion to proceed which showed strong bipartisan support for a simple proposition that the nation should not be at war without a vote of congress, the constitution of 1787, based on fundamental value, men and women who put their lives in harm's way, i spoke this morning on the floor and talked about these two army sergeants who were just killed in afghanistan in an insider attack, one of them had had ten deployments already to afghanistan. the abilify to wife and four children, his grandfather was a veteran, his father was a marine veteran and all of us visit va hospitals and talk to our troops and blizzard families and when we do an impression left upon us is the
long and consequences of war. if we go to war, we should do it based on careful deliberation. some viewed this as an effort to tie donald trump's hand. it isn't about donald trump or the president, it is about congress. it is about congress inhabiting our role to declare war seriously. and we don't send a message of weakness standing up for rule of law in a way that hungers for more rule of father. when we stand up and say when a decision is fundamental we have rules and we are going to follow these rules, that is a message of strength, and speaks to people around the world in the streets protesting in iran and iraq and elsewhere. they want rule of law but i'm happy we were able to work together as colleagues across
the aisle to claim strong congressional responsibility. we don't want a week president but we need a congress that will inhabit -- that is what troops and families deserve. i would like to have senators lee, durbin and collins say a few words and then we will take some questions. >> i appreciate what tim kaine just said which is important. this is not about the presidency or wanting a week presidency or a weak commander-in-chief. this is about the proper allocation of power between the three branches of government. if we can point to any one branch that has committed the problem over the last several decades it is this branch, the one in which we work. it is the article one branch, it is congress. over time through atrophy, what about lack of exercise or that muscle? congress has ceased to be the
war declaration drivers seat, even though this was an impeachment -- important feature at the time of its drafting. alexander hamilton explained in federalist 69 this was a distressing feature between our prior system of government, the one that was based in london and the one we have now. under the old form of government the king had the power to take us to war without parliament had it was parliament's job to figure out what to do about it, how to funded and so forth. and the elected chief executive who would be the commander-in-chief but wouldn't take us to war. that power would be left exclusively in the hands of those people most accountable to the people of the most regular intervals and more frequently than the president of the united states. it is quite to the contrary, to
the house of representatives, and they own any particular decision. they either feign outrage or support, but it is not there to own. it is a pleasure to stand with my colleague, came from a pretty broad spectrum of points on the political continuum. this helps demonstrate, and and it focuses not on whether wars appropriate. it focuses on the fact that moving forward any action we
take involving iran given it is authorized by 2001-2002 a ums needs to be authorized by congress but not somewhere else but part of the president's inherent power to respond to an actual or imminent attack on the united states, should not be controversial. if you look into it it is not controversial. the diversity on this stage, i support with the president has them with our foreign policy. i have become a huge fan of the president's handling of his commander-in-chief power. the president has taken steps to avoid getting this into additional wars. i want to be careful to say i don't necessarily speak to anyone but myself but for me this is about supporting donald trump in his foreign-policy, his effort to make sure we
don't get involved too easily or too quickly or in an unconstitutional way. this is consistent with his policy. i stand behind it. >> here to ensure the senate fulfills its constitutional duty and responsibility, having the sole power to send us troops into war, i use both of those words because soul power really means the duty and responsibility, article 1 section 8, the power to declare war belongs to congress, congress overwhelmingly reaffirmed this constitutional provision. and it cost so many lives and seemed to wind on indefinitely. we passed the war powers law in
1973 over the veto of richard nixon. to make it clear in future wars the american people would have a voice in the decision of going to war. under the law the president has the authority as he should with military attacks in response to imminent threat or express authorization of congress. the majority leader has argued the war powers law is only relevant when thousands of troops are being deployed in vietnam type situation. not reaction that is simply a deterrence. deterrence can be a slippery slope and that is what the law has in mind, escalation to war without authorization of congress. the recent briefing by the administration or iran, because of previous provocations, vague assertions to justify military escalation. i raised serious concerns about what we are told about the justifications for actions recently and in the future. we now have confrontation with
iran which is the heart of this effort. i don't know whether this is resolved with any further military confrontation with the prospect of iran deciding and hope they don't to develop nuclear weapons for quickly on a course where the constitutional responsibly of congress is invoked. that is why i joined senator kaine in this effort, the senate should not allow the country to be led into another middle eastern war without the constitutionally required consent of the american people through congress. one word about responsibility. i've been a member of the house and senate. i voted on efforts to send our troops to war, the toughest votes i ever had to cast. under the best of circumstances americans will die. before you make that decision, any members of congress would race away from that and say
would just rather blame the president if it turns out badly. the constitution doesn't give us that luxury. we have a responsibly on behalf of the american people to face the realities senator kaine described on the floor of the senate this morning with recent casualties that occurred. it is important to accept not only this responsibly but to acknowledge our authority. the constitution is clear, article 1 section 8 states the powers explicit to congress as it should be. when should never send them to war without consent of the american people. i made the same argument with the congressional career, a democrat or republican. i urge colleagues to join us in reaffirming this body's constitutional authority and responsibility. >> senator collins. >> let me begin by thanking
senator kaine for his leadership, senator durbin for their hard work on this resolution. this resolution is needed and long overdue. as my colleagues have said, it reasserts congress's constitutional role and recognizes that the framers -- the authority to declare war unilaterally. over the past decade, regrettably, congress has too often abdicated its constitutional responsibility on authorizing the sustained use of military force. article 1 section 8 of the constitution could not be clearer. invest in the congress the soul
power to declare war. although the president as commander in chief has the power to lead and defend our armed forces and to respond, no president has the authority to commit the military to a sustained conflict. and it is, as my colleagues had said, important to reassert the legislative branch's role regardless of rich party occupies the white house. that has been my position, whether the president is a republican or democrat. in 2011 i voted with ten of my republican colleagues on a similar resolution that was
directed towards restraining president obama's attempt to alter the conflict in libya. and a number of prior war powers resolution to the defense bill last june. i want to say, the regime in iran, the recent votes in the house, that americans are divided in the president's constitutional prerogative to defend us forces and american citizens around the world. nor should the iranian regime interpret these votes as a lack of resolve against its aggression and activities in the region. nothing, for example, in the
senator kaine's resolution would require our navy to cease patrolling the strait of hormuz, for example. but the fact remains cannot be sidelined in these and -- important constitutional decisions. i salute my colleagues for joining in this bipartisan resolution. i'm encouraged by the vote to proceed and i hope we will have a strong vote on final passage, thank you. >> i want to acknowledge a number of others worked closely with this bill including senators young and paul and the version of the bill that benefited bison drafting's objections by senators collins, lee and durbin.
>> the war powers act to take note of the changes on consultation, 90 day window. is there a time window for doing that? >> i want to say something quickly about it. we had a war powers consultation act, attempting to deal with some of the constitutional challenges that surfaced from the beginning of the act and the changing nature of warfare from the mid-1970s. that was drafted with the thought that warfare was between nationstates was what about nonstate groups? that was passed before a word drone strikes and cyber attacks. there are some conceptual challenges and questions that are different from the mid-1970s and that is why the support of the role powers act,
it is a longer-term project but a valuable one. >> the house in 2002, the iraq war, there is an ongoing fight to defend offense of military action against iran. can i get your position on those provisions? >> i have said for a long time we have been involved in a two decade-long war effort that is problematic. i said we need to go to afghanistan and take a close look at any theater of war in which we are still involved. i am not ready to make a commitment on any specific proposal for the house.
>> seems to me it is time to take a look at the authorization for the use of military force that was passed in response to the terrorist attacks on our country in 2001. it has been in effect for a long time now and we do need to reevaluate it. i'm not saying it should be replaced but we do need to reevaluate it. >> the president looks increasingly unconstrained post impeachment acquittal. he has tweeted in the last hour saying the resolution make the united states look weak. what is your understanding of the president's actual
intentions with respect to the military posture against iran right now and where do you see the maximum pressure campaign headed? >> where it is headed his unpredictable. the president was very close to a military strike against iran in june that he avoided at the last minute, a missile or drone strike and there is a period of the escalation which is good but escalated back up, and i think there has been a de-escalation in the last six weeks. it would be optimistic to make sure that is going to go on indefinitely. it is a tough posture with iran taking actions we don't like. we are in a tough posture. the president has tweeted out negative things about the resolution but many of us worked on a similar war powers resolution, the participation with the saudis in the civil
war in yemen and we put a war powers resolution on the president's desk in both houses to stop these activities. the president did veto the resolution and we couldn't override it but it changed his behavior and decision-making because he told the military to back off on some of the activities. he didn't like congress telling him what to do but when congress stand up and acts and put something on his desk even if he chooses to veto it and we can't override the will of both parties, the public they represent, could be a factor in the decision-making and i hope that is the case. >> two things. having been one of the 23 senators who voted against the invasion of iraq, i certainly believe that was the right decision then but look at the situation we face today with almost 5000 american deaths in the war in iraq, we found no weapons of mass distraction, we
enhanced unfortunately the image and efforts of iran, many regulators would like to see us leave after 18 years of this conduct. look at afghanistan. i voted for that. we are still in it 18 years later. i had conversations yesterday the president trying to remove our forces from afghanistan. i support the concept of bringing troops home. we are looking for stability in the process. on iran too going to your point. nothing i am about to relate is classified, the justification for the salon targeting, there
is suggestion of imminent threat of some sort he was involved in. i then asked if congress should be called in for their authority to use their authority to move forward from this point, there was pushback from the administration saying that would not be a welcomed by the troops. it would hurt more hour. i couldn't disagree more. i had conversation with military leaders. the uncertainty of american popular support on the military effort undermines confidence of troops and offering their lives for this country. when we step up as congress and say we stand together as a nation we are asking to serve our nation, going to combat with a stronger feeling they were executing their best abilities on behalf of the united states and its future. the president has said publicly of iran move forward on nuclear weapons there would be an answer from the united states. i'm not certain what that means. i don't know if that means something in the territory or not but it is not as simple as the president makes it in his
tweet. the us is weaker because you are following the express wording of the constitution. >> the president to withdraw troops, the president would say not engaged in hostilities with iran. how do you see this resolution working practically if it were. >> technically the war powers act, definition of hostilities is still very precise and is clear in drafting it that it included ongoing hostilities or imminent hostilities. by the time we got to the place at the end of december, trading battlefield casualties, and american contractor was killed at an iraqi base was the us secretary strikes against iranian connected positions in iraq and syria killing 2 dozen.
there is iranian support for the embassy protests in baghdad and then the us strike against soleimani killing an iraqi militia leader and parliamentarian and the response from iran that we are finding injuries to 100 american troops. when you trade those battlefield casualties back and forth the question of whether there are hostilities are not has been answered. in order to get the privilege status for the resolution we had to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the parliamentarian the definition of hostilities in the war powers act had been met and has been met and then some. hopefully we are stepping back and i would like for different reasons on our side and the iranian side, dealing with intense internal protests by young people then why are you
lying to us about the airliner, why aren't you using resources to help us grow and economy of opportunity for people instead of using it for misadventures abroad? there have been a couple reasons that cause us to step back but i don't view that is something to relax and take for granted. we are at a challenging moment in the us iran relationship and this assertion by congress to a president that if you think it warrants going further that can only happen with us, the time is right for that. you want to say something? >> the second and last question, i haven't seen the tweet. based on the context, what the president might have been saying, if congress takes any action that indicates an unwillingness to take a tough position with regard to iran
that might weaken our position. that is not what this is about. with the american people in the entire world will see from the debate in the senate surrounding the kaine resolution. there is abundant support taking depositions with regard to iran. as part of that, military action that needs to be authorized by congress. that doesn't show weakness, it shows strength and that is the strength that will unfold as we debate this. there are those in the military a context that would rather make america great quickly again. they would make it easier.
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