Senate Passes Resolution Opposing Russian Offer to Question U.S. Officials, 98-0
Senate Session - March 20, 2018

The Senate debated the Yemen war powers resolution, which directs President Trump to remove U.S. armed forces from Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress.

Speakers:
Time
Action
  • 09:59:01 AM

    >>

    THE SENATE WILL COME TO ORDER. THE CHAPLAIN, DR. BARRY BLACK, WILL LEAD…

    THE SENATE WILL COME TO ORDER. THE CHAPLAIN, DR. BARRY BLACK, WILL LEAD THE SENATE IN PRAYER.

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  • 10:00:39 AM

    THE CHAPLAIN

    LET US PRAY. ETERNAL FATHER, TEACH US HOW TO PRAISE YOU AT ALL TIMES,…

    LET US PRAY. ETERNAL FATHER, TEACH US HOW TO PRAISE YOU AT ALL TIMES, CONSTANTLY GLORIFYING YOUR NAME AND EXPRESSING GRATITUDE FOR YOUR PREVAILING PROVIDENCE. THANK YOU FOR SUSTAINING OUR LAWMAKERS AS THEY STRIVE TO FULFILL YOUR PURPOSES FOR OUR NATION AND WORLD. SET THEM FREE FROM ALL FEARS, REMINDING THEM THAT YOU HAVE BEEN THEIR HELP IN THE PAST AND SHOULD BE THEIR HOPE FOR THE YEARS TO COME. FORGIVE US ALL FOR DUTIES UNPERFORMED, PROMPTINGS DISOBEYED, AND BECKONINGS IGNORED. WE PRAY IN YOUR MERCIFUL NAME. AMEN. I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, AND TO THE REPUBLIC FOR WHICH IT STANDS, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, INDIVISIBLE, WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL.

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  • 10:02:18 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATE WILL COME TO ORDER. THE CLERK WILL READ A COMMUNICATION TO THE…

    THE SENATE WILL COME TO ORDER. THE CLERK WILL READ A COMMUNICATION TO THE SENATE.

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  • 10:02:23 AM

    THE CLERK

    SENATE.

  • 10:02:26 AM

    TO THE SENATE

    2018. TO THE SENATE: UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF RULE 1, PARAGRAPH 3, OF THE…

    2018. TO THE SENATE: UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF RULE 1, PARAGRAPH 3, OF THE STANDING RULES OF THE SENATE, I HERE BY APPOINT THE HONORABLE BENJAMIN SASSE, A SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF NEBRASKA, WHO WILL PERFORM THE DUTIES OF THE CHAIR. SIGNED: ORRIN G. HATCH, PRESIDENT PRO

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  • 10:02:36 AM

    SIGNED

    DUTIES OF THE CHAIR. SIGNED: ORRIN G. HATCH, PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE.

  • 10:02:42 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER THE LEADERSHIP TIME IS RESERVED.

  • 10:04:33 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE MAJORITY LEADER.

  • 10:04:35 AM

    MR. McCONNELL

    DURING SUNDAY'S CLOSING CEREMONIES IN THE OLYMPICS, THE AMERICAN FLAG WAS…

    DURING SUNDAY'S CLOSING CEREMONIES IN THE OLYMPICS, THE AMERICAN FLAG WAS HELD HIGH BY A MEMBER OF THE TEAM. OXANA MASTERS WAS ELECTED BY HER TEAMMATES TO CAP OFF HER REMARKABLE TRIP. BORN WHY CHUR NOBLE, SHE WAS ADOPTED AT THE AGE OF 7 AND CAME TO THE UNITED STATES. SHE UNDERWENT A NUMBER OF MEDICAL PROCEDURES AT A YOUNG AGE, INCLUDING AN AMPUTATION OF BOTH OF HER LEGS. THIS YEAR MARKED HER FOURTH PARA OLYMPICS, SHE ENTERED PONG CHANG WITH TWO MEDALS. BUT THIS TIME SHE SET HER SIGHTS ON THE GOLD, AND I'M HAPPY TO REPORT THAT SHE ACHIEVED HER GOAL. SHE ASCENDED TO THE TOP OF THE PODIUM NOT ONCE BUT TWICE. KENTUCKY IS VERY PROUD OF OXANA AND ALL THAT SHE ACCOMPLISHED. SHE A FINE REPRESENTATIVE OF OUR COMMONWEALTH AND OUR NATION. AND NOW, MR. PRESIDENT, ON A TOTALLY DIFFERENT MATTER. THE SENATE CONTINUES TO CONSIDER A BILL THAT WOULD STRIKE BACK AGAINST THE EVILS OF SEX TRAFFICKING. THE TOPIC IS ALL-TOO FAMILIAR TO ME AND MANY OF MY COLLEAGUES WHO HAVE FOUGHT AGAINST THIS EXPLOITATION FOR DECADES. THIS HAS MIGRATED FROM THE STREET KOREANS TO SMART -- STREET CORNERS TO SMART PHONES. MY FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE FROM OHIO, SENATOR PORTMAN, HAS BEEN ESPECIALLY COMMITTED TO ROOTING OUT THE CAUSE OF THIS CRISIS. HE'S BUILT A BROAD BIPARTISAN COALITION IN SUPPORT OF THE LEGISLATION CURRENTLY BEFORE THE SENATE. IT IS DESIGNED TO CLOSE A LOOPHOLE IN EXISTING LAW THAT ALLOWS WEBSITES TO AVOID RESPONSIBILITY EVEN AS THEY KNOWINGLY FACILITATE TRAFFICKING. IT WOULD ENSURE ANY INSTITUTION THAT'S ARE PARTY TO THIS REPREHENSIBLE PRACTICE ARE SUBJECT TO STRICT PENALTIES, THE ONES THAT THEY DESERVE. I URGE EACH OF MY COLLEAGUES TO JOIN US IN TAKING DECISIVE ACTION FOR OUR NATION'S CHILDREN. ON ANOTHER MATTER, LATER TODAY THE SENATE WILL VOTE ON A RESOLUTION OFFERED BY THE JUNIOR SENATORS FROM VERMONT AND UTAH. THEIR GOAL IS TO END U.S. SUPPORT FOR THE SAUDI-LED COALITION HOUTHI INSURGENCE. THEY PLAN TO DO IT USING THE PROVISIONS OF THE WAR POWERS RESOLUTION AND THE SECURITY ASSISTANCE AND ARMS EXPORT CONTROL ACT. I OPPOSE THEIR RESOLUTION FOR TWO REASONS. THE FIRST REASON, MR. PRESIDENT, IS THAT MY COLLEAGUES -- THEIR SUBSTANTIVE POLICY AIM IS ACTUALLY MISGUIDED. THE SUPREME LEADER AND THE REGIME KNOW WHAT THEIR GOALS ARE, PRESERVING THEIR RULE AND HARMING THE UNITED STATES AND ISRAEL. THAT'S WHAT THEY WANT TO DO. THAT'S WHY IRAN EXPORTS VIOLENCE, INTIMIDATION, AND COERCION. THAT'S WHY IRAN EXPANDS ITS BALLISTIC MISSLE PROGRAM. THAT'S WHY IRAN USES PROXIES SUCH AS THE HOUTHIS ALONG WITH OTHERS TO GO INTO YEMEN, IRAQ, BAHRAIN AND BEYOND. DURING THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION THEY DREW DOWN THE CONVENTIONAL FORCE STRUCTURE. WE TRACED AFTER A FLAWED NUCLEAR AGREEMENT. WE REDUCED OUR COMMITMENT TO OUR CITY ARAB PARTNERS. IRAN NOTICED OUR -- IT SUPPORTED A SUPPORT OF PROXIES AND SUPPORTED THE UNREST FOLLOWING THE CIVIL WARS IN YEMEN AND SYRIA AND THE RAMPAGE OF ISIL INTO ATTACK. IF THIS MEDDLING IS TO BE CONFRONTED, IF TERRORIST THREATS ARE TO BE COUNTERED AND IF ARMED SHIPMENTS ARE TO BE CURTAILED, THE UNITED STATES WILL NEED THE HELP OF OUR REGIONAL PARTNERS. ONE KEY PARTNER IS SAUDI ARABIA. WE'VE SHARED COMMON INTERESTS FOR DECADES. WE WORKED TOGETHER TO COUNTER IRAN, SUPPORT THE FREE SYRIAN ARMY, AND COMBAT ISIL. TODAY THE SUPPORT THE U.S. PROVIDES TO THE SAUDI-LED COALITION, INCLUDING AERIAL REFUELING OVER THE RED SEA, CONTRIBUTES TO GREATER PRECISION IN THEIR AIR CAMPAIGN AND LEADS TO FEWER CIVILIAN CASUALTIES. WITHDRAWING U.S. SUPPORT WOULD INCREASE, NOT DECREASE, THE RISK OF CIVILIAN CASH IEWLTITIES AND IT WOULD SIGNAL THAT WE'RE NOT SERIOUS ABOUT CONTAINING IRAN OR ITS PROXIES. THE HOUTHI PRESENCE WOULD CONTINUE TO SHIP IN THE RED SEA, THEY WOULD CONTINUE TO THREATEN RIAD AND IRAN WOULD BE FURTHER EMBOLDENED. SO THAT'S WHY THE GOAL OF THIS RESOLUTION IS BAD POLICY. BUT MY COLLEAGUES' RESOLUTION IS ALSO PROCEDURALLY MISTAKEN. THE EXPEDITED AUTHORITIES ARE MEANT TO REMOVE U.S. FORCES FROM ACTUAL PARTICIPATION IN U.S. HOSTILITIES. BUT THIS HAS NOT CAUSED US TO ENTER INTERACTIVE WARFARE OR HOSTILITIES IN YEMEN. THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE AND SECRETARY MATTIS HAVE MADE CLEAR THAT U.S. FORCES ARE NOT -- ARE NOT ENGAGED IN EXCHANGES OF FIRE WITH HOSTILE FORCES. ACCORDING TO THE ACTING GENERAL COUNSEL OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, THE LIMITED MILITARY AND INTELLIGENCE SUPPORT THAT THE UNITED STATES IS PROVIDING TO THE K.S.A.-LED COALITION DOES NOT INVOLVE NIP INTRODUCTION OF U.S. FORCES FOR PURPOSES OF THE WAR POWER RESOLUTION OR SECTION 1013 OF THE AUTHORIZATION ACT, FISCAL YEARS 1984 AND 1985. MR. PRESIDENT, I SUPPORT THAT ASSESSMENT, THE REFUELING OF AIRCRAFT OVER THE RED SEA DOES NOT EQUATE TO INTRODUCING U.S. FORCES INTO HOSTILITIES NOR DOES INTELLIGENCE SHARING. U.S. FORCES ARE NOT TRANSPORTING SAUDI FORCES INTO COMBAT WITHIN YEMEN BY AIR, LAND, OR SEA. SO THE EXPEDITED PROCEDURES THIS RESOLUTION SEEKS TO EXPLOIT SIMPLY DO NOT APPLY HERE. IF SENATORS DISAGREE WITH MY ASSESSMENT ON THE MERITS AND OPPOSE OUR SUPPORT FOR THE COALITION, THEY HAVE HE'LL SEVERAL LEGISLATIVE TOOLS AVAILABLE TO THEM. THEY COULD TRY TO RESTRICT FUNDS THROUGH THE APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS. THEY COULD AMEND THE ARMS CONTROL EXPORT ACT OR THE LICENSING OF DEFENSE SERVICES OR THE NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION. AUTHORIZATION ACT. INSTEAD WE FACE A RESOLUTION WHICH PURPORTS TO REQUIRE THE PRESIDENT TO WITHDRAW U.S. FORCES FROM HOSTILITIES IN YEMEN. HOSTILITIES WHICH WE HAVE NOT ENTERED. IN A RECENT SPEECH SECRETARY MATTIS EXPLAINED, QUOTE, HISTORY PROVES THAT NATIONS WITH ALLIES THRIVE, WORKING BY, WITH, AND THROUGH ALLIES WHO CARRY THEIR EQUITABLE SHARE ALLOWS US TO GAIN THE GREATEST POSSIBLE STRENGTH. IMAGINE HOW CHALLENGING THAT WOULD BECOME IF EVERY ADVISE AND ASSIST MISSION OUR FORCES UNDERTAKE AROUND THE GLOBE BECOMES SUBJECT TO MISAPPLICATION OF THE WAR POWERS RESOLUTION. THUS, MR. PRESIDENT, I OPPOSE THIS RESOLUTION ON GROUNDS OF POLICY AND PROCEDURE. AND I WOULD URGE OUR COLLEAGUES TO JOIN ME IN AFTERNOON. NOW, ON A FINAL MATTER, LATER THIS WEEK THE SENATE WILL CONSIDER AN OMNIBUS SPENDING PACKAGE TO ADDRESS A NUMBER OF CRITICAL PRIORITIES, FROM REBUILDING AMERICA'S INFRASTRUCTURE TO FIGHTING THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC. IN PARTICULAR, BUILDING ON THE FUNDING AGREEMENT PASSED IN FEBRUARY, THE MEASURE WILL DELIVER THE RESOURCES AND CERTAINTY THAT THE AMERICAN MILITARY DESERVES. TO BE SPECIFIC, THIS LEGISLATION WILL PROVIDE THE LARGEST YEAR-ON-YEAR INCREASE IN DEFENSE FUNDING IN 15 YEARS. AFTER YEARS OF DISPROPORTIONATE CUTS TO OUR ARMED SERVICES, CONGRESS HAS BEGUN TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE RESOURCES. TO PUT AN END TO THE HARMFUL DECLINE IN COMBAT READINESS, TO FULFILL OUR COMMITMENTS TO AMERICAN FAMILIES WHO SACRIFICE THROUGH SERVICE, MANY OF THEM IN MY HOME STATE OF KENTUCKY. FOR OUR MEN AND WOMEN IN UNIFORM, THIS MEANS A WELL-DESERVED PAY RAISE. FOR OUR VETERANS BACK HOME, IT MEANS INCREASED OVERSIGHT AND MODERNIZATION IN THE VETERANS CARE SYSTEM THANKS TO A RECORD LEVEL OF V.A. FUNDING. OUR WARRIORS ON THE FRONT LINE DESERVE TO BE TRAINED TO THE HIGHEST STANDARDS. NOW OUR COMMANDERS CAN WORK TO RESTORE COMBAT READINESS, AND NOT A MOMENT TOO SOON. THREATS AROUND THE WORLD ARE ONLY GROWING IN NUMBER AND INTENSITY. BY STRENGTHENING OUR INVESTMENT IN MISSILE DEFENSE, BY FUNDING NEW WEAPONS SYSTEM, BY SCALING UP SHIPBUILDING AN AIRCRAFT PROCUREMENT AND BY INVESTING IN OUR ALL-VOLUNTEER SERVICE MEMBERS, WE WILL SEND A STRONG MESSAGE TO OUR ALLIES AND FOES ALIKE THAT AMERICA'S MILITARY IS REGAINING DOMINANCE. THIS WEEK, MY COLLEAGUES WILL HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO FOLLOW THROUGH AND ADDRESS THE PRESSING NEEDS OF THE DEFENSE COMMUNITY. I HOPE EACH OF THEM WILL JOIN ME IN VOTING TO SWIFTLY PASS THE OMNIBUS, THUS GIVING OUR ARMED FORCES THE RESOURCES THEY NEED AND DESERVE.

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  • 10:15:35 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE DEMOCRATIC LEADER.

  • 10:15:37 AM

    MR. SCHUMER

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I WOULD FIRST ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT MY ENTIRE…

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I WOULD FIRST ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT MY ENTIRE REMARKS BE READ INTO THE RECORD AT THIS POINT.

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  • 10:15:42 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 10:15:44 AM

    MR. SCHUMER

    FIRST, ON THE OMNI, I AGREE WITH THE LEADER. HOPEFULLY WE CAN COME TO AN…

    FIRST, ON THE OMNI, I AGREE WITH THE LEADER. HOPEFULLY WE CAN COME TO AN AGREEMENT AND PASS THIS THIS WEEK. IT HAS SOME THINGS NO ONE LIKES, AND IT HAS A LOT OF THINGS NOT EVERYBODY LIKES, BUT MOST PEOPLE LIKE. IT WAS A FAIR COMPROMISE, THE BASIC STRUCTURE OF IT, AND HOPEFULLY WE CAN GET TO AN AGREEMENT. OUR STAFFS ARE WORKING REALLY HARD. I'D LIKE TO SAY A WORD ABOUT PUERTO RICO. TODAY MARKS THE SIXTH ANNIVERSARY OF HURRICANE MARIA'S LANDFALL ON THE ISLAND, SIX-MONTH ANNIVERSARY. ON PUERTO RICO AND THE VIRGIN ISLANDS. WE ALL KNOW THE STORM WAS ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL AND DEVASTATING EVER TO STRIKE THOSE ISLANDS, WITH TERRIBLE DAMAGE TO SCHOOLS, HOSPITALS, WATER SYSTEMS, ROADS, HOMES, AND BUSINESSES. FOR MONTHS AND MONTHS, PEOPLE DIDN'T HAVE ELECTRICITY, CLEAN WATER, OR CELL SERVICE. FAR TOO MANY PEOPLE ARE STILL WAITING FOR RELIEF. THERE ARE 120,000 PEOPLE WITHOUT ELECTRICITY. HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS CONTINUE TO LOSE POWER ON A TEMPORARY BASIS. CALCULATING HOURS OF LOST ELECTRICITY SERVICE, PUERTO RICO'S EXPERIENCED THE LONGEST BLACKOUT IN THE HISTORY OF THE U.S. TENS OF THOUSANDS ARE STILL AWAITING PERMANENT SHELTER. 10,000 SMALL BUSINESSES ARE CLOSED. NOW, PUERTO RICO STRUGGLED WITH SEVERE DEBT AND HEALTH CARE BEFORE MARIA CAME TO ITS SHORES. THE DAMAGE WROUGHT BY THE HURRICANE HAS SET THE ISLAND EVEN FURTHER BACK, DESPITE THE VALIANT EFFORTS OF ITS PEOPLE. CONGRESS PASSED SIGNIFICANT RELIEF AS PART OF THE BIPARTISAN BUDGET AGREEMENT EARLIER THIS YEAR. WE HAVE TO MAKE SURE THE AID GOES TO WHERE IT NEEDS TO GO, AND IF ADDITIONAL AID IS REQUIRED, THAT WE PROVIDE IT. TO THE LONG-SUFFERING CITIZENS OF PUERTO RICO AND THE VIRGIN ISLANDS AND THE THOUSANDS WHO RELOCATED TO THE MAINLAND, WE HAVEN'T FORGOTTEN YOU. WE ARE HERE TO HELP YOU. YOU ARE ON OUR MINDS, AND WE'RE GOING TO KEEP FIGHTING TO HELP YOU REBUILD YOUR HOMES, YOUR COMMUNITY, AND YOUR BELOVED ISLAND. FINALLY, ON THE TAX BILL, I WOULD JUST NOTE THAT ONCE AGAIN, THIS TAX BILL EVERY DAY, THE MORE PEOPLE LEARN ABOUT IT, THE MORE THEY DON'T LIKE IT. STOCK BUYBACKS CONTINUE AT A HUGELY RAPID RATE. AID TO WORKERS IS MUCH, MUCH SMALLER. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE LEARNING THAT THIS BILL WAS OF, BY, AND FOR THE WEALTHIEST AMERICANS AND THE MOST POWERFUL CORPORATIONS. THAT IS WRONG. WE WELCOME THE DEBATE ON THE TAX BILL BECAUSE THE MORE PEOPLE LEARN ABOUT IT, THE MORE THEY DON'T LIKE IT. I YIELD THE FLOOR. AND NOTE THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.

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  • 10:18:20 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE CLERK WILL CALL THE ROLL. QUORUM CALL:

  • 10:18:29 AM

    Quorum Call

  • 10:29:30 AM

    MR. SANDERS

    MR. PRESIDENT.

  • 10:29:31 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM VERMONT.

  • 10:29:36 AM

    MR. SANDERS

    I ASK THAT THE QUORUM CALL BE VITIATED.

  • 10:29:38 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION. MORNING BUSINESS IS CLOSED. UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER,…

    WITHOUT OBJECTION. MORNING BUSINESS IS CLOSED. UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER, THE SENATE WILL RESUME CONSIDERATION OF THE MOTION TO PROCEED TO H.R. 1865, WHICH THE CLERK WILL REPORT.

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  • 10:29:48 AM

    THE CLERK

    MOTION TO PROCEED TO CALENDAR NUMBER 339, H.R. 1865, AN ACT TO AMEND THE…

    MOTION TO PROCEED TO CALENDAR NUMBER 339, H.R. 1865, AN ACT TO AMEND THE COMMUNICATIONS ACT OF 1934, AND SO FORTH, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

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  • 10:30:09 AM

    MR. SANDERS

    MR. PRESIDENT, PURSUANT TO SECTION 1013 OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE…

    MR. PRESIDENT, PURSUANT TO SECTION 1013 OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE AUTHORIZATION ACT, FISCAL YEARS 1984 AND 1985 AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 601-B OF THE INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE AND ARMS EXPORT CONTROL ACT OF 1976, I MAKE A MOTION TO DISCHARGE SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 54 FROM THE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS. OFFICER UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER, THERE ARE FOUR HOURS OF DEBATE ON THE MOTION EQUALLY DIVIDED BETWEEN THE OPPONENTS AND THE PROPONENTS.

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  • 10:30:42 AM

    MR. SANDERS

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. MR. PRESIDENT, ARTICLE 1, SECTION 8, OF THE…

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. MR. PRESIDENT, ARTICLE 1, SECTION 8, OF THE CONSTITUTION STATES IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS THAT, AND I QUOTE, CONGRESS SHALL HAVE POWER TO DECLARE WAR, END OF QUOTE. LET ME REPEAT IT. ARTICLE 1, SECTION 8, OF THE CONSTITUTION STATES, IT IS CONGRESS THAT HAS THE POWER TO DECLARE WAR. THE FOUNDING FATHERS GAVE THE POWER TO AUTHORIZE MILITARY CONFLICTS TO CONGRESS, THE BRANCH MOST ACCOUNTABLE TO THE PEOPLE. NOT TO THE PRESIDENT BUT TO CONGRESS, AND THAT IS THE ISSUE THAT WE ARE GOING TO BE DEBATING TODAY. MR. PRESIDENT, FOR FAR TOO LONG, CONGRESS UNDER DEMOCRATIC AND REPUBLICAN ADMINISTRATIONS HAS ABDICATEED ITS CONSTITUTIONAL ROLE IN AUTHORIZING WAR. THE TIME IS LONG OVERDUE FOR CONGRESS TO REASSERT THAT CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY, AND THAT IS WHAT TODAY IS ABOUT. AND THAT IS WHY I AND 14 COSPONSORS OF THIS RESOLUTION -- SENATORS LEE, MURPHY, WARREN, BOOKER, LEAHY, MARKEY, FEINSTEIN FEINSTEIN, MERKLEY, GILLIBRAND, SCHATZ AND BALANCED WRITTEN -- THAT IS WHAT WE ARE DOING WITH SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 54. WHAT WE ARE SAYING IS IF CONGRESS WANTS TO GO TO WAR IN YEMEN OR ANYPLACE ELSE, VOTE TO GO TO WAR. THAT IS YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RESPONSIBILITY. STOP ABDICATING THAT RESPONSIBILITY TO A PRESIDENT, WHETHER IT IS A REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT OR, IN THE PRESIDENT, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTS. MR. PRESIDENT, I EXPECT THAT CONGRESS TODAY WILL BE ARGUING ABOUT WHAT THE WORD "HOSTILITIES" MEANS WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THE 1973 WAR POWERS RESOLUTION. WHAT DOES THE WORD "HOSTILITIES" MEAN? AND SOME WILL ARGUE THAT AMERICAN TROOPS ARE NOT OUT THERE SHOOTING AND GETTING SHOT AT, NOT EXCHANGING FIRE -- GUNFIRE WITH THEIR ENEMIES. AND THAT WE ARE NOT REALLY ENGAGED IN THE HORRIFICALLY DESTRUCTIVE SAUDI-LED WAR IN YEMEN. THAT'S WHAT SOME WILL ARGUE ON THE FLOOR TODAY, THAT WE'RE REALLY NOT ENGAGED IN HOSTILITIES, WE'RE NOT EXCHANGING FIRE. WELL, PLEASE TELL THAT TO THE PEOPLE OF YEMEN, WHOSE HOMES AND LIVES ARE BEING DESTROYED BY WEAPONS MARKED "MADE IN THE U.S.A." DROPPED BY PLANES BEING REFUELED BY THE U.S. MILITARY ON TARGETS CHOSEN WITH U.S. ASSISTANCE. ONLY IN THE NARROWIST, MOST LEGALISTIC TERMS CAN ANYONE ARGUE THAT THE UNITED STATES IS NOT ACTIVELY INVOLVED IN HOSTILITIES ALONGSIDE OF SAUDI ARABIA IN YEMEN. AND LET ME TAKE A MINUTE TO TELL MY COLLEAGUES WHAT IS HAPPENING IN YEMEN RIGHT NOW, BECAUSE A LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T KNOW. IT'S NOT SOMETHING THAT IS ON THE FRONT PAGES OF THE NEWSPAPERS OR COVERED TERRIBLY MUCH IN TELEVISION. RIGHT NOW IN A VERY, VERY POOR NATION OF 27 MILLION PEOPLE -- THAT IS THE NATION OF YEMEN -- IN NOVEMBER OF LAST YEAR THE UNITED NATIONS EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR TOLD US THAT YEMEN WAS ON THE BRINK OF, QUOTE, THE LARGEST FAMINE THE WORLD HAS SEEN FOR MANY DECADES, END OF QUOTE FROM THE UNITED NATIONS. SO FAR IN THIS COUNTRY OF 27 MILLION PEOPLE -- THIS VERY POOR COUNTRY -- OVER 10,000 CIVILIANS HAVE BEEN KILLED AND 40,000 CIVILIANS HAVE BEEN WOUNDED. OVER 3 MILLION PEOPLE IN YEMEN IN A NATION OF 27 MILLION HAVE BEEN DISPLACED, DRIVEN FROM THEIR HOMES. 15 MILLION PEOPLE LACK ACCESS TO CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION BECAUSE WATER TREATMENT PLANTS HAVE BEEN DESTROYED. MORE THAN 20 MILLION PEOPLE IN YEMEN, OVER TWO-THIRDS OF THE POPULATION OF THAT COUNTRY, NEED SOME KIND OF HUMANITARIAN SUPPORT, WITH NEARLY 10 MILLION IN ACUTE NEED OF ASSISTANCE. MORE THAN ONE MILLION SUSPECTED CHOLERA CASES HAVE BEEN REPORTED, REPRESENTING POTENTIALLY THE WORST CHOLERA OUTBREAK IN WORLD HISTORY. THAT IS WHAT IS GOING ON IN YEMEN TODAY AS A RESULT OF THE SAUDI-LED WAR THERE. AND HERE IS, MR. PRESIDENT, THE BOTTOM LINE. IF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS BELIEVE THAT SUPPORT FOR THIS WAR IS IN THE UNITED STATES' INTEREST -- AND I THINK SOME DO -- IF YOU THINK THAT THE UNITED STATES RIGHT NOW FOR OUR OWN INTEREST SHOULD BE INVOLVED IN THE CIVIL WAR IN YEMEN BEING LED BY SAUDI ARABIA, THEN MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE SHOULD HAVE THE COURAGE TO VOTE FOR U.S. PARTICIPATION IN THAT WAR. NOTHING MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT. YOU WANT TO COME TO THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE, MAKE THE CASE WHY YOU THINK IT IS GOOD PUBLIC POLICY FOR US TO BE INVOLVED IN THAT CIVIL WAR IN YEMEN, COME TO THE FLOOR AND OPPOSE OUR RESOLUTION. BUT WHAT I HOPE VERY MUCH THAT WE WILL NOT SEE TODAY IS THE TABLING OF THIS MOTION AND THE REFUSAL BY MEMBERS OF THE SENATE TO VOTE UP OR DOWN AS TO WHETHER OR NOT WE WISH TO CONTINUE AIDING SAUDI ARABIA IN THIS HUMANITARIAN DISASTER. IF YOU BELIEVE, AS I DO, THAT WE SHOULD NOT GET SUCKED INTO THIS CIVIL WAR, WHICH HAS ALREADY CAUSED SO MUCH HUMAN SUFFERING, PLEASE VOTE AGAINST TABLING THE MOTION TO DISCHARGE AND VOTE WITH US ON FINAL PASSAGE. IF YOU BELIEVE THAT THE UNITED STATES SHOULD CONTINUE TO ASSIST SAUDI ARABIA IN THIS WAR, I URGE YOU TO HAVE THE COURAGE TO TELL YOUR CONSTITUENTS THAT THAT IS YOUR DECISION AND WHY YOU HAVE MADE THAT DECISION WHEN YOU VOTE AGAINST FINAL PASSAGE. IN OTHER WORDS, IF YOU SUPPORT THE WAR, HAVE THE COURAGE TO VOTE FOR IT. IF YOU DON'T, SUPPORT THE RESOLUTION THAT SENATOR LEE, SENATOR MURR FIRST, AND I -- SENATOR MURPHY, AND I HAVE INTRODUCED. MR. PRESIDENT, LET ME GIVE YOU AT LEAST TWO REASONS WHY CONGRESS MUST REASSERT ITS CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY OVER THE ISSUE OF WAR AND WHY WE CANNOT CONTINUE TO ABDICATE THAT RESPONSIBILITY TO THE PRESIDENT. AND THOSE HAVE EVERYTHING TO DO WITH THE TWO MOST SIGNIFICANT FOREIGN POLICY DISASTERS IN THE MODERN HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES -- THE WAR IN IRAQ AND THE WAR IN VIETNAM. IN BOTH OF THESE CASES, CONGRESS SAT BACK AND FAILED TO ASK THE HARD QUESTIONS, AS TWO ADMINISTRATIONS -- ONE REPUBLICAN, ONE DEMOCRAT -- LED US INTO CONFLICTS WITH DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES. INTERESTINGLY, TODAY IS AN HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT DAY FOR US TO DEBATE THIS RESOLUTION. 15 YEARS AGO -- 15 YEARS AGO TODAY -- ON MARCH 20, 2003, THE WAR IN IRAQ BEGAN AND THE BOMBS STARTED FALLING IN BAGHDAD. 15 YEARS AGO TODAY. I WAS ONE OF THOSE WHO OPPOSED THE IRAQ WAR IN THE BEGINNING. AND TODAY IT IS NOW BROADLY ACKNOWLEDGED THAT THE WAR -- THAT WAR WAS A FOREIGN POLICY BLUNDER OF ENORMOUS MAGNITUDE. THAT WAR CREATED A CASCADE OF INSTABILITY AROUND THE REGION THAT WE ARE STILL DEALING WITH TODAY IN SYRIA AND ELSEWHERE AND WILL BE FOR MANY YEARS TO COME. INDEED, HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR THE WAR IN IRAQ, ISIS WOULD ALMOST CERTAINLY NOT EXIST. THAT WAR DEEPENED HOSTILITIES BETWEEN SUNNI AND SHIA COMMUNITIES IN IRAQ AND ELSEWHERE. IT EXACERBATED A REGIONAL CONFLICT FOR POWER BETWEEN SAUDI ARABIA AND IRAN AND THEIR PROXIES IN PLACES LIKE SYRIA, LEBANON, AND YEMEN. AND IT UNDERMINED AMERICAN DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS TO RESOLVE THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT. THE DEVASTATION EXPERIENCED BY IRAQ'S CIVILIANS WAS ENORMOUS. A RECENT ACADEMIC STUDY BY U.S., CANADIAN, AND IRAQI RESEARCHERS FOUND THAT OVER 400,000 IRAQI CIVILIANS, NEARLY HALF A MILLION PEOPLE, WERE KILLED DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY AS A CONSEQUENCE OF THAT WAR. THAT WAR LED TO THE DISPLACEMENT OF NEARLY 5 MILLION PEOPLE, BOTH INSIDE AND OUTSIDE IRAQ, PUTTING GREAT STRESS ON THE ABILITY OF SURROUNDING COUNTRIES TO DEAL WITH THESE REFUGEES. WE'VE ALSO SEEN THIS MORE RECENTLY IN EUROPE AS THE LARGE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE FLEEING THE SYRIAN WAR HAS GENERATED A BACK BACKLASH IN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES, GIVING RISE TO ANTI-MUSLIM AND ANTI-IMMIGRANT SENTIMENTS. THE WAR IN IRAQ LED TO THE DEATHS -- TO THE DEATHS -- OF SOME 4,400 AMERICAN TROOPS AND THE WOUNDING, PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL, OF TENS OF THOUSANDS OF OTHERS, NOT TO MENTION THE PAIN FLINTED ON FAMILY -- INFLICTED ON FAMILY MEMBERS. AND, BY THE WAY, THAT WAR IN IRAQ COST US TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS, MONEY THAT COULD HAVE BEEN SPENT ON HEALTH CARE, EDUCATION, INFRASTRUCTURE, AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION. MR. PRESIDENT, THE IRAQ WAR, LIKE SO MANY OTHER MILITARY CONFLICTS, HAD UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES. IT ENDED UP MAKING US LESS SAFE, NOT MORE SAFE. MR. PRESIDENT, IT MUST BE SAID THAT THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION AND THE PRESIDENT LIED WHEN HE TOLD THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, QUOTE, SADDAM HUSSEIN'S REGIME IS SEEKING A NUCLEAR BOMB AND WITH FISSILE MATERIAL COULD BUILD ONE WITHIN A YEAR, END OF QUOTE. THAT WAS NOT TRUE. VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY LIED WHEN HE TOLD US, QUOTE, THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT SADDAM HUSSEIN NOW HAS WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. THERE IS NO DOUBT HE IS AMASSING THEM IT USE AGAINST OUR FRIENDS, AGAINST OUR ALIVE, AND AGAINST US -- AGAINST OUR ALIVE, AND AGAINST US, END OF QUOTE, DICK CHENEY. NOT TRUE. NO ONE BELIEVES THAT SADDAM HUSSEIN WAS A BRUTAL, MURDEROUS DICTATOR. BUT IT IS NOW KNOWN THAT HE HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH 9/11. BUT THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION LIED TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. IRAQ HAD NO WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. IT WAS NOT CONNECTED TO 9/11. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WERE MISLED BY THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION INTO BELIEVING THAT THE IRAQ WAR WAS NECESSARY TO PREVENT ANOTHER 9/11. AND CONGRESS DID NOT CHALLENGE THEM ON THOSE CLAIMS. -- IN A WAY THAT CONGRESS SHOULD HAVE. WITH DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES. THAT WAS A REPUBLICAN ADMINISTRATION. NOW LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT A DEMOCRATIC ADMINISTRATION WHERE, ONCE AGAIN, CONGRESS REFUSED TO ASSERT ITS CONSTITUTIONAL RESPONSIBILITY. LET US GO BACK TO 1964 TO A CONFLICT THAT BEGAN ON SIMILARLY FALSE PREMISES. PRESIDENT LYNDON JOHNSON CITED AN ATTACK ON A U.S. SHIP IN THE GULF OF TONKIN AS A PRETEXT FOR ESCALATING THE U.S. INTERVENTION IN VIETNAM AND SENDING MORE AND MORE AND MORE TROOPS INTO THAT QUAGMIRE. BUT WE NOW KNOW FROM DECLASSIFIED RECORDINGS THAT JOHNSON HIMSELF DOUBTED THAT SHIP, THE U.S.S. MADDOX HAD COME YOU UNDER FIRE ON AUGUST 4, 1964. AS WE ALL KNOW, THAT ALLEGED ATTACK WAS USED TO PUSH FOR THE GULF OF TONNKIN TO ESCALATE U.S. INVOLVEMENT IN VIETNAM. WE NOW KNOW THAT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ROBERT MCNAMARA MISLED CONGRESS AND THE PUBLIC IN ORDER TO GENERATE SUPPORT FOR THAT RESOLUTION. NOW, YOU DON'T HAVE TO BELIEVE ME. THIS IS WHAT LIEUTENANT COMMANDER PAT PATTERSON WROTE IN A PAPER FOR THE UNITED STATES NAVAL INSTITUTE. AND I QUOTE, THE EVIDENCE SUGGESTS A DISTURBING AND DELIBERATE ATTEMPT BY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE MCNAMARA TO MISLEAD CONGRESS. PATTERSON, INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, ALSO QUOTES ANOTHER AUTHOR WHO WROTE, AND I QUOTE, TO ENHANCE HIS CHANCES FOR ELECTION, JOHNSON AND MCNAMARA DECEIVED THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND CONGRESS ABOUT THE EVENTS IN VIETNAM. THEY USED A QUESTIONABLE REPORT OF A NORTH VIETNAMESE ATTACK ON U.S. NAVAL VESSELS TO DIFFUSE REPUBLICAN SENATOR AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE BARRY GOLDWATER'S CHARGES THAT LYNDON JOHNSON WAS A RESOLUTE AND SOUGHT IN THE FOREIGN POLICY ARENA. END OF QUOTE. INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, MR. PRESIDENT, THAT AUTHOR IS H.R. McMASTER, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S CURRENT NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR. LYNDON JOHNSON'S ADMINISTRATION MISLED BOTH CONGRESS AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE INTO THAT WAR JUST AS THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION MISLED US INTO THE WAR IN IRAQ. AND WHAT DISASTERS BOTH OF THOSE WARS WERE. THE WAR IN VIETNAM NEARLY DESTROYED AN ENTIRE GENERATION OF YOUNG PEOPLE. ALMOST 60,000 DIED IN THAT WAR AND GOD KNOWS HOW MANY CAME BACK WOUNDED IN BODY AND IN SPIRIT. ALMOST DESTROYED AN ENTIRE GENERATION, AND YET CONGRESS ABDICATED ITS RESPONSIBILITY IN VIETNAM AS IT DID IN IRAQ. MR. PRESIDENT, THE TRUTH ABOUT YEMEN IS THAT U.S. FORCES HAVE BEEN ACTIVELY ENGAGED IN SUPPORT OF THE SAUDI COALITION IN THIS WAR, PROVIDING INTELLIGENCE AND AIRLINE RE -- AERIAL REFUELING OF PLANES THAT HAS MADE THIS HUMANITARIAN ACROSS WORSE. THIS HAS PROVEN COUNTERPRODUCTIVE TO THE EFFORT AGAINST AL QAEDA'S ABILITY, THE PORTS ON TERRORISM IN 2016, FOUND THAT THE CONFLICT WITH THE SAUDI-LED FORCES AND THE HOUTHI INSURGENCE HAS HELPED THE YEMEN BRANCH TO DEEPEN ITS END ROADS ACROSS MUCH OF THE COUNTRY. IN OTHER WORDS, AS WE SEE AGAIN, WHEN THERE IS CHAOS, WHEN THERE IS MASS CONFUSION, ISIS AND THEIR ALLIES ARE ABLE TO JUMP IT. FURTHERMORE, WHILE IRAN'S SUPPORT FOR HOUTHI INSURGENCE IS OF SERIOUS CONCERN FOR ALL OF US, THE TRUTH IS THIS WAR HAS INCREASED, NOT DECREASED, THE OPPORTUNITIES FOR IRANIAN INTERFERENCE. THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION HAS TRIED TO JUSTIFY OR INVOLVEMENT IN THE YEMEN WAR AS NECESSARY TO PUSH BACK ON IRAN MANY -- IRAN. ANOTHER ADMINISTRATION SAID THAT INVADING IRAQ WAS ESSENTIAL AL QAEDA. NONE OF THAT TURNED OUT TO BE TRUE. WE SHOULD HAVE ASKED THE CONGRESS -- AT THOSE TIMES SHOULD HAVE ASKED THE HARD QUESTIONS WHICH THEY DIDN'T ASK. THE CONGRESS SHOULD HAVE TAKEN ITS CONSTITUTIONAL ROLE SERIOUSLY AND DID WHAT THE CONSTITUTION DEMANDED THAT IT DO, THAN IS WHAT MY COSPONSORS AND I ARE DOING TODAY. SO, MR. PRESIDENT, LET ME JUST CONCLUDE, AND I SEE MY COLLEAGUE, SENATOR LEE HERE, WHO HAS BEEN VERY ACTIVE IN STANDING UP FOR THE CONSTITUTION ON THIS ISSUE, AND I WILL YIELD TO HIM IN A MINUTE. HERE IS THE BOTTOM LINE, AND IT IS NOT A COMPLICATED LINE. THE CONSTITUTION IS CLEAR, THE U.S. CONGRESS DECIDES WHETHER WE GO TO WAR. THERE IS NO QUESTION IN MY MIND THAT BY AIDING SAUDI ARABIA IN THE WAY THAT WE ARE DOING THAT, WE ARE ASSISTING IN WAR. WE ARE IN A CONFLICT. IF MEMBERS OF THE SENATE THINK THAT CONFLICT MAKES SENSE, IS GOOD PUBLIC POLICY FOR THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, VOTE DOWN OUR RESOLUTION. IF YOU AGREE WITH SENATOR LEE AND ME, THAT IT IS A BAD IDEA, SUPPORT US. BUT WHAT I WOULD URGE IN THE STRONGEST POSSIBLE TERMS IS MEMBERS OF THE SENATE HAVE GOT TO END THE ABDICATION OF ITS CONSTITUTIONAL RESPONSIBILITY. ACCEPT IT. VOTE YES, VOTE NO. DO NOT VOTE TO TABLE THIS RESOLUTION AND DUCK THE CONSTITUTIONAL RESPONSIBILITY THAT WE HAVE. WITH THAT, I WOULD YIELD TO MY COLLEAGUE, SENATOR LEE.

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  • 10:51:24 AM

    MR. LEE

    MR. PRESIDENT.

  • 10:51:26 AM

    MR. LEE

    MR. PRESIDENT, THE ISSUE WE'RE CONFRONTING TODAY IS ONE THAT DEALS WITH…

    MR. PRESIDENT, THE ISSUE WE'RE CONFRONTING TODAY IS ONE THAT DEALS WITH THE SEPARATION OF POWERS OUTLINED IN THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION. YOU SEE, OUR SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT WAS SETUP IN SUCH A WAY AS TO PROTECT THE PEOPLE FROM THE DANGERS ASSOCIATED WITH THE EXCESSIVE ACCUMULATION OF POWER IN THE HANDS OF THE FEW. WE KNEW FROM OUR EXPERIENCE UNDER BRITISH RULE THAT BAD THINGS HAPPEN, ESPECIALLY AT A NATIONAL LEVEL, WHEN TOO FEW PEOPLE EXERCISE TOO MUCH OF THE POWER. NOWHERE IS THIS MORE EVIDENT THAN IN THE CASE OF THE WAR POWER. IN FACT, MUCH OF THE REVOLUTIONARY STRUGGLE THAT LED TO THE CREATION OF OUR NATION RESULTED FROM WARTIME ACTIVITIES UNDERTAKEN BY A MONARCH THOUSANDS OF MILES AND AN OCEAN AWAY. IT'S IMPORTANT TODAY THAT WE REMEMBER THOSE SAME CONCERNS AND THE CONSTRAINTS PLACED INTO OUR CONSTITUTION AS WE RUN OUR GOVERNMENT NEARLY TWO AND A HALF CENTURIES LATER. I'M HAPPY TO BE HERE WITH MY COLLEAGUE SENATOR SANDERS TO FILE A DISCHARGE MOTION FOR OUR RESOLUTION, S.J. RES. 54. WHETHER YOU'RE PHYSICALLY PRESENT IN THE CHAMBER OR TUNING IN AT HOME, I HOPE YOU WILL LISTEN CLOSELY SO WE CAN FILL YOU IN ON THE UNAUTHORIZED MIDDLE EAST WAR THAT YOUR GOVERNMENT, THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IS SUPPORTING AND ACTIVELY PARTICIPATING IN. THIS WAR IN YEMEN HAS KILLED TENS OF THOUSANDS OF INNOCENT CIVILIANS, HUMAN BEINGS, LEST WE FORGET. EACH ONE OF THEM POSSESSING INNATE, IMMEASURABLE WORTH AND DIGNITY. THIS WAR HAS CREATED REFUGEES, ORPHANS, WIDOWS. IT HAS COST MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, AND BELIEVE IT OR NOT AT THE END OF THE DAY, IT HAS QUITE ARGUABLY UNDERMINED OUR FIGHT AGAINST TERRORIST THREATS AGAINST ISIS. I WILL EXPAND ON THOSE THOUGHTS FOR A MOMENT, BUT FOR NOW LET'S FOCUS ON THE MILITARY INVOLVEMENT IN YEMEN HAS NOT BEEN AUTHORIZED BY CONGRESS. ARTICLE 1, SECTION 8 OF THE CONSTITUTION SAYS THAT CONGRESS SHALL HAVE THE POWER TO DECLARE WAR. CONGRESS, NOT THE PRESIDENT, NOT THE PENTAGON, NOT SOMEONE ELSE WITHIN THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT, BUT CONGRESS. YET, IN 2015, THEN-PRESIDENT OBAMA INITIATED OUR MILITARY INVOLVEMENT IN YEMEN AND DID SO WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION FROM CONGRESS. THE CURRENT ADMINISTRATION HAS CONTINUED OBAMA'S WAR. SENATOR SANDERS, SENATOR MURPHY, OUR COSPONSORS AND I ARE NOW GIVING CONGRESS A CHANCE TO FIX THIS ERROR BY DEBATING AND VOTING ON OUR NATION'S CONTINUED INVOLVEMENT IN THIS UNAUTHORIZED, ILLEGAL WAR IN YEMEN. NOW, IF AS OUR OPPONENTS CLAIM THIS WAR IS NECESSARY, THEN SURELY THEY CAN DEFEND THAT ARGUMENT BEFORE THIS BODY AND BEFORE THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND ULTIMATELY SECURE AUTHORIZATION FROM CONGRESS JUST AS THE CONSTITUTION DEMANDS UNDER ARTICLE 1, SECTION 8. BUT IF ON THE OTHER HAND THEY CANNOT DEFEND THIS WAR AND THEY CANNOT PERSUADE A MAJORITY OF MEMBERS OF THIS BODY AND A MAJORITY OF MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES THAT THIS IS A WAR THAT NEEDS TO BE FOUGHT, THEN IT NEEDS TO END. LET'S HAVE AN HONEST RECKONING ABOUT THIS WAR TODAY. BEFORE THIS DEBATE GETS UNDER WAY IN ERNEST, THERE ARE A FEW POINTS THAT I'D LIKE TO CLARIFY. FIRST, LET'S TALK ABOUT IRAN FOR JUST A MOMENT. YES, THE HOUTHIS DID FIRE ON A U.S. NAVY VESSEL. THIS ONLY REINFORCES THE FACT THAT YEMENIS SEE THE U.S. AS PARTICIPANTS IN THIS WAR REGARDLESS OF WHETHER OR NOT CONGRESS WANTS TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT PARTICIPATION OR APPROVE IT AS THE CONSTITUTION REQUIRES. WHAT WE DO KNOW IS THIS. THE HOUTHIS ARE A REGIONAL REBEL GROUP THAT DOES NOT ITSELF THREATEN THE UNITED STATES. WHILE THE HOUTHIS ARE NO FRIENDS OF OURS, NEITHER ARE THEY A SERIOUS THREAT TO AMERICAN NATIONAL SECURITY. THE LONGER WE FIGHT AGAINST THEM, THE MORE REASON WE GIVE THEM TO HATE AMERICA AND EMBRACE THE OPPORTUNISTS WHO ARE OUR TRUE ENEMY IN THE REGION, IRAN. AND THE MORE WE PROLONG ACTIVITIES TO DESTABILIZE THE REGION, THE LONGER WE HARM OUR OWN INTERESTS IN TERMS OF TRADE AND BROADER REGIONAL SECURITY. THE BOTTOM LINE, MR. PRESIDENT, IS THIS, WE'RE SPENDING A GREAT DEAL OF TIME AND TREASURE TO DEFEAT A REGIONAL REBEL GROUP WITH NO DESIRE TO ATTACK THE HOMELAND AND UNCLEAR TIES TO IRAN. IRAN -- IRAN'S INFLUENCE IS MUCH CLEARER IN OTHER PARTS OF THE MIDDLE EAST WITH OTHER GROUPS, FOR EXAMPLE, WITH THE MURDEROUS TERRORIST GROUP HEZZBOLLAH. SO IF WE P WANT TO COUNT -- SO IF WE WANT TO COUNTER IRAN, LET'S HAVE THAT DEBATE IN CONGRESS AND VOTE TO EQUIP THIS ADMINISTRATION WITH THE NECESSARY AUTHORIZATION TO USE OUR VAST AND FEARSOME MILITARY RESOURCES TO DEFEAT ITS PROXIES AND NOT TO CREATE NEW PROXIES BY TURNING REBEL GROUPS AGAINST US. LET'S TALK ABOUT ISIS FOR A MOMENT. OUR RESOLUTION WOULD NOT IMPEDE THE MILITARY'S ABILITY TO FIGHT TERROR GROUPS LIKE ISIS INSIDE YEMEN. THE RESOLUTION ITSELF REQUIRES THE REMOVAL OF U.S. FORCES FROM HOSTILITIES IN YEMEN EXCEPT -- EXCEPT, AND I QUOTE, UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES ENGAGED IN OPERATIONS DIRECTED AT AL QAEDA OR ASSOCIATED FORCES. CLOSE QUOTE. THAT IS A DIRECT QUOTE FROM THE TEXT OF THE RESOLUTION ITSELF. IT SHOULD PUT THE REST OF THE NOTION, IT SHOULD PUT TO REST THIS NOTION THAT THIS WOULD SOMEHOW JEOPARDIZE OUR ABILITY TO FIGHT TERRORISTS. THE PENTAGON AND THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH HAVE LONG INSISTED THAT IT HAS ADEQUATE AUTHORITY UNDER THE AUTHORIZATION FOR THE USE OF MILITARY FORCE ENACTED IN 201, ADEQUATE AUTHORITY UNDER THE 20 01AUMF TO FIGHT ISIS. SO IF THEY AT THE PENTAGON AND ELSEWHERE THIS THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH, OR IF ANY OF MY COLLEAGUES NOW CLAIM THAT THIS RESOLUTION SPECIFICALLY NEEDS TO EXEMPT OPERATIONS AGAINST ISIS, WHAT ARE WE TO MAKE OF THEIR PREVIOUS CONFIDENCE IN THE 2001, AUMF. HAVE THEY SUDDENLY LOST FAITH IN THAT DOCUMENT OVERNIGHT OR ARE THEY MERELY USING THIS ARGUMENT AS A PRETENSE TO OPPOSE OUR RESOLUTION? I PERSONALLY BELIEVE THAT THE 2001 AUMF HAS BEEN STRETCHED TOO FAR. OUR POSITION IS AGNOSTIC ABOUT WHETHER COUNTERTERROR CAN PROCEED. OUR RESOLUTION IS SPECIFIC AND OUR RESOLUTION RELATES SPECIFICALLY TO THE HOUTHIS. NOTHING IN THIS BILL MAY BE INTERPRETED AS AN AUMF. LASTLY, WITH REGARD TO SAUDI ARABIA AND THE ONGOING VISIT OF CROWN PRINCE MOHAMMED BEN SOLMAN IN WASHINGTON, D.C., AT THE MOMENT, I'VE BEEN DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT OUR ILLEGAL WAR IN YEMEN SINCE ITS INCEPTION AND HAVE TAKEN STEPS TO END OUR INVOLVEMENT IN THAT WAR. I PRESENTED QUESTIONS TO OUR COMBATANT COMMANDERS ON THE TOPIC JUST AS I HAVE FOR OTHER UNAUTHORIZED OPERATIONS IN THE PAST. I HAD HOPED THE NEW ADMINISTRATION MIGHT TAKE PROMPT ACTION TO END OUR UNAUTHORIZED ACTIVITIES IN YEMEN. SADLY, THAT HAS NOT OCCURRED. LAST FALL, AFTER COUNTLESS MISSED OPPORTUNITIES AND SOME BROKEN ASSURANCES, MY COLLEAGUES AND I DECIDED IT WAS TIME TO TAKE MATTERS INTO OUR OWN HANDS. BY MATTERS, I MEAN THOSE MATTERS THAT ARE SPECIFICALLY ALREADY IN OUR HANDS. THOSE MATTERS THAT ARE ALREADY GRANTED TO THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS AND TO NO OTHER BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT. THERE MAY BE SOME SHORT-TERM IMPACT ON THE U.S.-SAUDI RELATIONSHIP, BUT OVERALL, THE CROWN PRINCE SHOULD UNDERSTAND THAT THIS PROTRACTED AND CLEARLY NONCONCLUSIVE WAR ONLY HURTS HIS GOVERNMENT'S STABILITY AND LEGITIMACY. HE, TOO, SHOULD WANT A QUICK END TO THIS CONFLICT. SAUDI ARABIA IS AN INDISPENSABLE PARTNER IN THE REGION, WITHOUT WHICH THE UNITED STATES WOULD BE LESS SUCCESSFUL, BUT THE SAUDIS THEMSELVES ARE AT A REFLECTION POINT WITHIN THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT. WORKING WITH THE UNITED STATES SHOULD BE A GOAL FOR THE CROWN PRINCE AND SHOULD BE A CREDIBILITY-LENDING ENDEAVOR. THE RESOLUTION BEFORE YOU IS THE PRODUCT OF YEARS OF EFFORT. IT WAS NOT TIMED IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM TO COINCIDE WITH THE CROWN PRINCE'S VISIT. IT WAS DRAFTED WITH ONE THING IN MIND, WHICH IS TO MAKE SURE THAT BEFORE WE PUT U.S. BLOOD AND TREASURE ON THE LINE, BEFORE WE PUT THE SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WHO SERVE IN HARM'S WAY INTO AN AREA IN WHICH HOSTILITIES ARE ONGOING, TO GET INVOLVED IN COMBAT CAPACITIES IN AN AREA WHERE CONFLICT IS BREWING, WE OWE IT TO THEM, WE OWE IT TO THEIR PARENTS, WE OWE IT TO THEIR FAMILIES, WE OWE IT TO OURSELVES HAVING TAKEN AN OATH TO UPHOLD, PROTECT, AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES TO DO IT THE RIGHT WAY. NOT JUST BECAUSE THE CONSTITUTION REQUIRES THAT, BUT ALSO BECAUSE OF THE REASONS WHY THE CONSTITUTION REQUIRES THAT. IT MAKES SENSE THAT WHEN WE'RE DOING SOMETHING THAT HAS A GREATER CAPACITY TO IMPACT OUR GOVERNMENT, OUR STANDING IN THE WORLD, OUR OWN SECURITY AND THE LIVES OF THOSE WHO WERE SWORN TO PROTECT US, IF WE DO IT IN THE RIGHT WAY, NOT JUST THROUGH THE APPROPRIATE BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT BUT THROUGH THE APPROPRIATE BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT IN PART BECAUSE THAT'S THE ONLY PLACE WHERE AN OPEN, HONEST PUBLIC DEBATE CAN OCCUR. IT'S ONE THING TO MAKE A DECISION SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE MILITARY CHAIN OF COMMAND ON WHETHER TO UNDERTAKE A PARTICULAR ACTION, BUT THIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS WHY IN ORDER TO DECLARE WAR, IN ORDER TO GET US INVOLVED IN A WAR IN THE FIRST PLACE, IT REQUIRES ACTION BY CONGRESS BECAUSE THIS IS THE BRANCH OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MOST ACCOUNTABLE TO THE PEOPLE AT THE MOST REGULAR INTERVALS. OVER THE COURSE OF MANY DECADES UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF CONGRESSES AND WHITE HOUSES OF EVERY CONCEIVABLE PARTISAN COMBINATION, WE'VE SEEN A GRADUAL SHIFT OF POWER IN A NUMBER OF AREAS, INCLUDING REGULATORY POLICY, INCLUDING TRADE POLICY, AND INCLUDING THE EXERCISE OF THE WAR POWER OVER TO THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT. WHEN WE DON'T EXERCISE THAT POWER, IT STARTS TO ATROPHY. THE CONSTITUTION MEANS LESS AND IT IS LESS ABLE TO PROTECT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. THAT'S WHY THIS RESOLUTION MATTERS. THAT'S WHY I URGE MY COLLEAGUES TO SUPPORT THIS RESOLUTION. LET'S DO THIS THE RIGHT WAY. THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT.

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  • 11:04:45 AM

    MR. SANDERS

    MR. PRESIDENT.

  • 11:04:46 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM VERMONT.

  • 11:04:48 AM

    MR. SANDERS

    I ASK MY COLLEAGUE FROM UTAH A VERY SIMPLE QUESTION. I ASK HIM WHETHER HE…

    I ASK MY COLLEAGUE FROM UTAH A VERY SIMPLE QUESTION. I ASK HIM WHETHER HE AGREES WITH ME OR NOT. BUT IT SEEMS TO ME, SENATOR LEE, THAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT TWO SEPARATE ISSUES HERE. WITHOUT OBJECTION. IT SEEMS TO ME WE ARE TALKING ABOUT TWO SEPARATE ISSUES, ONE OF WHICH IS REALLY A NO-BRAINER, AND THE NO-BRAINER IS THAT THE CONSTITUTION IS VERY CLEAR THAT IT IS THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS, NOT THE PRESIDENT, WHO DETERMINES WHETHER OR NOT WE GO TO WAR AND THAT WE ARE CURRENTLY IN AN UNAUTHORIZED WAR IN YEMEN. AND THAT THE FIRST VOTE, IF THERE IS AN ATTEMPT TO TABLE THIS, WOULD BE ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE BECAUSE WE WOULD BE ABDICATING OUR DECISION-MAKING, AND THEN THE SECOND VOTE IS THE VOTE ON WHETHER WE THINK IT IS A GOOD IDEA TO BE IN YEMEN ALONGSIDE -- WOULD YOU AGREE WITH ME THAT AT LEAST ON THE MOTION TO TABLE, EVERY MEMBER OF THE SENATE SHOULD ALLOW US TO GO FORWARD, TO VOTE AGAINST TABLING SO THAT PEOPLE IN THE SENATE ACCEPT THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL RESPONSIBILITY TO VOTE YES OR NO ON THE WAR IN YEMEN?

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  • 11:06:09 AM

    MR. LEE

    I WOULD CERTAINLY AGREE THAT THE ANSWER IS YES IN RESPONSE TO THAT…

    I WOULD CERTAINLY AGREE THAT THE ANSWER IS YES IN RESPONSE TO THAT QUESTION. IT IS CONGRESS THAT GETS TO DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT WE GO TO WAR. IT IS NOT THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH. AND FOR THAT VERY SAME REASON, WHEN WE HAVE BROUGHT UP THIS RESOLUTION, CALLING THE QUESTION ON WHETHER OR NOT WE HAVE AUTHORIZED THAT WAR AND WHETHER OR NOT WE SHOULD CONTINUE IN THE ABSENCE OF AN AUTHORIZATION FOR THAT WAR, IF WE ARE ASKED TO TABLE THAT, THAT VERY REQUEST AMOUNTS TO A REQUEST FOR ABDICATION OF OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RESPONSIBILITY. A FAVORITE SONG OF MINE CALLED "FREE WILL" BY THE BAND RUSH CAME OUT SEVERAL DECADES AGO. IT SAYS IF YOU CHOOSE NOT TO DECIDE, YOU STILL HAVE MADE A CHOICE. IF WE CHOOSE IN THIS MOMENT TO TABLE THIS RESOLUTION, WE ARE MAKING A CHOICE TO BE WILLFULLY BLIND TO THE EXERCISE OF A POWER THAT BELONGS TO US, TO ALLOW SOMEONE ELSE TO EXERCISE IT WITHOUT PROPER AUTHORITY. THAT IS WRONG. THAT CANNOT HAPPEN, NOT ON OUR WATCH.

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  • 11:07:16 AM

    MR. SANDERS

    LET ME JUST CONCUR STRONGLY WITH WHAT SENATOR LEE JUST SAID. THERE MAY BE…

    LET ME JUST CONCUR STRONGLY WITH WHAT SENATOR LEE JUST SAID. THERE MAY BE DISAGREEMENTS ABOUT THE WISDOM OF BEING ALLIED WITH SAUDI ARABIA ON THE WAR IN YEMEN. THERE WILL BE HONEST DISAGREEMENTS ABOUT THAT. BUT THERE CANNOT BE AND THERE MUST NOT BE AN ABDICATION OF CONSTITUTIONAL RESPONSIBILITY IN TERMS OF MAKING THAT DECISION. IF YOU THINK THAT U.S. PARTICIPATION IN THE WAR IN YEMEN IS A GOOD IDEA, YOU CAN VOTE AGAINST OUR RESOLUTION. IF YOU AGREE WITH US THAT IT IS A BAD IDEA, SUPPORT OUR RESOLUTION. BUT SIMPLY TO ABDICATE YOUR RESPONSIBILITY ON THIS ISSUE WOULD BE ABSOLUTELY IRRESPONSIBLE. SO I WOULD HOPE THAT WE WOULD HAVE VIRTUALLY UNANIMOUS SUPPORT IN VOTING AGAINST THE EFFORT TO TABLE, THEN LET US GET INTO THE DEBATE ABOUT THE WISDOM OF THE WAR AND VOTE IT UP OR DOWN. NEEDLESS TO SAY, I WOULD HOPE THAT THE MEMBERS SUPPORT OUR RESOLUTION, BUT LET US AT LEAST HAVE THAT VOTE AND NOT ABDICATE OUR RESPONSIBILITY.

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  • 11:08:35 AM

    MR. LEE

  • 11:08:36 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM UTAH.

  • 11:08:37 AM

    MR. LEE

    SOME OF OUR COLLEAGUES FROM TIME TO TIME MAY ASK US HOW WE WOULD DEFINE…

    SOME OF OUR COLLEAGUES FROM TIME TO TIME MAY ASK US HOW WE WOULD DEFINE THE TERM HOSTILITIES, AND WHAT THE UNITED STATES MIGHT BE DOING THAT TRIGGERS THAT DEFINITION. I WELCOME THAT DISCUSSION. IT'S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT THE U.S. CODE IS SOMEWHAT VAGUE AS TO THAT QUESTION, DEFINING HOSTILITIES BROADLY TO MEAN ANY CONFLICT SUBJECT TO THE LAWS OF WAR. I DON'T NECESSARILY VIEW THAT BROAD DEFINITION AS PROBLEMATIC. IT IS SOMETHING THAT ALLOWS CONGRESS TO ASSESS THE UNIQUE CIRCUMSTANCES IN EACH INSTANCE ON SPECIFIC GROUNDS AT EACH POINT IN TIME. OUR INVOLVEMENT IN WAR AND IN CONFLICT HAS GREATLY CHANGED OVER THE YEARS, AND IT WILL CONTINUE TO CHANGE AS THE NATURE OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS CHANGES, AS THE TECHNOLOGY THAT WE USE IN WAR CHANGES AND DEVELOPS. IT DOESN'T MEAN THAT WE'RE NOT INVOLVED IN HOSTILITIES. I WELCOME FURTHER DISCUSSION ON THIS MATTER. SO LET'S LOOK AT THE FACTS OF OUR INVOLVEMENT IN YEMEN TODAY. SINCE 2015, U.S. FORCES HAVE AIDED THE SAUDI COALITION WITH MIDAIR REFUELING AND TARGET SELECTION ASSISTANCE, OR AS DEFENSE SECRETARY JIM MATTIS SAID IN DECEMBER, 2017, OUR MILITARY IS HELPING THE SAUDIS, QUOTE, MAKE CERTAIN THEY HIT THE RIGHT THING, CLOSE QUOTE. SO IN OTHER WORDS, WE'RE HELPING A FOREIGN POWER BOMB ITS ADVERSARIES IN MULTIPLE WAYS. IF THAT DOESN'T INCLUDE AND AMOUNT TO AND ITSELF CONSTITUTE HOSTILITIES, THEN SUCH WORDS HAVE LOST THEIR MEANING. NOW, THERE ARE THOSE WITHIN THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT WHO WOULD DEFINE THE TERM HOSTILITIES SO NARROWLY THAT IT WOULD APPLY ONLY WHEN OUR ARMED SERVICE PERSONNEL ARE ON THE GROUND FIRING UPON OR BEING FIRED UPON BY AN ENEMY FORCE. IT'S UNDERSTANDABLE IN SOME RESPECTS THAT THEY WOULD WANT TO DEFINE IT THIS WAY, BECAUSE IF THEY DEFINE IT THAT WAY, THAT PUTS THE EXECUTIVE IN POWER. THAT'S ONE OF THE REASONS WHY WE HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT THERE IS A NATURAL PENCHANT BUILT INTO OUR CONSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURE TO MAKE SURE THAT NOT ALL POWER IS CONCENTRATED IN ANY ONE BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT. IT'S ONE OF THE REASONS WHY, AS ALEXANDER HAMILTON POINTED OUT IN FEDERALIST NUMBER 69, THE WAR POWER WOULD NOT BE EXERCISED BY THE EXECUTIVE IN OUR SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT. IN THIS INSTANCE, AS IN MANY OTHERS, THE EXECUTIVE IN OUR SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT WOULD DIFFER FROM THE MONARCH UNDER THE OLD SYSTEM, THE ONE THAT WAS BASED IN LONDON. YOU SEE, THE KING HAD THE POWER TO TAKE GREAT BRITAIN TO WAR. THE KING DIDN'T HAVE TO SEEK A DECLARATION OF WAR FROM PARLIAMENT. THE KING COULD ACT IN AND OF HIMSELF TO DECIDE WHEN TO TAKE US TO WAR. THAT'S ONE OF THE REASONS WHY IT MATTERS HERE. WHEN WE SEE THE DEFINITION OF HOSTILITIES NARROWED TO THE POINT THAT IT VERY OFTEN WILL NOT EXIST, GIVEN THE WAY WE ENGAGE IN HOSTILITIES TODAY, GIVEN MODERN TECHNOLOGIES THAT FREQUENTLY ALLOW US TO ENGAGE IN ACTS THAT ANYONE WOULD HAVE TO ACKNOWLEDGE, AMOUNT TO COMBAT, AMOUNT TO CONFLICT, AMOUNT TO HOSTILITIES, THEY CAN STILL EXPLAIN IT AWAY AS SOMETHING THAT THE EXECUTIVE CAN DO INDEPENDENTLY OF CONGRESS. NOW, THIS RESOLUTION ACTUALLY WILL NOT DO ANYTHING, ACCORDING TO SOME, BECAUSE WE'RE NOT ENGAGED IN HOSTILITIES IN YEMEN. THIS BUILDING UPON THIS ARGUMENT THAT'S BASED ON A VERY NARROW, CRAMPED, DISTORTED INTERPRETATION OF THE WORD HOSTILITIES. AND SO WHEN PEOPLE ASK WHAT DO WE THINK THE RESOLUTION WOULD DO IF IT WOULD PASS, WELL, FIRST OF ALL, IT'S -- IT'S CLEAR THAT WE ARE ENGAGED IN HOSTILITIES BECAUSE WHEN WE'RE INVOLVED IN A -- AS A COBELLIGERENT, INVOLVED IN MIDAIR REFUELING IN COMBAT FLIGHTS, WHEN WE'RE IDENTIFYING TARGETS FOR THE SAUDI-LED MILITARY COALITION IN YEMEN AGAINST THE HOWT -- HOUTHIS, THESE ARE COMBAT ACTIVITIES, THOSE ARE HOSTILITIES. EVEN IF WE WERE TO EXPOS THAT COMBAT ACTIVITIES IN YEMEN STILL DID NOT COMPOSE HOSTILITIES, THE TEXT OF OUR RESOLUTION IS CRYSTAL CLEAR ABOUT WHAT CONSTITUTES HOSTILITIES FOR ITS PURPOSES. NAMELY, QUOTE, AERIAL TARGETING ASSISTANCE, INTELLIGENCE SHARING, AND MID FLIGHT AERIAL REFUELING. OUR RESOLUTION WOULD END THOSE VERY SPECIFIC ACTIVITIES AGAINST THE HOUTHIS IN YEMEN. NOTHING MORE AND NOTHING LESS.

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  • 11:14:10 AM

    MR. SANDERS

  • 11:14:11 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM VERMONT.

  • 11:14:14 AM

    MR. SANDERS

    NOW I SPEAK ONLY FOR MYSELF ON THIS ISSUE AND TELL YOU WHY I AM SO…

    NOW I SPEAK ONLY FOR MYSELF ON THIS ISSUE AND TELL YOU WHY I AM SO MOTIVATED ABOUT THIS RESOLUTION. AND THAT IS IF WE THINK BACK ON THE MODERN HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRY AND WE THINK OF THE TWO MOST SIGNIFICANT FOREIGN POLICY DECISIONS -- AND THAT IS THE WAR IN VIETNAM AND THE WAR IN IRAQ AND THE UNBELIEVABLE, UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES THAT THOSE TWO DESTRUCTIVE WARS HAD, WHAT WE CONCLUDE IS THAT IN BOTH OF THOSE WARS, ONE UNDER A DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT, ONE UNDER A REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT, THE CONGRESS ABDICATED ITS RESPONSIBILITY, DID NOT ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS, AND THAT IN BOTH INSTANCES, WE GOT INTO THOSE TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE WARS BASED ON LIES. THE ADMINISTRATION, JOHNSON ADMINISTRATION, LIED ABOUT WHY WE SHOULD GET INVOLVED INTO THE WAR IN VIETNAM. THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION LIED AS TO WHY WE SHOULD GET INVOLVED IN THE WAR IN IRAQ. AND IT JUST STEAMS ME THAT -- AND IT JUST SEEMS TO ME THAT, IF NOTHING -- BASED ON THOSE TWO EXAMPLES, WHAT THE WAR IN VIETNAM DID AND WHAT THE WAR IN IRAQ DID -- THAT CONGRESS HAS GOT TO TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND UNDERSTAND THAT THE PEOPLE WHO WROTE THAT CONSTITUTION WERE NOT FOOLS. AND WHAT THEY SAID, IT MUST BE THE PEOPLE -- ELECTED PEOPLE CLOSEST TO THE CONSTITUENTS WHO HAVE GOT TO DEBATE THESE ISSUES, WHO KNOW THAT DECISIONS BEING MADE ABOUT RESULT IN THE LOSS OF LIVES OF PEOPLE IN THEIR OWN STATES. AND WE HAVE ABDICATED THAT RESPONSIBILITY. NOW, NO ONE CAN PREDICT WHETHER THE DECISIONS MADE BY CONGRESS ARE GOING TO BE GOOD DECISIONS WITH REGARD TO WAR AND PEACE, WHETHER WE'RE GOING TO DO BETTER THAN PRESIDENTS DID. I DON'T KNOW. BUT AT THE VERY LEAST WE HAVE GOT TO ACCEPT OUR RESPONSIBILITY RESPONSIBILITY, NOT SIMPLY TAKE THE WORD OF PRESIDENTS WHO IN THE TWO MOST RECENT SIGNIFICANT WARS HAVE LIED TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. SO, MR. PRESIDENT, ONCE AGAIN, I KNOW THERE MAY BE DIFFERENCES OF OPINION REGARDING THE WISDOM OF THE U.S. BEING INVOLVED IN THE WAR IN YEMEN. IF YOU THINK IT'S A GOOD IDEA, VOTE AGAINST OUR RESOLUTION. THERE SHOULD BE NO DIFFERENCE OF OPINION ABOUT ACCEPTING OUR RESPONSIBILITY UNDER THE CONSTITUTION TO VOTE ON WHETHER OR NOT IT IS A GOOD IDEA. WITH THAT, I WOULD -- MIKE, DID YOU WANT MORE TIME? I WOULD YIELD. IS THAT ALL RIGHT WITH YOU? OKAY.

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  • 11:17:01 AM

    MR. LEE

    MR. PRESIDENT?

  • 11:17:03 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    YES, THE SENATOR FROM UTAH.

  • 11:17:05 AM

    MR. LEE

    ONE OF THE OTHER QUESTIONS WE GET FROM TIME TO TIME IS, YOU KNOW, SENATOR…

    ONE OF THE OTHER QUESTIONS WE GET FROM TIME TO TIME IS, YOU KNOW, SENATOR SANDERS MENTIONED SOME PREVIOUS WARS AND HOW THIS MAY OR MAY NOT RELATE TO THOSE PREVIOUS WARS. IT'S ALSO A RELATED QUESTION THAT WE GET, HOW DOES THIS IMPACT OR INFLUENCE OPERATIONS WHERE THE UNITED STATES IS ENGAGED SOMEWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD? WITH THE PASSAGE -- WOULD THE PASSAGE OF THIS RESOLUTION MEAN THAT EVERY OTHER TYPE OF OPERATION ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD WOULD HAVE TO STOP, TOO? AND WHAT ABOUT OUR GLOBAL COUNTERTERRORISM ACTIVITIES? WE SOMETIMES GET THOSE QUESTIONS. THE MAIN REASON WE DRAFTED THIS RESOLUTION WAS TO BRING OUR ACTIVITIES IN YEMEN INTO LINE WITH OUR LAWS, AS EXPRESSED IN THE CONSTITUTION. SO IF WE'RE FIGHTING UNAUTHORIZED WARS IN OTHER PLACES AROUND THE GLOBE, THEN THOSE WARS NEED TO BE AUTHORIZED BY CONGRESS OR ELSE THEY WOULD NEED TO END. IMPORTANTLY, HOWEVER, THIS RESOLUTION DOES NOT ITSELF MAKE LAW OR SET PRECEDENT FOR OTHER OPERATIONS. THIS RESOLUTION APPLIES JUST TO THIS CONFLICT IN YEMEN AGAINST THE HOUTHIS. EACH CONFLICT OR OPERATION OUGHT TO BE EVALUATED OINT OWN MERITS AND -- ON ITS OWN MERITS AND MEASURED AGAINST OUR NATIONAL INTEREST AND ANY EXISTING AUTHORIZATIONS EFFICIENT USE OF -- FOR THE USE OF MILITARY FORCE. SO WE CAN'T EVALUATE THIS RESOLUTION AS BEING SOMETHING THAT REQUIRES US TO SWALLOW THE ENTIRE ELEPHANT AT ONCE. THIS IS JUST FOCUSING ON ONE ISSUE IN ONE PART OF THE WORLD. AND WE NEED NOT TAKE ANY KIND OF A SKY-IS-FALLING APPROACH THAT WILL SAY THIS WILL IMMEDIATELY JEOPARDIZE EVERYTHING ELSE WE'RE DOING ANYWHERE IN ANY AND EVERY PART OF THE WORLD. NOW, GLOBAL COUNTERTERROR OPERATIONS UNDER TITLE 10 OR TITLE 50 INVOLVE U.S. ACTION BUT ARISE IN DIFFERENT WAYS. AND ANY OTHER ACTIVITY THAT WE UNDERTAKE OR AUTHORITY THAT WE CITE IN INTRODUCING OUR ARMED SERVICE PERSONNEL INTO HOSTILITIES CANNOT SERVE AS A SUBSTITUTE INTO CONGRESSIONAL ACTION. THE POWER TO DECLARE WAR BELONGS TO CONGRESS AND NOT TO THE EXECUTIVE. JUST BECAUSE GOVERNMENT BREAKS THE RULES OFTEN -- AND SOMETIMES WITH IMPUNITY -- DOES NOT MEAN IT HAS THE RIGHT TO BREAK THE RULES, NOR DOES IT MEAN THAT WE SHOULDN'T CALL OUT RULE BREAKING WHERE WE SEE IT GOING ON. BUT THAT'S A DEBATE FOR ANOTHER DAY. THE RESOLUTION BUFFS IS SPECIFIC TO OUR ACTIVITY -- THE RESOLUTION BEFORE US IS SPECIFIC TO OUR ACTIVITIES IN YEMEN. IT DOES NOT AUTHORIZE OR DEAUTHORIZE ACTIVITIES IN ANY OTHER PART OF THE GLOBE AGAINST ANY OTHER FOE. IT DOES NOT INTERFERE WITH EXISTING OPERATIONS AGAINST AL QAEDA AND ITS AFFILIATES. OUR RESOLUTION IS MERELY TAILORED TO ASSIST FORCES AGAINST THE HOUTHIS. COUNTERTERROR OPERATIONS SUPPORTED BY THE 2001 AUMF AND OTHER LEGITIMATE AUTHORIZATIONS WOULD NOT BE AFFECTED BY THIS RESOLUTION. MR. PRESIDENT, I'D LIKE TO YIELD THE FLOOR TO SENATOR MURPHY.

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  • 11:21:12 AM

    MR. MURPHY

  • 11:21:13 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM CONNECTICUT.

  • 11:21:15 AM

    MR. MURPHY

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I'M GRATEFUL TO BE ABLE TO JOIN FOR A FEW…

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I'M GRATEFUL TO BE ABLE TO JOIN FOR A FEW MOMENTS WITH THE COSPONSORS OF THIS RESOLUTION, SENATOR LEE AND SENATOR SANDERS. IT IS IMPORTANT TO PICK UP ON WHAT SENATOR LEE WAS JUST PUTTING DOWN, THE NOTION THAT THIS IS A LIMITED RESOLUTION THAT SPEAKS TO OUR PARTICIPATION IN AN UNAUTHORIZED, ILLEGAL PARTNERSHIP WITH THE SAUDIS TO BOMB THE COUNTRY OF YEMEN. IT DOES NOT AFFECT OUR PARTNERSHIP WITH SAUDI ARABIA AND OTHERS IN THE GULF REGION TO CONTINUE TO CONFRONT TERROR, TO CONTINUE TO CONFRONT AL QAEDA. A SPECIFIC CARVE-OUT OF THIS LEGISLATION ALLOWING FOR 2001 AUMF ACTIVITIES TO GO FORWARD. BUT IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT IF YOU CARE ABOUT THAT PRIORITY -- TAKING ON CAULKS TAKING ON ISIS IN THE REGION -- THEN YOU SHOULD SUPPORT DEBATING OUR RESOLUTION BECAUSE ALL OF THE EVIDENCE SUGGESTS THAT THE CONTINUATION OF THIS CIVIL WAR INSIDE YEMEN IS MAKING AQAP, THE ARM OF AL QAEDA THAT HAS THE CLEAREST INTENTIONS TO ATTACK THE HOMELAND AND ISIS, BOTH MORE POWERFUL. AQAP CONTROLS MUCH MORE TERRITORY INSIDE YEMEN THAN THEY DID AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS CIVIL WAR. AND IF YOU TAKE THE TIME TO MEET WITH YEMENI AMERICANS, THEY WILL TELL YOU THAT INSIDE YEMEN, THIS IS NOT PERCEIVED AS A SAUDI BOMBING CAMPAIGN. IT IS PERCEIVED AS A UNITED STATES-SAUDI BOMBING CAMPAIGN. TOAD THIS NEW INFORMATION THAT -- ADD TO THIS NEW INFORMATION THAT SUGGESTS THAT SOME OF OUR PARTNERS IN THE COALITION, THOUGH NOT DIRECTLY WORK WAS AL QAEDA -- WORKING WITH AL QAEDA ARE STARTING TO ARM SOME SULLA ASFA MILITIAS THAT ARE FILLED WITH THE TYPE OF INDIVIDUALS THAT COULD EASILY TURN, TAKE THE TRAINING THEY'VE RECEIVED FROM THE COALITIONS, THE WEAPONS THEY'VE RECEIVED FROM THE COALITION AGAINST THE UNITED STATES. SO IF YOU CARE ABOUT THE MISSION AGAINST TERRORISM, THEN YOU SHOULD SUPPORT DEBATING OUR RESOLUTION. BUT JUST TO RECAP THE REASONS WHY WE ARE HERE TODAY, WE NEED TO HAVE A DEBATE ON THE LACK OF AUTHORIZATION FOR MILITARY FORCE BECAUSE IT IS TIME FOR CONGRESS TO STEP UP AND DO OUR CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY. THE ADMINISTRATION TOLD US THAT IN THEIR LETTER TO US THAT WE DO NOT HAVE THE AUTHORITY AS THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS TO WEIGH IN ON MILITARY ACTIVITY WAGED BY THE ADMINISTRATION UNLESS THERE ARE TWO ARMIES FIRING AT EACH OTHER ON THE GROUND IN AN AREA OF CONFLICT. THAT IS THE ADMINISTRATION'S DEFINITION OF HOSTILITIES. THAT IS A DEFINITION THAT'S BEEN USED BY REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS. THIS IS NOT EXCLUSIVE TO THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION. IT WOULD ALLOW FOR THE UNITED STATES, THROUGH EXECUTIVE DECISION ONLY, TO WAGE AN AIR CAMPAIGN AGAINST A COUNTRY THAT WIPES IT OUT WITHOUT ANY SAY FROM THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS. CLEARLY WHAT IS HAPPENING IN YEMEN TODAY MEETS THE DEFINITION OF HOSTILITIES. WE HAVE SHOWN PICTURES ON THIS FLOOR BEFORE OF ENTIRE CITIES THAT HAVE BEEN WIPED OUT, 10,000-PLUS CIVILIANS HAVE BEEN KILLED, THE LARGEST OUTBREAK OF CHOLERA IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN TERMS OF WHAT WE HAVE RECORDED. THAT IS HOSTILITIES, AND THE UNITED STATES IS CLEARLY ENGAGING IN THOSE HOSTILITIES BECAUSE WE ARE HELPING WITH TARGETING, REFUELING THE PLANES, SUPPLYING THE MUNITIONS. SO IF WE CEDE TO UNLIMITED EXECUTIVE AUTHORITY WITH RESPECT TO THIS ENGAGEMENT, THERE IS NO END TO THAT. LASTLY, LET ME JUSTINE WHAT'S HAPPENING ON THE GROUND -- LET ME JUST SPEAK TO WHAT'S HAPPENING ON THE GROUND. THERE'S ZERO EVIDENCE -- ZERO EVIDENCE -- THAT U.S. PARTICIPATION IN THIS COALITION HAS MADE THINGS BETTER. CIVILIAN CASUALTIES ARE NOT GETTING B THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS OVER 60 CIVILIANS WERE KILLED IN A SERIES OF AIRSTRIKES. REPORTS ARE THAT LAST MONTH THE SAUDIS ENGAGED ONCE AGAIN IN SOMETHING CALLED DOUBLE TAPPING, IN WHICH THEY TARGET AN AREA WHERE CIVILIANS LIVE, THEY WAIT FOR THE EMERGENCY RESPONDERS TO ARRIVE, AND THEN THEY HIT AGAIN, SOMETHING THAT IS NOT ALLOWED BY INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW. THE HUMANITARIAN CATASTROPHE ITSELF IS GETTING WORSE, NOT BETTER. AND MAYBE MOST IMPORTANTLY, THE BATTLE LINES INSIDE YEMEN ARE NOT CHANGING. THE SAUDIS HAVE BEEN TELLING US FOR YEARS JUST STICK WITH US, STICK WITH US. IF YOU KEEP ON HELPING US BOMB THE YEMENI PEOPLE, WE WILL WIN THIS WAR, WE WILL GET BACK CONTROL OF HUGH DATA AT THAT AND -- OF HUDAYDAH. TODAY THE HOUTHIS CONTROL ABOUT 70% OF THE POPULATION INSIDE YEMEN. IF WE CONTINUE TO SUPPORT THIS BOMBING CAMPAIGN, NOTHING WILL CHANGE EXCEPT MORE PEOPLE WILL DIE, EXCEPT MORE CIVILIANS WILL BE HIT BY THE BOMBS THAT WE HELP TO DROP, EXCEPT THAT AL QAEDA WILL CONTINUE TO CONTROL BIG PORTIONS OF THAT COUNTRY. AND SO WHILE SENATOR LEE NOTES THAT THIS RESOLUTION IS ACTUALLY NOT ON THE MERITS OF OUR ENGAGEMENT THERE, IT IS ON WHETHER OR NOT WE HAVE LEGAL JUSTIFICATION TO BE THERE, LET'S ADMIT THAT IF YOU DO SUPER-THE MERITS -- IF YOU DO CONSIDER THE MERITS, OTHER THAN BACKING THE PLAY OF OUR HISTORIC ALLY, THERE IS NOTHING TO SUGGEST THAT OUR PARTICIPATION THERE IS MAKING THINGS BETTER.

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  • 11:26:58 AM

    MR. SANDERS

    WHETHER YOU AGREE WITH ME WHETHER WE'RE DEALING WITH TWO SEPARATE ISSUES…

    WHETHER YOU AGREE WITH ME WHETHER WE'RE DEALING WITH TWO SEPARATE ISSUES HERE. THE FIRST ISSUE IS A NO BRAINER. IT IS WHETHER OR NOT THE CONGRESS -- OR HAD THIS CASE THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES -- ACCEPTS ITS CONSTITUTIONAL RESPONSIBILITY ON ISSUES OF WAR. WE ARE NOW ENGAGED IN A WAR IN YEMEN WITH SAUDI ARABIA. THE CONSTITUTION IS VERY CLEAR. ARTICLE 1, SECTION 8, IT IS THE CONGRESS THAT DETERMINES WHETHER IT COUNTRY GOES TO WAR. I BELIEVE THAT WILL HAPPEN -- I BELIEVE WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN A FEW HOURS IS A MOTION TO TABLE WILL COME UP. WOULD YOU AGREE WITH ME THAT IT WOULD BE AN ACT OF COWARDICE IN A ESSENTIAL AN ABDID I INDICATION OF CONGRESSIONAL -- AN ABDID I INDICATION OF CONGRESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR SOMEONE TO VOTE TO TABLE THAT RESOLUTION?

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  • 11:27:50 AM

    MR. MURPHY

    BY VOTING TO TABLE THE CONSIDERATION OF THIS ARE YOU ARE VOTING TO -- THE…

    BY VOTING TO TABLE THE CONSIDERATION OF THIS ARE YOU ARE VOTING TO -- THE CONSIDERATION OF THIS RESOLUTION, YOU ARE VOTING TO STOP A DEBATE, A CONVERSATION FROM HAPPENING IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT PROPER AUTHORIZATION EXISTS. SO LET'S BE HON BEST P WHAT THIS FIRST VOTE IS. THIS FIRST VOTE IS, DO WE WANT TO TALK ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT THERE IS AUTHORIZATION TO PERPETUATE THIS WAR? AND BY VOTING TO STOP DEBATE, BY VOTING TO TABLE THIS MOTION AND REFRAIN FROM PROCEEDING TO A CONVERSATION ABOUT THIS TOPIC, WE ARE SIGNALING IN A VERY CLEAR WAY TO THE ADMINISTRATION AND TO THE AMERICAN PUBLIC THAT WE ARE NOT INTERESTED IN EXERCISING OUR ARTICLE 1 AUTHORITY ON THE ISSUE OF WAR MAKING.

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  • 11:28:40 AM

    MR. SANDERS

    IN OTHER WORDS, NO MATTER WHAT ONE'S VIEW MAY BE ABOUT THE WISDOM OF THE…

    IN OTHER WORDS, NO MATTER WHAT ONE'S VIEW MAY BE ABOUT THE WISDOM OF THE WAR, A VOTE TO TABLE IS TO ABDICATE OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RESPONSIBILITY?

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  • 11:28:49 AM

    MR. MURPHY

    IS TO SEND A VERY CLEAR SIGNAL TO THE ADMINISTRATION THAT WE ARE NOT…

    IS TO SEND A VERY CLEAR SIGNAL TO THE ADMINISTRATION THAT WE ARE NOT INTERESTED IN HAVING A DEBATE HERE ABOUT QUESTIONS, COMPLICATED QUESTIONS OF LEGAL AUTHORITY FOR SERIOUS MILITARY ENGAGEMENTS OVERSEAS.

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  • 11:29:01 AM

    MR. SANDERS

    ALL RIGHT. LET ME JUST CONCUR WITH SENATOR MURPHY. IF YOU THINK IT'S A…

    ALL RIGHT. LET ME JUST CONCUR WITH SENATOR MURPHY. IF YOU THINK IT'S A GOOD IDEA FOR THE UNITED STATES TO BE INVOLVED IN THE WAR IN YEMEN WITH SAUDI ARABIA, YOU CAN VOTE AGAINST OUR RESOLUTION. BUT I CAN THINK OF NO REASON AT ALL WHY ANY MEMBER OF THE CONGRESS WOULD VOTE TO TABLE THIS RESOLUTION AND PREVENT THAT DISCUSSION. AND I WOULD HOPE THAT WE WOULD HAVE STRONG SUPPORT AGAINST ANY MOTION TO TABLE AND ALLOW THAT DEBATE TO GO FORWARD. WITH THAT, MR. PRESIDENT, I WOULD YIELD THE FLOOR.

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  • 11:29:53 AM

    MR. CORNYN

  • 11:29:54 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE REPUBLICAN WHIP.

  • 11:29:56 AM

    MR. CORNYN

    MR. PRESIDENT, THIS WEEK WE ARE DISCUSSING, AMONG OTHER TOPICS, THE SAD…

    MR. PRESIDENT, THIS WEEK WE ARE DISCUSSING, AMONG OTHER TOPICS, THE SAD FACT OF SEX TRAFFICKING ONLINE. THE REASON IS BECAUSE YESTERDAY WE VOTED TO ADVANCE A PIECE OF LEGISLATION CALLED SESTA, OR STOP ENABLING SEX TRAFFICKERS ACT. THE PURPOSE OF THAT LEGISLATION IS CRYSTAL CLEAR. WE WANT TO PUT AN END TO THIS ABOMINABLE PRACTICE, AND WE WANT TO STOP SHIELDING OR PROTECTING THOSE WEB PLATFORMS THAT PROMOTE IT. I'M PROUD TO BE A COSPONSOR OF THIS LEGISLATION. OVER THE PAST YEAR, LIKE MANY OF MY COLLEAGUES, I MET WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT AND VICTIMS' RIGHTS GROUPS ACROSS THE COUNTRY WHICH TALK ABOUT THIS AS A CONTINUING PROBLEM. I'VE MET WITH TECHNOLOGY PROVIDERS WHO WANT TO END THE PRACTICE BUT WANT TO MAKE SURE THEY MAINTAIN THEIR INDEPENDENCE FROM FEDERAL REGULATION, WRIT LARGE. I'VE BEEN IN REGULAR CONTACT WITH MY COLLEAGUES OVER IN THE HOUSE TO MAKE SURE THIS BILL WAS CONSIDERED AND PASSED IN A TIMELY PRACTICE. I THINK IT'S FAIR TO CHARACTERIZE THAT NEGOTIATIONS IS DELICATE. A SMALL GROUP OF SENATORS, INCLUDING OUR COLLEAGUE, JOHN McCAIN, THE SENIOR SENATOR FROM ARIZONA, WANTED TO MAKE SURE THAT EVERYONE UNDERSTOOD WHAT THIS BILL DOES AND WHAT IT DOES NOT DO. WHAT IT DOES DO IS PROTECT OUR CHILDREN. IT PROVIDES JUSTICE TO VICTIMS AND IT MAKES SURE FEDERAL LAWS DON'T PROTECT THOSE WHO PROFIT FROM SEX TRAFFICKING ONLINE. WHAT IT DOES NOT DO IS SOMEHOW STYMIE FREE SPEECH. IT DOES NOT RESTRICT WEB PLATFORMS FROM PUBLISHING OBJECTIONABLE CONTENT. UNDER THE DECENCY ACT NOW, WEBSITES HAVE TO SCREEN FOR CHILD PORNOGRAPHY, ONE OF THE EXCEPTIONS TO THE ACT WHICH PROVIDES IMMUNITY FOR THESE WEB PLATFORMS FROM LIABILITY. WHAT WE'RE DOING IS ADDING TO THAT HUMAN TRAFFICKING, AND IT'S PROPB THAT WE DO -- APPROPRIATE THAT WE DO SO. THIS DOES NOT DISCOURAGE WEBSITES THAT ARE ALREADY TAKING STEPS TO PROACTIVELY REMOVE IMPROPER CONDUCT AND POLICE THEIR OWN NETWORKS. I WOULD SAY TO THOSE THAT DO, KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK. TODAY THE INTERNET AND OTHER FORMS OF TECHNOLOGY MADE CERTAIN FORMS OF PREDATORY BEHAVIOR EASIER TO ENGAGE IN. THIS BILL ADDRESSES THIS DEVELOPMENT HEAD ON. IT WOULD ALLOW SECTION TRAFFICKING VICTIMS TO HAVE THEIR DAY IN COURT BY ELIMINATING FEDERAL LIABILITY PROTECTIONS FOR TECHNOLOGY PROVIDERS WHO KNOWINGLY FACILITATE ONLINE SEX TRAFFICKING. IT WOULD ALLOW STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT TO INVESTIGATE AND PROSECUTE PROVIDERS THAT VIOLATE FEDERAL SEX TRAFFICKING LAWS. THIS BILL WAS INTRODUCED LAST SUMMER AFTER A TWO-YEAR INQUIRY BY THE PERMANENT SUBCOMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATIONS WHICH PRODUCED A REPORT. THAT REPORT FOUND NOT ONLY THAT SEX TRAFFICKING HAD RUN RAMPANT IN CERTAIN ONLINE SPACES, BUT ALSO THAT SOME WEBSITES HAD TRIED TO COVER IT UP. WELL, NO LONGER. LAST FALL THE SENATE COMMERCE COMMITTEE UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED SESTA, THE BILL ON THE FLOOR, AND THE HOUSE PASSED IT LAST MONTH, AND NOW, MR. PRESIDENT, IT'S OUR TURN. SENATOR PORTMAN, THE JUNIOR SENATOR FROM OHIO, HAS BEEN THIS BILL'S GREATEST CHAMPION SINCE ITS INTERCEPTION. I BELIEVE HE WAS ONE OF THE MEMBERS OF THE PERMANENT SUBCOMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATION WHICH PRODUCED THE REPORT I MENTIONED A WHILE AGO. HE'S BEEN INTPOFRPLG US TIME AND -- INTPOFRPLG -- INFORMING US TIME AND TIME AGAIN OF THE WAY IN WHICH SEX TRAFFICKING HAS MORPHED. ONE WEBSITE IN PARTICULAR CAME UP TIME AND TIME AGAIN, AND THE NAME IS NO STRANGER TO THE SENATE OR THE CONGRESS. IT'S BACKPAGE, A NOTORIOUS PUBLICATION NOW ON LINE WHICH IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THREE-QUARTERS OF ALL CHILD TRAFFICKING REPORTS. IT EVENTUALLY CAME CLEAR THAT EVEN THOUGH THAT SITE WAS ACTUALLY HELPING SELL YOUNG WOMEN FOR SEX AND EVEN THOUGH THE VICTIMS AND THEIR FAMILIES WERE SUING BACKPAGE, NONE OF THE LAWSUITS WERE SUCCESSFUL BECAUSE OF WHAT SOME PEOPLE ARE COMING TO BELIEVE IS AN OUTDATED IMMUNITY PROTECTION FOR TECHNOLOGY PROVIDERS UNDER THE COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT THAT I MENTIONED A MOMENT AGO. THE ORIGINAL LAW WAS INTENDED TO PROTECT FREE SPEECH ONLINE, WHICH IS IMPORTANT. I'M A FIRM BELIEVER IN THE FIRST AMENDMENT, AS I KNOW WE ALL ARE, BUT FREE SPEECH IS NO LICENSE TO ENGAGE IN CRIMINAL ACTIVITY. AT LAST COUNT, 67 SENATORS HAVE JOINED OUR EFFORT AS COSPONSORS. WE ARE JOINED IN SUPPORT OF SESTA BY ANTIHUMAN TRAFFICKING ADVOCATES, LAW ENFORCEMENT, STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL, THE CIVIL RIGHTS COMMUNITY, FAITH-BASED GROUPS, AND TECH COMPANIES LIKE FACEBOOK AND ORACLE. OUR COLLEAGUE FROM OREGON HAS INTRODUCED TWO AMENDMENTS WHICH I STRONGLY URGE MY COLLEAGUES TO OPPOSE. THE FIRST WOULD APPROPRIATE NEW MONEY FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO INVESTIGATE AND PROSECUTE WEBSITE OPERATORS THAT CRIMINALLY FACILITATE SEX TRAFFICKING. THE PROBLEM IS THAT WOULD VIOLATE THE BLUE IS SLIP RULE -- BLUE SLIP RULE AND SUBJECT THE BILL TO A POINT OF ORDER. IN OTHER WORDS, THERE ARE CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES RAISED ABOUT WHERE THAT SORT OF LEGISLATION WOULD ORIGINATE. IT HAS TO ORIGINATE IN THE HOUSE. IT WOULD ALMOST CERTAINLY GUARANTEE THE DEMISE OF OF THIS LEGISLATION. IN OTHER WORDS, IT'S A POISON PILL. IT'S NOT THAT WE WON'T SUPPORT FUNDING TO PROSECUTE TRAFFICKERS. WE'LL BE PROVIDING AMPLE FUNDING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE LATER THIS WEEK. THOSE FUNDS SHOULD BE APPROPRIATED THROUGH THE USUAL PROCESS AND HANDED OVER TO OFFICIALS WHO CAN USE THEM EFFECTIVELY. THE SECOND AMENDMENT THAT WILL BE OFFERED IS THE BAD SAMARITAN AMENDMENT. THIS WOULD PREVENT WEBSITES FROM BEING HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR EVER EFFORTS TO MODERATE CONTENT EVEN WHEN EFFORTS ARE TAKEN IN BAD FAITH AND MISS THEIR MARK AND INSTEAD PROTECT SEX TRAFFICKERS. IN SOME STATES COURTS FOUND THAT SITES LIKE BACKPAGE SHOULD BE MODERATED. BUT THE BAD SAMARITAN AMENDMENT COULD PROTECT PLATFORMS LIKE BACKPAGE.COM FROM LIABILITY FOR BAD-FAITH EDITING PRACTICES, LEAVING VICTIMS WITH EVEN LESS OF A RECOURSE THAN THEY HAVE TODAY. SIMPLY PUT, IT COULD EVISCERATE THE STEPS WE ARE TAKING IN SESTA. I'M CONFIDENT OUR COLLEAGUE DOES NOT INTEND THIS RESULT BUT THAT WOULD BE THE CONSEQUENCE OF ADOPTING EITHER ONE OF THOSE AMENDMENTS. SO I HOPE MY COLLEAGUES WILL JOIN ME IN VOTING IN FAVOR OF SESTA THIS WEEK AND OPPOSING THESE AMENDMENTS. THAT'S THE BEST WAY WE CAN ENSURE THESE WEBSITES AND ONLINE PLATFORMS CAN BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR FACILITATING SEX TRAFFICKING. MR. PRESIDENT, LATER TODAY THE SENATE WILL BE VOTING ON A PRIVILEGE RESOLUTION THAT I SPOKE ON YESTERDAY OFFERED BY THREE OF OUR COLLEAGUES. SIMPLY PUT, IT WOULD DIRECT THE PRESIDENT TO CUT OFF ALL U.S. SUPPORT FOR THE SAUDI-LED COALITION IN YEMEN. SOME PEOPLE MAY BE LOOKING AT A WORLD MAP TO FIGURE OUT WHERE YEMEN IS AND WHAT THE IMPORT OF THIS CONFLICT MAY BE. BUT SUFFICE IT TO SAY THAT THIS IS ANOTHER PROXY WAR BEING CONDUCTED AGAINST THE U.S. AND ITS ALLIES BY IRAN. NOW, IN YEMEN JUST TO THE SOUTH OF SAUDI ARABIA, OUR ALLY. SO THE MOTION TO TABLE -- I WAS INTERESTED TO HEAR MY FRIENDS FROM CONNECTICUT AND VERMONT SUGGESTED THAT THE MOTION TO TABLE WOULD STOP DEBATE. THAT'S NOT EXACTLY TRUE. TWHA IT WOULD DO IS -- WHAT IT IT WOULD DO IS FACILITATE FULL DEBATE AND FULL CONSIDERATION OF THE MERITS OF THE UNDERLYING RESOLUTION, STARTING WITH THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE. IT'S VERY UNUSUAL FOR RESOLUTIONS LIKE THIS TO COME IMMEDIATELY TO THE FLOOR WHERE YOU HAVE 100 SENATORS VOTING ON IT BECAUSE, FRANKLY, NOT ALL OF US ARE AS UP TO SPEED ON THE DETAILS OF THIS OR WHAT THE UNINTENDED IMPACT MIGHT BE, AS THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE THAT'S SET UP FOR THE PURPOSE OF EXAMINING LEGISLATION WITH REGARD TO OUR INTERNATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS AND MATTERS LIKE THIS. BUT THIS IS AN IMPORTANT AND TIMELY MATTER AS HIGH-LEVEL SAUDI OFFICIALS ARE IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK. THE CROWN PRINCE WAS SCHEDULED TO MEET WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP TODAY. I MET WITH HIM THIS MORNING ALONG WITH OTHER MEMBERS OF THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE. SAUDI ARABIA IS AN IMPORTANT PARTNER IN OUR COUNTERTERRORISM OPERATIONS. AND AS A COUNTER POINT TO IRAN. IN YEMEN, WE SEE BOTH TERRORIST OPERATIONS -- THAT'S ISIS AND AL QAEDA -- IN IRAN ACTIVELY DEPLOYING MISSILES USING YEMEN AS A LAUNCHING PAD TO SHOOT MISSILES INTO SAUDI ARABIA. IS I MENTIONED BEFORE THAT OUR SUPPORT FOR THE SAUDI COALITION IS GNARL ROLE CIRCUMSCRIBED. IT CURRENTLY TAKES THE FORM OF INTELLIGENCE SHARING, MILITARY ADVICE AND LOGISTICAL SUPPORT INCLUDING AIR-TO-AIR REFUELING. THIS IS PART OF A PLAN THAT STARTED UNDER THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION AND NOW IS CONTINUED UNDER THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION, NOT TO PUT AMERICAN TROOPS ON THE GROUND, BOOTS ON THE GROUND, AS WE FREQUENTLY REFER TO IT, BUT RATHER TO FACILITATE OUR ALLIES BY WORKING BY, WITH, AND THROUGH THOSE ALLIES TO ADDRESS THE THREAT NOT ONLY TO THEM, BUT ULTIMATELY TO THE UNITED STATES AND PEACE IN THE REGION. THE ROLE WE PLAY IN YEMEN IS CLEARLY A NONCOMBAT SUPPORT ROLE, AND IT'S MEANT TO MINIMIZE CIVILIAN CASUALTIES BY IMPROVING THE PROCESSES AND PROCEDURES AND INCREASING COMPLIANCE WITH THE INTERNATIONAL LAW OF ARMED CONFLICT. IN OTHER WORDS, WE'RE TRYING TO HELP THEM TARGET THE TERRORISTS AND THE IRANIAN-BACKED REBELS AND NOT INNOCENT CIVILIANS, SOMETHING THEY'RE NOT ABLE TO DO AS WELL WITHOUT OUR ASSISTANCE. CONTRARY TO THE RESOLUTION'S SPONSORS CLAIMS, THE U.S. IS NOT ENGAGED IN HOSTILITIES IN YEMEN AS HAS BEEN TRADITIONALLY UNDERSTOOD, SINCE IT'S NOT IN DIRECT CONFLICT WITH THE HOUTHI REBELS. WE'RE NOT FIGHTING THE HOUTHI REBELS. U.S. SOLDIERS AND AIRMEN ARE NOT FIGHTING THE HOUTHI REBELS DIRECTLY. WE'RE PROVIDING SUPPORT. PROPONENTS OF THIS LEGISLATION RIGHTLY POINT OUT THAT THERE IS CURRENTLY A HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN YEMEN. UNFORTUNATELY, WHAT THEY SOMETIMES LEAVE OUT IS THAT HUMANITARIAN CRISIS ONLY STARTED WHEN THE IRANIAN BACKED REBELS OVERTHREW THE EXISTING GOVERNMENT. OUR MILITARY ASSISTANCE IS HELPING THE SAUDIS AND TARGETING TO HELP PREVENT CIVILIAN CASUALTIES, TO HELP RESTORE LAW AND ORDER AND CREATE CONDITIONS NECESSARY TO PROVIDE AID. LET'S REMEMBER TOO IT WAS PRESIDENT OBAMA THAT FIRST IMPLEMENTED THE REFUELING AND LOGISTICAL SUPPORT POLICY, SO THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL MATTER. THERE'S NO REAL DIFFERENCE IN THE WAY THAT THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION AND THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION PROVIDED THIS SUPPORT BY, WITH, AND THROUGH OUR ALLIES, THE SAUDIS AND THE EMIRATIS. AND IT'S CLEAR WHY THIS HAS BEEN THE POLICY OF THE LAST TWO ADMINISTRATIONS. YEMEN IS A PLACE OF GREAT GEOPOLITICAL CONCERN. WHEN I VISITED BAHRAIN REASONABILITY WITH OUR COLLEAGUES -- RECENTLY WITH OUR COLLEAGUES, VISITED THE FIFTH FLEET THERE THAT'S HOUSED IN BAHRAIN, WE HEARD CONCERNS ABOUT A CHOKE POINT NEAR AN AREA CALLED THE BAB AL MANDEM. I PROBABLY BUTCHERED THAT PRONUNCIATION BUT WE HEARD MORE FREQUENTLY ABOUT THE STRAITS OF HORMUZ THROUGH WHICH A LOT OF WORLD'S COMMERCE AND OIL FLOWS. BAB AL MANDEB IS OFF TO THE EAST -- I'M SORRY, TO THE WEST OF YEMEN. IT'S ONLY 18 MILES AT ITS NARROWEST POINT AND CONNECTS THE RED SEA TO THE INDIAN OCEAN. IT'S ONE OF THE REASONS IT'S SO IMPORTANT GEOPOLITICALLY BECAUSE 3.8 MILLION BARRELS OF OIL PASS THROUGH EACH DAY, MANY OF THEM IN ROUTE TO THE SUEZ CANAL AND BEYOND. BAB AL MANDEB SHOWS THE GEOPOLITICAL IMPORTANCE OF YEMEN AND THE SURROUNDING REGION. WHEN THE REBELS ATTEMPT TO SHUT DOWN SHIPPING THROUGH THIS PASSAGE, THE IMPACT IS GLOBAL, INCLUDING ON THE UNITED STATES, AND OUR NATION HAS EVERY RIGHT TO BE CONCERNED. BUT I FEAR THE RESOLUTION I MENTIONED DEALS WITH OUR SHARED CONCERNS IN THE WRONG WAY. WE'RE ALL, WE ALL WANT TO AVOID CIVILIAN CASUALTIES. MOST EVERYONE IS AWARE YEMEN HAS BEEN SUFFERING FROM A SEVERE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS FOR YEARS, INCLUDING A TERRIBLE CHOLERA OUTBREAK. BUT IF WE WERE TO REMOVE U.S. INVOLVEMENT AND LOGISTICAL SUPPORT FOR THE SAUDI COALITION, THE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS WOULD LIKELY GET EVEN WORSE. THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE HAS CRITIQUED THE RESOLUTION. THE RESOLUTION WE'LL BE VOTING ON. ON THE GROUND IT WOULD UNDERMINE OUR ABILITY TO FOSTER LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIPS WITH ALLIES IN THE GULF REGION. IT WOULD -- WE ALSO BENEFIT FROM INCREASED INTEROPERABILITY AND BURDEN SHARING AND STRONG SECURITY ARCHITECT -- ARCHITECT TOURS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. IN OTHER WORDS, THE ALLIANCES WE HAVE IN THE MIDDLE EAST TO FIGHT THE ENEMIES OF ISIS AND AL QAEDA AND TO TRY TO CONTAIN IRAN WHICH HAS BEEN AT WAR WITH THE UNITED STATES SINCE 1979, THE IRANIAN REVOLUTION IN ONE FORM OR ANOTHER, ALL OF THESE ARE ON THE TABLE AND ALL OF THESE SHOULD BE MATTERS OF OUR CONCERN. BUT THEY'RE BEST CONSIDERED, AT LEAST INITIALLY, IN THE CONTEXT OF THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE. THEN THEY CAN MAKE A RECOMMENDATION TO US. WE CAN HAVE THE SORT OF OF FULSOME DEBATE THAT PEOPLE HAVE COME TO EXPECT IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE, I HOPE, ON MATTERS OF GLOBAL IMPORTANCE. SO ALL THE REASONS I'VE MENTIONED HERE SUGGEST THAT THE NEED FOR OUR AUXILIARY AND LIMITED ROLE IN YEMEN REMAINS IMPORTANT. SECRETARY MATTIS, THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE SAYS A WITHDRAWAL OF OUR NONCOMBATANT IN YEMEN COULD EMBOLDEN YEBLES IN THE AREA AND ABLE FURTHER MISSILE STRIKES ON SAUDI ARABIA, OUR ALLY. AND THREATEN THE SHIPPING LANES IN THE RED SEA, LIKE THE ONE AT BAB ELMANDEB. I HOPE OUR COLLEAGUES WILL VOTE FOR A TABLING OF THIS RESOLUTION WHICH IT DOES NOT CUT OFF DEBATE, BUT JUST MOVES THAT DEBATE, AT LEAST INITIALLY TO THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE WHEREIN UNDER THE ABLE LEADERSHIP OF CHAIRMAN CORKER AND RANKING MEMBER MENENDEZ, I HAVE EVERY CONFIDENCE THAT THEY WILL EXPLORE EVERY NOOK AND CRANNY OF THIS ISSUE AND COME OUT WITH A REASONED AND REASONABLE RECOMMENDATION TO THE UNITED STATES SENATE AND THE CONGRESS ON HOW THE U.S. GOVERNMENT SHOULD CONDUCT ITSELF. I BELIEVE IN A STRONG CONGRESSIONAL ROLE WHEN IT COMES TO WARS AND MILITARY CONFLICT. THIS HAS BEEN A FIGHT, THOUGH, THAT'S BEEN GOING ON FOR A LONG TIME BETWEEN THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH AND THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH. WE HAVE THE ULTIMATE TOOL. WE CAN CUT OFF MONEY, BUT THAT'S RATHER A BLUNT INSTRUMENT. AND I THINK THAT THE ADMINISTRATION, THIS ADMINISTRATION LIKE PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATIONS, NEEDS TO RECOGNIZE THAT THE CONGRESS IS A PARTNER IN MAKING THESE DECISION, NOT AN ADVERSARY. AND IT'S IMPORTANT THAT WE EACH PLAY OUR RESPECTIVE ROLE. AND I'M CONFIDENT THAT WE WILL PLAY THAT ROLE RESPONSIBLY, WHICH IS REALLY WHAT THIS IS ALL ABOUT. IF THE SENATE TAKES THIS VOTE AND PASSES THIS RESOLUTION, WE LOSE THE CHANCE FOR THAT KIND OF CAREFUL, DELIBERATE, INFORMED CONSIDERATION THAT STARTS IN OUR STANDING COMMITTEES. WE LOSE THE CHANCE TO HAVE THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE ISSUE A THOROUGHLY RESEARCHED RECOMMENDATION. SO I HOPE OUR COLLEAGUES WILL VOTE TO TABLE THE RESOLUTION AND NOT TO CLOSE OFF DEBATE BUT TO INSIST THIS DEBATE TAKE PLACE AT LEAST INITIALLY WHERE IT BELONGS IN THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE, AND THAT THAT DEBATE THEN CONTINUE AMONG ALL 100 MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE, BUT IT WILL BE BETTER INFORMED, WILL BE BETTER PREPARED, AND WILL BE BETTER ABLE TO PREVENT UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES FROM TAKING A RASH ACTION LIKE VOTING FOR THE RESOLUTION TODAY. MR. PRESIDENT, I YIELD THE FLOOR. AND I NOTE THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.

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  • 11:47:55 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

  • 11:52:36 AM

    A SENATOR

    A SENATOR: MR. PRESIDENT?

  • 11:52:38 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY.

  • 11:52:41 AM

    MR. MENENDEZ

    I ASK THE QUORUM CALL BE VITIATED.

  • 11:52:43 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 11:52:44 AM

    MR. MENENDEZ

    MR. PRESIDENT, I WANT TO THANK SENATORS LEE, SANDERS, AND MURPHY AS WELL…

    MR. PRESIDENT, I WANT TO THANK SENATORS LEE, SANDERS, AND MURPHY AS WELL AS THE OTHER COSPONSORS OF THE RESOLUTION THAT WE ARE DEBATING FOR THEIR COMMITMENT TO ELEVATING THIS DEBATE IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE. I AGREE WITH MY COLLEAGUES THAT THIS IS AN IMPORTANT DEBATE WITH SIGNIFICANT IMPLICATIONS. AND AS THE ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, WE MUST SERVE AS AN EFFECTIVE CHECK ON THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH, FULFILL OUR COMMITMENTS TO PROTECT THE NATIONAL SECURITY INTERESTS OF THE UNITED STATES AND BE RESPONSIVE TO OUR CONSTITUENTS. THIS DEBATE IS ABOUT HOW WE BEST LEVERAGE THE TOOLS IN OUR NATIONAL SECURITY TOOLBOX, INCLUDING MILITARY TOOLS TO PROTECT U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY. ALTHOUGH THE RESOLUTION FOCUSES ON ONE PARTICULAR ELEMENT OF U.S. POLICY, LIMITED MILITARY SUPPORT, BASICALLY REFUELING INTELLIGENCE AND ADVICE TO THE SAUDI COALITION, I ENCOURAGE MY COLLEAGUES TO EXPAND THE APERTURE OF THIS DEBATE SO THAT WE MAY CALL ON THE ADMINISTRATION TO ASSERT REAL LEADERSHIP, DIPLOMATIC HEFT, AND NONMILITARY RESOURCES TO MOVE THE CONFLICT IN YEMEN TOWARDS A POLITICAL TRACT. AS A RANKING MEMBER OF THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE, I REMIND MY COLLEAGUES THAT IT'S THIS COMMITTEE THAT HAS THE JURISDICTION OVER THE QUESTIONS OF THE USE OF FORCE. I REMIND MY COLLEAGUES THAT IT IS ALSO UNDER MY LEADERSHIP AS CHAIR OF THIS COMMITTEE THAT IT TWICE VOTED ON AUTHORIZATIONS FOR THE USE OF MILITARY FORCE, ONE IN 2013 IN RESPONSE TO THE USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS AGAINST THE SYRIAN PEOPLE AND ONCE IN 2014 IN RESPONSE TO THE RAPID RISE AND SPREAD OF THE ISLAMIC STATE. I REMIND MY COLLEAGUES OF THESE TWO COMMITTEE VOTES TO UNDERSCORE MY COMMITMENT TO OPEN DEBATE, MY WILLINGNESS TO TAKE TOUGH VOTES, AND MY ENDURING COMMITMENT TO A ROBUST ROLE FOR THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT AND THE USE OF FORCE AND OVERSIGHT OF THAT FORCE. NOW, I'M PLEASED THAT CHAIRMAN CORKER HAS AGREED TO HOLD A PUBLIC HEARING WITH ADMINISTRATION WITNESSES ON THE WAR IN YEMEN. I THINK A HEARING BEFORE THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT. AND TO LOOK AT THE U.S. MILITARY SUPPORT OF THE SAUDI COALITION AND OUR OVERING U.S. POLICY FOR -- OVERARCHING POLICY. I APPRECIATE THE CHAIRMAN HAS MADE A COMMITMENT TO A MARKUP IN THE COMMITTEE IN THE NEAR FUTURE OVER LEGISLATION THAT DEALS WITH THE QUESTION OF YEMEN. AND I ALSO WELCOME HIS COMMITMENT TO MARK UP AN AUMF, AUTHORIZATION FOR THE USE OF MILITARY FORCE IN THE COMMITTEE. THOSE ARE SIGNIFICANT AND ACTUALLY WILL GO A LONG WAY TOWARDS AN INFORMED PROCESS ABOUT HOW WE DEAL WITH THIS CHALLENGE. IN CONSIDERING SENATE RESOLUTION 54, I ENCOURAGE MY COLLEAGUES TO ASSESS THE BEST WAY TO PROMOTE CORE U.S. SECURITY INTERESTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST, INCLUDING PUSHING BACK ON IRAN'S AGGRESSIVE AND DESTABILIZING ACTIONS ACROSS THE REGION, COUNTERING TERRORISM AND ENSURING THE FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION. TO ACHIEVE THESE GOALS, OUR LONG-STANDING POLICY HAS BEEN TO PARTNER WITH MEMBERS OF THE GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL TO PROMOTE THE SECURITY AND STABILITY OF THE ARABIAN PENINSULA. AS WE CONSIDER THIS RESOLUTION, WE MUST FULLY GRASP THE SITUATION ON THE GROUND AND THE SCOPE OF ATTACKS ON ONE OF OUR TRADITIONAL SECURITY PARTNERS. SAUDI ARABIA HAS ENDURED YEMENI-ORIGINATED ATTACKS INSIDE ITS TERRITORY ON A SCALE THAT NO AMERICAN WOULD ACCEPT. BALLISTIC AND SCUB MISSILE ATTACKS AIMED AT MAJOR SAUDI POPULATION CENTERS, CROSS-BORDER ATTACKS BY ARRAIGNIAN-BACKED HOUTHIS AND THOSE ARE SIGNIFICANT. NOW, HAVING SAID THAT, I SHARE THE CONCERNS I THINK OF A MAJORITY OF MY SENATE COLLEAGUES REGARDING THE CONDUCT OF THE SAUDI-LED COALITION OPERATIONS, THE UNACCEPTABLE SCALE OF CIVILIAN CASUALTIES, THE SEVERITY OF THE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS, AND THE SEEMING LACK OF MOMENTUM ON ALL SIDES TOWARDS A POLITICAL TRACT TO NEGOTIATE AN END TO THIS CONFLICT. THE SAUDI COALITION BEARS SIGNIFICANT RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE MAGNITUDE OF HUMAN SUFFERING, THE SCALE OF DESTRUCTION IN YEMEN. 75% OF THE POPULATION IS IN NEED OF HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE AND MORE THAN EIGHT MILLION ARE ON THE BRINK OF FAMINE. THE CONDITIONS HAVE ALSO LED TO THE WORST OUTBREAK OF CHOLERA IN MODERN HISTORY WITH AN ESTIMATED ONE MILLION PEOPLE SUSPECTED TO BE INFECTED. THE HOUTHIS BEAR MUCH RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE VIOLENCE. THE SAUDI-LED CAMPAIGN HAS PLAYED A SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN EXACERBATION, HOWEVER, THE CURRENT HUMANITARIAN CATASTROPHE. WE MUST REMEMBER THAT THE HOUTHIS OVERTHROUGH THE INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED AND LAWFUL GOVERNMENT OF YEMEN AND CONTINUE THE CONFLICT BY RESISTING A POLITICAL SOLUTION. SO WE ASK THE SAUDIS TO HAVE A POLITICAL SOLUTION, BUT WE NEED THE HOUTHIS TO ENGAGE IN A POLITICAL SOLUTION AS WELL. WE ALSO HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT THE HOUTHI INSURGENCY IS VASTLY EXPANDED THE OPPORTUNITIES FOR AL QAEDA IN THE ARABIAN PENINSULA. AND AT THE SAME TIME I WORRY THAT WITHDRAWAL OF LIMITED U.S. MILITARY SUPPORT TO THE SAUDI COALITION WILL WEAKEN OUR LEADERSHIP AND OUR ABILITY TO INFLUENCE A POLITICAL AND IMPROVE HUMANITARIAN CONDITIONS AND COULD MAKE THE SITUATION FIRST. LET'S BE CLEAREYED ABOUT WHO WILL MOST BENEFIT FROM ABSENCE OF AMERICAN POWER. AS HAS DONE IN POLITICAL VACUUMS AROUND THE REGION, IRAN WILL CONTINUE TO EXPAND ITS PROXY POWER AND THROUGH ITS REVOLUTIONARY GUARD, IRAN WILL CONTINUE SENDING WEAPONS. WITH AN EMBOLDENED IRANIAN PATRON, HOWPTTIES WILL CONTINUE THEIR CAMPAIGN WITH YEM 9/11 AND THEIR ATTACKS ON SAUDI ARABIA. MEANWHILE, OTHER NATIONS IN THE REGION WILL BE LEFT QUESTIONING THE COMMITMENT OF ITS LONG-TERM SECURITY PARTNER THE UNITED STATES. IN SAUDI ARABIA'S DARKEST HOURS, BALLISTIC MISSILES ARE LAUNCHED AT MAJOR CENTERS IN SAUDIA ARABIA AND LEBANESE HIS HEZBOLLAH IS ON THE BORDER TRAINING HOUTHI FIGHT ERSTWHILE IRAN CONTINUES TO TRANSFER LETHAL EQUIPMENT. WE RISK SENDING A SIGNAL TO OUR PARTNERS THAT THE UNITED STATES IS NOT RELIABLE. ACROSS THE WORLD FROM CANADA TO THE UNITED KINGDOM, PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS DAMAGED OUR CREDIBILITY AS A RELIABLE PARTNER, EVEN TO SOME OF OUR MOST STALWART ALLIES. WE MUST PUSH AGAINST THOSE CONCERNS AND SHOW OUR ALLIES THAT THE UNITED STATES UPHOLDS ITS INTERNATIONAL COMMITMENTS. CONSIDERATION OF WITHDRAWAL OF SUPPORT FOR THE SAUDI COALITION MUST BE TAKEN IN CONCERT WITH OTHER WAYS IN WHICH THE UNITED STATES IS WORKING TO END THIS WAR. THE TOTALITY OF U.S. POLICY WHICH I FEAR IS LACKING. THE SOLUTION I BELIEVE IS TO BOLSTER OUR DIPLOMATIC HUMANITARIAN AND POLITICAL PRESENCE TO HELP SOLVE THIS CRISIS AND END THE HUMAN SUFFERING. TO USURP PRACTICAL CONCERTED LEADERSHIP. THUS FAR THE ADMINISTRATION'S APPROACH HAS EFFECTIVELY ABDICATED LEADERSHIP ON THE GLOBAL STAGE. WHILE WE HAVE HEARD SENIOR OFFICIALS ASSURE US THAT THERE IS NO MILITARY SOLUTION TO THIS CONFLICT, ANY POLITICAL SETTLEMENT IS NECESSARY, THIS ADMINISTRATION IS ACTIVELY DISMANTLING THE STATE DEPARTMENT AND ANTAGONIZING THE UNITED NATIONS, THE TWO ENTITIES THAT HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO PLAY THE MOST CRITICAL ROLES IN MOVING TOWARDS A POLITICAL SETTLEMENT AND ADDRESSING THE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS. WE HAVE VACANCIES AT THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE LEVEL FOR THE MIDDLE EAST AND THE AMBASSADOR IN RYAD, A FAILURE OF LEADERSHIP. WITH THIS DANGEROUS APPROACH TO OUR DIPLOMATIC INSTITUTIONS, WE WILL NOT BE IN A POSITION TO PROMOTE POLITICAL SOLUTIONS, AND OUR MILITARY ONCE AGAIN WILL BE CALLED ON TO DO THE CRITICAL WORK OF DIPLOMACY AND DEVELOPMENT, DISTRACTING THEIR ATTENTION FROM OTHER PRESSING CHALLENGES. A FAILURE OF LEADERSHIP. REGARDING A BROADER DIPLOMATIC STRATEGY, THE ADMINISTRATION HAS ALSO FAILED TO DEVELOP A COMPREHENSIVE STRATEGY TO CONFRONT IRAN, INCLUDING HOLDING IRAN ACCOUNTABLE FOR CONTINUING TO PROVIDE MISSILE SUPPLIES AND LETHAL TRAINING TO THE HOUTHIS. ACROSS LAND AND SEA, WE KNOW LEBANESE HEZBOLLAH OPERATIVES ARE IN YEMEN, AND YET WE HAVE SEEN NO SANCTIONS AND NO ACTION AT THE SECURITY COUNCIL FOR THIS ILLICIT ILLEGAL ACTIVITY. THE ADMINISTRATION HAS NOT MADE ONE DESIGNATION FOR IRANIAN DESIGNATION OF ARMS EMBARGOES AS DIRECTED BY THE LEGISLATION PASSED HERE. AGAIN, A FAILURE OF LEADERSHIP. I EXPECT THE ADMINISTRATION TO ARTICULATE AND IMPLEMENT A COMPREHENSIVE STRATEGY FOR ADDRESSING YEMEN THAT INCLUDES REQUISITE CONDITIONS FOR CONTINUING TO SUPPORT THE SAUDI COALITION, A STRATEGIC PUSH FOR A POLITICAL SETTLEMENT, EFFORTS TO ALLEVIATE THE HUMAN SUFFERING AND COMPREHENSIVE STRATEGY TO DECISIVELY PUSH BACK ON IRAN'S DESTABILIZING ACTIONS IN YEMEN. THIS INCLUDES TOUGH DIPLOMACY WITH COUNTRIES THAT WILL CONTINUE TO FACILITATE OR AT A MINIMUM FAIL TO PUSH BACK ON IRAN'S ACTIONS. I WILL CONTINUE PUSHING THE ADMINISTRATION TO ASSERT CRITICAL AMERICAN DIPLOMATIC LEADERSHIP ROOTED IN THE VALUES OF DEMOCRACIES, HUMAN RIGHTS AND HUMAN DIGNITY. SO BASED UPON CHAIRMAN CORKER'S COMMITMENTS TO THOSE HEARINGS AND FUTURE MARKUPS AND BASED UPON THE TOTALITY OF THE SITUATION, I WILL VOTE TO TABLE THE MOTION TO DISCHARGE FROM THE COMMITTEE BECAUSE I'M NOT READY TO ABANDON OUR PARTNERS, BUT MY SUPPORT IS NOT UNCONDITIONAL AND I WILL DEMAND RESPONSIVE ACTIONS. I WANT TO SEE, AS I TOLD THE CROWN PRINCE OF SAUDI ARABIA EARLIER TODAY, A RENEWED COMMITMENT IN IRAQ AND MOVEMENT TOWARD A POLITICAL TRACK BY THE SAUDI COALITION. I WANT TO SEE CONSISTENT DEMONSTRATIONS OF COMMITMENT TO HUMANITARIAN ACCESS IN ALLEVIATING THE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS. I WANT TO SEE A FOLLOW-THROUGH IN PLEDGES OF ASSISTANCE TO STABILIZE AND REBUILD YEMEN BY THE MEMBERS OF THE SAUDI COALITION. I WANT TO SEE ENERGY AND DIPLOMACY FROM THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION. THIS WEEK'S VISIT OF CROWN PRINCE MOHAMMAD BIN SALMAN IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO PRESS FORWARD ON A PATH TOWARD ENDING THE WAR AND ADDRESSING THE CIVILIAN SUFFERING. THAT CERTAINLY WAS MY MESSAGE TO HIM. THE LIMITED SUPPORT THE UNITED STATES PROVIDES IS LEVERAGE. NOW THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION NEEDS TO USE IT. IN CONCLUSION, I INVITE MY COLLEAGUES ON THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE TO JOIN ME IN HOLDING THE ADMINISTRATION TO ACCOUNT, IN PUSHING THE ADMINISTRATION TO USE OUR LEVERAGE TO DRIVE THIS CONFLICT TOWARDS A POLITICAL TRACK. I ALSO INVITE MY COLLEAGUES TO JOIN ME IN CONDUCTING OVERSIGHT OF OUR POLICIES AND PROGRAMS TO COUNTER IRAN'S ACTIVITIES IN THE REGION, INCLUDING IMPLEMENTING CATSA. I WANT TO BE VERY CLEAR THAT MY VOTE TODAY IS NOT A BLANK CHECK FOR U.S. MILITARY SUPPORT, NOR AN ENDORSEMENT OF THE CURRENT POLICY AND STRATEGY. AND FINALLY NOT A THUMBS UP FOR THE SAUDI COALITION THAT WE SHOULD CONTINUE BUSINESS AS USUAL. I EXPECT TO SEE IMPROVEMENTS ON ALL FRONTS AS I PREVIOUSLY STATED. AND I WILL REVIEW FUTURE DECISIONS WITH RESPECT TO POTENTIAL ARMS SALES AND OTHER VOTES WITH THAT TYPE OF SCRUTINY. THERE IS NO MORE TIME TO WASTE. WE MUST MOVE TOWARDS A POLITICAL SETTLEMENT TO END THE WAR IN YEMEN AND THE PEOPLE OF YEMEN MUST SEE IMPROVEMENTS IN THEIR SITUATION IMMEDIATELY. I LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH ALL OF MY COLLEAGUES TO ENSURE THEY'RE WORKING TOWARDS A POLICY THAT EMBRACES AMERICAN LEADERSHIP IN PROMOTING A POLITICAL SOLUTION AND ALLEVIATING THE DEVASTATING HUMANITARIAN SUFFERING IN YEMEN. AND I LOOK FORWARD TO THIS CONTINUING DEBATE BEFORE THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE. WITH THAT, MR. PRESIDENT, I YIELD THE FLOOR.

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  • 12:04:51 PM

    MR. CORKER

  • 12:04:52 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM TENNESSEE.

  • 12:04:53 PM

    MR. CORKER

    MR. PRESIDENT, I WANT TO THANK THE SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY, MY GOOD…

    MR. PRESIDENT, I WANT TO THANK THE SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY, MY GOOD FRIEND, THE RANKING MEMBER ON THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE, FOR HIS COMMENTS. TODAY WE MET WITH THE CROWN PRINCE OF SAUDI ARABIA, VERY IMPRESSIVE YOUNG MAN WHO'S TRANSFORMING THE COUNTRY. WE TALKED ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF OUR RELATIONSHIP, NO DOUBT, BUT WE STRONGLY, STRONGLY PUSHED BACK ON WHAT IS HAPPENING RIGHT KNOW IN YEMEN AND ASKED THEM TO TAKE STRONG CORRECTIVE ACTIONS, SO I WAS THERE WHEN THIS OCCURRED AND CERTAINLY EXPRESSED THE SAME. WE ALSO TALKED ABOUT THE ENRICHMENT THAT THEY'RE PURSUING AND SOME OF THE CONCERNS THAT EXISTED THERE. I JUST WANT TO THANK THE RANKING MEMBER FOR HIS LEADERSHIP AND THE WORDS THAT HE JUST GAVE. LET ME JUST SPEAK TO THE DEBATE WE'RE HAVING ON THE FLOOR. THIS IS A VERY ENTREPRENEURIAL MOVE. I DON'T SAY THAT TO BE PEJORATIVE. I KNOW THAT ONE OF THE MEMBERS IS ON THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE THAT IS BRINGING THIS TO THE FLOOR, AND I CAN IMAGINE SOME HIGHLY IMPORTANT JUDICIAL ISSUE NOT BEING DEBATED IN THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE, BUT JUST BEING WAFTED TO THE FLOOR FOR DEBATE. I KNOW THAT'S NOT THE WAY THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE OPERATES. ONE OF THE OTHER MEMBERS IS ON THE ENERGY COMMITTEE. I CAN IMAGINE SOME COMPLEX CAP AND TRADE BILL BEING OFFERED. AND INSTEAD OF IT BEING WORKED THROUGH THE COMMITTEE, OR SOME ETHANOL BILL OR SOME OTHER TYPE OF BILL, INSTEAD OF IT BEING WORKED THROUGH THE COMMITTEE, SOMEBODY FIGURES TO BRING IT DIRECTLY TO THE FLOOR. SO THAT'S WHAT'S HAPPENING HERE TODAY. I CERTAINLY DON'T SHY AWAY FROM THIS DEBATE. I APPRECIATE THE FACT THAT MITCH McCONNELL UNDERSTOOD THAT VERY FEW MEMBERS OF OUR BODY, UNLESS THEY'RE ON THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE OR HAPPEN TO TAKE A PARTICULAR INTEREST, EVEN KNOW MUCH ABOUT WHAT'S HAPPENING IN YEMEN. AND A LOT IS HAPPENING THERE. AND SO I APPRECIATED THE BRIEFING THAT TOOK PLACE LAST WEEK TO GIVE MEMBERS A SENSE AS TO WHAT IS OCCURRING THERE. BUT THE PROPER WAY TO DEAL WITH THESE ISSUES IS TO DEAL WITH THEM IN COMMITTEE. YOU WOULD THINK MAYBE THERE IS SOME YEMEN LEGISLATION THE COMMITTEE IS HOLDING AND NOT ACTING ON. THAT'S NOT THE CASE. ANY OF THESE MEMBERS COULD HAVE OFFERED YEMEN LEGISLATION RELATIVE TO THIS ISSUE AND COMMITTEE WOULD TAKE IT UP. THAT HAS NOT OCCURRED. SO LET ME TELL YOU WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE COMMITTEE. WE HAVE A -- WE HAVE A BILL THAT IS BEING WORKED ON BY SENATOR YOUNG AND SENATOR SHAHEEN DEALING WITH THIS VERY ISSUE. THEY'RE BUILDING SUPPORT. THEY'RE WORKING WITH THE ADMINISTRATION TO MAKE SURE THEIR DEFINITIONS ARE CORRECT. AND THEY HAVE HAD NUMBERS OF PEOPLE INVOLVED WITH THEM. WE PLAN TO HAVE A YEMEN HEARING IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS TO DEAL WITH THIS ISSUE, BUT ALSO TO TAKE UP APPROPRIATE LEGISLATION. THAT IS THE WAY THAT WE TYPICALLY DEAL WITH ISSUES OF SUCH IMPORTANCE. LET ME SAY THIS. THIS IS AN ISSUE OF GREAT IMPORTANCE. IT NOT ONLY AFFECTS THE TREMENDOUS HUMANITARIAN CRISIS THAT IS OCCURRING IN YEMEN, THE RADICALIZATION OF THE HOUTHIS SUPPORTED BY IRAN, A PROXY OF IRAN, BUT ALSO SAUDI ARABIA'S OWN SECURITY. IT ALSO AFFECTS THE WAY WE DEAL WITH OTHER COUNTRIES. I THINK MANY PEOPLE HERE UNDERSTAND FULLY THAT RIGHT NOW, OR RECENTLY WE'VE BEEN INVOLVED IN THE SAME KINDS OF ACTIVITIES WITH FRANCE AS THEY DEALT WITH ISSUES IN MALI, REFUELING, HELPING THEM SOME WITH INTELLIGENCE ISSUES. AND SO THIS IS SOMETHING, AGAIN, THAT WE NEED TO TAKE UP IN A SERIOUS WAY IN THE COMMITTEE. THE COMMITTEE IS COMMITTED TO DOING SO. WHAT I HOPE WILL HAPPEN TODAY IS THAT MEMBERS OF THIS BODY WILL LET THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE DO ITS JOB AND THAT WE WILL BRING A BILL FORTH THAT WE CAN PROPERLY DEBATE AND AMEND. SO I'M HOPING THAT LATER TODAY THAT WHEN I OFFER A TABLING MOTION, MEMBERS OF THIS BODY WILL RESPECT THE MEMBERS OF THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE THAT DEAL WITH THIS ISSUE, LET IT GO BACK TO COMMITTEE WITH THE COMMITMENT THAT WE PLAN TO BRING FORTH LEGISLATION TO ACTUALLY DEAL APPROPRIATELY WITH MANY OF THE ISSUES RELATIVE TO YEMEN, SAUDI ARABIA, IRAN, AND OURSELVES. LET ME MENTION ONE OTHER THING. WE HAVE BEEN WORKING FOR SOME TIME TO DEAL WITH THE AUTHORIZATION FOR THE USE OF MILITARY FORCE. IT'S BEEN AN ISSUE THAT'S BEEN BEFORE US FOR MANY YEARS, AND IT'S THE REPLACEMENT AND REVISION OF THE O1O2 AUMF. MANY PEOPLE WERE CONCERNED ABOUT THIS. WE HAVE ACTIVITIES TAKING PLACE AROUND THE WORLD BASED ON THOSE TWO AUTHORIZATIONS. WE HAVE A MARKUP ON AUMF ON APRIL 19 SCHEDULED TO TRY TO REVISE SO WE CAN GIVE PEOPLE AN OPPORTUNITY TO WEIGH IN ON THIS ISSUE ON THE FLOOR. BY THE WAY, THE WAY THE A.M.S. IS BEING CONSTRUCTED AT PRESENT, WHEN WE GO INTO NEW COUNTRIES, WHEN WE TAKE ON NEW GROUPS, THE SENATE WOULD HAVE THE ABILITY TO WEIGH IN ON THOSE ISSUES. SO I JUST WOULD LIKE TO SAY TO THE BODY AND THOSE WHO ARE LOOKING IN, WE ARE NOT SHYING AWAY FROM THIS DEBATE. THERE'S BEEN NO LEGISLATION WHATSOEVER THAT HAS BEEN HELD UP ON THIS TOPIC. LEGISLATION IS BEING INTRODUCED SOON IN A BIPARTISAN WAY TO DEAL WITH THIS TERRIBLE ISSUE THAT'S TAKING PLACE IN YEMEN. WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A HEARING. WE WILL HAVE A MARKUP. AND IN ADDITION TO THAT, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A MARKUP ON A NEW AUMF TO DEAL WITH THE ISSUES THAT OUR COUNTRY IS DEALING WITH AROUND THE WORLD WITH AL QAEDA, ISIS AND OTHER ENTITIES THAT HAVE BEEN ASSOCIATED PARTIES. WITH THAT, MR. PRESIDENT, I JUST WANT TO THE LET PEOPLE KNOW THAT THAT'S KIND OF WAY WE DEAL WITH THINGS AROUND HERE. NONE OF US ARE HAPPY WITH THE CURRENT STATUS, BUT I THINK A BETTER WAY FOR US TO COME UP WITH A PRUDENT SOLUTION TO WHAT IS HAPPENING THERE IS TO GO THROUGH THE NORMAL COMMITTEE PROCESS. I HOPE THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE BODY WILL RESPECT THAT. I'M GLAD THAT, BY THE WAY, THE RANKING MEMBER -- BY THE WAY, THIS POLICY HAS BEEN TAKING PLACE IN YEMEN. IT STARTED UNDER THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION, THE SAME EXACT POLICY. THE SENATE HAS ACTED ON IT BY VOTING FOR APPROPRIATIONS. SO THE IT'S NOT AS IF WE HAVE NOT TAKEN ACTION OURSELVES. WE'VE DONE THAT THROUGH THE MDAA. WE'VE DONE THAT THROUGH VARIOUS STATE DEPARTMENT AUTHORIZATIONS. SO WE'VE ACTED UPON IT. THERE ARE CONCERNS ABOUT WHAT'S HAPPENING THERE. LEGISLATION IS GOING TO BE INTRODUCED TO TRY TO DEAL WITH THIS, AND THAT'S THE WAY WE DEAL WITH COMPLICATED ISSUES. NO ONE IS SHYING AWAY FROM THE DEBATE. WE JUST HOPE TO TABLE THIS AND MOVE IT BACK AND DEAL WITH IT IN THE ORDERLY, APPROPRIATE WAY. WITH THAT, MR. PRESIDENT, I HAVE NINE REQUESTS FOR COMMITTEES TO MEET DURING TODAY'S SESSION OF THE SENATE. THEY HAVE THE APPROVAL OF THE MAJORITY AND MINORITY LEADERS.

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  • 12:12:07 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    NOTED.

  • 12:12:08 PM

    MR. CORKER

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. WITH THAT, I YIELD THE FLOOR AND NOTICE THE…

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. WITH THAT, I YIELD THE FLOOR AND NOTICE THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.

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  • 12:12:12 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    A QUORUM.

  • 12:17:06 PM

    A SENATOR

    MR. PRESIDENT?

  • 12:17:10 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE ASSISTANT DEMOCRATIC LEADER.

  • 12:17:13 PM

    MR. DURBIN

    ARE WE IN QUORUM CALL?

  • 12:17:14 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WE ARE.

  • 12:17:15 PM

    MR. DURBIN

    I ASK THAT IT BE SUSPENDED.

  • 12:17:17 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

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    MR. DURBIN

  • 12:25:38 PM

    A SENATOR

    THE SENATOR FROM OREGON.

  • 12:25:40 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM OREGON.

  • 12:25:42 PM

    MR. MERKLEY

    MR. PRESIDENT, AMERICA IS VERY INVOLVED IN A WAR IN YEMEN, AND IT'S TIME…

    MR. PRESIDENT, AMERICA IS VERY INVOLVED IN A WAR IN YEMEN, AND IT'S TIME THAT WE HAVE THE DEBATE AS ENVISIONED UNDER OUR CONSTITUTION. OUR CONSTITUTION DID NOT LAY OUT THE POWER OF DECIDING WHEN TO GO TO WAR WITH THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH. IT PLACES IT VERY CLEARLY HERE WITH ARTICLE 1, CONGRESS TO ACT. BUT WE HAVE PARTICIPATED VERY DIRECTLY IN PARTNERSHIP WITH SAUDI ARABIA AND THE ASSAULT ON YEMEN, ON THE HOUTHIS, AND THE RESULT IS A DRAMATIC, DRAMATIC HUMANITARIAN CRISIS. AND SO WE SHOULD ABSOLUTELY HOLD THAT DEBATE ON THIS FLOOR AS ENVISIONED IN OUR CONSTITUTION. ARTICLE 1, SECTION 8 STATES UNEQUIVOCALLY THAT CONGRESS SHALL HAVE POWER TO DECLARE WAR. IT'S ONLY CONGRESS THAT IS GIVEN THIS POWER UNDER OUR CONSTITUTION. IF ANYONE HAS ANY DOUBTS, THEN LET'S PAY ATTENTION TO THE OTHER WORDS OF OUR FOUNDERS. JAMES MADISON HIMSELF. IN -- I QUOTE IF HIM. IN NO PART OF THE CONSTITUTION IS MORE WISDOM TO BE FOUND THAN IN THE CLAUSE WHICH CONFIDES THE QUESTION OF WAR AND PEACE TO THE LEGISLATURE AND NOT TO THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT. NOW, THE FOUNDING FATHERS' VISION WAS REINFORCED BY THE WAR POWERS RESOLUTION OF 1973, OFTEN REFERRED TO THE WAR POWERS ACT. THAT ACT WAS NECESSARY BECAUSE THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH TENDS TO PUT OUR FORCES INTO CONFLICT WITHOUT THE PERMISSION OF CONGRESS IN VIOLATION OF THE CONSTITUTION. AND SO IT'S IMPORTANT TO LAY OUT THE PARAMETERS UNDER WHICH THEY WERE ALLOWED TO DO SO UNDER EMERGENCY ACTION AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH THEY'RE NOT ALLOWED TO DO SO. NOW, THE WAR POWERS ACT SAYS IT'S THE PURPOSE OF THE RESOLUTION TO FULFILL THE INTENT OF THE FRAMERS OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AND ENSURE THAT THE COLLECTIVE JUDGMENT OF BOTH THE CONGRESS AND THE PRESIDENT WILL APPLY TO THE INTRODUCTION OF THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES INTO HOSTILITIES. AND IT GOES ON TO SAY THAT THE CONSTITUTIONAL POWERS OF THE PRESIDENT TO INTRODUCE THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES IN HOSTILITIES IS CLEARLY INDICATED BY CIRCUMSTANCES ARE EXERCISED ONLY -- ONLY PURSUANT TO A DECLARATION OF WAR, TO A SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION AUTHORIZATION, OR TO A NATIONAL EMERGENCY CREATED BY AN ATTACK UPON THE UNITED STATES. NOW, IN THE CASE OF THE SAUDI WAR THAT WE'RE PARTICIPATING IN AGAINST THE HOUTHI, IT'S NOT TRIGGERED BY AN ATTACK UPON THE UNITED STATES. NOR IS THERE ANY SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION. THAT'S WHY WE'RE GOING TO HAVE THIS DEBATE TODAY. NOR IS THERE A DECLARATION OF WAR. SO THE STANDARDS OF THE WAR POWERS RESOLUTION HAVE NOT BEEN MET. AND I CALL UPON MY COLLEAGUES TO SHOULDER YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RESPONSIBILITY TO HAVE THIS DEBATE AND HOLD THE EXECUTIVE ACCOUNTABLE WHEN THEY'RE VIOLATING THE LAW OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. THERE ARE TWO COMPONENTS TO OUR PRESENCE IN YEMEN WHICH SHOULD NOT BE CONFUSED. ONE IS WHERE WE ARE DIRECTLY INVOLVED AGAINST FORCES ASSOCIATED WITH AL QAEDA. THIS DEBATE IS NOT ABOUT THAT. THE ADMINISTRATION CONTENDS AND WE DO NOT DISPUTE TODAY WHETHER OR NOT THAT IS COVERED BY THE 2001 AUTHORIZATION FOR THE USE OF MILITARY FORCE. I THINK THERE ARE MANY OF US THAT FEEL THAT INITIAL 2001 AUMF AUTHORIZATION FOR THE USE OF MILITARY FORCE HAS BEEN STRETCHED BEYOND RECOGNITION. THAT IS A DEBATE FOR A DIFFERENT DAY. THIS ARGUMENT IS DIRECTLY ABOUT OUR SUPPORT OF SAUDI ARABIA IN BOMBING THE HOUTHI IN YEMEN. THAT IS THE CENTRAL QUESTION. AND FOR US TO UNDERSTAND WHY THIS IS SO IMPORTANT, ONE, IT'S THE INTEGRITY OF THE CONSTITUTION. IF WE DO NOT HOLD THE EXECUTIVE ACCOUNTABLE, THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, THEN WE ARE ESSENTIALLY TAKING THAT KEY, CRITICAL CLAUSE THAT GAVE US RESPONSIBILITY FOR WHEN MILITARY FORCE IS USED BY THE UNITED STATES. OUT OF THE CONSTITUTION AND DELIVERING IT TO THE EXECUTIVE. THAT CERTAINLY IS NOT THE VISION. IF PEOPLE WANT TO HAVE THAT VISION, THEN INTRODUCE A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO THAT POINT. INTRODUCE A RESOLUTION TO DECLARE WAR TO MAKE THIS ACTION IN CONCERT WITH THE CONSTITUTION. CREATE SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY IN CONCERT WITH THE CONSTITUTION. BUT DO NOT FAIL YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RESPONSIBILITY TO HOLD THIS DEBATE. UNDER THE WAR POWERS RESOLUTION, IT LAYS OUT CLEARLY THAT OUR PARTICIPATION INTO SUPPORT OF FOREIGN FORCES ENGAGED IN HOSTILITIES IS ENGAGEMENT UNDER THE VISION OF OUR CONSTITUTION AND CERTAINLY UNDER THE LAW OF THE WAR POWERS RESOLUTION. IT SAYS UNDER SECTION 8, AUTHORITY TO INTRODUCE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES INTO HOSTILITIES, INTO SITUATIONS WHERE INVOLVEMENT IS CLEARLY INDICATED BY THE CIRCUMSTANCES SHALL NOT BE INFERRED FROM ANY PROVISION OF LAW, INCLUDING ANY PROVISION CONTAINED IN AN APPROPRIATION ACT, UNLESS SUCH PROVISION SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZES THE INTRODUCTION OF THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES INTO HOSTILITIES. AGAIN, SPECIFIC AUTHORIZATION REQUIRED. AND AS IT GOES ON IN THIS SECTION TITLED INTERPRETATION OF THE JOINT RESOLUTION, IT STATES, AND I QUOTE, THE INTRODUCTION OF U.S. ARMED FORCES INCLUDES THE ASSIGNMENT OF MEMBERS OF SUCH ARMED FORCES TO COMMAND, COORDINATE, PARTICIPATE IN THE MOVEMENT OF OR ACCOMPANY THE REGULAR OR IRREGULAR MILITARY FORCES OF ANY FOREIGN COUNTRY INTO HOSTILITIES. SO CLEARLY THE LAW STATES THAT OUR ENGAGEMENT, OUR COORDINATION WITH A FOREIGN POWER ENGAGED IN WAR IS COVERED BY THIS ACT. OUR PARTICIPATION IN THE MOVEMENT OF THEIR MILITARY FORCES INTO HOSTILITIES IS COVERED BY THIS ACT. SO, THEREFORE, WE HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THE DETAILS OF OUR ENGAGEMENT. FIRST, THE UNITED STATES IS REFUELING THE SAUDI PLANES AS THEY GO TO BOMB THE HOUTHIS. THAT IS VERY DIRECTLY PARTICIPATION IN THE MOVEMENT OF MILITARY FORCES INTO ENGAGED HOSTILITIES. WE'RE REFUELING THE PLANES IN ROUTE. HOW CAN THAT NOT BE PARTICIPATION IN THE MOVEMENT? CERTAINLY A PLANE IS A PART OF MILITARY FORCE. CERTAINLY REFUELING IT IS PARTICIPATION IN THE MOVEMENT OF THAT PLANE. COULD THIS BE ANY CLEARER? THIS IS BLACK AND WHITE. HOW MANY THINGS ARE, IN TERMS OF THE VIOLATION OF THE WAR POWERS RESOLUTION AND THE OFFENSE AGAINST OUR CONSTITUTION, THIS IS BLACK AND WHITE. SECOND, WE PROVIDE INTELLIGENCE. THIRD, WE PROVIDE THE WEAPONS. FOURTH, WE PROVIDE TARGETING ASSISTANCE. FIFTH, WE ESTABLISH A JOINT COMBINED PLANNING CELL OPERATION CENTER IN THAT MILITARY AND INTELLIGENCE ACTIVITIES AND PARTNERSHIP WITH SAUDI ARABIA. ALL OF THAT FITS IN TO THIS DIRECT SECTION OF THE WAR POWERS ACT REGARDING COORDINATION OR PARTICIPATION IN THE MOVEMENT OF A FOREIGN FORCE ENGAGED PH HOSTILITIES -- ENGAGED IN HOSTILITIES. NOW IF THIS WERE A MINOR INVOLVEMENT, IT'S NOT. WE HAVE PARTICIPATED THOUSANDS OF TIMES IN THIS MANNER. ON A DAILY BASIS WE'RE INVOLVED IN COORDINATION. AND THE AIRSTRIKES THAT SAUDI ARABIA ARE CONDUCTING HAVE PRODUCED ONE OF THE WORST HUMANITARIAN SITUATIONS IN THE WORLD. AND YOU THINK ABOUT THE REPORTS ON THESE DIFFERENT STRIKES. THREE AIRSTRIKES LAST MONTH KILLING FIVE CIVILIANS, WOUNDING 14 MORE INCLUDING FOUR CHILDREN AS WELL AS KILLING THE PARAMEDICS WHO WERE TRYING TO PULL THE SURVIVORS OUT AFTER THE FIRST BOMB DROPPED. OR THAT WE HAVE A STRIKE ON A HOTEL LAST AUGUST THAT TURNED THE BUILDING'S CEILING BLACK WITH THE CHARRED BLOOD OF 50 FARMERS WHO WERE IN THAT BUILDING. IT'S ONE HORRIFIC CIRCUMSTANCE AFTER ANOTHER AS THESE BOMBS DROP ON CIVILIANS IN YEMEN. IT'S TIME FOR US TO RECKON WITH THE FACT OF OUR PARTICIPATION IN THIS CARNAGE. NOW THIS CARNAGE HAS RESULTED IN 10,000 YEMENI CIVILIANS KILLED. AND THEN YOU HAVE EIGHT MILLION PEOPLE ON THE BRINK OF STARVATION. WHY IS IT THAT HUMANITARIAN AID HAS NOT GOTTEN TO THOSE FOLKS? BECAUSE SAUDI ARABIA HAS BLOCKED IT. WE'RE PARTNERING WITH A COUNTRY THAT IS BLOCKING HUMANITARIAN AID. DOES THAT SQUARE WITH THE PRINCIPLES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TO PARTICIPATE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH A COUNTRY STARVING EIGHT MILLION PEOPLE? AND THEN WE HAVE THE FACT THAT THE SAUDI BOMBS HAVE BEEN DROPPING ON THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF YEMEN. THEY'VE DESTROYED THE WATER SYSTEMS. WHEN YOU DESTROY THE WATER SYSTEMS, THE SEWAGE CONTAMINATES THE FRESH WATER AND A DIRECT CONSEQUENCE OF THAT IS CHOLERA. AT THIS MOMENT THE CHOLERA EPIDEMIC IN YEMEN HAS AFFECTED ONE MILLION PEOPLE. THAT IS THE SINGLE LARGEST CHOLERA EPIDEMIC IN THE RECORDED HISTORY OF MANKIND. EIGHT MILLION PEOPLE STARVING. A MILLION PEOPLE SICK WITH THE WORST COLE -- CHOLERA EPIDEMIC EVER. AND WE'RE PARTICIPATING IN CREATING THIS. SO TO MY COLLEAGUES WHO SAY, WELL, SAUDI ARABIA HAS PARTNERED WITH US AGAINST ISIS, FINE AND GOOD, AS THEY SHOULD. HOWEVER, THIS ISSUE IS DIFFERENT. THIS IS ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT WE ARE HELPING THEM AND PARTICIPATING DIRECTLY IN THE HOSTILITIES OF DROPPING BOMBS ON CIVILIANS, HOUTHIS, AND CREATING A MASSIVE FAMINE AND A MASSIVE COLE -- CHOLERA EPIDEMIC AND MASSIVE DEATHS. A LOT OF CHILDREN ARE DYING EVERY DAY. THE UNDER SECRETARY GENERAL FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS AND EMERGENCY LEAD COORDINATOR MARK WOOLCOCK WARNED THIS FAMINE COULD BECOME THE LARGEST FAMINE IN THE WORLD, THE LARGEST FAMINE THE WORLD HAS SEEN IN MANY DECADES, WITH MILLIONS OF VICTIMS. EVERY DAY ABOUT 130 CHILDREN ARE DYING FROM HUNGER AND DISEASE. WE PRIDE OURSELVES ON GOING TO THE ASSISTANCE IN THE WORLD WHEN CHILDREN ARE BEING SLAUGHTERED OR STARVED OR DECIMATED BY DISEASE. IN THIS CASE WE ARE PARTICIPATING IN THIS CARNAGE. DOES ANY MEMBER OF THIS SENATE WANT TO STAND UP AND SAY THAT THAT'S AN APPROPRIATE MISSION FOR THE UNITED STATES TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS CARNAGE? I CERTAINLY HOPE NOT. THE DEATH AND DESTRUCTION IN YEMEN IS UNIMAGINABLE. SO IT'S APPROPRIATE THAT WE DEBATE ON THE FLOOR THE SANDERS-LEE-MURPHY RESOLUTION, A BIPARTISAN RESOLUTION, TO SAY LET'S HONOR THE CONSTITUTION. LET'S ABIDE BY THE 1973 WAR POWERS ACT. LET'S HOLD THE ADMINISTRATION ACCOUNTABLE BECAUSE IT'S NOT JUST THIS ISSUE, THOUGH THIS ISSUE IS MASSIVE. IT'S ALSO THE STANDARD BY WHICH THE EXECUTIVE WILL OPERATE IN EVERY POTENTIAL WAR THEATER AROUND THE WORLD FOR A DECADE TO COME. IF WE PROCEED TO SAY IT'S OKAY THAT YOU TRAMPLE THE CONSTITUTION HERE IN YEMEN, THAT YOU DISREGARD THE WAR POWERS RESOLUTION HERE IN YEMEN, THEN WE'RE GIVING CART BLANCHE TO THIS ADMINISTRATION TO DO SO IN ONE NATION AFTER ANOTHER. WE HAVE LONG ABDICATED OUR RESPONSIBILITY. LET'S ABDICATE NO MORE. PLAY THE ROLE, THE RESPONSIBILITY THE FOUNDING FATHERS GAVE US IN THE CONSTITUTION. AND BRING AN END TO OUR PARTICIPATION, WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION, IN THIS HORRIFIC CONFLICT. THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT.

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  • 12:39:42 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

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    WE WILL LEAVE THIS HEARING RETURNED TO THE FLOOR NOW FOR LIVE COVERAGE OF…

    WE WILL LEAVE THIS HEARING RETURNED TO THE FLOOR NOW FOR LIVE COVERAGE OF THE U.S. SENATE. MR. PRESIDENT, ONE YEAR AGO TODAY, THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE OAPTD OPENED ITS HEARING ON NEIL GORSUCH. THE STANFORD LAW REVIEW HAS PUBLISHED MY ARGUMENT MADE IN THAT HEARING AND WILL BE REPEATED IF PRESIDENT TRUMP MAKES ANOTHER SUPREME COURT NOMINATION. TODAY I WANT TO LOOK AT THE LOWER COURTS BECAUSE NO LESS THAN 138 POSITIONS ON THE FEDERAL DISTRICT AND APPEALS COURTS ARE VACANT. THAT DOES NOT INCLUDE 33 VACANCIES THAT WILL OCCUR IN A YEAR OR SO. EVERYONE MUST UNDERSTAND THE SERIOUSNESS OF THIS CRISIS. BY ITSELF 138 IS JUST A NUMBER. IT'S A BIG NUMBER BUT IT NEEDS A FRAME OF REFERENCE TO KNOW IF THIS IS NORMAL OR A SERIOUS PROBLEM THAT HAS TO BE ADDRESSED. I CERTAINLY DON'T WANT TO BE ACCUSED OF PARTISANSHIP SO I WILL RELY ON THE STANDARDS AND CRITERIA USED IN THE PAST MY MY DEMOCRATIC COLLEAGUES. LET'S USE SOME DEMOCRATIC STANDARDS TO EVALUATE THE NUMBER OF JUDICIAL VACANCIES THAT WE FACE TODAY. ONE STANDARD IS THAT DEMOCRATS HAVE SPECIFICALLY IDENTIFIED HOW MANY VACANCIES ARE UNACCEPTABLE. IN FEBRUARY 2000, WITH A DEMOCRAT IN THE WHITE HOUSE, DEMOCRATS SAID THAT 39 VACANCIES WAS, QUOTE, TOO HIGH. UNQUOTE. IN SEPTEMBER 2012, WITH DEMOCRATS BOTH IN THE WHITE HOUSE AND CONTROLLING THE SENATE, THEY DECLARED A, QUOTE, JUDICIAL CRISIS, UNQUOTE, WHEN THERE WERE 78 VACANCIES. NOW, IF 38 VACANCIES IS A CRISIS, WHAT IS THE LABEL FOR 138 VACANCIES. THIS IS THE HIGHEST JUDICIAL VACANCY TOTAL SINCE SEPTEMBER OF 1991, BUT MORE THAN HALF OF THOSE VACANCIES WERE FRESH FROM CONGRESS CREATING NEW JUDGESHIPS SEVERAL MONTHS EARLIER. IN EITHER TOTAL OR PERCENTAGE TERMS, WE FACE TODAY THE MOST SERIOUS JUDICIAL VACANCY CRISIS THAT ANYONE IN THIS BODY HAS EVER SEEN. A SECOND DEMOCRATIC VACANCY STANDARD IS -- AS THEY DID IN APRIL OF 2014. WE CAN COMPARE JUDICIAL VACANCIES TODAY WITH VACANCIES AT THE SAME POINT UNDER PREVIOUS PRESIDENTS. IF THAT DEMOCRATIC STANDARD IS VALID, VACANCIES TODAY ARE 35% HIGHER THAN AT THIS POINT UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA AND 46% HIGHER THAN AT THIS POINT UNDER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH. THERE IS A THIRD DEMOCRATIC VACANCY STANDARD. IN JUNE 2013, AND AT LEAST FAR BACK AS APRIL 1999, DEMOCRATS HAVE COMPLAINED THAT THE SENATE WAS NOT CONFIRMING ENOUGH JUDICIAL NOMINEES TO KEEP UP WITH NORMAL ATTRITION. WELL, JUDICIAL VACANCIES TODAY ARE 30% HIGHER THAN WHEN PRESIDENT TRUMP TOOK OFFICE, AND AS I SAID, AT LEAST 33 MORE HAVE ALREADY BEEN ANNOUNCED. FINALLY, DEMOCRATS HAVE FREQUENTLY SAID THAT THE 107TH CONGRESS THE FIRST TWO YEARS OF THE GEORGE W. BUSH ADMINISTRATION SHOULD BE OUR JUDICIAL CONFIRMATION BENCHMARK. DURING THAT TIME, THE SENATE CONFIRMED AN AVERAGE OF JUST OVER FOUR JUDICIAL NOMINEES PER MONTH. THE SEAN HAS SO -- THE SENATE HAS SO FAR CONFIRMED 28 OF PRESIDENT TRUMP'S DISTRICT AND APPEAL COURT NOMINEES OR TWO PER MONTH. TAKE YOUR PICK. BY ANY OR ALL OF THESE DEMOCRATIC STANDARDS, WE FACE A MUCH MORE SERIOUS JUDICIAL VACANCY CRISIS THAN IN YEARS PAST. IN ADDITION TO THE GRAVITY OF THIS CRISIS, HOWEVER, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW ITS CAUSE. I CAN TELL YOU WHAT IS NOT CAUSING THIS VACANCY CRISIS, PRESIDENT TRUMP STARTED MAKING NOMINATIONS TO THE FEDERAL DISTRICT AND APPEALS COURT ON MARCH 21, 2017, JUST 61 DAYS AFTER TAKING OFFICE, AS YOU CAN SEE ON THIS CHART. BY AUGUST OF LAST YEAR, HE HAD MADE THREE TIMES AS MANY JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS AS THE AVERAGE FOR HIS FIVE PREDECESSORS OF BOTH PARTIES. PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS NOMINATED 86 MEN AND WOMEN TO THE FEDERAL BENCH SINCE HE TOOK OFFICE 14 MONTHS AGO. IF THE PRESIDENT IS MAKING SO MANY NOMINATIONS, PERHAPS THE PROBLEM LIES SOMEWHERE IN THE CONFIRMATION PROCESS. ONCE AGAIN, MY DEMOCRATIC COLLEAGUES CAN HELP FIGURE THIS OUT. IN NOVEMBER OF 2013, THEN JUDICIARY COMMISSION CHAIRMAN PATRICK LEAHY SPOKE ABOUT OBSTRUCTING JUDICIAL NOMINEES, QUOTE, IN OTHER WAYS THAT THE PUBLIC IS LESS AWARE, UNQUOTE. DEMOCRATS ARE USING SUCH BELOW-THE PUBLIC-RADAR ABSTRACTION TACTICS AT EACH STAGE OF THE CONFIRMATION PROCESS. THE FIRST STOP IN THE CONFIRMATION PROCESS IS THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE. UNDER CHAIRMAN CHUCK GRASSLEY'S LEADERSHIP THE COMMITTEE HAS HELD A HEARING FOR 65 OF PRESIDENT TRUMP'S JUDICIAL NOMINEES, MORE THAN ANY OF THE PREVIOUS FIVE PRESIDENTS AT THIS POINT. SO THAT IS CLEARLY NOT THE PROBLEM. THE FIRST SIGN OF DEMOCRATIC OBSTRUCTION IS THE UNWARRANTED AND PARTISAN OPPOSITION TO REPORTING JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS FROM THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE. IN FEBRUARY 2012, THREE YEARS IN THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION, DEMOCRATS COMPLAINED THAT FIVE NOMINEES TO THE U.S. DISTRICT COURT HAD BEEN REPORTED BY THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE ON A PARTY-LINE VOTE. THIS, THEY SAID, DEPARTED DRAMATICALLY FROM SENATE TRADITION. TODAY, JUST 14 MONTHS INTO THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION, EIGHT NOMINEES TO THE U.S. DISTRICT COURT HAVE BEEN REPORTED BY THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE ON A PARTY-LINE VOTE. THE PRESENT RATE OF SUCH PARTY LINE VOTES IN THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE IS MORE THAN FOUR TIMES WHAT DEMOCRATS CRITICIZED JUST A FEW YEARS AGO. THE BELOW-THE-RADAR-OBSTRUCTION TACTICS CONTINUED WHEN THE JUDICIAL COMMITTEE SENDS JUDICIAL NOMINEES TO THE FULL SENATE. DEMOCRATS, FOR EXAMPLE, REFUSED TO COOPERATE IN SCHEDULING CONFIRMATION VOTES. THEY CAN'T PREVENT CONFIRMATION VOTES ALL TOGETHER BECAUSE THEY ABOLISHED NOMINATION FILIBUSTERS IN 2013, BUT IF THEY CAN'T MAKE JUDICIAL CONFIRMATIONS IMPOSSIBLE, THEY ARE DETERMINED TO MAKE THEM DIFFICULT, VERY DIFFICULT. HERE'S HOW THEY DO IT. THE SENATE MUST END DEBATE ON A NOMINATION BEFORE IT CAN VOTE ON CONFIRMATION. THE MAJORITY AND MINORITY HAVE TRADITIONALLY COOPERATED TO END DEBATE AND SET UP CONFIRMATION VOTES. IN MARCH 2014, NOT FOR THE FIRST TIME, DEMOCRATS SAID THAT REFUSING CONSENT TO SCHEDULE VOTES ON PENDING NOMINEES WAS OBSTRUCTION. WHEN THE MINORITY REFUSES THAT CONSENT, THE ONLY WAY TO END DEBATE AND SET UP A CONFIRMATION VOTE IS THE FORMAL CLOTURE PROCESS WHICH REQUIRES A CLOTURE VOTE WHICH CAN ADD SEVERAL DAYS TO THE CONFIRMATION TIMELINE, AS SEEN HERE. SINCE PRESIDENT TRUMP TOOK OFFICE, DEMOCRATS HAVE FORCED THE SENATE TO TAKE 28 CLOTURE VOTES ON JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS COMPARED TO JUST TWO CLOTURE VOTES AT THIS POINT UNDER THE PREVIOUS FIVE PRESIDENTS COMBINED. EVEN WHEN CLOTURE IS INVOKED, SENATE RULES PROVIDE FOR UP TO 30 HOURS OF DEBATE BEFORE A CONFIRMATION VOTE CAN -- OCCUR. NEARLY HALF THE TIME UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP IT WAS FOLLOWED BY A CONFIRMATION VOTE ON THE SAME DAY. UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP THAT HAS PLUMMETED TO 17%. THE AVERAGE TIME BETWEEN CLOTURE AND CONFIRMATION VOTES FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP'S JUDICIAL NOMINATION IS MORE THAN 55% LONGER THAN IT WAS UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA. WHEN A JUDICIAL NOMINATION GETS OUT OF THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE, SURVIVES AN UNNECESSARY CLOTURE VOTE, AND THEN IS SUBJECT TO POSTCLOTURE DELAY, DEMOCRATIC OBSTRUCTION IS STILL NOT OVER IN THIS MARCH 2012, BEING DEMOCRATS COMPLAINED ABOUT SENATORS VOTING AGAINST NOMINEES TO THE U.S. DISTRICT COURT WHO WERE SUPPORTED BY THEIR OWN TWO SENATORS. IN FACT, DEMOCRATS CALLED THIS A NEW STANDARD OF OBSTRUCTION BECAUSE IT DEPARTED SO FAR FROM SENATE TRADITION. OKAY. LET'S ASSUME FOR THE MOMENT THAT THIS DEMOCRATIC STANDARD IS ALSO VALID. AT THIS POINT IN THE PREVIOUS FIVE PRESIDENCIES, FROM PRESIDENT REAGAN TO PRESIDENT OBAMA U.S. DISTRICT COURT NOMINEES HAD RECEIVED A COMBINED TOTAL OF TEN NEGATIVE VOTES. SO FAR UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP HIS CONFIRMED DISTRICT COURT NOMINEES HAVE RECEIVED 72 NEGATIVE VOTES. TWO WEEKS AGO THE PEW RESEARCH CENTER RELEASED A NEW ANALYSIS SHOWING THAT PRESIDENT TRUMP'S CONFIRMED JUDGES HAVE, QUOTE, FACED A RECORD AMOUNT OF OPPOSITION, UNQUOTE. IN FACT, THIS ANALYSIS CONCLUDED THAT PRESIDENT TRUMP'S JUDGES HAVE EACH RECEIVED AN AVERAGE OF MORE THAN 22 NEGATIVE VOTES. QUOTE, BY FAR THE HIGHEST AVERAGE FOR ANY PRESIDENT'S JUDGES SINCE THE SENATE EXPANDED TO ITS CURRENT 100 MEMBERS IN 1959. UNQUOTE. THIS LEVEL OF OPPOSITION IS MORE THAN FOUR TIMES WHAT IT WAS UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA. OR SHOULD I SAY, NOT JUST OPPOSITION, OPPOSITIONAL DELAY. THESE TACTICS DON'T INCLUDE HIGH-PROFILE FILIBUSTERS OR HEADLINE GRABBING CONFIRMATION DEFEATS, BUT UNWRITTEN TRADITIONS. THAT'S WHY THEY OPERATE BELOW THE RADAR. YET DEMOCRATS CRITICIZED THESE TACTICS PRECISELY BECAUSE THEY TAKE THEIR TOLL. INDIVIDUALLY AND ESPECIALLY IN COMBINATION THEY CAN ADD DAYS AND WEEKS TO THE TIME IT TAKES TO CONFIRM A SINGLE JUDICIAL NOMINATION EVEN WHEN THE FINAL CONFIRMATION VOTE IS UNANIMOUS. IN NOVEMBER 2013, FOR EXAMPLE, DEMOCRATS SAID THAT TAKING CLOTURE VOTES ON UNOPPOSED NOMINEES AMOUNTED TO, QUOTE, OBSTRUCTION AND ABUSE OF SENATE RULES. UNQUOTE. AT THAT POINT ALMOST FOUR YEARS INTO THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION, THE SENATE HAD TAKEN ONE CLOTURE VOTE ON A JUDICIAL NOMINEE WHO WAS LATER CONFIRMED WITHOUT OPPOSITION, JUST ONE. JUST ONE. WE ARE ONLY 14 MONTHS INTO THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION AND DEMOCRATS HAVE ALREADY FORCED THE SENATE TO TAKE FIVE CLOTURE VOTES ON NOMINEES WHO WERE UNANIMOUSLY CONFIRMED. IT HAS ALREADY HAPPENED TWICE THIS MONTH. IF DOING THIS TWICE AMOUNTED TO OBSTRUCTION AND ABUSE, WHAT WOULD MY DEMOCRATIC COLLEAGUES CALL IT FIVE TIMES AS OFTEN IN ONE-FOURTH THE TIME. THIS IS JUST A FEW OF WHAT THEN-CHAIRMAN LEAHY CALLED OBSTRUCTION TACTICS THAT THE PUBLIC MIGHT IN THE BE AWARE OF. BELIEVE ME, THERE'S MORE WHERE THESE CAME FROM. LIKE I SAID, I WANT TO AVOID PARTISANSHIP. EACH OF THESE IS A DEMOCRATIC STANDARD. THESE ARE DEMOCRATIC CRITERIA. IF MY COLLEAGUES WHO ONCE THOUGHT THESE WERE VALID STANDARDS WANT TO ABANDON THEM NOW, THEN PERHAPS THEY WERE ALSO WRONG THE FIRST TIME AROUND. OTHERWISE WE HAVE TO FACE THE CONCLUSIONS THAT FOLLOW FROM APPLYING THESE DEMOCRATIC STANDARDS AND CRITERIA. WE FACE AN UNPRECEDENTED JUDICIAL VACANCY CRISIS. SINCE PRESIDENT TRUMP IS MAKING NOMINATIONS AND THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE UNDER CHAIRMAN GRASSLEY'S LEADERSHIP IS STEADILY PROCESSING THEM, THERE REMAINS ONLY ONE EXPLANATION FOR THE VACANCY CRISIS WE FACE TODAY -- PLAIN, OLD FASHIONED PARTISAN OBSTRUCTION. DEMOCRATS ARE MANIPULATING THIS PROCESS AT EVERY STAGE USING THE VERY TACTICS THAT THEY HAVE LOUDLY CONDEMNED IN THE PAST TO MAKE CONFIRMATIONS AS DIFFICULT AND TIME CONSUMING AS POSSIBLE. EVEN IN POLITICS, ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. IN JULY 2012, WHEN THERE WERE 76 JUDICIAL VACANCIES, CHAIRMAN LEAHY SAID THAT, QUOTE, WE SHOULD BE DOING BETTER, UNQUOTE. TODAY, WITH NEARLY TWICE AS MANY VACANCIES, I CHALLENGE MY DEMOCRATIC COLLEAGUES TO PUT ACTIONS TO THOSE WORDS. MR. PRESIDENT, I SUGGEST THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.

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  • 02:30:10 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    A QUORUM.

  • 02:30:15 PM

    A SENATOR

    A SENATOR: MR. PRESIDENT.

  • 02:30:17 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM RHODE ISLAND.

  • 02:30:19 PM

    MR. REED

    I WOULD ASK FOR THE QUORUM CALL TO BE DISPENSED WITH.

  • 02:30:23 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 02:30:24 PM

    MR. REED

    MR. PRESIDENT, I RISE TODAY TO EXPRESS MY CONCERN ABOUT THE CONTINUED…

    MR. PRESIDENT, I RISE TODAY TO EXPRESS MY CONCERN ABOUT THE CONTINUED DETERIORATION OF THE SITUATION IN YEMEN AND TO SHARE MY VIEWS ON THE RESOLUTION THAT IS CURRENTLY BEFORE US. THE MILITARY CONFLICT IN YEMEN HAS GONE ON FOR TOO LONG AND HAS AFFECTED TENS OF MILLIONS OF CIVILIANS WHO FACE DISPLACEMENT, FAMINE, AND A WIDESPREAD CHOLERA OUTBREAK. ACCORDING TO THE UNITED NATIONS, MORE THAN 15,000 YEMENIS HAVE BEEN KILLED OR INJURED SINCE THE WAR BEGAN IN MARCH OF 2015. THE HUMANITARIAN SITUATION THERE HAS BEEN DESCRIBED AS THE WORST IN THE WORLD, WITH MORE THAN TWO-THIRDS OF YEMEN'S APPROXIMATELY 29 MILLION PEOPLE FACING SEVERE FOOD SHORTAGES. AN OUTBREAK OF CHOLERA HAS ALREADY INFECTED AT LEAST ONE MILLION PEOPLE, MARKING THE WORST SUCH OUTBREAK IN DECADES. CONTINUED INSTABILITY IN YEMEN ALSO BENEFITS OUR ADVERSARIES. WHILE WE HAVE SOUGHT TO MAINTAIN PRESSURE ON AL QAEDA AND THE ARARIAN PENINSULA OR AQAP AND ISIS, THE LACK OF A FUNCTIONING GOVERNMENT OR STATE SECURITY APPARATUS INHIBITS OUR ABILITY TO GO AFTER THESE GROUPS. ADDITIONALLY, IT'S CLEAR THAT IRAN HAS TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF THE CURRENT SITUATION TO SPREAD ITS MALIGNING INFLUENCE AND PROVIDE LETHAL SUPPORT TO THE HOUTHIS, THEREBY FURTHER UNDERMINING REGIONAL STABILITY AND SECURITY. UNFORTUNATELY, WE HAVE YET TO HEAR ANY STRATEGY FROM THE ADMINISTRATION AS TO HOW THEY WOULD PROPOSE TO USE U.S. DIPLOMATIC LEADERSHIP TO HELP BRING ABOUT AN END TO THE CONFLICT IN YEMEN. WE STILL DO NOT HAVE AN AMBASSADOR TO SAUDI ARABIA, AND OCCASIONAL VISITS BY WHITE HOUSE OFFICIALS ARE NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR THE SUSTAINED DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS BY OUR EXPERTS IN THE FOREIGN SERVICE. I'M ENCOURAGED, THOUGH, BY THE APPOINTMENT OF A NEW UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL ENVOY TO YEMEN, MARTIN GRIFFITHS, AND HOPE THAT THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT WILL SEEK TO SUPPORT HIS EFFORTS WHEREVER POSSIBLE. WHILE THE PRIMARY CONFLICT IN YEMEN IS BETWEEN AN IRANIAN IRANIAN-BACKED HOUTHI INSURGENCY AND A SAUDI-LED COALITION, THE UNITED STATES IS INVOLVED. AS STATED IN A LETTER SENT BY SECRETARY MATTIS TO CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP THIS WEEK, IN HIS WORDS, SINCE 2015, THE UNITED STATES HAS PROVIDED LIMITED SUPPORT TO SAUDI-LED COALITION MILITARY OPERATIONS TO RESTORE THE U.N.-RECOGNIZED GOVERNMENT OF YEMEN AND PRESERVE SAUDI TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY FROM HOUTHI-ALIGNED FORCES IN YEMEN. MOREOVER, ACCORDING TO SECRETARY MATTIS, U.S. FORCES ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO USE FORCE AGAINST THE HOUTHIS BUT DO SUPPORT THE SAUDI-LED COALITION WITH INTELLIGENCE SHARING, MILITARY ADVICE, AND LOGISTICAL SUPPORT, INCLUDING ANTIAIR REFUELING. LAST WEEK, THE COMMANDER OF U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND, GENERAL VOTELL, TESTIFIED BEFORE THE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE THAT OUR SUPPORT TO THE SAUDI-LED COALITION IS PRIMARILY DEFENSIVE, IN NATURE AND FOCUS ON THE IRANIAN-SUPPORTED BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT TO SAUDI ARABIA THAT ORIGINATES IN YEMEN, MARITIME THREATS TO THE INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING IN THE BAB B EL-MEN DEB STRAIGHT AND COUNTER TERRORISM. WHEN THE UNITED STATES PROVIDES AIR REFUELING TO COALITION AIRCRAFT, WE DO NOT KNOW WHERE THOSE AIRCRAFT THEN GO. THEREFORE, THEY COULD BE GOING TO CONDUCT OFFENSIVE STRIKES AGAINST HOUTHI TARGETS WHICH MAY RESULT IN CIVILIAN CASUALTIES, WHICH IS A MAJOR CONCERN FOR ME. EVEN MORE TROUBLING, IF THESE AIRCRAFT WENT TO CONDUCT STRIKES AGAINST TARGETS OUTSIDE OF YEMEN, THE U.S. WOULD BE COMPLICIT OF MUCH MORE DANGEROUS AND PROVOCATIVE ACTIVITY. I HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT PERSISTENT REPORTS OF CIVILIAN CASUALTIES AND DAMAGE TO CIVILIAN INDUSTRY CAUSED BY THE SAUDI-LED COALITION IN YEMEN. 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. IT IS ALSO CLEAR THAT MORE MUST BE DONE BY BOTH THE COALITION AND THE HOUTHIS TO FACILITATE THE FLOW OF HUMANITARIAN AID INTO AND THROUGHOUT YEMEN. THE UNITED NATIONS AND HUMANITARIAN ORGANIZATIONS CONTINUE TO EXPRESS CONCERN ABOUT THEIR ABILITY TO ACCESS AIRPORTS AND DIFFICULTIES IN DISTRIBUTING AID TO VULNERABLE POPULATIONS ONCE IT IS INSIDE THE COUNTRY. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT SHIPMENTS TO YEMEN BE SUBJECT TO INSPECTION BY THE U.N. VERIFICATION AND INSPECTION MECHANISM TO HELP BE PREVENT THE TRANSIT OF ILLICIT MATERIALS IN VIOLATION OF THE U.S. ARMS EMBARGO, BUT ALL PARTIES TO THE CONFLICT, ALL PARTIES TO THE CONFLICT IN YEMEN HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY, INCLUDING UNDER INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW TO ALLOW ACCESS TO AID BY THOSE IN NEED. SO WE ARE FACED WITH A VERY DIFFICULT SET OF ISSUES, AND I CERTAINLY COMMEND MY COLLEAGUES, SENATORS SANDERS, MURPHY, AND LEE, FOR BRINGING THIS ISSUE TO THE FLOOR. THE SAUDI-LED COALITION CLEARLY MUST DO MORE TO END THIS WAR AND MUST PROSECUTE THIS WAR IN A WAY THAT LIMITS THE CIVILIAN CASUALTIES AND HUMANITARIAN CRISIS. ON THE OTHER HAND, SAUDI ARABIA AND THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES OR THE U.A.E., REMAIN IMPORTANT PARTNERS FOR THE UNITED STATES AND WE SHARE MANY COMMON INTERESTS IN THE REGION, INCLUDING THE FIGHT AGAINST AL QAEDA, ISIS, AND OTHER VIOLENT EXTREMIST GROUPS. THE RESOLUTION BEFORE US WOULD ESTABLISH A BLANKET PROHIBITION ON ALL ASSISTANCE TO THE SAUDI-LED COALITION, EXCEPT FOR THE PURPOSES OF COVERING AL QAEDA AND ASSOCIATE FORCES. WHILE THEY UNDERSTAND THE APPROACH, I HOPE IT WOULD END THE CONFLICT. INDEED, IT MAY EVEN CAUSE HARM AS BOTH SIDES POTENTIALLY ACT MORE VIOLENTLY. WE CAN AND SHOULD ENGAGE IF THERE IS A POSSIBILITY THAT WE CAN HELP MINIMIZE COLLATERAL DAMAGE BY PROVIDING THE COALITION WITH TRAINING AND ADVICE ON BEST PRACTICES. GENERAL VOTELL TESTIFIED LAST WEEK THAT U.S. ASSISTANCE HAS CONTRIBUTED TO IMPROVEMENT BY THE COALITION ON THESE ISSUES. SPECIFICALLY, THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE HAS TOLD US THAT ENGAGEMENT BY U.S. MILITARY PERSONNEL HAS RESULTED IN THE INTRODUCTION OF A NO-STRIKE LIST. THAT IS A PROCESS WHICH ACTUALLY PUTS TARGETS OFF-LIMITS AND ENSURES THAT PILOTS AND OTHERS UNDERSTAND THOSE TARGETS. THEY HAVE ALSO CAUSED A SUCCESSION OR AN ENDING OF THE USE OF CUSTOM MUNITIONS BY SAWED FORCES AND THE FORMATION OF A BODY TO INVESTIGATE NONCOMBATANT CASUALTIES. THESE ARE POSITIVE STEPS, BUT IT IS CLEAR THAT MUCH MORE MUST BE DONE TO MAXIMIZE THE IMPACT OF THE WAR ON YEMENI CIVILIANS. I SUPPORT OUR CONTINUED ENGAGEMENT FOR THAT PURPOSE. BOTH SAUDI ARABIA AND THE U.A.E. FACE A SIGNIFICANT THREAT FROM HOUTHI REBELS ARMED WITH BALLISTIC MISSILES. APPARENTLY, WITH THE TACTICAL ASSISTANCE OF THE IRANIANS. THERE HAVE REPORTEDLY BEEN DOZENS OF SUCH ATTACKS AGAINST SAUDI ARABIA SINCE THE SPRING OF 2015, INCLUDING AGAINST CIVILIAN TARGETS LIKE THE INTERNATIONAL AIRBORNE IN RIYADH, WHICH WAS ATTACKED IN DECEMBER. I STRONGLY SUPPORT THE RIGHT OF OUR PARTNERS TO DEFEND THEMSELVES FROM THESE THREATS AND BELIEVE THAT CONTINUED SHARING OF U.S. INTELLIGENCE FOR DEFENSIVE PURPOSES IS APPROPRIATE, ESPECIALLY IN LIGHT OF THE FACT THAT TENS OF THOUSANDS OF U.S. CIVILIAN, MILITARY, AND DIPLOMATIC PERSONNEL ALSO FACE THESE THREATS WHILE LIVING AND WORKING IN THE REGION AROUND RIYADH AND THROUGHOUT SAUDI ARABIA. I ALSO HAVE CONCERNS THAT ENDING ALL SUPPORT TO THE SAUDI-LED COALITION MAY CAUSE THE CONFLICT TO ESCALATE. AS SECRETARY MATTIS WROTE TO CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP THIS PAST WEEK, RESTRICTIONS ON OUR LIMITED U.S. MILITARY SUPPORT COULD INCREASE CIVILIAN CASUALTIES, JEOPARDIZE COOPERATION WITH OUR PARTNERS ON COUNTERTERRORISM, AND REDUCE OUR INFLUENCE WITH THE SAUDIS, ALL OF WHICH WOULD FURTHER EXACERBATE THE SITUATION AND HUMANITARIAN CRISIS. SECRETARY MATTIS ALSO EXPRESSED CONCERN THAT WITHDRAWAL OF OUR SUPPORT WOULD EMBOLDEN IRAN TO INCREASE ITS SUPPORT TO THE HOUTHIS, ENABLING FURTHER BALLISTIC MISSILE ATTACKS AND STRIKES ON SAUDI ARABIA AND THREATENING VITAL SHIPPING LANES IN THE RED SEA, THEREBY RAISING THE RISK OF A REGIONAL CONFLICT. THEREFORE, I BELIEVE THAT SUPPORT BY THE U.S. MILITARY OF THE SAUDI-LED COALITION IN YEMEN SHOULD NOT BE ABSOLUTELY PROHIBITED BUT SHOULD BE EXPLICITLY LIMITED TO THE FOLLOWING OBJECTIVES. FIRST, ENABLING COUNTERTERRORISM OPERATIONS AGAINST AL QAEDA AND ISIS. SECOND, DEFENDING THE TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY OF SAUDI ARABIA AND THE U.A.E., INCLUDING AGAINST BALLISTIC MISSILE STRIKES. THREE, PRESERVING FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION IN THE MARITIME ENVIRONMENT AROUND YEMEN. AND FOUR, ENHANCING THE TRAINING AND PROFESSIONALISM OF THEIR ARMED FORCES WITH A PRIMARY FOCUS ON ADHERENCE TO THE LAW OF ARMED CONFLICT AND PREVENTION OF CIVILIAN CASUALTIES. OUR SUPPORT TO THE SAUDI-LED COALITION NEEDS TO BE CONSIDERED IN A THOUGHTFUL AND DELIBERATE MANNER. FROM A POLICY PERSPECTIVE, WE SHOULD DISTINGUISH BETWEEN ASSISTANCE THAT IS PROVIDED FOR DEFENSIVE AND NONCOMBAT PURPOSES AND THAT WHICH COULD BE USED TO ENABLE OFFENSIVE MILITARY OPERATIONS IN THE YEMENI CIVIL WAR. AND LET ME BE CLEAR, I AM NOT IN FAVOR OF GIVING THE SAUDI-LED COALITION A BLANK CHECK. IN FACT, I BELIEVE THAT WE SHOULD NO LONGER PROVIDE AIR REFUELING ASSISTANCE UNLESS IT IS USED TO ENABLE AIRCRAFT CONDUCTING COUNTERTERRORISM MISSIONS PURSUANT TO THE 2001 AUTHORIZATION OF THE U.S. OF MILITARY FORCE, OR COUNTERING SPECIFIC IDENTIFIED THREATS TO SAUDI TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY. INDEED, USE OF OUR MILITARY ASSETS TO SUPPORT SAUDI-LED COALITION EFFORTS OR THE EFFORTS OF OTHER NATIONS TO CONDUCT OPERATIONS OUTSIDE THIS NARROW SCOPE WOULD RAISE VERY SERIOUS LEGAL QUESTIONS. GIVEN ITS COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH, I DO NOT BELIEVE THE SANDERS RESOLUTION IS THE APPROPRIATE VEHICLE FOR THESE ISSUES TO RECEIVE THE CAREFUL AND DELIBERATE CONSIDERATION THEY ARE DUE. I UNDERSTAND THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE MAY SOON TAKE UP THIS ISSUE, AND I URGE THEM TO DO THAT, AND I LOOK FORWARD TO ENGAGING FURTHER IN THOSE DISCUSSIONS WHEN PRESENTED THE OPPORTUNITY. THE ADMINISTRATION MUST MAKE CLEAR TO BOTH THE SAUDI-LED COALITION AND THE HOUTHIS THAT THERE IS NO MILITARY SOLUTION TO THIS CONFLICT AND THE TIME HAS COME TO REACH A NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT. CONGRESS ALSO HAS AN IMPORTANT RULE IN FITTING THE POLICY FRAMEWORK FOR THE U.S. OF U.S. ARMED FORCES OVERSEAS AND ENSURING U.S. MILITARY CAPABILITIES ARE ONLY USED FOR AUTHORIZED PURPOSES. AT THE SAME TIME, WE SHOULD NOT TAKE ACTION THAT WOULD UNDULY RESTRICT OUR ENGAGEMENT WITH PARTNERS FOR LEGITIMATE PURPOSES, AND IN SO DOING UNDERMINE OUR ABILITY TO HELP BRING ABOUT AN END TO THE CONFLICT IN YEMEN, EASE CIVILIAN SUFFERING, AND DEFEND THE TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY OF PARTNERS. WITH THAT, MR. PRESIDENT, I WOULD YIELD THE FLOOR. THANK YOU.

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  • 02:42:14 PM

    MR. BOOZMAN

  • 02:42:15 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM ARKANSAS.

  • 02:42:18 PM

    MR. BOOZMAN

    AS YOU KNOW, OUR CHAMBER IS FOCUSED ON A HEAVY SUBJECT AT THE MOMENT,…

    AS YOU KNOW, OUR CHAMBER IS FOCUSED ON A HEAVY SUBJECT AT THE MOMENT, HUMAN TRAFFICKING. AN ESTIMATED 25 MILLION PEOPLE ARE VICTIMS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING ALL AROUND THE WORLD. SMUGGLING PEOPLE FOR FORCED LABOR AND SEX SLAVERY IS A HEINOUS CRIME. IT IS THE KIND OF CRIME THAT WE TEND TO THINK HAPPENS IN SAM FAROFF PLACE, BUT THESE ATROCITIES ARE HAPPENING ALL ACROSS THE GLOBE, SADLY INCLUDING AND UNFORTUNATELY IN THE UNITED STATES. IN FACT, HUMAN TRAFFICKING APPEARS TO BE ON THE RISE IN OUR COUNTRY. ACCORDING TO DATA RELEASED BY POLARIS WHICH SHOWS A 13% JUMP IN CASES REPORTED TO THE HELP LINES THAT IT RUNS. SINCE POLARIS BEGAN OPERATING OVER TEN YEARS AGO, ITS HELP LINES HAVE RECEIVED REPORTS OF 203 CASES OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING FROM MY HOME STATE OF ARKANSAS. ALMOST HALF OF THOSE WERE REPORTED IN THE LAST TWO YEARS. FORTUNATELY, OUR STATE IS FIGHTING BACK. LAST YEAR, ARKANSAS LEGISLATORS APPROVED A LAW REQUIRING STATE LICENSED STRUCKERS TO BE TRAINED IN SPOTTING THE RED FLAGS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING. USING THEIR POSITION ON THE ROAD, THESE DRIVERS HAVE THE TOOLS TO RECOGNIZE THE SIGNS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND ALERT THE AUTHORITIES TO ANY SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY. CONGRESS IS ALSO INCREASING ITS EFFORTS TO COMBAT HUMAN TRAFFICKING. IN SEPTEMBER, THE SENATE UNANIMOUSLY PASSED TWO PIECES OF LEGISLATION TO RENEW EXISTING PROGRAMS IN SUPPORT OF SURVIVORS AND HELP BRING PERPETRATORS OF THESE HORRIFIC CRIMES TO JUSTICE. THE ABOLISH HUMAN TRAFFICKING ACT PROVIDES MORE RESOURCES TO LAW ENFORCEMENT IN ITS EFFORTS TO COMBAT HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND ESTABLISHES HUMAN TRAFFICKING JUSTICE COORDINATORS AT EVERY U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE AND AT THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. IN ADDITION, THE LEGISLATION HELPS SURVIVORS REBUILD THEIR LIVES BY EXTENDING THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE DOMESTIC TRAFFICKING VICTIMS FUND. THE TRAFFICKING VICTIMS PROTECTION ACT REAUTHORIZES KEY PROGRAMS TO HELP SURVIVORS IN THEIR RECOVERY AS WELL AS OFFERING SPECIALIZED TRAINING ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING TO JUDGES AND TO FEDERAL INVESTIGATORS. WE HAVE MADE PROGRESS, BUT MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE, AND THE LEGISLATION ON THE FLOOR THIS WEEK WILL HELP BY GIVING LAW ENFORCEMENT AND PROSECUTORS ADDITIONAL TOOLS TO CRACK DOWN ON CRIMES INVOLVING EXPLOITATION OF THE VULNERABLE. IT WILL HELP US TAKE ON NEFARIOUS ACTORS LIKE BACKPAGE WHO HID BEHIND THE COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT TO AVOID PROSECUTION FOR TRAFFICKING CRIMES. IT'S TIME TO RIP THE COVER AWAY FROM THESE BAD ACTORS. WE ARE GOING TO DO THAT BY MAKING NARROWLY CRAFTED CHANGES TO THE LAW TO ENSURE WEBSITES THAT KNOWINGLY FACILITATE SEX TRAFFICKING ONLINE ARE HELD ACCOUNTABLE. KNOWINGLY IS THE KEY WORD HERE. DURING THE LAST SESSION OF CONGRESS, THE HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE, UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF SENATORS PORTMAN AND McCASKILL, JOHNSON, UNCOVERED JUST HOW MUCH BACKPAGE KNEW, AND IT WAS A LOT. IN FACT, BACKPAGE'S OPERATORS HELPED CUSTOMERS MODIFY THEIR ADS TO HIDE REFERENCES TO UNDERAGE PROSTITUTES. I THINK WE CAN ALL AGREE THAT RISES TO THE THRESHOLD OF KNOWINGLY FACILITATING SEX TRAFFICKING ONLINE. SHOULD THIS BILL PASS -- AND I BELIEVE THAT IT WILL IN A VERY BIPARTISAN WAY -- THESE BAD ACTORS WON'TING ABLE TO FADE -- WON'T BE ABLE TO FADE QUIETLY INTO THE DARK AS WE ARE GOING TO GIVE THE AUTHORITY TO PROSECUTE WEBSITES THAT VIOLATE SEX TRAFFICKING LAWS. THAT'S WHY I SUPPORT THIS BILL. THAT'S WHY I COSPONSORED SIMILAR LEGISLATION HERE IN THE SENATE. IT'S ALSO WHY I SUPPORTED THE INCLUSION OF AT LEAST $90 MILLION IN FEDERAL FUNDING TO COMBAT HUMAN TRAFFICKING. AS A MEMBER OF THE SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE, I WILL CONTINUE TO SUPPORT FUNDING FOR THESE IMPORTANT PROGRAMS AND LOOK FORWARD TO THE SENATE COMPLETING WORK ON FISCAL YEAR 2018 FUNDING BILLS. I'M PLEASED TO SEE ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT LENDING THEIR SUPPORT TO HELP FIGHT THIS CRIME. TOGETHER WE CAN END THIS ATTACK ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN OUR STATES, OUR COUNTRY, AND AROUND THE WORLD. WITH THAT, MR. PRESIDENT, I YIELD THE FLOOR.

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  • 02:47:33 PM

    MR. YOUNG

    MR. PRESIDENT?

  • 02:47:34 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM INDIANA.

  • 02:47:36 PM

    MR. YOUNG

    INDIANA.

  • 03:01:05 PM

    A SENATOR

    FLOOR. A SENATOR: MR. PRESIDENT.

  • 03:01:06 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM CALIFORNIA.

  • 03:01:09 PM

    MRS. FEINSTEIN

    MR. PRESIDENT, I NOTE THAT THE SENATOR WHO WAS TO BE ON THE FLOOR IS NOT,…

    MR. PRESIDENT, I NOTE THAT THE SENATOR WHO WAS TO BE ON THE FLOOR IS NOT, SO I WOULD ASK PERMISSION TO PROCEED.

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  • 03:01:17 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR IS RECOGNIZED, WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 03:01:21 PM

    MRS. FEINSTEIN

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. PRESIDENT. I RISE TODAY TO PARTICIPATE IN THE…

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. PRESIDENT. I RISE TODAY TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION ON THE CONFLICT OF YEMEN. IN 2015, I RECEIVED A PHONE CALL FROM A SAUDI OFFICIAL INFORMING ME THAT THE KINGDOM WAS ABOUT TO TAKE MILITARY ACTION IN YEMEN. THE OFFICIAL SAID THE CONFLICT WOULD NOT LAST LONG. THEY WOULD LAUNCH AIRSTRIKES TO PUSH THE HOUTHIS OUT OF SANAA, RESTORE POWER AND BROKER A POLITICAL COMPROMISE. THAT WAS NEARLY THREE YEARS AGO, AND THE CONFLICT HAS SINCE GROWN INTO THE WORLD'S WORST HUMANITARIAN DISASTER. MORE THAN 10,000 CIVILIANS HAVE DIED AND MORE THAN 40,000 ARE WOUNDED. MORE THAN HALF OF YEMEN'S HEALTH CARE FACILITIES HAVE BEEN DESTROYED. THREE-QUARTERS OF THE POPULATION, ALMOST 22 MILLION PEOPLE, NEED HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE. 11 MILLION REQUIRE URGENT ASSISTANCE TO SURVIVE, WHICH MEANS THEY ARE CLOSE TO STARVATION. THE SITUATION FOR CHILDREN IS ESPECIALLY DIRE. 1.8 MILLION CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF FIVE ARE MALNOURISHED. OF THAT, MORE THAN 400,000 ARE SO MALNOURISHED THAT THEY ARE NOW TEN TIMES MORE LIKELY TO DIE. ON TOP OF THE BLOODSHED AND FAMINE, THE PEOPLE OF YEMEN ARE FACING AN HORRIFIC OUTBREAK OF CHOLERA. MORE THAN ONE MILLION CASES OF CHOLERA HAVE BEEN REPORTED, POTENTIALLY THE WORST CHOLERA OUTBREAK IN WORLD HISTORY. MORE THAN 2,200 PEOPLE HAVE DIED FROM IT. ALMOST A THIRD OF WHOM ARE CHILDREN. CHOLERA HAS SPREAD BECAUSE MORE THAN 80% OF THE POPULATION LACK CLEAN DRINKING WATER. WE CAN'T TURN AWAY FROM SUFFERING BECAUSE WE ARE A PARTY TO THIS CONFLICT. THE UNITED STATES IS PROVIDING INTELLIGENCE, MILITARY ADVICE, LOGISTICAL SUPPORT, AND AERIAL REFUELING TO SAUDI ARABIA. THE FACT IS WE ARE ENABLING A MAJOR PROXY WAR BETWEEN SAUDI ARABIA AND IRAN. WE DO ALL THAT DESPITE THERE BEING NO MILITARY SOLUTION. THIS HAS NOT BEEN A BRIEF WAR. IT HAS TURNED INTO A MAJOR WAR THAT MUST END. THE LONGER WE PERMIT SUFFERING TO CONTINUE, THE MORE INNOCENT MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN ARE GOING TO DIE. INSTEAD OF FACILITATING ENDLESS FIGHTING, WE SHOULD BE PUSHING FOR RECONCILIATION. I HAVE PERSONALLY URGED SAUDI AND IRANIAN OFFICIALS TO MEET TO DISCUSS THEIR DIFFERENCES. TO MY GREAT DISAPPOINTMENT, THEY HAVE REFUSED TO DO SO. IRAN IS EXPANDING ITS INFLUENCE ACROSS THE MIDDLE EAST. IT CONTINUES TO ARM HEZBOLLAH, BACK PRESIDENT ASSAD IN SYRIA, AND SUPPORT THE HOUTHIS. SAUDI ARABIA AND ITS PARTNERS WON'T BACK DOWN. JUST LAST WEEK CROWN PRINCE SALMAN SAID HIS NATION WILL PURSUE THE SAME NUCLEAR CAPABILITIES AS IRAN. WHAT DOES THAT SAY TO US? BUT THEIR FIGHT IN YEMEN OFFERS NO MILITARY SOLUTION, ONLY A POLITICAL RESOLUTION WILL END THIS MISERABLE WAR. IT'S TIME WE SEPARATE OURSELVES FROM THIS BLOODSHED. THE UNITED STATES MUST MAKE IT CLEAR THAT WE WON'T CONTINUE TO SUPPORT UNENDING CONFLICT. AND THAT'S WHY I SUPPORT THE SANDERS-LEE RESOLUTION WHICH WOULD REQUIRE THE UNITED STATES TO STOP REFUELING SAUDI AND EMIRATI AIRCRAFT. NOW THIS SEEMS LIKE JUST A SMALL STEP, AND IT CERTAINLY WON'T IMMEDIATELY END THE WAR, BUT IT IS A DEEPLY SYMBOLIC ONE. THIS RESOLUTION WILL SEND A CLEAR MESSAGE THAT WE WILL NO LONGER ENABLE THIS PROXY WAR. THERE'S NO REASON A DIPLOMATIC SOLUTION CAN'T BE FOUND TO END THIS VIOLENCE. AND A STRONG PUSH FOR RECONCILIATION WILL SAVE THE LIVES OF THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS OF MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN IN YEMEN. BUT THAT PEACE IS ONLY ACHIEVABLE IF WE SPEAK WITH ONE VOICE AND PASS THE SANDERS-LEE RESOLUTION. OTHERWISE WE WILL CONTINUE TO ENABLE THIS BARBARIC WAR. THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. PRESIDENT.

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  • 03:06:24 PM

    MR. MENENDEZ

  • 03:06:26 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY.

  • 03:06:27 PM

    MR. MENENDEZ

    SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY.

  • 03:08:28 PM

    POSITIONS UNDERSECRETARIES,

    THE SENATOR FROM NEW MEXICO.

  • 03:16:58 PM

    A SENATOR

  • 03:16:59 PM

    THEPRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM NEW MEXICO.

  • 03:17:03 PM

    MR. UDALL

    MEXICO.

  • 03:29:12 PM

    A SENATOR

    MR. PRESIDENT?

  • 03:29:13 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY.

  • 03:29:15 PM

    MR. MENENDEZ

    MR. PRESIDENT, I WANT TO THANK MY COLLEAGUE FROM NEW MEXICO, A KEY MEMBER…

    MR. PRESIDENT, I WANT TO THANK MY COLLEAGUE FROM NEW MEXICO, A KEY MEMBER OF THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE FOR HIS INSIGHTS AND HIS INPUT AND CONTINUING EFFORTS TO MAKE SURE WE HAVE A DIPLOMACY THAT IN A WORLD THAT ULTIMATELY PURSUES OUR NATIONAL SECURITY. I REALIZE THERE ARE SOME COLLEAGUES ON THE WAY TO THE FLOOR, SENATOR SHAHEEN, MAYBE SENATOR CARDIN. WHEN THEY GET HERE, WE'LL HOPEFULLY HAVE THE CHAIR RECOGNIZE THEM AT THAT POINT. WITH THAT I YIELD THE FLOOR AND OBSERVE THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.

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  • 03:29:48 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE CLERK WILL CALL THE ROLL. QUORUM CALL:

  • 03:31:33 PM

    MRS. SHAHEEN

  • 03:31:35 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE.

  • 03:31:37 PM

    MR. SHAHEEN

    I ASK THAT THE QUORUM CALL BE LIFTED.

  • 03:31:39 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 03:31:42 PM

    MRS. SHAHEEN

    OBJECTION.

  • 03:41:38 PM

    A SENATOR

    FLOOR. A SENATOR: MR. PRESIDENT.

  • 03:41:40 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM MARYLAND.

  • 03:41:42 PM

    MR. CARDIN

    MR. PRESIDENT, I JOIN MY COLLEAGUES ON THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS…

    MR. PRESIDENT, I JOIN MY COLLEAGUES ON THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE AND UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF SENATOR MENENDEZ TO POINT OUT THAT NOW, I GUESS IT'S BEEN 14 MONTHS UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LEADERSHIP, WE'VE SEEN A DRAMATIC SHIFT IN U.S. FOREIGN POLICY THAT JEOPARDIZES OUR STANDING GLOBALLY AND OUR NATIONAL SECURITY. IT STARTS WITH THIS ADMINISTRATION HOLLOWING OUT THE STATE DEPARTMENT AND OUR CAPACITY TO PARTICIPATE IN DIPLOMACY. AS MY COLLEAGUES HAVE POINTED OUT, SO MANY VACANCIES EXIST TODAY UNFILLED BY THIS ADMINISTRATION. IT'S NOT THE SLOWNESS OF THE SENATE IN CONFIRMING THE POSITIONS. MANY OF THESE POSITIONS ARE NOT EVEN POSITIONS THAT REQUIRE A SENATE CONFIRMATION. WE'VE SEEN AN EXODUS OF THE MOST EXPERIENCED PEOPLE IN THE STATE DEPARTMENT AND THE CAPACITY OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT HAS BEEN DRAMATICALLY REDUCED. PRESIDENT TRUMP'S BUDGET SPEAKS VOLUMES ABOUT HIS SUPPORT FOR DIPLOMACY AS WE SEE 30% REDUCTIONS IN STATE DEPARTMENT BUDGET BEING PROPOSED BY THIS ADMINISTRATION. AND THE ROLE OF DIPLOMACY IN SOLVING INTERNATIONAL ISSUES HAVE BEEN PUT AT AN ALL-TIME LOW. MR. PRESIDENT, THERE HAVE BEEN MANY TIMES I DISAGREED WITH SECRETARY TILLERSON, BUT HE AT LEAST WAS AN INDEPENDENT VOICE IN THE WHITE HOUSE AS IT RELATED TO ISSUES ON IRAN OR CLIMATE CHANGE AND NOW HIS VOICE HAS BEEN SILENCED IN THIS ADMINISTRATION. AMERICA FIRST IS AMERICA ALONE, IT'S THE ISOLATION OF OUR COUNTRY. WE'VE SEEN THAT WITH THE UNITED STATES UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP PULLING OUT OF THE CLIMATE TALKS, THE ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. WE SEE IT NOW POTENTIALLY IN IRAN WITH REPORTS THAT THE PRESIDENT MAY UNILATERALLY WITHDRAW THE UNITED STATES FROM THE NUCLEAR AGREEMENT, PUTTING THE UNITED STATES AS THE OUTLIER WHERE WE SHOULD BE PUTTING OUR ATTENTION ON IRAN. THIS IS REFLECTED IN THE GALLUP POLLS SHOWING THAT THE GLOBAL OPINION TOWARDS THE UNITED STATES HAS DROPPED DRAMATICALLY. WE SEE THE PRESIDENT EMBRACING OPPRESSIVE LEADERS AROUND THE WORLD, SUCH AS THE LEADER OF RUSSIA, CHINA, TURKEY, EGYPT, AND EMBRACING THE AUTOCRATIC PRACTICES OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES AND THEN HE ATTACKS OUR CLOSEST ALLIES, CALLING INTO QUESTION THE TRANSATLANTIC PARTNERSHIP. PERHAPS MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE, THIS ADMINISTRATION HAS TRAMPLED ON AMERICA'S VALUES. AS SECRETARY TILLERSON SAID EARLY IN THIS ADMINISTRATION, AMERICA'S INTEREST WILL NO LONGER BE DICTATED BY OUR VALUES. WELL THAT IS NOT WHAT THE TRADEMARK OF AMERICA IS ABOUT. IT IS ABOUT OUR VALUES. THE PRESIDENT HAS QUESTIONED OVER AND OVER AGAIN UNIVERSALLY WHAT AMERICA STANDS FOR WHEN HE GAVE SPACE TO HATE IN HIS RESPONSE TO CHARLOTTESVILLE, WHEN HE IMPLIES THAT PEOPLE THAT COME TO OUR COUNTRY OF CERTAIN RELIGION OR RACES ARE LESS FAVORED THAN OTHERS, WHEN HE SUGGESTS THAT HE CANNOT HAVE A CONFLICT BECAUSE HE'S PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND DOESN'T HAVE TO DIVEST HIS BUSINESS INTERESTS, OR WHEN HE SAYS THAT THINGS THAT WE KNOW THEY ARE NOT TRUE AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES STANDING UP FOR MATTERS THAT ARE OUT RIGHT LIES. THAT DIMINISHES THE VALUE AND STRENGTH OF AMERICA IN OUR GLOBAL LEADERSHIP. ONE ISSUE I WANT TO TALK ABOUT IN THE TIME THAT I HAVE IS IGNORING ONE OF THE GREATEST NATIONAL SECURITY THREATS WE HAVE AND THAT IS WHAT RUSSIA IS DOING THE UNITED STATES UNDER MR. PUTIN. WE JUST SAW THE MOST RECENT ELECTION THAT IT WAS NEITHER FREE NOR FAIR. THE OPPOSITION CANDIDATES WERE NOT ALLOWED DO PARTICIPATE OR HAND PICKED BY MR. PUTIN. HE CONTROLLED THE MEDIA AND THE ELECTION TOOK PLACE IN AN OVERLY CONTROLLED LEGAL ENVIRONMENT AND IT -- IT HAD PRESSURE ON THE CRITICAL VOICES OF THE RUSSIAN PEOPLE. SO WE FIND A RUSSIA TODAY UNDER MR. PUTIN THAT IS CONTRARY TO THE VALUES THAT WE STAND FOR. I AUTHORED A REPORT WITH THE OTHER DEMOCRATS ON THE COMMITTEE IN JANUARY ON RUSSIA THAT TALKED ABOUT THE ASYMMETRIC ARSENAL THAT MR. PUTIN USES THAT INCLUDES PROP BEGAN D WE SAW THIS ON DISPLAY WHEN HE WAS ASKED ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED IN THE UNITED STATES. THESE ARE MR. PUTIN'S OWN WORDS ACCORDING TO THE TRANK SCRIPT AS REPORTED BY "THE WASHINGTON POST." QUOTE, MAYBE THEY'RE NOT EVEN RUSSIANS, TALKING ABOUT WHO ATTACKED OUR COUNTRY. REFERRING TO THOSE BEHIND THE ELECTION INTERFERENCE. MAYBE THEY'RE UKRAINEIANS OR JEWS, JUST WITH RUSSIAN CITIZENSHIP. HE ALSO SPECULATED THAT PERCENTAGES, GERMANY, OR ASIA MIGHT HAVE INTERFERED IN THE ELECTION AND EVEN RUSSIA PAID BY THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT. THAT TYPE OF RHETORIC IS STRAIGHT OUT OF THE SOVIET AND RUSSIA PLAYBOOK TO CAST JEWS AND OTHER MINORITIES AS UNDESIRABLES, ENEMIES OF THE STATE. AS AN AMERICAN JEW WITH FAMILY ROOTS IN EASTERN EUROPE AND RUSSIA, I FIND THAT KIND OF RHETORIC TO BE DANGEROUS AND FRIGHTENING. IT IS PART OF MR. PUTIN'S GRAND DESIGN. THAT'S WHAT HE DOES. WE SAW IT PLAY OUT IN THE UKRAINE -- IN THE U.K. JUST TWO WEEKS AGO WHEN A PERSON WAS POISONED IN ENGLAND WHO WAS AN ENEMY OF MR. PUTIN. WE SEE IT PLAY OUT OVER AND OVER AGAIN. PRIME MINISTER MAY SPOKE OUT. HE COLD IT -- SHE CALLED IT FOR WHAT IT WAS. SHE SENT A CLEAR SIGNAL TO MOSCOW THAT THAT TYPE OF BEHAVIOR BY RUSSIA STATE AGAINST THE BRITISH PEOPLE WOULD NOT BE TOLERATED AND THERE WOULD BE CONSEQUENCES. THIS IS HOW A LEADER OF A GREAT NATION SHOULD SPEAK OUT IN DEFENSE THEIR PEOPLE TO COUNTER A MAJOR THREAT FROM A GLOBAL ADVERSARY. BUT WHAT HAPPENED HERE IN WASHINGTON? THE THREAT THAT WE SAW TO OUR OWN COUNTRY BY MR. PUTIN? THE PRESIDENT SAID VIRTUALLY NOTHING. THE SPOKESPERSON CONDEMN THE CRIME BUT IGNORE THAT LIKELY RUSSIAN LINK MUCH THE SECRETARY OF STATE LATER ABOUT WHAT THE PRESIDENT COULD NOT OR WOULD NOT DO BY CALLING OUT THE RUSSIANS. MAYBE THAT WAS HIS SWANSONG BECAUSE THAT'S THE LAST THING WE HEARD BEFORE HE WAS SILENCED BY MR. TRUMP. NEVER BEFORE IN AMERICA'S HISTORY HAS SUCH A CLEAR THREAT TO OUR NATIONAL SECURITY BEEN SO CLEARLY IGNORED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. THE PRESIDENT'S DIFFICULTY IN PUBLICLY ACKNOWLEDGING THE RUSSIA THREAT AND LEADING OUR COUNTRY FORWARD TO COMBAT THAT THREAT IS ONE OF THE MOST PERPLEXING AND RECKLESS PIECES OF MR. TRUMP'S DISASTER FOREIGN POLICY. WE IN CONGRESS TOOK ACTION. WE PASSED LEGISLATION. WE PASSED MANDATORY SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIA. AND YET THIS ADMINISTRATION HAS NOT TAKEN FULLY ADVANTAGE OF THE LAW WE PASSED. THE PRESIDENT NEEDS TO PROTECT AMERICA'S INTERESTS, NOT APPEASE MR. PUTIN. MR. PRESIDENT, THE CONGRESS' ROLE IN SHAPING ADVANCING U.S. FOREIGN POLICY HAS NEVER BEEN MORE IMPORTANT, AND I WILL CONTINUE TO ADVANCE LEGISLATION, CONDUCT OVERSIGHT, AND SPEAK OUT ABOUT THESE IMPORTANT ISSUES IN THE NAME OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND THE VALUES AND NORMS THAT DEFINE US AND OUR PLACE IN THIS COMPLICATED WORLD. I'M PROUD TO BE PART OF THE GROUP OF SENATORS THAT'LL STAND ON THIS FLOOR AND WORK TO MAKE SURE THAT WE PROTECT OUR NATIONAL SECURITY. H. INTERESTS. I YIELD THE FLOOR. MARKAZ E TAIBA MR. PRESIDENT? THE PRESIDING OFFICER:

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  • 03:49:44 PM

    OFFICER MR.

    MR. PRESIDENT? I COME TO THE FLOOR TO SPEAK ABOUT NORTH KOREA. I THANK THE…

    MR. PRESIDENT? I COME TO THE FLOOR TO SPEAK ABOUT NORTH KOREA. I THANK THE SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY, THE LEADER OF THE DEMOCRATS ON THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE, FOR ASKING THE MEMBERS TO COME OUT HERE TO SPEAK TO THE FOREIGN POLICY OF THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION. NORTH KOREA IS A SERIOUS AND EVER-WORSENING THREAT TO ITS PEOPLE, TO OUR ALLIES, AND PARTNERS IN THE REGION, AND TO THE UNITED STATES. UNFORTUNATELY, THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION HAS MISMANAGED OUR NORTH KOREA POLICY AND THE POTENTIAL CONSEQUENCES OF FAILURE ARE TOO GREAT TO IGNORE. NORTH KOREA MAY HAVE BENT OVER BACKWARDS TO APPEAR CONCILIATORY DURING THE WINTER OLYMPICS AND THROUGH ITS OFFERS OF TALKS WITH SOUTH KOREA AND THE UNITED STATES, BUT KIM JONG-UN HAS NOT STOPPED HIS DANGEROUS ACTIVITIES. FAR FROM IT. WHILE THE NORTH KOREAN REGIME IS ALL SMILES AND OPENNAGES IT'S MALIGNED BEHAVIOR CONTINUES. ITS ENGINEERS RACE TO PERFECT A NUCLEAR-TIPPED INTERCONTINENTAL BALLISTIC MISSILE. NORTH KOREAN LABORERS AROUND THE WORLD, MODERN-DAY INDENTURED SERVANTS, SEND PAYCHECKS HOME TO THE REGIME HELPING FUND ITS ILLICIT MILITARY PROGRAMS. ILLEGAL SHIP-TO-SHIP TRANSFERS OF REFINED PETROLEUM PRODUCTS CONTINUE. NORTH KOREA'S ARMY OF CYBER WARRIORS DEGREES MORE CAPABLE. AND THE KIM'S REGIME'S THUGS MAKE NO EFFORT TO SCALE BACK RAMPANT ABUSES. HOWEVER, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S APPROACH TO DATE THREATENS TO MAKE AN ALREADY BAD SITUATION EVEN WORSE. DESPITE HIS RECENT ANNOUNCEMENT THAT HE WOULD ACCEPT A MEETING WITH KIM JONG-UN, PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS SYSTEMATICALLY UNDERMINED THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE THAT HE WILL NEED TO MAKE TALKS SUCCESSFUL. AND BY SO DOING, HE HAS HARMED U.S. FOREIGN POLICY RIGHT AS THE UNITED STATES IS POISED TO EMBARK ON A CRUCIAL DIPLOMATIC EFFORT WITH NORTH KOREA. BUT BY FIRING REX TILLERSON, PRESIDENT TRUMP THREW THE STATE DEPARTMENT FURTHER INTO CHAOS WHEN WE NEED RIGHT NOW -- WHEN WHAT WE NEED RIGHT IS NOW IS MORE CONSISTENCY. THE GUTTING OF THESE STATE DEPARTMENT GOES MUCH DEEPER. IT HAS BEEN BADLY DEPLETED OF BOTH STAFF AND RESOURCES BY THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION AND IS CONSISTENTLY IGNORED IN THE OPAQUE PROCESS THE WHITE HOUSE IS USING TO TRY TO CONDUCT AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY. PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS STIFLED DISSENT, IGNORED EXPERIENCE, POLITICIZEED KEY DIPLOMATIC AND NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCIES. THE SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR NORTH KOREA POLICY, AMBASSADOR JOSEPH YUNG, THE LEAD AMERICAN NEGOTIATOR WITH NORTH KOREA, HAS STEPPED DOWN. ONE WONDERS WHETHER HE FELT HIS ADVICE WAS BEING HEEDED. WE STILL DON'T HAVE A U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH KOREA MORE THAN A YEAR INTO THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION. WE STILL DON'T HAVE A CONFIRMED ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR EAST ASIAN AND PACIFIC AFFAIRS. WE STILL DON'T HAVE A SPECIFIC ENVOY FOR NORTH KOREAN HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES. WE NO LONGER HAVE A SANCTIONS COORDINATOR. GOING INTO TALKS AT THE SENIOR MOST LEVEL WITH A HALLOWED OUT STATE DEPARTMENT IS NO WAY TO PEACEFULLY RESOLVE A CRISIS. TO THE CONTRARY, IT EXPOSES US TO GREATER RISK. AND AS IF THESE VACANCIES WEREN'T ENOUGH, ITEST GOES WORSE. THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION'S RECENTLY RELEASED BUDGET REQUEST FOR FISCAL YEAR 2019 WOULD DRASTICALLY CUT STATE DEPARTMENT FUNDING. THE STATE DEPARTMENT IS ALREADY ALARMINGLY UNDERRESOURCED AND UNDERSTAFFED TO HANDLE THE SIGNIFICANT AND INCREASING THREATS FROM NORTH KOREA. YET THERE IS NO EXPLANATION AS TO WHY THE PRESIDENT BELIEVES THAT IT IS PRUDENT TO CUT DIPLOMATIC RESOURCES, ESPECIALLY IN THE MIDDLE OF A CRISIS. WE DESERVE AN ANSWER AS TO WHY THE ADMINISTRATION BELIEVES THE STATE DEPARTMENT DESERVES FEWER RESOURCES WHILE TRYING TO EXCUSE A WIDE-RANGING STRATEGY OF DIPLOMATIC ENGAGEMENT AND PRESSURE. ALL THE WHILE THE WHITE HOUSE IS SUBJECTING OUR ALLIES AND PARTNERS TO CONTRADICTORY STATEMENTS THAT CAUSE CONFUSION AND DAMPING THE PROSPECTS OF A PEACEFUL SOLUTION. WE HEAR DIFFERENT THOUGHTS ON DIFFERENT DAYS. BEFORE FIRING HIM, PRESIDENT TRUMP ROUTINELY UNDERCUT SECRETARY TILLERSON AND WITH IT OUR DIPLOMATIC HIGH GROUND, CONFUSING OUR ALLIES IN SOUTH KOREA AND JAPAN WHOSE INSISTENCE IN HELPING RESOLVE THE NORTH KOREAN CRISIS IS INDISPENSABLE, ONLY SERVES TO EMBOLDEN KIM JONG-UN WHO SEEKS TO DRIVE A WEDGE BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND OUR ALLIES. WE CANNOT AFFORD TO FAIL. I AM CONCERNED THAT IF THESE TALKS DO NOT GO WELL, PRESIDENT TRUMP WILL BE ABLE TO CLAIM THAT HE TRIED BOTH ECONOMIC PRESSURE AND DIPLOMACY WITH NEITHER PATH SOLVING THE PROBLEM. HE'LL BE LEFT WITH THE CONCLUSION THAT THE ONLY APPROACH REMAINING IS MILITARY FORCE. BUT WE MUST BE CLEAR. THERE IS NO MILITARY SOLUTION TO THE NORTH KOREA CRISIS. TODAY MARKS THE 15th ANNIVERSARY OF THE UNITED STATES' INVASION OF IRAQ. ALTHOUGH THE CURRENT SITUATION WE FACE WITH NORTH KOREA IS NOT IDENTICAL TO THE ONE WE FACED IN THE RUN-UP TO THE IRAQ WAR IN 2003, THE NORTH KOREA SITUATION IS, IN FACT, WORSE. AND THE CONSEQUENCES ARE EVEN MORE SEVERE. UNLIKE IRAQ, NORTH KOREA HAS NEARLY COMPLETED DEVELOPMENT OF LONG-RANGE NUCLEAR ARMED MISSILES WHICH WILL BE CAPABLE OF CREATING NUCLEAR MUSHROOM CLOUDS IN OUR CITIES. WE ALL AGREE WE NEED TO ACT TO ENSURE THAT THIS NEVER HAPPENS. BUT THE ONLY RESPONSIBLE COURSE OF ACTION IS FOR THE ADMINISTRATION TO USE ALL TOOLS OF AMERICAN STATECRAFT TO REDUCE THE THREATS FROM NORTH KOREA. WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO AMERICAN FAMILIES, SERVICE MEMBERS, AND OUR ALLIES TO SAY UNEQUIVOCALLY THAT WE DID EVERYTHING IN OUR POWER WITHOUT RESORTING TO ARMED CONFLICT. LET'S RETURN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TO THE FOREFRONT OF STATECRAFT, ALLOWING OUR DIPLOMATS TO ADVANCE OUR INTERESTS WITHOUT RISKING A FRIVOLOUS LOSS OF LIFE. THAT IS WHAT IS AT STAKE, AS THE PRESIDENT MOVES FURTHER AWAY FROM USING THE KINDS OF TOOLS WHICH ARE AVAILABLE THAT CAN TRY TO PEACEFULLY RESOLVE THIS CONFLICT WITH NORTH KOREA. I THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I YIELD BACK. A SENATOR: MR. PRESIDENT?

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  • 03:57:05 PM

    A SENATOR

    MR. PRESIDENT?

  • 03:57:06 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM CONNECTICUT.

  • 03:57:08 PM

    MR. MURPHY

    CONNECTICUT.

  • 03:57:18 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    VOTE. THE PRESIDING OFFICER: IS THERE OBJECTION? WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 03:57:25 PM

    MR. MURPHY

    THANK YOU -- THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. PRESIDENT. MR. PRESIDENT, I'M JUST…

    THANK YOU -- THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. PRESIDENT. MR. PRESIDENT, I'M JUST BACK FROM A TRIP TO A MAJOR TRANS-ATLANTIC CONFERENCE IN EUROPE, AND WHILE THE EUROPEANS HAVE SPENT A LOT OF TIME OVER THE COURSE OF THE LAST 12 MONTHS HANDWRINGING ABOUT WHETHER THE UNITED STATES IS COMMITTED TO EUROPE, COMMITTED TO NATO, COMMITTED TO OUR COMMON DEFENSE, MY FEELING IS THAT THEY'RE KIND OF OVER THE HANDWRINGING. THEY ARE NOW JUST MAKING PLANS TO MOVE ON WITHOUT US. THEY ARE MAKING PLANT TO PROTECT THEMSELVES WITHOUT US. THEY ARE MAKING PLANS TO TRY TO SET THE RULES OF THE ROAD ECONOMICALLY, POLITICALLY, AND CULTURAL AROUND THE WORLD WITHOUT THE UNITED STATES. EVIDENCE OF THAT WAS VERY CLEAR. THE EUROPEANS ARE SETTING UP SOMETHING CALLED THE EUROPEAN DEFENSE INITIATIVE IN WHICH THEY ARE GOING TO START DOING MILITARY PLANNING AND PURCHASING OUTSIDE OF NATO BECAUSE THEY ARE JUST NOT CONVINCED, NOT CONFIDENT THAT THE UNITED STATES IS GOING TO BE SERIOUSLY ENGAGED IN NATO. THAT COMPROMISES OUR SECURITY AS THE EUROPEANS START TO MAKE PLANS FOR THEIR DEFENSE WITHOUT US, EVEN THOUGH WE STILL HAVE AN OBLIGATION UNDER THE TREATY TO PROTECT THEM. OVER AND OVER YOU SEE THE WORLD MOVING ON AS THEY WATCH THIS MASSIVE WITHDRAWAL OF AMERICA FROM THE WORLD. THE PRESIDENT SAID AT A RALLY IN ALABAMA A FEW MONTHS AGO, HE SAID, QUOTE, THE WORLD STARTING TO RESPECT THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AGAIN. WELL, THAT COULDN'T BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH. THE PEW ORGANIZATION CHARTS OTHER COUNTRIES' OPINIONS OF THE UNITED STATES, AND THEY ALSO CHART WHETHER OTHER COUNTRIES BELIEVE THAT THE UNITED STATES IS GOING TO ACT IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE WORLD. AND THE NUMBERS ARE FRANKLY STARTLING. OF THE 37 COUNTRIES THIS SURVEY, ONLY TWO OF THEM HAVE HIGHER CONFIDENCE IN THE UNITED STATES UNDER TRUMP THAN THEY DID UNDER OBAMA. ONE IS A RATHER STATISTICALLY INSIGNIFICANT KOREA. THE ONE THAT IS SIGNIFICANT IS RUSSIA, WHICH BY 42 PERCENTAGE POINTS IS MORE CONFIDENT THAT THE UNITED STATES IS GOING TO ACT IN THAT COUNTRY'S BEST INTERESTS. SOUTH KOREA, 88% CONFIDENCE UNDER OBAMA. 17% CONFIDENCE UNDER TRUMP. CANADA, 83% UNDER OBAMA, 22% UNDER TRUMP. GERMANY, 86% TO 11%. AND THEY'VE COME TO THIS BELIEF BECAUSE, AS MY COLLEAGUES HAVE MENTIONED, THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION HAS SIGNALED ITS UNWILLINGNESS TO TRY TO SET AT MORAL TONE FOR THE WORLD IN THE WAY THAT IT BUDGETS. THE BUDGET THAT THEY PRESENTED TO US REDUCES ACCOUNTS DEDICATED TO COUNTERING RUSSIA AGGRESSION AROUND ITS PERIPHERY AROUND 50%. THAT IS A CLEARLY -- THEY ARE CLEARLY ON THEIR OWN THEY WILL HAVE NO HELP FROM THE UNITED STATES. THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY IN THIS BUDGET IS CUT BY $100 MILLION. AND SO IT'S NO SECRET THAT COUNTRIES LIKE HUNGARY AND POLAND ARE SLIPPING AWAY FROM DEMOCRATIC NORMS. THERE IS NOT A MORAL FORCE HERE IN THE UNITED STATES COMMITTING TO BRING THEM CLOSER TO THE IDEALS OF PARTICIPATING DEMOCRACIES. AT ONE POINT A $6 BILLION CUT IN HUMANITARIAN AID. SAYING IF YOU WANT TO SOLVE THESE PROBLEMS OF FAMINE, YOU CAN'T LOOK TO US ANYMORE. YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN AGAIN. AND A 35% CUT IN OVERALL INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS FUNDING. JUST WHEN PHENOMENON IS FIND -- FENTANYL IS FINDING ITS WAY INTO THE UNITED STATES THEY HAVE WATCHED THE UNITED STATES WALK AWAY FOR STANDING UP TO THE RULE OF LAW AND TO TRY TO PROTECT AMERICA'S INTERESTS. THEY ARE MAKING OTHER PLANS WITHOUT US, AND I HOPE THE NEXT ADMINISTRATION WILL BE ABLE TO CORRECT FOR THAT. BUT THOSE PLANS ARE HARD TO BREAK ONCE THEY ARE MADE. I HOPE REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS WILL STAND UP TO MAKE SURE THAT AMERICA DOES NOT BECOME ANY WEAKER IN THE WORLD THAN IT IS TODAY 15 MONTHS INTO THIS ADMINISTRATION. WE ARE LESS SAFE AS AN ADMINISTRATION BECAUSE OF THIS WITHDRAWAL FROM THE GLOBAL STAGE. IT'S NOT TOO LATE TO TRY TO TURN IT AROUND. I YIELD THE FLOOR.

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  • 04:02:11 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM DELAWARE.

  • 04:02:13 PM

    MR. COONS

    MR. PRESIDENT, I JOIN MY COLLEAGUES ON THE FLOOR HERE TODAY TO ADDRESS…

    MR. PRESIDENT, I JOIN MY COLLEAGUES ON THE FLOOR HERE TODAY TO ADDRESS THIS AFTERNOON CONCERNS WE HAVE THE FOREIGN POLICY OF THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION. I WANT TO THANK MY COLLEAGUE, SENATOR MENENDEZ OF NEW JERSEY, THE RANKING MEMBER OF THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE, AND COMMENT FIRST AT THE OUTSET ON TWO THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN WIDELY SAID THAT I JUST DON'T THINK ARE TRUE. FIRST THAT DEMOCRATS ARE BOTTLING UP THE PRESIDENT'S NOMINEES FOR SENIOR AMBASSADORIAL POSITIONS OR SENIOR DEPARTMENT OF STATE NOMINATIONS AND THAT WE'RE HOLDING KEY NOMINEES. FRANKLY NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH. THIS AFTERNOON IN A FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE, A WHOLE SERIES OF TREATIES AND ASSISTANT SECRETARIES OF STATE HAVE BEEN VOTED OUT. AND I HEARD IT BY PUNDITS THAT DEMOCRATS ARE WISHING THEM ILL. WE ARE DOING WHAT WE CAN TO HOLD HIM BACK. I THINK ALL OF US KNOW WE ARE STRONGEST WHEN WE WORK TOGETHER. ALL OF US HEARD THE OLD ADAGE THAT POLITICS SHOULD STOP AT THE WATER'S EDGE AND NOTHING WOULD MAKE ME HAPPIER THAN TO SEE OUR FOREIGN POLICY AND DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS SUCCEED AROUND THE WORLD. I DO NOT WISH OUR PRESIDENT ILL OR THE STATE DEPARTMENT A LACK OF SUCCESS. BUT I THINK IT DESERVES MENTIONING FOR THE FEW MINUT I'M TAKING ON THE FLOOR TODAY THAT PRESIDENT TRUMP, WHO PROMISED AS A CAN INDICATE TO BE -- CANDIDATE TO BE UNPREDICTABLE AND NONTRADITIONAL, HAS OVERPERFORMED IN THAT CATEGORY. HIS POLICY HAS BEEN DEFINED BY INCONSISTENCY AND AT TIMES A FAILURE TO ADVANCE OUR VALUES. THIS COMES EXACTLY AT THE TIME, AS MY COLLEAGUE FROM CONNECTICUT WAS RECITING, WHEN OUR ALLIES AND PARTNERS CRAVE STABILITY AND WHEN OUR DEMOCRATIC WAYS OF LIFE ARE ON THE RAISE. TRUMP'S SHOCK AND AWE STYLE OF GOVERNING WAS DEMONSTRATED BY HIS ABRUPT FIRING OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE AND THE STORIES THAT DRIBBLED OF HOW AND WHEN AND WHERE HE WAS FIRED. WE SHOULD NOT BE CONDUCTING FOREIGN POLICY IN THE SAME WAY THAT ONE MIGHT HOST A REALITY TV SHOW LIKE "THE APPRENTICE." AS I'VE ATTENDED A VARIETY OF MEETINGS, I HAVE SEEN HOW THE PRESIDENT HAS UNDERMINE ALLIANCES. LET ME REVIEW HOW THE EUROPEAN AND ASIAN AND AFRICAN ALLIES HAVE SEEN BY WITHDRAWING FROM THE PARIS CLIMATE ACCORD AND EUROPEAN ALLIES, BY QUESTIONING OUR COMMITMENT TO NATO AND BY DENIGRATING AN ENTIRE CONTINENT WHEN DISCUSSING THE VALUE OF POTENTIAL IMMIGRANTS FROM AFRICA. REAL AND CONSISTENT LEADERSHIP AROUND THE WORLD THAT REFLECTS AMERICAN VALUES IS NEEDED MORE NOW THAN EVER. IN THE DOZEN COUNTRIES I VISITED AT REGIONAL SECURITY CONFERENCES IN THE PAST YEAR, I HEARD THE SAME FROM VITAL ALLIES. SENATOR McCAIN AND I TRAVELED TO HALIFAX AND CANADA FOR A WHOLE SERIES OF BILATERAL MEETINGS WITH CLOSE AND TRUSTED ALLIES. SENATOR FLAKE AND I TRAVELED TO AFRICA AND SENATOR GRAHAM AND I TRAVELED TO THE MIDDLE EAST. IN ALL OF THESE TRIPS WHAT I HEARD IS THAT OUR ALLIES ARE CONCERNED. THAT THEY NEED REASSURANCE ABOUT HOW AND WHERE WE STAND AND THAT IN MANY CASES, YES, THEY ARE BEGINNING TO MOVE ON PAST US AND TO REACH ACCOMMODATIONS WITH CHINA OR RUSSIA, HAVING CONCLUDED WE ARE NOT COMMITTED TO ENGAGEMENT WITH THE WORLD. EVERY TIME I GO ON A VISIT TO A FOREIGN EMBASSY OVERSEAS, I SIT DOWN WITH OUR FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICERS, AND I ASK ABOUT THEIR WORK AND THEIR SERVICE AND I AM OVERWHELMINGLY IMPRESSED WITH THEIR PROFESSIONALISM AND DEDICATION, OUR CAREER PROFESSIONALS AND DIPLOMATS. OVERWHELMINGLY THE NUMBER OF VACANCIES AT THE SENIOR LEVEL AND THE BUDGET CUTS IN THE STATE DEPARTMENT AND USAID HAS HAD A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON THESE PEOPLE WHO WE COUNT ON TO ADVANCE AMERICA'S INTERESTS AND VALUES AROUND THE WORLD. ON THE CONTINENT OF AFRICA WHERE I HAVE SPENT A GREAT DEAL OF MY TIME ON THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE, WE ARE MISSING AMBASSADORS TO SOME OF THE BIGGEST AND MOST IMPORTANT COUNTRIES, SOUTH AFRICA AND TANZANIA, AND IT IS A CONTINENT WHERE CHINA'S PRESENCE IS NOT COUNTERED BY AN AMERICA THAT IS ROBUSTLY ENGAGED. WHY DOES THIS MATTER? BECAUSE IN THIS CENTURY AFRICA WILL BECOME THE LARGEST GROWING MARKET FOR OUR GOODS AND SHOULD BE THE CONTINENT WE HAVE THE CLOAEST ALLIANCES AND PARTNERSHIPS. INSTEAD OF BUILDING PARTNERSHIPS, THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS SQUANDERING THE CURRENT ECONOMIC MOMENTUM AND WATCHING FROM THE SIDELINES AS DEMOCRATIC NORMS DETERIORATE. AS A MEMBER OF BOTH THE APPROPRIATIONS AND FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEES, I WAS GRAVELY CONCERNED FOR A SECOND YEAR IN A ROW THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION BUDGET PROPOSED DEEP CUTS IN DIPLOMACY AND DEVELOPMENT. WE MUST RECOGNIZE THAT WHILE THESE INVESTMENTS, YES, SERVE A HUMANITARIAN PURPOSE, THEY ALSO MAKE US STRONGER BY SPREADING AMERICA VALUES, BY BUILDING COALITIONS, LESS SUSCEPTIBLE TO TERRORISM AND MORE PROSPEROUS. IF WE WANT TO REMAIN A GLOBAL LEADER, WE NEED A STRONG STATE DEPARTMENT AND USAID THAT IS SUFFICIENTLY P FUNDED. LET ME TURN TO THE MATTER OF RUSSIA BEFORE I CONCLUDE. THROUGHOUT HIS ADMINISTRATION PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS NOT ONLY TURNED AWAY FROM SOME OF OUR CRITICAL ALLIES AN WEAKENED OUR COMMITMENTS BUT HAS REFUSED TO HEAD ON ADDRESS THE MULTIFACETED THREATS WE FACE FROM RUSSIA. RUSSIA'S ACTIVITIES, AS HAS BEEN TESTIFIED TO BY SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS OVER MANY HEARINGS ARE DIRECTLY INTERFERING WITH OUR DEMOCRACY, OUR LAST ELECTION AND LIKELY OUR NEXT ELECTION AS WELL AS THOSE OF OUR CLOSEST ALLIES THROUGHOUT THE WORLD MANY RATHER THAN SENDING A CLEAR SIGNAL TO RUSSIA THAT OUR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ARE NOT TO BE MEDDLED WITH, PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS TURNED ASIDE FROM THE CHALLENGE AND FAILED TO ADDRESS IT. NOW MORE THAN OF THE UNITED STATES MUST LEAD IN THE WORLD AND I LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH MY COLLEAGUES ON THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE ON A BIPARTISAN BASIS TO ADVANCE OUR INTERESTS. THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I YIELD THE FLOOR.

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  • 04:08:54 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM MARYLAND.

  • 04:08:56 PM

    MR. CARDIN

    FROM MARYLAND.

  • 04:12:50 PM

    A SENATOR

    FLOOR. A SENATOR: MR. PRESIDENT.

  • 04:12:51 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM UTAH.

  • 04:12:53 PM

    MR. LEE

    MR. PRESIDENT, I STAND TO URGE A NO VOTE ON THE MOTION TO TABLE. WE ARE…

    MR. PRESIDENT, I STAND TO URGE A NO VOTE ON THE MOTION TO TABLE. WE ARE INVOLVED AS HE COULD BELLIGERENT -- CO-BELLIGERENTS IN A CIVIL WAR IN YEMEN. NOW, IT'S VERY DIFFICULT TO DISPUTE THE CONTENTION THAT THERE IS NO DECISION MADE BY A GOVERNMENT THAT IS MORE SEVERE, MORE SERIOUS, THAT CARRIES WITH IT MORE DIRE CONSEQUENCES THAN SENDING BRAVE YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN SWORN TO PROTECT US INTO HARM'S WAY TO BATTLE IN HOSTILITIES. WE HAVE BEEN FACED WITH A DEBATE ABOUT WHAT AMOUNTS TO HOSTILITIES. WE HAVE AN EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT THAT UNDERSTANDABLY HAS DEFINED THAT TERM NARROWLY, BUT IN THIS CASE SO NARROWLY AS TO OBLITERATE ANY MEANING BEHIND THAT WORD, BASICALLY SUGGESTING THAT WE'RE NOT IN HOSTILITIES UNLESS WE HAVE PEOPLE ON THE GROUND FIRING UPON AN ENEMY AND BEING FIRED UPON. THAT IS NOT ALWAYS THE WAY MODERN WARFARE HAS BEEN CONDUCTED AND HASN'T BEEN FOR SOME TIME. THE FACT IS WE HAVE OUR MILITARY PERSONNEL ENGAGED IN THINGS IN MID-AIR REFUELING ON COMBAT MISSIONS, REFUELING THE COMBAT AIRPLANES OF ANOTHER COUNTRY WHEN THOSE COMBAT PLANES ARE EN ROUTE TO A BATTLEFIELD, TO A THEATER OF WARFARE. IF THOSE AREN'T HOSTILITIES, I DON'T KNOW WHAT IS. WE'VE BEEN TOLD THAT WE NEED TO DO THIS IN REGULAR ORDER. LET'S TALK ABOUT REGULAR ORDER FOR A MINUTE. BECAUSE, AS I MENTIONED A MOMENT AGO, THERE IS NOTHING MORE SERIOUS THAN SENDING OUR MILITARY UNIFORMED PERSONNEL INTO HOSTILITIES. WE HAVE IN THIS BODY ADOPTED LAWS AND PROCEDURES MAKING IT POSSIBLE FOR US TO RECEIVE FAST-TRACK CONSIDERATION OF MEASURES THAT INDICATE THAT THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT HAS OVERSTEPPED ITS POWER. WE ARE IN OUR THIRD YEAR INVOLVED IN THIS CIVIL WAR IN YEMEN, THREE YEARS, AND YET THIS HEARNT COME UP FOR -- HASN'T COME UP FOR A VOTE. THREE YEARS AND WE HAVEN'T HAD ANYTHING COME OUT OF COMMITTEE AND VOTED ON THE SENATE FLOOR. THREE YEARS OUGHT TO BE LONG ENOUGH. AND IN FACT, THE WAR POWERS RESOLUTION GIVES US EXPEDITED CONSIDERATION. GIVES THE COMMITTEE TEN DAYS TO CONSIDER THAT. THE COMMITTEE HAS NOT PUT ANYTHING OUT. THIS IS WHY WE ARE WELL WITHIN OUR RIGHTS, WELL WITHIN THE BOUNDARIES OF WHAT'S APPROPRIATE. IN FACT, WELL WITHIN WHAT THE CONSTITUTION ALREADY GRANTS US, WHICH IS THE POWER TO DECLARE WAR. THAT POWER, WITH GOOD REASON, WAS NOT VESTED IN THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT. IT WAS VESTED ONLY IN CONGRESS. THAT BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT MOST ACCOUNTABLE TO THE PEOPLE AT THE MOST REGULAR INTERVALS. THE REASONING THIS IS SO IMPORTANT IS BECAUSE BEFORE WE SEND OUR YOUNG PEOPLE INTO A PLACE WHERE THEY COULD DIE, WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT AN OPEN, HONEST DEBATE IS HELD IN PUBLIC VIEW, NOT BEHIND CLOSED DOORS AT THE PENTAGON OR AT SOME OTHER GOVERNMENT OFFICE BUILDING BUT RIGHT HERE ON THE SENATE FLOOR AND IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. WE CANNOT EXERCISE THAT POWER CAPABLY AND WE CANNOT CLAIM TO BE MINDFUL, WE CANNOT BE DEEMED FAITHFUL TO OUR OATH TO UPHOLD, PROTECT, AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES IF WE DON'T LOOK OUT FOR OUR AUTHORITIES, IF WE DON'T MAKE SURE THAT SOMEONE ELSE ISN'T EXERCISING AUTHORITY THAT WAS GRANTED TO THIS BODY. THAT AUTHORITY BELONGS NOT TO ANY ONE PERSON. IT BELONGS TO THE PEOPLE. AND IF WE REFUSE TO TAKE THIS VOTE TODAY, IF WE CHOOSE INSTEAD TO TABLE THIS MEASURE RATHER THAN TO ALLOW IT TO COME UP FOR A VOTE ON THE SENATE FLOOR, WE ARE CHOOSING NOT TO DECIDE, AND WE WILL HAVE STILL MADE A CHOICE, A CHOICE TO ABDICATE OUR RESPONSIBILITY. IF WE MAKE THAT DECISION TODAY, THEN SHAME ON US. IT IS OUR PREROGATIVE AS A CO-ORDER NATIONAL BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT, TO DO OUR JOB, DO THAT WHICH ONLY CONGRESS CAN DO. THIS IS IN FACT A WAR. THERE ARE IN FACT BRAVE HUMANITARIAN CONCERNS PRESENTED BY THAT WAR. AND THAT MAKES IT ALL THE MORE IMPORTANT, NOT LESS IMPORTANT, FOR US TO DEBATE THIS, FOR US TO DISCUSS THIS. UNDER THE LIGHT OF DAY, IN PUBLIC, ON THE ONE HAND AN THE SENATE FLOOR. -- AND ON THE SENATE FLOOR. MR. PRESIDENT, I URGE MY COLLEAGUES IN THE STRONGEST TERMS I'M CAPABLE OF COMMUNICATING TO VOTE AGAINST THE MOTION TO TABLE. THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT.

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  • 04:17:40 PM

    MR. CORKER

    MR. PRESIDENT?

  • 04:17:41 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM TENNESSEE.

  • 04:17:44 PM

    MR. CORKER

    MR. PRESIDENT, I HAVE ENJOYED HEARING THE DISCUSSION ABOUT THE ITEM BEFORE…

    MR. PRESIDENT, I HAVE ENJOYED HEARING THE DISCUSSION ABOUT THE ITEM BEFORE US, AND I MUST SAY I'D FEEL A WHOLE LOT BETTER ABOUT THIS DEBATE IF IT WAS FOCUSED ON US REFUELING FRENCH JETS GOING INTO MALLEY. IT'S THE SAME EXACT DEBATE. I ASSUME THAT THESE INDIVIDUALS WOULD CONSIDER THOSE TO BE -- BUT SOMEHOW OR ANOTHER THAT DOESN'T RISE TO CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL. THIS ONE I THINK IS POLITICALLY TINGED. SAUDI ARABIA CERTAINLY HAS ISSUES. THEY'VE CONDUCTED THEMSELVES IN MANNERS THAT WE WISH WERE BETTER. THE CROWN PRINCE WAS HERE TODAY AND ALL OF US WHO MET WITH HIM DEMARCHED HIM, IF YOU WILL, ON THE CONDUCT RELATIVE TO YEMEN. AND YET AT THE SAME TIME WE KNOW THAT BECAUSE AMERICAN FOLKS ARE INVOLVED IN REFUELING AND BECAUSE WE'RE HELPING TO A DEGREE WITH INTELLIGENCE, WE NO HE THAT LESS CIVILIANS ARE BEING KILLED THERE. WE KNOW THAT. WE IN THAT US BEING THERE HAS AFFECTED THEIR CONDUCT. BUT I WANT TO TALK ABOUT PROCESS HERE. OUR SPONSORS OF THE BILL, WHO I HAVE A GREAT RESPECT FOR, HAVE USE ADD VERY ENTREPRENEURIAL METHOD TO BRING THIS TO THE FLOOR, AND I DON'T SAY THAT TO BE PEJORATIVE. THEY'VE REACHED INTO THE WAR POWERS ACT AND PULLED OUT SOMETHING THAT WAS NEVER INTENDED FOR THIS PURPOSE. I THINK EVERYONE UNDERSTANDS THAT. AND I THINK EVERYONE UNDERSTANDS THAT IF SOMEHOW OR ANOTHER WE DON'T TABLE THIS, WE WOULD HAVE -- WE WILL BE SETTING A PRECEDENT HERE. IT WILL BE A SITUATION OF FIRST IMPRESSION WHERE FROM NOW ON -- FROM NOW ON, WHEN AMERICANS -- WHEN OUR AIR FORCE IS REFUELING JETS IN THE AIR, WE'RE INVOLVED IN HOLTS. AND I DON'T THINK THAT'S A STANDARD THAT WE WISH TO SET. BUT I WANT TO ARGUE THIS ON A DIFFERENT LEVEL. IT'S HARD FOR ME TO BELIEVE THAT WE WOULD TAKE UP AN ISSUE THIS -- OF THIS SERIOUS NATURE AND NOT ALLOW THE COMMITTEE OF JURISDICTION TO WORK ITS WILL. I MEAN, WE HAD A HEARING LAST WEEK THAT SENATOR McCONNELL SET UP FOR ALL SENATORS TO COME IN AND BE BRIEFED ON YEMEN. HIS STATED REASON FOR DOING THAT IS MOST PEOPLE IN THE SENATE DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT WHAT'S HAPPENING IN YEMEN. PEOPLE IN THE FOREIGN REELS COMMITTEE DO AND PEOPLE IN INK TELL DO AND PEOPLE ON ARMED SERVICES DO. BUT MOST OF THE SENATE HAS NOT BEEN INVOLVED. TYPICALLY THE WAY WE WORK AROUND SHEER THE COMMITTEE DOES ITS WORK, IT DOES IT'S RECOMMENDATION, WORKS WITH THE ADMINISTRATION AND YOU COME FORGOT WITH A PIECE -- AND YOU COME FORTH WITH A PIECE OF LEGISLATION. CAN YOU IMAGINE WITH ARE TAX REFORM IF WE HAD SOME KIND OF ENTREPRENEURIAL WAY OF BRINGING TAX REFORM TO THE FLOOR WITHOUT THE FINANCE COMMITTEE WORKING? OR BRINGING FISA TO THE FLOOR WITHOUT INTEL WORKING? THAT'S NOT THE WAY WE'RE SUPPOSED TO DO THINGS HERE. SO WE'VE GOT A BILL THAT'S BEING GENERATED RIGHT NOW. IT'S A BIPARTISAN BILL BY JEANNE SHAHEEN AND TODD YOUNG. IT MAY NOT BE THE BILL WE DON'T DEAL WITH ON -- WE DEAL WITH ON YEMEN. BY THE WAY, I SKIPPED A BEAT HERE. I WANT TO LEARN PEOPLE'S MEMORY AS TO WHAT WE'RE VOTE O WE'RE NOT VOTING ON ANYTHING BUT A DECISION TO DISCHARGE THE YEMEN ISSUE FROM THE COMMITTEE. WITHOUT THE COMMITTEE TAKING ANY ACTION, WITHOUT THE COMMITTEE HAVING ANY HEARINGS, THIS IS A VOTE TO SAY, WE'RE GOING TO SKIP THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE AND WE'RE GOING TO SET PRECEDENT HERE ON THE FLOOR IN THIS ENTREPRENEURIAL WAY THAT WE REACHED INTO THE WAR POWERS ACT TO FIND A CLAUSE TO BRING IT TO THE FLOOR WHICH WAS NEVER INTENDED FOR THIS PURPOSE. SO WHAT I WOULD SAY TO PEOPLE IS, A BETTER WAY OF HANDING THIS WOULD BE TO TABLE THIS MOTION, TO LET THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE DO THE WORK THAT YOU'VE ASSIGNED THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE TO DO. WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A HEARING ON YEMEN. WE GOT A PIECE OF LEGISLATION THAT IS BEING DEVELOPED IN A BIPARTISAN WAY WITH A REPUBLICAN AND A DEMOCRAT TO DEAL WITH THIS ISSUE, AND LET US WORK OUR WILL IN THE APPROPRIATE WAY. BY THE WAY, IN A WAY THAT ACTUALLY WILL GENERATE AN OUTCOME, AN OUTCOME. IN ADDITION, I KNOW THAT THERE ARE MEMBERS ON THE FLOOR THAT HAVE BEEN FRUSTRATED. AS SOMEONE REFERENCED EARLIER ABOUT THE 2001-2002 AMF STILL BE USED. THE PRESIDING OFFICER HAS BEEN VERY INVOLVED IN TRYING TO DEVELOP A NEW AUMF THAT WOULD SUPERSEDE THOSE TWO AUMF'S AND GIVES THE SENATE AND HOUSE THE ABILITY TO WEIGH IN EVERY FOUR YEARS ON THESE TYPES OF ACTIONS. WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A MARKUP ON A BILL THAT OUR PRESIDING OFFICER, THAT SENATOR KAINE FROM VIRGINIA, THAT SENATOR YOUNG FROM INDIANA, THAT MANY PEOPLE HAVING INVOLVED IN. THAT MARK UPIS GOING TO TAKE PLACE ON APRIL 19. SOHO HOPEFULLY THE SENATE WILL NOT ONLY HAVE AN ABILITY TO DEAL WITH A BILL ON YEMEN THAT ACTUALLY WILL DEVELOP A REAL OUTCOME COMING THROUGH COMMITTEE BUT ALSO HAVE THE ABILITY TO DEAL WITH AN AMF THAT WILL SET ASIDE THE FACT THAT FOR YEARS THE CONGRESS HAS NOT WEIGHED IN ON THIS ISSUE. TO ME, THAT'S A MUCH BETTER ROUTE. I WOULD URGE EVERYONE IN THIS BODY TO INSTEAD OF FOLLOWING THIS UNIQUE PROCESS THAT'S NOT GOING TO GENERATE AN OUTCOME REGARDLESS, TO ALLOW THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE TO DO ITS WORK, TO BRING A BILL TO THE FLOOR THAT WILL GENERATE AN OUTCOME, AND I AM GOING TO MAKE A MOE MOTION IN A MOMENT TO TABLE THIS. I REALIZE THERE MAY BE ONE MORE SPEAKER BEFORE I DO SO.

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  • 04:23:49 PM

    MR. DURBIN

    WOULD THE SENATOR YIELD FOR A BRIEF QUESTION?

  • 04:23:52 PM

    MR. CORKER

    YES.

  • 04:23:54 PM

    MR. CORNYN

    MR. PRESIDENT, I APPRECIATE THE LEADERSHIP OF THE CHAIRMAN OF THE FOREIGN…

    MR. PRESIDENT, I APPRECIATE THE LEADERSHIP OF THE CHAIRMAN OF THE FOREIGN REELS COMMITTEE -- AND I AGREE WITH HIT PROPOSED CUT COME OF THIS VOTE. THAT'S NOT TO DIMINISH THE IMPORTANCE OF ISSUES RAISED BY THE SENATOR FROM UTAH, THE SENATOR FROM VERMONT. I DO AGREE WITH HIM, IT IS THE PREFERRED, CAREFUL, CAUTIOUS WAY OF DEALING WITH COMPETING INTERESTS IN A COMPLEX WORLD. BUT I WOULD JUST ASK THE SENATOR FURTHER TO THAT POINT WHETHER HE CAN CONFIRM MY UNDERSTANDING THAT ACTUALLY USING THIS UNIQUE PROCESS, IS IT HIS UNDERSTANDING, AS IT IS MINE THAT THERE ACTUALLY BE A VOTE-A-RAMA? THAT IS, WE WOULD END UP VOTING ON MULTIPLE DIFFERENT PROPOSALS, NOT JUST THIS ONE PROPOSAL AND CREATE PERHAPS SOME CONFUSION AND SOME MORE CHAOS INTO WHAT IS ADMITTEDLY A COMPLEX AND SENSITIVE FOREIGN RELATIONS AND NATIONAL SECURITY MATTER?

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  • 04:24:49 PM

    MR. CORKER

    THAT IS CORRECT. SO IN CLOSING, MR. PRESIDENT, I WOULD JUST ASK, JUST LIKE…

    THAT IS CORRECT. SO IN CLOSING, MR. PRESIDENT, I WOULD JUST ASK, JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER COMMITTEE HERE IN THE SENATE, HOPEFULLY TAKES ITS WORK SERIOUSLY AND DOES WORK ESPECIALLY ON IMPORTANT MATTERS LIKE THIS THAT AFFECT PEOPLE'S LIVES, THAT THIS BODY WOULD THINK THAT A BETTER RECOMMENDATION WOULD BE TO TABLE THIS EFFORT, TO HAVE THIS WILD WEST DEBATE ON THE FLOOR OVER THE COURSE OF THE NEXT SEVERAL HOURS -- INSTEAD OF DOING IT THAT MANNER, TO GIVE THE COMMITTEE OF JURISDICTION THE ABILITY TO WORK ITS WILL WITH YEMEN THROUGH HEARINGS, THROUGH A PROCESS, THROUGH A PROCESS ON THE COMMITTEE THAT ACTUALLY WOULD BRING A BILL TO THE FLOOR THAT HAD BEEN THOUGHT THROUGH AND THAT -- WHERE WE HAD WORKED WITH OTHER BODIES OF GOVERNMENT TO GET IT IN A PLACE WHERE THEN IT COULD BE AMENDED AND DEALT WITH THE IN A MORE METHODICAL AND APPROPRIATE WAY. AND I'D LIKE IT REMIND PEOPLE ONE MORE TIME, WE ALSO PLAN TO MARK UP AN AUMF ON APRIL 19 TO DEAL WITH THE LINGERING ISSUE OF HAVING AN OPEN SITUATION WHERE WE'RE STILL DEALING WITH ISIS AND AL QAEDA AND OTHERS BASED ON SOMETHING THAT WAS AUTHORIZED TO DO IN AFGHANISTAN YEARS AGO. WITH THAT, I MOVE TO TABLE THE SANDERS MOTION. I THOUGHT I WAS THE LAST -- I'LL YIELD THE FLOOR. I'LL YIELD THE REST OF MY TIME TO SENATOR SANDERS.

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  • 04:26:32 PM

    MR. SANDERS

    I THINK --

  • 04:26:34 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM VERMONT.

  • 04:26:35 PM

    MR. SANDERS

    I APPRECIATE THAT. BUT I THINK I HAVE FIVE MINUTES OF MY MONEY OWN.

  • 04:26:41 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR IS CORRECT. SAND SAND I WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO ADD ON NOR…

    THE SENATOR IS CORRECT. SAND SAND I WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO ADD ON NOR CORKER'S TIME AS WELL. BUT LET'S SEE. MR. PRESIDENT, THE RESOLUTION THAT WE WILL SOON BE VOTING ON IS REALLY VERY SIMPLE. IT HAS TWO BASIC POINTS. POINT NUMBER ONE, I AND THE 14 OTHER COSPONSORS OF THIS RESOLUTION BELIEVE THAT UNDER THE DEFINITIONS LAID OUT IN THE 1973 WAR POWERS RESOLUTION, U.S. FORCES HAVE BEEN INTRODUCED INTO THE SAUDI-LED WAR IN YEMEN, A WAR WHICH IS CAUSING A HUMANITARIAN DISASTER. AND I SAY TO MY GOOD FRIEND, SENATOR CORKER, THE CHAIRMAN OF THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE, THIS WAR HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR THREE YEARS. 10,000 CIVILIANS IN YEMEN ARE DEAD, 40,000 HAVE BEEN WOUNDED, A MILLION ARE DEALING WITH CHOLERA RIGHT NOW, MILLIONS HAVE BEEN DISPLACED. AND YOU COME TONIGHT ON THE FLOOR AND YOU SAY, WE'RE GOING TO HOLD A HEARING. THAT'S GOOD. BUT IT'S THREE YEARS TOO LATE. AND THE ISSUE THAT WE ARE DEALING WITH RIGHT NOW IS WHETHER OR NOT THE UNITED STATES SENATE AND THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS ACCEPTS ITS CONSTITUTIONAL RESPONSIBILITY ON THE ISSUES OF WAR. AND THIS IS NOT A COMPLICATED ISSUE. AND I DON'T THINK ANYBODY HERE DISAGREES. ARTICLE 1, SECTION 8, OF THE CONSTITUTION SAYS NOT THAT THE PRESIDENT CAN MAKE WAR AND SEND OUR YOUNG PEOPLE INTO HARM'S WAY. IT IS THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES THAT SHOULD MAKE WAR, AND OUR ROLE NOW IN YEMEN, WORKING WITH THE SAUDI-LED INTERVENTION THERE, IS ONE OF HOSTILITIES UNDER THE LAW OF THE UNITED STATES AND THE WAR POWERS RESOLUTION. NOT JUST MY VIEW ON THIS. AS MANY MAY KNOW HERE, AS THE SUSPECT THE CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE KNOWS, LAST NOVEMBER BY A VOTE OF 366-30, THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AGREED WITH THE ESSENCE OF WHAT SENATOR LEE AND I ARE TRYING TO DO. AND THE HOUSE PASSED A NONBINDING RESOLUTION STATING THAT U.S. INVOLVEMENT IN THE YEMEN CIVIL WAR IS UNAUTHORIZED. EVERY MEMBER OF THE DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP VOTED FOR THAT, AS DID THE REPUBLICAN CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, ED ROYCE. EDITORIAL IN "THE NEW YORK TIMES" TODAY, QUOTE, THE UNITED STATES INITIALLY DEPLOYED FORCES TO COMBAT AL QAEDA IN YEMEN UNDER POST SEPTEMBER 11 CONGRESSIONAL AUTHORIZATION MEASURES, BUT CONGRESS NEVER SPECIFIED SPECIFICALLY APPROVED MILITARY INVOLVEMENT IN THE SAUDI-HOUTHI WAR EVEN THOUGH THE CONSTITUTION AND THE 1973 WAR POWERS ACT GIVE CONGRESS A ROLE. "THE NEW YORK TIMES," FOR TOO LONG CONGRESS HAS ABDICATED ITS ROLE AS AMERICA PROLONGED ITS STAY IN SOME WARS AN EXPANDED INTO OTHERS AND PRESIDENTS HAVE BEEN TOO RELUCTANT TO SHARE THESE CRUCIAL DECISIONS WITH LAWMAKERS, RESOLUTIONS LIKE THIS, THE ONE WE'RE DEBATING, CAN AND MUST FORCE SERIOUS DEBATE AND ACCOUNTABILITY. YOU KNOW, I THINK NOW -- I SAY THIS TO MY FRIEND, THE CHAIRMAN -- I THINK NOW OF THE TWO MAJOR FOREIGN POLICY DISASTERS THAT HAVE TAKEN PLACE IN OUR LIFETIME -- NUMBER ONE, THE WAR IN VIETNAM. AND IN THAT WAR, A DEMOCRATIC ADMINISTRATION UNDER AN OTHERWISE VERY GOOD PRESIDENT, LYNDON JOHNSON. HE AND THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE MISLED AND LIED TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WITH REGARD TO THE GULF OF TONKIN RESOLUTION. THAT IS NOW ESTABLISHED FACT AS A RESULT OF DECLASSIFIED INFORMATION. AND THE UNITED STATES GOT SUCKED INTO THAT WAR, AND MY GENERATION, MY GENERATION SUFFERED SO TERRIBLY. OVER 60,000 DIED AND MANY OTHERS CAME HOME WOUNDED IN BODY AND IN SPIRIT. THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS ABDICATED ITS RESPONSIBILITY AT THAT POINT IN 1964. AND 15 YEARS AGO, ODDLY ENOUGH TODAY, ON THIS DAY, THERE WAS THE WAR IN IRAQ UNDER A REPUBLICAN ADMINISTRATION. AND THE ADMINISTRATION LIED TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AGAIN. AND WHERE WAS THE CONGRESS GETTING OUT THE FACTS? YOU HAD THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, OH, SADDAM HUSSEIN IS BUILDING WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. THERE'S A CONNECTION BETWEEN SADDAM HUSSEIN AND IRAQ AND THE 9/11 PERPETUATED. SO IT WAS A LIE. IT WAS A LIE. AND MISTAKENLY CONGRESS VOTED TO APPROVE A WAR BASED ON FALSE INFORMATION. SO WHAT I SAY, MR. PRESIDENT, TODAY IT IS TIME FOR THE CONGRESS TO ACCEPT ITS CONSTITUTIONAL RESPONSIBILITY. I DON'T KNOW HOW WELL WE WILL DO. MAYBE WE'LL SCREW IT UP AS WELL. VERY POSSIBLE. BUT THAT'S WHAT THE FOUNDING FATHERS SUGGESTED, AND I THINK THAT THEY WERE RIGHT. WE ARE CLOSER TO THE PEOPLE. THE HOUSE AND SENATE, THAN IS THE WHITE HOUSE. THIS WHITE HOUSE OR ANY OTHER WHITE HOUSE. SO TWO ISSUES TODAY. DO WE ACCEPT OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RESPONSIBILITY TO VOTE ON MATTERS OF WAR? I WOULD SUGGEST THAT EVERY MEMBER OF THE SENATE VOTE YES. DON'T DUCK YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. DON'T ABDICATE YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. SECOND OF ALL, THIS WAR IN YEMEN, IN MY VIEW, HAS BEEN A HUMANITARIAN DISASTER AS A RESULT OF SAUDI INTERVENTION. BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT VOTE IS DO WE ACTUALLY HAVE A VOTE ON WHETHER OR NOT AMERICAN TROOPS ARE INVOLVED IN THE WAR IN YEMEN. I HOPE VERY MUCH WE WILL VOTE AGAINST SENATOR CORKER'S MOTION TO TABLE, AND THEN I HOPE AFTER WE DO THAT WE WILL VOTE FOR THE RESOLUTION WHICH SAYS THAT IT IS TIME FOR THE UNITED STATES TO GET OUT OF YEMEN. THANK YOU.

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  • 04:33:07 PM

    MR. CORKER

  • 04:33:08 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM TENNESSEE.

  • 04:33:10 PM

    MR. CORKER

    VERY BRIEFLY, I JUST WANT TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT. THE HOUSE OF…

    VERY BRIEFLY, I JUST WANT TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT. THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES VOTED TO SAY THAT THE WAR IN YEMEN IS NOT COVERED BY THE 2001 AUMF. AND I THINK THIS BODY WOULD AGREE. THEY DID NOT DO AS WAS JUST MENTIONED BY THE SENATOR FROM VERMONT. AS A MATTER OF FACT, THEY DECIDED NOT TO TAKE UP THIS MEASURE THAT WE'RE TAKING UP TODAY BECAUSE THEY THOUGHT IT WAS NOT A GOOD MEASURE TO TAKE UP. SO I DON'T WANT ANYBODY IN THIS BODY TO THINK THAT THE HOUSE HAS ALREADY SUPPORTED THIS EFFORT. THE HOUSE NOT ONLY DIDN'T SUPPORT IT, THEY WOULDN'T TAKE IT UP BECAUSE THEY THOUGHT IT WAS DAMAGING TO OUR COUNTRY'S FOREIGN POLICY. SO I HOPE PEOPLE TODAY WILL JOIN ME IN VOTING TO TABLE THIS MOTION, TO LET THE COMMITTEE DO ITS WORK AS IT IS SUPPOSED TO DO. LET US BRING SOMETHING TO THE FLOOR THAT WILL ACTUALLY HAVE AN OUTCOME, HAVE AN OUTCOME, AND THEN LET'S HAVE A DEBATE DOWN THE ROAD ON THE AUMF, THE 2001 AND 2002 AUMF WHICH I HOPE WE WILL GIVE THEM FLOOR TIME. WITH THAT, I THINK THE TIME HAS ENDED. I MOVE TO TABLE THE SANDERS MOTION TO DISCHARGE H.J. RES. 54 AND I ASK FOR THE YEAS AND NAYS.

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  • 04:34:16 PM

    Senate Vote 58 - On the Motion to Table S.J.Res. 54

    Motion to Table Agreed to (55 - 44)
    Yea
    Nay

    Vote Details: Yea - 55
    Republican - 45
    Democratic - 10

    Vote Details: Nay - 44
    Democratic - 37
    Republican - 5
    Independent - 2

  • 04:34:20 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    IS THERE A SUFFICIENT SECOND? THERE APPEARS TO BE. THE CLERK WILL CALL THE…

    IS THERE A SUFFICIENT SECOND? THERE APPEARS TO BE. THE CLERK WILL CALL THE ROLL. VOTE: VOTE: VOTE:

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  • 05:06:14 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

  • 05:06:47 PM

    A SENATOR

    A SENATOR: MR. PRESIDENT.

  • 05:06:51 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM OHIO.

  • 05:06:54 PM

    MR. PORTMAN

    MR. PRESIDENT, LAST NIGHT I CAME ON THE FLOOR TO TALK ABOUT LEGISLATION WE…

    MR. PRESIDENT, LAST NIGHT I CAME ON THE FLOOR TO TALK ABOUT LEGISLATION WE ARE DEBATING IN THE SENATE THIS WEEK THAT HAS TO DO WITH HUMAN -- ORDER IN THE CHAMBER, PLEASE.

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  • 05:07:09 PM

    MR. PORTMAN

    I LAST NIGHT TALKED ABOUT SOME OF THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN WHO HAVE BEEN…

    I LAST NIGHT TALKED ABOUT SOME OF THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN WHO HAVE BEEN EXPLOITED ONLINE, THEIR STORIES, SOME OF THEIR HEARTBREAKING STORIES. THIS OPPORTUNITY WE HAVE BEFORE US IS TO PASS LEGISLATION THAT ADDRESSES THAT VERY DIRECTLY. BECAUSE WE ARE SEEING IN THIS COUNTRY, IN THIS CENTURY UNBELIEVABLY AN INCREASE IN TRAFFICKING RIGHT NOW, AND THE EXPERTS ALL SAY IT'S FOR ONE PRIMARY REASON, AND THAT'S BECAUSE THE TRAFFICKING HAS MOVED ONLINE. THE RUTHLESS EFFICIENCY OF THE INTERNET, MR. PRESIDENT, THE DARK SIDE OF THE INTERNET, YOU'VE BEEN INVOLVED WITH THIS ISSUE IN OUR COMMITTEE. AS YOU KNOW, WE SPENT A COUPLE OF YEARS COMING TO THIS POINT, AN 18-MONTH INVESTIGATION OF WHAT'S HAPPENING ONLINE, WHY IT'S HAPPENING AND THEN COMING UP WITH A LEGISLATIVE SOLUTION. THE REPORTS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING TO ONE OF THE MAJOR ANTITRAFFICKING GROUPS IN THE COUNTRY CALLED POLARIS THROUGH THEIR HOTLINE AND TEXT LINE, THE REPORTS INCREASED 842% OVER THE PAST TEN YEARS. THIS IS CONSISTENT ACROSS THE BOARD IN TALKING TO OTHER EXPERTS, THERE IS THIS INCREASE. AND WHEN THEY LOOK AT IT, AGAIN, WHAT THEY SEE IS WHERE IT'S HAPPENING IS ONLINE. SO VICTIMS HAVE TOLD ME AND TOLD YOU AND TOLD OTHER MEMBERS HERE, THIS HAS NOW MOVED FROM THE STREET TO THE SMARTPHONE. FROM THE STREET CORNER TO THE INTERNET. ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN, NEARLY 75% OF THE CHILD TRAFFICKING REPORTS IT RECEIVES FROM THE PUBLIC INVOLVE ONE SINGLE WEBSITE, AND THAT'S BACKPAGE. THAT'S WHY WE SPENT A LOT OF TIME LOOKING INTO BACKPAGE, WHY THIS WAS HAPPENING, HOW WE COULD ADDRESS IT. ACCORDING TO SHARED HOPE INTERNATIONAL, ANOTHER ADVOCACY GROUP, THE NUMBER IS EVEN HIGHER THAN 75%. SO WE DID, THROUGH A PROCESS THAT MANY IN THIS BODY WERE INVOLVED WITH, RESEARCHED THIS. CLARE McCASKILL IS THE RANKING MEMBER, WAS THE RANKING MEMBER ON THE PERMANENT SUBCOMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATIONS. WE INVESTIGATED THAT. I SEE SHE IS ON THE FLOOR NOW. SHE AND I ALONG WITH THE SUBCOMMITTEE, ALONG WITH YOU AND OTHER MEMBERS OF THE FULL COMMITTEE, MR. PRESIDENT, LOOKED INTO THIS ISSUE AND WHAT WE FOUND WAS EVEN MORE SHOCKING THAN WE EXPECTED. WE KNEW THAT PEOPLE WERE BEING TRAFFICKED ONLINE BY THIS WEBSITE. WE KNEW THAT THEY HAD TO BE COMPLICIT WITH SOME OF THIS. WHAT WE DIDN'T KNOW IS THEY WERE TAKING ADS AND ALTERING THE ADS, EDITING THE ADS TO TRY TO HIDE THE FACT THAT PEOPLE WERE SELLING UNDERAGE GIRLS ONLINE. THEY, AS THEY PUT IT, WERE CLEANING THE ADS THROUGH A LEGAL TRANSACTIONS AND COVERING UP THE EVIDENCE OF THESE CRIMES IN ORDER TO INCREASE THEIR PROFITS. LAST NIGHT I TALKED ABOUT THREE BRAVE MOTHERS WHO SHARED THE TRAGIC STORIES OF THEIR DAUGHTERS WHO WERE EXPLOITED AND SOLD FOR SEX ON BACKPAGE.COM. THEIR DAUGHTERS WERE BETWEEN AGES 14 AND 16 WHEN THEY WERE TRAFFICKED. KUBIIKI PRUDE WAS ONE OF -- KPEUBG CAN -- KUBIIKI PRIDE WAS ONE OF THE DAUGHTERS. SHE IS IN "I AM JANE DOE." IT IS A POWERFUL WAY YOU CAN FEEL THEIR FRUSTRATION, FEEL THEIR PAIN. IT'S NOT EASY TO SEE BUT IT'S IMPORTANT TO SEE AND I RECOMMEND IT. YOU CAN GO ON NETFLIX AND FIND "I AM JANE DOE." UNFORTUNATELY FOR THOSE MOTHERS AND COUNTLESS OTHERS, BACKPAGE HAS GOTTEN AWAY WITH THIS. IT'S NOT BECAUSE PEOPLE HAVEN'T TRIED TO SUE THEM. PROSECUTORS HAVEN'T TRIED TO GO AFTER THEM. IT'S BECAUSE THE COURTS HAVE CONSISTENTLY SAID THAT THEY ARE SHIELDED FROM PROSECUTION. THEY ARE SHIELDED FROM THESE LAWSUITS. THEY'RE SHIELDED BY A FEDERAL LAW, ONE WE PASSED IN THIS CHAMBER 21 YEARS AGO. IT'S CALLED THE COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT. IT WAS A WELL INTENDED LAW. BACK IN 1996 THE FOCUS WAS WHEN THE INTERNET WAS IN ITS INFANCY TRYING TO ASSURE THERE COULD BE FREEDOM OF THE INTERNET, IRONICALLY PART OF THE ORIGINAL INTERVENTION WAS TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM INDECENT MATERIAL ON THE INTERNET BY LETTING WEBSITES REMOVE SOME OF THAT INDECENT MATERIAL. NOW THAT SAME LAW IS BEING USED AS A SHIELD BY ONLINE SEX TRAFFICKERS WHO PROMOTED AND ENGAGE IN THIS WITH IMMUNITY. THIS IS USED BY WEBSITES TO GET AWAY WITH SOMETHING THAT WOULD BE CRIMINAL IF THEY WERE TO DO IT ON THE STREET CORNER. CONGRESS DID NOT INTEND THIS BROAD EUPBL PHAOUPBT BUT COURTS HAVE -- IMMUNITY BUT COURTS HAVE SAID THEIR HANDS ARE TIED BY THE WAY THE COURTS INTERPRETED THIS LAW. AS THE LAWMAKING BRANCH OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IT IS UP TO US TO FIX THIS INJUSTICE. ONE OF THE FEDERAL COURTS SAID THIS CANNOT BE FIXED BY LITIGATION. IT HAS TO BE FIXED BY LEGISLATION. THAT'S WHY AMERICA'S DISTRICT ATTORNEYS, 50 OF THE STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL IN THIS COUNTRY, JUDGES ALL OVER THE COUNTRY AND MANY OTHERS CALLED ON CONGRESS TO AMEND THE COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT AND FIX THIS INJUSTICE. IN ONE OF THE MOST DIRECT CALLS FOR CONGRESSIONAL ACTION YET IN AUGUST OF LAST YEAR, A SACRAMENTO JUDGE CITED THE BROAD IMMUNITY PROVIDED BY THE COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACTS IN DISMISSING PIMPING CHARGES AGAINST BACKPAGE.COM. THE COURT OPINION STATED, AND I QUOTE, IF AND UNTIL CONGRESS SEES FIT TO AMEND THE IMMUNITY LAW THE BROAD REACH OF SECTION 230 OF THE COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT APPLIES TO THOSE WHO SUPPORT THE EXPLOITATION OF OTHERS BY HUMAN TRAFFICKING. THIS JUDGE ISSUED AN INVITATION TO CONGRESS TO ACT. OTHERS HAVE AS WELL. WEBSITES THAT KNOWINGLY SELL VULNERABLE WOMEN AND CHILDREN FOR SEX ARE PROFITING AND GETTING AWAY WITH SEX TRAFFICKING BECAUSE OF A FEDERAL LAW. IT'S UP TO CONGRESS TO DO THE RIGHT THING, TO FIX THIS LOOPHOLE. THAT'S WHY MY COAUTHOR, RICHARD -L BLUMENTHAL, WHO IS ON THE FLOOR HERE THIS EVENING, INTRODUCED THE STOP ENABLING SEX TRAFFICKING ACT OR SESTA ALONGSIDE A GROUP OF FOUR OTHER ORIGINAL COSPONSORS. SENATOR JOHN McCAIN, ARE CLARE McCASKILL, HEIDI HEITKAMP. SOON OTHERS JOINED US. IN THE FIRST DAY WE HAD 24 COSPONSORS, BIPARTISAN. SOON WE HAD A MAJORITY OF REPUBLICANS AND MAJORITY OF DEMOCRATS COSPONSORING THIS LEGISLATION. BUT I WANT TO THANK THOSE FIVE ORIGINAL COSPONSORS BECAUSE THEY HELPED US PUT TOGETHER LEGISLATION THAT WAS TARGETED, FOCUSED, AND ACTUALLY FIXES THE PROBLEM. SESTA WILL PROVIDE JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF ONLINE SEX TRAFFICKING AND HOLD ACCOUNTABLE THE WEBSITES THAT KNOWINGLY FACILITATE THESE CRIMES BY MAKING TWO, TWO VERY NARROWLY FOCUSED CHANGES TO FEDERAL LAW. FIRST, IT ALLOWS VICTIMS TO GET THE JUSTICE THEY DESERVE BY REMOVING THE COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT'S BROAD LIABILITY PROTECTIONS FOR A NARROW SET OF BAD ACTORS. SPECIFICALLY WEBSITES THAT KNOWINGLY FACILITATE SEX TRAFFICKING CRIMES. SECOND, IT WILL ALLOW STATE PROSECUTORS, STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL TO PROSECUTE WEBSITES THAT VIOLATE FEDERAL TRAFFICKING LAWS. SESTA SIMPLY SAYS IF YOU'RE VIOLATING FEDERAL SEX TRAFFICKING LAWS AND YOU'RE DOING IT KNOWINGLY, YOU'RE FACILITATING IT, THEN YOU'VE GOT TO BE HELD TO ACCOUNT. THAT'S JUST COMMON SENSE. THIS BILL ALSO INCLUDES LEGISLATION FROM THE HOUSE SIDE THAT CREATES NEW CRIMINAL PENALTIES. IT CREATES A NEW FEDERAL CRIME FOR WEBSITES THAT HAVE THE INTENT TO THE PROMOTE OR FACILITATE ILLEGAL PROSTITUTION. ALL OF THESE CHANGES WILL HELP TO HOLD BAD ACTORS ACCOUNTABLE WHILE DOING NOTHING TO IMPAIR THE FREE INTERNET. SESTA WILL PROTECT WEBSITES THAT DO NOT ACTIVELY AND KNOWINGLY ENGAGE IN ONLINE SEX TRAFFICKING. WE DO THAT BY PRESERVING THE GOOD SAMARITAN PROVISIONS WHICH PROTECTS GOOD ACTORS WHICH PROACTIVELY BLOCK AND SCREEN FOR OFFENSIVE MATERIAL, THUS SHIELDING THEM FROM FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITS. SESTA'S FAIR COMMONSENSE APPROACH IS WHY THIS BILL HAS EXTRAORDINARY SUPPORT. THE NATIONAL LAW ENFORCEMENT ORGANIZATIONS INCLUDING THE FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE. FAITH-BASED GROUPS, THE CIVIL RIGHTS COMMUNITY, MAJOR BUSINESSES, EVEN INCLUDING A NUMBER OF TECH COMPANIES. WHO SUPPORT THIS LEGISLATION. BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, ANTITRAFFICKING ADVOCATES AND TRAFFICKING SURVIVORS ARE THE ONES WHO SUPPORT SESTA. THEY ARE THE ONES WE LISTEN TO WHEN WE DRAFTED THIS LEGISLATION. THEY ARE THE FOLKS BACK IN OHIO, BACK IN OUR STATES WHO CAME TO US TO TALK ABOUT THIS ISSUE. THEY'RE THE ONES WE NOT JUST LISTENED TO BUT WE ACTUALLY HELPED WORK WITH THEM TO DRAFT SOMETHING THAT WOULD WORK TO CLOSE THIS LOOPHOLE. THIS BILL MAKES ALL THE SENSE IN THE WORLD AND IT WILL DO ITS PART TO HELP CLOSE THIS GAP, TO HELP DEAL WITH THIS AMAZING IN THIS CENTURY, IN THIS COUNTRY, A BILL FOR -- ABILITY FOR PEOPLE TO EXPLOIT SOMEONE ONLINE CRIMINALLY AND NOT BE HELD LIABLE. I WANT TO THANK LEADER MITCH McCONNELL FOR HIS LEADERSHIP, FOR COMBATING SEX TRAFFICKING AND PUTTING THIS BILL ON THE FLOOR FOR A VOTE. I WANT TO THANK SENATOR JOHN THUNE, BILL NELSON WHO IS RANKING MEMBER, WHO HELD A HEARING ON THIS BILL AND MARKED IT UP AND ADDRESSED SOME OF THE CONCERNS THAT HAD BEEN EXPRESSED BY THE TECH COMMUNITY. HERE IN THE SENATE WE NOW HAVE OVER 60 COSPONSORS. THIS HAS NOT BEEN AN ISSUE OF POLITICS OR PARTISANSHIP. IT'S BEEN AN ISSUE OF THE HEART. IT'S ABOUT PREVENTING EXPLOITATION. IT'S ABOUT PROVIDING JUSTICE. THERE ARE SOME IN THIS CHAMBER WHO WILL WANT TO CHANGE THIS LEGISLATION OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS AS WE DEBATE T. I HAVE A GREAT DEAL OF RESPECT FOR MY COLLEAGUE FROM OREGON, SENATOR RONWIDEEN. I TALKED -- RON WYDEN. I TALKED ABOUT HIM ON THE FLOOR. I TALKED ABOUT THE LEGISLATION I DID WITH HIM TO PROVIDE BETTER DATA FOR SEX TRAFFICKING WHICH WAS HIS LEGISLATION. BUT HE WAS ALSO A LEADER IN PASSING THE COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT THAT WE ARE AMENDING THROUGH THIS LEGISLATION. SO I UNDERSTAND THAT HE'S PASSIONATE ABOUT THAT, THAT BILL THAT PASSED 21 YEARS AGO. I WOULD JUST SAY WE TOOK A VERY TARGETED APPROACH HERE, WHICH IS WHY THE INTERNET ASSOCIATION REPRESENTING MUCH OF THE TECH COMMUNITY, NOT ALL BUT MUCH OF IT ACTUALLY ENDORSES OUR EFFORTS. THIS IS THE SENATE'S IMMEDIATE OPPORTUNITY TO HELP STOP ONLINE SEX TRAFFICKING WHILE PROTECTING A FREE AND OPEN INTERNET. IT'S THE RIGHT BALANCE. IT'S ALREADY PASSED THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. THE WHITE HOUSE HAS SHOWN A COMMITMENT TO IT AND IS WILLING TO SIGN THE LEGISLATION. NOW IT'S THE SENATE'S TURN TO ACT. SO LET ME TELL YOU WHERE I STAND. I STAND WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS ALL AROUND THE COUNTRY AND PROSECUTORS ALL AROUND THE COUNTRY WHO HAVE ASKED US TO PASS THIS LEGISLATION, TO GIVE THEM THE TOOLS THEY NEED TO STOP THIS EXPLOITATION. I STAND WITH KUBIIKI PRIDE WHO I TALKED ABOUT EARLIER, NICOLE, YVONNE AMBROSE AND THE OTHER MOTHERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY WHO HAVE HAD THEIR CHILDREN EXPLOITED AT THE HANS OF ONLINE SEX TRAFFICKING. I STAND WITH THE YOUNG WOMEN AND THE CHILDREN I MET IN DAYTON, AKRON, TOLEDO, CINCINNATI, ALL OVER OHIO WHO ARE SEX TRAFFICKING SURVIVORS, WHO ARE VICTIMS WHO WANT JUSTICE. I KNOW THAT TOGETHER WE WILL ALL STAND ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY WHEN THE STOP ENABLING SEX TRAFFICKERS ACT IS VOTED ON AND PASSES THIS CHAMBER AND WHEN IT EVENTUALLY BECOMES LAW, TO IMMEDIATELY HELP PROVIDE JUSTICE FOR THESE VICTIMS. JUSTICE CANNOT BE SEEN, BUT IT'S AB -- BUT ITS ABSENCE IS FELT. AND THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN TRAFFICKED ONLINE ONLY TO SEE THE WEBSITES WHO KNOWINGLY FACILITATED IN THIS, THEN PROSPER AND ESCAPE LEGAL CONSEQUENCES, THOSE ARE THE ONES WHO EXPERIENCED REAL INJUSTICE. THEY HAVE FELT THAT INJUSTICE. WE CAN RIGHT THIS WRONG. LET'S PASS THE STOP ENABLING SEX TRAFFICKERS ACT TO PROVIDE THESE VICTIMS THE JUSTICE THEY DESERVE. MR. PRESIDENT, I NOTICED AGAIN AS I MENTIONED EARLIER, THE COAUTHOR OF THIS EGGS WILL, MY COOL -- OF THIS LEGISLATION, MY COLLEAGUE IS ON THE FLOOR. HE'S A FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR. HE'S DEALT WITH THESE ISSUES BOTH AS A PROSECUTOR AND A LEGISLATOR. WE'RE THE COCHAIRS AND COFOUNDERS OF THE TRAFFICKING CAUCUS WE STARTED SEVEN YEARS AGO. I THANK HIM FOR HIS WORK ON THIS LEGISLATION. I WOULD LIKE TO YIELD MY TIME TO HIM.

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  • 05:18:57 PM

    MR. BLUMENTHAL

  • 05:18:58 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM CONNECTICUT.

  • 05:19:00 PM

    MR. BLUMENTHAL

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. AT THE VERY START AND VERY GRATEFUL, I WANT TO…

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. AT THE VERY START AND VERY GRATEFUL, I WANT TO PRAISE MY COSPONSOR, SENATOR PORTMAN, WHO HAS HELPED TO LEAD IN CHAMPIONING THIS MEASURE. HE HAS REALLY BEEN STEADFAST IN THE FACE OF A LOT OF CHALLENGES. IT WAS A DIFFICULT BILL TO DRAFT AND THEN TO REDRAFT AND CHANGE AGAIN IN RESPONSE TO SUGGESTIONS THAT WE RECEIVED FROM FRIENDS AND ADVERSARIES. BUT SENATOR PORTMAN HAS BEEN REALLY STALWART THROUGHOUT IT AND I WANT TO JOIN HIM IN THANKING OUR PARTNER SENATOR McCASKILL, SENATOR McCAIN, SENATOR HEITKAMP, CORNYN, AND OF COURSE SENATOR THUNE, THE CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE AND TRAFFICKING MEMBER NELSON. THIS ROAD BEGAN FOR ME MORE THAN TEN YEARS AGO WHEN I WAS THE STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL IN CONNECTICUT. AND I WANTED TO PURSUE LEGAL REMEDIES AGAINST THE WEEK SITES -- AGAINST THE WEBSITES. BACK THEN IT WAS CREATION LIST OR MYSPACE, THAT PROMOTED SEX TRAFFICKING AND PROSTITUTION AS WELL AS PORNOGRAPHY. AND MY STAFF INFORMED ME THAT THERE WAS A PROVISION OF FEDERAL LAW, SECTION 230 OF THE COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT THAT WOULD STOP ME IN MY TRACKS. AND INDEED IT HAS STOPPED OTHERS MOST RECENTLY SOME OF THE SURVIVORS OF SEX TRAFFICKING WHO WERE TOLD BY A FEDERAL COURT OF APPEALS IN EFFECT WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU IS OUTRAGEOUS, THERE SHOULD BE A REMEDY FOR YOU, BUT SECTION 230 OF THE COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT BLOCKS YOUR DAY IN COURT. IT CLOSES THE COURTHOUSE DOORS TO YOU IN SEEKING A LEGAL REMEDY. AND ALONG THE WAY, THERE WERE MANY WHO SAID TO SENATOR PORTMAN AND TO ME THAT WE COULD NEVER PASS THIS LEGISLATION BECAUSE IT WOULD HOLD TRAFFICKING WEEK SITES ACCOUNTABLE. -- WEBSITES ACCOUNTABLE. THEY SAID THEY WERE TOO POWERFUL, TOO BIG, TOO ENTRENCHED. THEY SAID THE VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS WERE TOO POWERLESS, TOO INVISIBLE. AND WE'VE MET THEM. WE KNOW THEIR STORIES THEY ARE HEARTBREAKING. THEY ARE CHILDREN, SOME YOUNGER THAN THE PAGES IN THIS CHAMBER TODAY WHO HAVE ENDURED TORTURE THAT IS UNSPEAKABLESPEAKABLE AND UNTHINKABLE FOR ANYONE OF ANY AGE AND THEY DESERVE THEIR DAY IN COURT RIGHT AND REMEDIED, REAL REMEDIES THAT MAKE THE RIGHTS REAL. SO I WANT TO THANK SENATOR PORTMAN AND I WANT TO THANKS, AS HE HAS DONE ALSO, THOSE SURVIVORS WHO HAVE COME FORWARD AND BEEN THE FACE AND VOICE OF OUR CAUSE. THEIR COURAGE AND STRENGTH AND THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS' HAVE ENABLED US TO REACH THIS POINT. NOW, I WANT TO EMPHASIZE THAT THIS MEASURE IS VERY CAREFULLY AND NARROWLY WRITTEN TO ADDRESS A SPECIFIC HARM. I WANT TO JUST TAKE A COUPLE OF MINUTES TO CORRECT ANY MISUNDERSTANDINGS THAT THERE MAY BE IN THIS CHAMBER. FIRST, SOME OF THE LEGISLATION'S CRITICS HAVE CLAIMED THAT IT WILL IMPOSE LIABILITY ON SO-CALLED GOOD SAMARITAN. IN REALITY, THIS BILL EXPLICITLY PRESERVES SUBSECTION 230-C, 2-A OF THE COMMUNICATIONS ACT, COMMONLY CALLED THE GOOD SAMARITAN PROVISION. THIS PROVISION ENSURES THAT WEBSITES CANNOT BE HELD LIABLE ON ACCOUNT OF ACTIONS TAKEN IN GOODGOOD FAITH TO RESTRICT OBSERVABLEOBJECTIONABLE. SESTA IS CRYSTAL CLEAR ON THIS POINT. A WEBSITE OPERATOR'S GOOD DEEDS CANNOT BE USED AGAINST THEM. THIS MEASURE IS ALSO TECHNOLOGY NEUTRAL. IT IMPOSES NO REQUIREMENT THAT WEBSITE OPERATORS USE A PARTICULAR TECHNOLOGY TO SCREEN THEIR SITES FOR OBJECTIONABLE CONTENT. THEY'RE FREE TO USE WHATEVER TECHNOLOGY THEY WISH. AND THAT'S WHY THE INTERNET ASSOCIATION AND ITS MEMBER COMPANIES SUPPORT THIS LEGISLATION. THEY KNOW IF TECHNOLOGY COMPANIES WORK TO PREVENT TRAFFICKING, NOT TO PROFIT FROM IT, THEY HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR FROM THIS MEASURE. I UNDERSTAND THAT AN AMENDMENT HAS BEEN OFFERED TO RESTATE SESTA'S GOOD SAMARITAN PROVISION, EVEN IF THE AMENDMENT PROTECTED ONLY GOOD SAMARITANS, IT WOULD BE UNNECESSARY AND POTENTIALLY CONFUSING TO THE COURTS. I WANT TO EMPHASIZE THAT POINT. IT WOULD OBFUSCATE AND CONFUSE THE GOOD INTENT OF SAMARITAN PROVISIONS. IT WOULD ALSO DERAIL THIS WIDELY POPULAR LEGISLATION BY SENDING IT BACK TO THE HOUSE WHERE SPECIAL INTERESTS WILL HAVE ANOTHER CHANCE TO KILL IT. UNFORTUNATELY, THIS PROPOSED AMENDMENT, PERHAPS UNINTENSELY, WOULD NOT -- PERHAPS UNINTENSELY, WOULD NOT SIMPLY PROTECT GOOD SAMARITANS IT WOULD ALSO PROTECT WEBSITES WEBSITES IN BAD FAITH AND IDENTIFY WEBSITES WITH SEX TRAFFICKING ADS AND THEN LEAVE THEM UP IN ORDER TO CONTINUE PROFITING FROM THEM. I WANT TO BRIEFLY JUST SAY ABOUT ONE OTHER AMENDMENT THAT'S BEEN OFFERED AGAIN WHILE WELL INTENTIONED THREATENS TO DERAIL THIS LEGISLATION. THE AMENDMENT WOULD PROVIDE ADDITIONAL MONEY TO ATTORNEY GENERAL SESSIONS TO INVESTIGATE AND PROSECUTE WEBSITES THAT CRIMINALLY FACILITATE HUMAN TRAFFICKING. I BELIEVE THAT LAW ENFORCEMENT OUGHT TO HAVE ADDITIONAL RESOURCE. I FIRMLY SUPPORT MORE FUNDING TO INVESTIGATE AND PROSECUTE THIS CRIMINAL ACTIVITY, BUT THIS BILL IS NOT THE MEANS TO DO IT. IN FACT, LAW ENFORCEMENT AND THE COMMUNITY AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING ARE STRONGLY AGAINST THESE AMENDMENTS. LET ME REPEAT. THESE GROUPS, LAW ENFORCEMENT, INCLUDING THE FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE, THE ASSOCIATION OF STATE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE AGENCIES, THE F.B.I. AGENCY ASSOCIATION. I COULD GO DOWN THE LIST. IN FACT, THERE'S NO NEED TO, MR. PRESIDENT, BECAUSE I WOULD ASK THAT THE LETTERS FROM THESE GROUPS BE ENTERED INTO THE RECORD IF THERE'S NO OBJECTION.

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  • 05:26:04 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 05:26:06 PM

    MR. BLUMENTHAL

    AND MY COLLEAGUES SHOULD TAKE HEED OF WHAT THESE GROUPS ARE SAYING BECAUSE…

    AND MY COLLEAGUES SHOULD TAKE HEED OF WHAT THESE GROUPS ARE SAYING BECAUSE THEY SEE THROUGH THE POTENTIALLY DERAILING IMPACT OF THESE AMENDMENTS. I WANT TO CLOSE BY AGAIN THANKING MY FRIEND AND PARTNER, SENATOR PORTMAN, AS WELL AS SENATOR McCASKILL, SENATOR HEITKAMP, SENATOR CORNYN, AND SENATOR McCAIN. THIS MEASURE IS TRULY BIPARTISAN, AS IT SHOULD BE. THERE IS NOTHING PARTISAN ABOUT SEX TRAFFICKING. THERE'S NOTHING EXCUSABLE OR TOLERABLE ABOUT IT. I HOPE THAT THE SENATE WILL DO ITS JOB TOMORROW AND SEND THIS LEGISLATION TO THE PRESIDENT ES DESK. -- TO THE PRESIDENT'S DESK. I WANT TO YIELD THE FLOOR BACK TO MY PARTNER, SENATOR PORTMAN, WITH THANKS.

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  • 05:26:57 PM

    MR. PORTMAN

    WITH THANKS.

  • 05:27:45 PM

    A SENATOR

    THANK YOU. I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR ALLOWING ME TO JUMP IN LEER FOR A…

    THANK YOU. I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR ALLOWING ME TO JUMP IN LEER FOR A COUPLE OF MINUTES. I JUST WANT TO SAY THAT THIS BODY, THE ENTIRE BODY, IS REALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR WHERE WE ARE RIGHT NOW BECAUSE IT WAS DURING THE INVESTIGATION OF BACKPAGE THAT WE REALIZED THAT SECTION 230 WAS BEING USED AS A SHIELD FOR THE BAD GUYS. ALL OF THE ATTORNEYS GENERAL AROUND THE COUNTRY AND VARIOUS LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES AND INDIVIDUALS TRYING TO SUE BACKPAGE WERE MET EVERY TIME WITH A 230 DEFENSE AND THEY WEREN'T EVEN ABLE TO PENETRATE TO GET THE DOCUMENTS FROM BACKPAGE, TO LEARN ABOUT WHAT BACKPAGE WAS REALLY UP TO. IT WAS THE INVESTIGATION WHERE BACKPAGE THOUGHT THEY WOULD BE ABLE TO WIN AGAIN IN COURT AND DENY US OUR OPPORTUNITY TO LOOK AT THE DOCUMENTS AND LOOK AT THE UNDERLYING EVIDENCE THAT YOU SHOULD ALWAYS LOOK AT IN AN INVESTIGATION.

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  • 05:28:41 PM

    MRS. McCASKILL

    FRANKLY, US GETTING THE SENATE RESOLUTION THROUGH THIS BODY ALMOST…

    FRANKLY, US GETTING THE SENATE RESOLUTION THROUGH THIS BODY ALMOST UNANIMOUSLY -- I THINK IT WAS UNANIMOUSLY, WASN'T IT, SENATOR PORTMAN? UNANIMOUSLY AND GOING ALL THE WAY TO THE SUPREME COURT AND WINNING, FINALLY IT WAS THE FIRST TIME THAT BACKPAGE HAD TO TURN OVER THE DIRTY EVIDENCE OF THEM KNOWINGLY FACILITATEING SEX TRAFFICKING ON THEIR PAGE. AND THAT'S WHY THIS LANGUAGE IS KNOWINGLY FACILITATING. JUST TO MAKE SURE THAT GOING FORWARD, NO BAD GUYS CAN HIDE BEHIND SECTION 230. THE OTHER PART OF THIS BILL THAT I THINK IS VERY IMPORTANT, I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE FORGET -- AND WITH ALL DUE RESPECT TO MY FRIENDS WHO WERE IN THIS CHAMBER THAT WERE U.S. ATTORNEYS -- OVER 90% OF THE CRIME PROSECUTED IN THIS COUNTRY IS PROSECUTED BY STATE PROSECUTORS CALLED DISTRICT ATTORNEYS, DEPENDING ON THE STATE TERM THAT IS USED. THEY HAVE BEEN HANDCUFFED IN TERMS OF BEING ABLE TO BRING THESE KINDS OF CASES. THIS LEGISLATION NOT ONLY OPENS UP THE COURTHOUSE DOORS TO VICTIMS WHO HAVE BEEN VICTIMIZED BY THIS BUT ALSO SO THAT THE FULL FORCE OF AMERICAN LAW ENFORCEMENT CAN BE BROUGHT TO BEAR ON THIS PROBLEM, NOT JUST THE LIMITED JURISDICTION THAT WAS AVAILABLE AROUND THE PRB OF SEX TRAFFICKING -- THE PROBLEM OF SEX TRAFFICKING. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT TO GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF IT BECAUSE MANY U.S. ATTORNEYS DON'T HAVE THE TIME. FRANKLY, MANY ATTORNEYS GENERAL DON'T HAVE THE TIME OR THE JURISDICTION, FRANKLY, TO GET AFTER CRIME. BUT THE LOCAL PROSECUTORS DON'T GET TO DECIDE WHAT CASES THEY GO AFTER. IF IT'S -9D 11, THEY'LL TAKE IT. THEY ARE THE ONES IN THE TRENCHES WITH THE SEX CRIMES AND THEY'LL HAVE THE ABILITY TO GO AFTER THESE CASES IN A WAY THAT I THINK WILL BE VERY MEANINGFUL. I'M PROUD OF THE BIPARTISAN NATURE OF THIS. I'M PROUD OF THE PARTNERSHIP WE HAD, SENATOR PORTMAN, ON THE INVESTIGATION. I KNOW WE'LL GET A BIG VOTE ON THIS. I THINK PEOPLE WILL SEE THROUGH THESE AMENDMENTS AS WAYS TO SLOW THIS BILL DOWN AND POSSIBLY KILL IT AND I KNOW WE WILL GET IT ACROSS THE FINISH LINE TOMORROW.

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  • 05:30:59 PM

    MR. PORTMAN

    THANK YOU, SENATOR MCCASKILL. WE'LL CONTINUE THIS DIALOGUE TOMORROW AND I…

    THANK YOU, SENATOR MCCASKILL. WE'LL CONTINUE THIS DIALOGUE TOMORROW AND I LOOK FORWARD TO MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF THOSE THIS REPRESENTS.

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  • 05:31:12 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM OHIO.

  • 05:31:15 PM

    MR. BROWN

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I THANK SENATOR PORTMAN AND SENATOR MCCASKILL…

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I THANK SENATOR PORTMAN AND SENATOR MCCASKILL FOR THE WORK THEY HAVE DONE ON THIS. SENATOR PORTMAN IS THE LEADER IN THIS. HE HAS SPENT UNTOLD HOURS ESPECIALLY IN TOLEDO, OHIO, WHERE C ECILIA HAS BEEN COMBATING THIS TERRIBLE AFFLICTION IN OUR SOCIETY. I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO PLACE THE REST OF MY REMARKS IN A DIFFERENT PLACE IN THE RECORD.

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  • 05:31:47 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 05:31:49 PM

    MR. BROWN

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. LAST WEEK THE HOUSE PASSED ANOTHER GIVEAWAY TO…

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. LAST WEEK THE HOUSE PASSED ANOTHER GIVEAWAY TO WALL STREET, SIDING WITH SPECIAL INTERESTS AND ROLLING BACK ACCOUNTABILITY IN SOME OF THE BIGGEST BANKS AT THE EXPENSE OF TAXPAYERS. IT COMES ON THE HEELS OF LAST YEAR'S TAX GIVEAWAY THAT WILL BENEFIT THE SAME MEGABANKS. THIS CONGRESS BENDS OVER BACKWARDS TO HELP WALL STREET WORKING FAMILIES CONTINUE TO STRUGGLE. WALL STREET IS MAKING THINGS WORSE. IT IS NOT JUST HELPING WALL STREET WITH TAX BREAKS, WE ARE HELPING THEM WITH THE ROLLBACK OF LEGISLATION. LET ME EXPLAIN WHAT THAT MEANS. IN A SERIES OVER SEVERAL MONTHS I'M LAYING OUT THE CASE FOR HOW WALL STREET UNDERMINES AMERICAN WORKERS AND IN MAKING WORK IN AMERICA PAY OFF. YOU REMEMBER ONE OF THE POINTS I MADE WAS THAT AMERICAN AIRLINES ANNOUNCED THAT THEY WERE GOING TO GIVE -- TO INCREASE DID INCREASE WORKERS WAGES, AS DID CHIPOTLE, AND WALL STREET BASICALLY HIT THEM WITH A LOWER STOCK PRICE AS A RESULT. IN EACH INSTALLMENT OF THIS SERIES, WE WILL -- WE'VE TALKED ABOUT THESE ISSUES. I WANT TO TALK SPECIFICALLY THIS TIME ABOUT WHAT WALL STREET WORKERS DOES TO EMPLOYMENT. IT IS POSTED ON MY MEDIUM PAGE. YOU CAN FOLLOW ALONG, MEDIUM.COM/SENATORBROWN. WALL STREET'S EXECUTIVES FOCUS ON PADDING THEIR POCKETS IS BAD ENOUGH, BUT IT COMES AT THE EXPENSE OF AMERICAN WORKERS. -- IT IS HOW C.E.O.'S BONUSES ARE, SO THEY DO THINGS TO MAKE THEIR STOCK PRICE GO UP, AND THEN THEY DO EVEN BETTER BECAUSE THEY ARE COMPENSATED IN LARGE PART WITH COMPANY SHARES. WALL STREET ANALYSTS LIKE IT WHEN CORPORATIONS MINIMIZE THEIR COSTS TO BOOST SHORT-TERM PRICES, THEIR STOCK PRICE OFTEN GOES UP, EVEN WHEN THE COMPANY IS PROFITABLE AND THAT LEADS TO LAYOFFS. CORPORATIONS LAY OFF WORKERS TO SHOW THAT THEY ARE SERIOUS ABOUT CUTTING EXPENSES AND THEIR STOCK PRICES RISE AS A RESULT. WALL STREET'S WAR ON WORKERS MEANS NOT ONLY SMALLER PAYCHECKS, BUT ALSO PINK SLIPS FOR THOSE WORKERS. HOW DO WE GET TO A POINT WHERE STOCK PRICES ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN WORKERS? IT DIDN'T HAPPEN OVERNIGHT. COMPANIES -- I WAS TALKING TO SENATOR WHITEHOUSE, WHETHER IT'S IN RHODE ISLAND OR MANSFIELD, OHIO, COMPANIES USED TO CONSIDER THEIR EMPLOYEES AND CUSTOMERS AND THE PEOPLE THEY DID BUSINESS IN AS STAKEHOLDERS, YOU CARED ABOUT YOUR COMMUNITY, YOUR WORKERS, YOUR CUSTOMERS. THEY FELT A DUTY TO FULFILL OBLIGATIONS TO A BROADER COMMUNITY, NOT JUST THEIR OWN CORPORATE BOARD MEMBERS. I GREW UP IN MANSFIELD, HALFWAY BETWEEN OUR TWO -- OUR STATE'S TWO LARGEST CITIES. AND I REMEMBER THERE WERE SO MANY COMPANIES IN OUR TOWN -- I DIDN'T KNOW THESE COMPANY PRESIDENTS. THEY WERE REALLY BIG PEOPLE IN TOWN, I WAS A KID. I DO REMEMBER WHAT THOSE COMPANIES DID. THEY SPONSORED LITTLE LEAGUE TEAMS. THEY WERE INVOLVED IN LOCAL CLUBS. THEY CARED ABOUT THEIR WORKERS, THEY CARED ABOUT THE COMMUNITY, THEY CARED ABOUT THEIR CUSTOMERS. THEY WEREN'T ALWAYS ONLY INTERESTED IN SHARING HOLDERS. THEY WERE INTERESTED -- SHAREHOLDERS. THEY WERE INTERESTED IN STAKEHOLDERS, ALL OF US AS A COMMUNITY, WE WERE ALL STAKEHOLDERS. NOW THE FOCUS HAS NARROWED TO JUST SHAREHOLDERS. AS WALL STREET'S INFLUENCE HAS GROWN, CORPORATE PRIORITIES HAVE SHIFTED FROM SHAREHOLDERS AT LARGE IN THE WAY SUCCESS IS MEASURED HAS CHANGED, FUNDAMENTALLY TO STOCKHOLDERS. BUSINESSES HAVE BECOME BEHOLDEN TO THE QUARTERLY EARNINGS REPORTS AND LEFT EMPLOYEES AND COMIEWNTSD CUSTOMERS BEHIND IN MANY WAYS. THEY DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE, INCLUDING LAYING OFF WORKERS, TO MAKE SURE THEIR BALANCE SHEETS AND PROFIT MARGINS LOOK AS GOOD AS THEY CAN. THE IMPACT OF THE WORKERS ARE THE LONG-TERM HEALTH. IN THE 1980'S, INVESTORS PURSUED HOSTILE TAKEOVERS. EXECUTIVES AT OTHER COMPANIES BEGAN TO FEAR TAKEOVERS IF THEY DIDN'T KEEP PROFITS AND STOCK PRICES HIGH. IN THE PAY PACKAGES OF TOP MANAGEMENT WENT GREATER AND GREATER AND BECAME MORE AND MORE CLOSELY TIED TO SHORT-TERM STOCK PERFORMANCE. WALL STREET'S AND MAIN STREET'S -- WALL STREET'S AND MAIN STREET'S INTERESTS BEGAN TO DIE VERGE. FOLKS IN THE BOARDROOM WERE NO LONGER ABLE TO CONSIDER WHAT WAS IN THE INTEREST OF THEIR WORKERS. FOR TOP CORPORATE EXECUTIVES WORKERS BECAME NOTHING MORE THAN A LINE ITEM IN THE BUDGET. BY THE 1990'S EVEN PROFITABLE COMPANIES STARTED LAYING OFF WORKERS TO BOOST PROFITS. LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENED TO ZERO XEROX, THEY NEVER HAD A LAYOFF, BUT IN 1993, THEY THIS TO CUT WORKERS. THEY FACED AN AGONIZING DECISION AND BAD OPTIONS BUT THE C.E.O. JUSTIFIED THE JOB CUTS AS NECESSARY, QUOTE, TO COMPETE EFFECTIVELY AND TO HAVE A LEAN AND FLEXIBLE ORGANIZATION. HE SAID HE EXPECTED TO SEE HIGHER PROFITS BECAUSE OF THE LAYOFFS THE FOLLOWING YEAR. XEROX WASN'T ALONE. IN THE FIRST MONTHS OF 1998 WHEN THE ECONOMY WAS BOOMING, CORPORATIONS LAID OFF AL HALF MILLION U.S. WORKERS -- A HALF MILLION U.S. WORKERS. THIS IS THE DEFINITION OF PROFITS BEFORE PEOPLE AND THINGS HAVE GOTTEN WORSE AND WORSE SINCE THE LATE 990'S. -- 1990'S. IN 2015 SIS CAL ANNOUNCED A PLAN TO REDUCE THE WORKFORCE. IT MIGHT HAVE MADE SENSE IF THE COMPANY EXPERIENCED A YEAR OF SLUGGISH SALES, BUT THE OPPOSITE WAS TRUE. THEIR SALES INCREASED, GENERATED $1 BILLION IN CASH FLOW AND PAID $700 MILLION IN DIVIDENDS TO THE COMPANY'S SHAREHOLDERS AND IF THE LARGE DIVIDEND PAYOFF WASN'T GENEROUS ENOUGH, THE C.E.O. SAID ONE OF THE GOALS OF THE THREE-YEAR PLAN WAS TO MAXIMIZE SHAREHOLDER'S RETURNS, NOT THE CUSTOMER OR THE COMMUNITY, BUT SHAREHOLDERS. THE NEXT YEAR IN 2015 TYSON'S FOOD ANNOUNCED LAYOFFS DESPITE A GOOD QUARTER IN BEEF SALES. THEY TOUTED EXCEPTIONAL RESULTS. THE -- THEY HAD TO CUT WORKERS BECAUSE OF COST CUTTING. HE CITED NOT GREAT SALES, NOT INVESTMENTS IN NEW OR MORE WORKERS, THE ABILITY OF THE COMPANY TO BUY BACK HUNDREDS OF -- TO BUY BACK BILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF ITS OWN STOCK. AN ACCOUNTING TRICK THAT FUNDS MONEY -- FUNNELS MONEY TO EXECUTIVES IS WHAT THE COMPANY CITED AS A MEASURE OF SUCCESS. BUYING BACK MEANS THAT COMPETENCE GOES BACK. THAT WAS THE KEY TO WHAT IT WAS DOING TO COST CUTTING. THE COMPANY BUYS UP SHARES OF ITS OWN STOCK TO DRIVE UP THE PRICE AND INCREASE VALUE FOR SHAREHOLDERS AND THE COMPENSATION FOR EXECUTIVES WHOSE PAY IS TIED TO STOCK PERFORMANCE. IT'S NO COINCIDENCE SINCE THE BIGGEST CORPORATIONS REAPED THEIR BIGGEST TAX WINDFALL THEY HAVE ANNOUNCED THEIR BUYBACKS. IT IS ALWAYS ABOUT EXECUTIVES. IT IS ABOUT THE EXECUTIVES COMPENSATION AND BUYBACKS. AGAIN AND AGAIN WE SEE WALL STREET CONSIDERS WORKERS AS SIMPLY A COST TO BE CUT, BUT EXECUTIVE PAY IS ESSENTIAL TO A COMPANY. HUMANA LAST YEAR ANNOUNCED IT WAS ELIMINATING 2,700 JOBS DESPITE $13 BILLION IN REVENUE. THE SAME CALL WHERE THE C.E.O. ANNOUNCED THE LAYOFF, HE ANNOUNCED AN INCREASE IN EXECUTIVE PAY. WORKERS LOSE THEIR JOB SO EXECUTIVES GET MORE MONEY. A MONTH LATER HUMANA ANNOUNCED $3 BILLION IN STOCK BUYBACKS. WHAT IS THAT ABOUT? HIGHER EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION. TYPICALLY COST-CUTTING MEASURES MEAN WORKERS LOSE THEIR JOBS. EACH OF THESE EXAMPLES THE COMPANY DECIDED COST CUTS WERE SO NECESSARY THEY HAD TO FIRE WORKERS. UP END THOUSANDS OF LIVES. I WONDER, MR. PRESIDENT, HOW MANY OF THOSE CORPORATE LEADERS BROUGHT SOME OF THOSE WORKERS IN THEIR OFFICE AN LOOKED THEM IN THE EYE AND TOLD THEM THEY WERE LAYING THEM OFF. MY GUESS IS A LESSER PAID EMPLOYEE MADE THAT ANNOUNCEMENT AND FACE THOSE EMPLOYEES WHO LOST THEIR JOBS. HOW MANY EXECUTIVES -- LISTENS TO THE STORY OF AN EMPLOYEE WHO LOSES HER JOB AND HER HOUSE AND HER LIFE IS UP ENDED. HOW MANY OF THEM LISTEN TO THOSE STORIES OF WHAT HAPPENED TO WORKERS THAT GET FIRED? THE COST -- THE COMPANY WHO CITED COST CUTS WERE SO NECESSARY THEY HAD TO FIRE THOSE WORKERS. THE SHORT-SIGHTED APPROACH MAY WORK FOR TOP XICHES WHO CAN SQUEEZE AS MUCH MONEY OUT OF THE COMPANY IN A SHORT TERM WITHOUT CONSIDERING THE BUSINESS' LONG-TERM VALUES. IT IS NOT JUST BAD FOR THE EMPLOYEES OF THE COMMUNITY, IT IS ALSO BAD FOR THE LONG-TERM HEALTH OF THE COMPANY. MAKING SHORT-TERM DECISIONS PAYS OFF IF YOU ARE WELL PAID, BUT IT DOESN'T WORK FOR THOSE EMPLOYEES. MAIN STREET ONLY MAKES A PROFIT WHEN THE STOCK MARKET VALUE CONTINUES TO RISE OVER TIME. BUT EXECUTIVES IN THE CORPORATE BOARDROOM ARE NO LONGER CONSIDERING WHAT IS IN THE INTEREST OF WORKERS OR SMALL-TIME INVESTORS. AS LONG AS WALL STREET'S ONE-SIZE-FITS ALL CORPORATE SUCCESS CONTINUES TO BE COST CUTTING, WORKERS ARE AT A CONSTANT RISK OF LOSING THEIR JOBS. AS LONG AS C.E.O.'S ARE PAID BASED ON STOCK PRICES, WORKERS WILL KEEP GETTING FIRED AT PROFITABLE COMPANIES. WE NEED TO BREAK THE CYCLE OF GREED BETWEEN WALL STREET AND C.E.O.'S. COMPANIES IN THE END CAN'T BE PROFITABLE WITHOUT GOOD WORKERS. WE NEED POLICIES THAT RESTRUCTURE OUR ECONOMY SO WORKERS SHARE IN THE PROFITS THEY CREATE. WALL STREET DOESN'T DETERMINE WHEN WORKERS KEEP THEIR JOBS OR HOW MUCH? IN THEIR PAYCHECKS. I YIELD THE FLOOR.

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  • 05:42:47 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM RHODE ISLAND.

  • 05:42:51 PM

    MR. WHITEHOUSE

    MR. PRESIDENT, TODAY WE ARE MORE AWARE THAN EVER OF THE ACCELERATING PACE…

    MR. PRESIDENT, TODAY WE ARE MORE AWARE THAN EVER OF THE ACCELERATING PACE OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND OF THE SERIOUS THREAT THAT RISING SEAS AND HIGHER TEMPERATURES AND CHANGING WEATHER POSE. I SUPPOSE I DON'T NEED TO LECTURE THE PRESIDING OFFICER FROM FLORIDA ON THE THREAT OF RISING SEAS. THE REAL TIME EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ARE BECOMING CLEARER AND CLEARER EVERY YEAR. HERE IS A TELLING EXAMPLE UNFOLDING RIGHT NOW IN THE ARCTIC. IN THIS GRAPHIC WE SEE THE MEAN AREA OF ARCTIC SEA ICE OVER THE LAST SEVERAL DECADES. THE MAXIMUM YEARLY EXTENT OF THE ICE WHICH OCCURS THIS TIME OF THE YEAR CONTINUES TO SHRINK EACH DECADE. THIS LINE TRACKS THE SEA ICE IN THE ARCTIC IN MILLIONS OF SQUARE KILOMETERS RUNNING FROM FEBRUARY THROUGH TO MAY. THIS IS THE TRACK OF THE SEA ICE EXTENT DURING THE 1980'S. IF YOU TOOK ALL THE YEARS IN THE 1980'S AND AVERAGED THEM TOGETHER AND RAN THEM THROUGH THE CALENDAR, THIS IS LIKE A CLOCK THIS WAY GOING THROUGH THE MONTHS, YOU WOULD SEE THE SEA ICE GROWING AND FADING AWAY AS SPRING CAME ON TO THE ARCTIC. THAT'S WHERE THE ICE WAS WHEN YOU AVERAGE THE 1980'S. THIS GREEN LINE IS THE EXACT SAME THING. IT'S JUST THE 1990'S. SO YOU CAN SEE HOW MUCH SEA ICE HAS BEEN LOST AVERAGED DECADE OVER DECADE. THEN THE BLUE LINE HERE. THIS IS THE 2000'S, AND ONCE AGAIN YOU SEE ANOTHER LOSS OF SEA ICE -- A CONSIDERABLE LOSS FROM THE LEVELS BACK AS RECENTLY AS THE 1980'S. THIS PURPLE LINE RIGHT HERE IS THE AVERAGE OF THE YEARS IN THIS DECADE SO FAR. SO 2010 AND 2017, THAT'S THE AVERAGE OF THOSE SEVEN YEARS. THIS DOT IS THE HIGH, THE MAXIMUM ICE EXTENT RECORDED IN 2016. THIS LOWER DOT IS THE LOWER HIGH OF THE ICE RECORDED IN 2017. SO YOU CAN SEE THAT EVEN THOUGH THIS IS THE AVERAGE, THE TREND REMAINS DOWNWARD, AND THIS RED LINE IS WHAT WE HAVE MEASURED SO FAR IN 2018. HERE WE ARE RIGHT NOW IN MARCH OF 2018. IT IS WELL BELOW. DECADE AFTER DECADE, WE SEE THE ICE MELTING AWAY. AS THESE FACTS AND SO MANY OTHERS RELENTLESSLY PILE UP, IT HAS BECOME HARDER AND HARDER FOR THE FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY AND THE WEB OF FRONT GROUPS AND TRUMP ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS WHO DO ITS BIDDING TO CLAIM THAT THERE IS NOTHING TO SEE HERE, FOLKS, MOVE ALONG, IT'S ALL JUST A BIG HOAX. THE UNIVERSAL OF ALASKA IS OUR CLOSEST UNIVERSITY TO THE ARCTIC. THE UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA ACTUALLY HAS A CLIMATE SCIENCE CENTER WHERE THEY ARE STUDYING AND TEACHING THE SCIENCE OF CLIMATE CHANGE. THE UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA ALSO ACTUALLY HAS AN OCEAN ACIDIFICATION RESEARCH CENTER. AS I HAVE POINTED OUT IN THESE SPEECHES OVER THE YEARS, ONE OF THE MOST OBVIOUS AND PERNICIOUS CONSEQUENCES OF CLIMATE CHANGE IS THAT WHEN YOU RAMP UP THE CO2 CONCENTRATION IN THE ATMOSPHERE, THE OCEANS, WHICH COVER 70% OF THE SURFACE OF THE WORLD, ABSORB NOT ONLY EXCESS HEAT, BUT THEY ACTUALLY CHEMICALLY ABSORB THE CARBON DIOXIDE, AND WHEN THAT HAPPENS, THEY BECOME MORE ACIDIC. IN THE WEE HOURS OF A MORNING MONTHS AND MONTHS AND MONTHS AGO, I ACTUALLY DID THE EXPERIMENT RIGHT HERE WHERE I BLEW THE CARBON DIOXIDE FROM MY BREATH THROUGH AN AQUARIUM BUBBLER INTO A GLASS OF WATER THAT HAD P.H.-SENSITIVE DYE IN IT. YOU COULD ACTUALLY SEE IN THE MOMENT IT TOOK FOR ME TO EXHALE THAT CARBON DIOXIDE-RICH BREATH IN THE WATER, THE COLOR CHARGED AND YOU COULD MEASURE IT AGAINST THE COLOR CHART FOR P.H. AND SEE HOW JUST THAT ONE BREATH CHANGED THE ACIDITY OF THE WATER, MADE IT MORE ACID. THAT IS HAPPENING ACROSS THE PLANET, AND BECAUSE IT AFFECTS CREATURES LIKE PTEROPODS, WHICH ARE A VERY IMPORTANT SPECIES FOR SALMON, WHICH IS IN TURN A VERY IMPORTANT INDUSTRY FOR ALASKA, THAT'S WHY ALASKA HAS AN OCEAN ACIDIFICATION RESEARCH CENTER. SOME HOAX. FOR THIS, MY 201st TIME TO WAKE UP SPEECH, I WANT TO GET INTO SOME OF THE REASONS WHY I REMAIN OPTIMISTIC, EVEN IN THE FACE OF RELENTLESS ATTACKS ON THE ENVIRONMENT, BOTH FROM THE FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY AND FROM THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION. THERE ARE SUCCESS STORIES, INCLUDING BIPARTISAN WINS IN CONGRESS AND MAJOR ADVANCES OUTSIDE OF CONGRESS. WE ARE STILL MAKING PROGRESS ON CLIMATE AND ENERGY POLICY, EVEN UNDER A POLITICAL SIEGE BY THE FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY. FIRST, THERE IS THE EXPLOSION IN RENEWABLE ENERGY. IN 2017, RENEWABLES PROVIDED NEARLY 20% OF ELECTRICITY GENERATION IN THE UNITED STATES. WIND AND SOLAR ENERGY COSTS FELL, AND UTILITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY EVEN IN RED STATES INVESTED HEAVILY. THE RENEWABLE ENERGY INDUSTRY IN AMERICA HIT 3.3 MILLION JOBS, MORE THAN ALL FOSSIL FUEL JOBS COMBINED. THE PRIVATE SECTOR IS LEADING RENEWABLES PURCHASES. ONE EXAMPLE -- AT&T. AT&T RECENTLY SIGNED ONTO THE WORLD WILDLIFE FUND'S CORPORATE RENEWABLE ENERGY BUYERS' PRINCIPLES. CRITERIA TO HELP ENERGY PRODUCERS MEET THE NEEDS OF LARGE CUSTOMERS LIKE AT&T. AS PART OF THAT COMMITMENT WITH THE WORLD WILDLIFE FUND, AT&T HAS SIGNED TWO AGREEMENTS WITH NEXT ERA ENERGY FOR WIND POWER. 220 MEGAWATTS FROM AN OKLAHOMA WIND FARM, AND 300 MEGAWATTS FROM A TEXAS WIND FARM. IT'S ONE OF THE LARGEST CORPORATE RENEWABLE ENERGY PURCHASES IN HISTORY, AND I CONGRATULATE MY TEXAS AND OKLAHOMA COLLEAGUES FOR THESE NEW HOME STATE RENEWABLE ENERGY JOBS. AND I CONGRATULATE AT&T FOR ITS FORESIGHT AND LEADERSHIP. ANOTHER BUSINESS BREAKTHROUGH CAME WHEN THE MASSIVE ASSET MANAGER BLACK ROCK HELPED BREAK EXXON AND OCCIDENTAL PETROLEUM'S RESISTANCE AND FORCED THROUGH SHAREHOLDER RESOLUTIONS, REQUIRING THOSE OIL PRODUCERS TO REPORT THEIR CLIMATE RISK TO THEIR SHAREHOLDERS, TO THEIR INVESTORS. I FOR ONE DON'T THINK THOSE SHAREHOLDERS ARE YET GETTING THE FULL STORY. THE MULTINATIONAL INSURANCE FIRM A.X.A. ANNOUNCED THAT IT WOULD DIVEST FROM ITS TAR SANDS HOLDINGS AND THAT IT WOULD STOP PROVIDING INSURANCE FOR PIPELINES TO TRANSPORT TAR SANDS OIL. CREDIT RATING AGENCY MOODY'S ANNOUNCED THAT IT WILL CONSIDER CLIMATE RISK IN RATING COASTAL COMMUNITIES' MUNICIPAL BONDS. SO OUR COASTAL MUNICIPALITIES IN RHODE ISLAND, THE PRESIDING OFFICER'S COASTAL COMMUNITIES IN FLORIDA, COASTAL COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY ARE NOW GOING TO HAVE TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CLIMATE RISK, WHAT INFRASTRUCTURE AND WHAT HAZARDS THEY FACE FROM SEA LEVEL RISE, STORM ACTIVITY, ALL THE THINGS WE ASSOCIATE WITH CLIMATE CHANGE, AND IT'S GOING TO BE PART OF HOW THE RATING AGENCIES VALUE THEIR MUNICIPAL BONDS. THAT IS GOING TO CHANGE BEHAVIOR, AND IT DOESN'T MATTER WHETHER YOU ARE A RED STATE OR A BLUE STATE. THE -- THE COMPANIES LIKE MICROSOFT AND UNILEVER HAVE BAKED INTO THEIR OWN INTERNAL ACCOUNTING THEIR OWN INTERNAL CARBON PRICES TO HELP THEM REDUCE THE CARBON INTENSITY OF THEIR OPERATIONS, AND OF COURSE VIRTUALLY EVERY REPUBLICAN WHO HAS THOUGHT THE CLIMATE CHANGE PROBLEM THROUGH TO A SOLUTION HAS COME TO A PRICE ON CARBON AS BEING THE MARKET-BASED SOLUTION TO THAT PROBLEM. WHEN THE PRESIDENT ANNOUNCED THAT HE WOULD WITHDRAW THE U.S. FROM THE HISTORIC PARIS AGREEMENT, LEAVING US AS THE MARIAH NATION, THE ONLY ONE IN THE WORLD TO REJECT THIS GLOBAL PLEDGE, MANY AMERICAN COMPANIES CLEDGED THAT AS TO THAT PARIS AGREEMENT, THEY ARE STILL IN. THE CORRUPTION OF THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION BY FOSSIL FUEL INTERESTS HAS NOT AFFECTED MANY STATE AND LOCAL OFFICIALS. IN COLORADO, FOR INSTANCE, THE STATE PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION IS WORKING WITH EXCEL ENERGY TO BUILD OUT A CLEANER MIX AND RETIRE OLDER FOSSIL FUEL UNITS. SPECIFICALLY, COLORADO IS LOOKING TO RETIRE 660 MEGAWATTS OF COAL-FIRED GENERATION, CLOSE IT DOWN, AND REPLACE IT WITH RENEWABLES. THEIR RECENT REQUEST FORBIDS BROUGHT A FLOOD OF NEW RENEWABLE ENERGY PROPOSALS AT COSTS THAT CAME IN, BEATING OUT EXISTING COAL AND NATURAL GAS FACILITIES. NEW BUILT RENEWABLE ON PRICE BEAT OUT EXISTING FOSSIL FUEL. THE MARKET IS SPEAKING, AND IT'S SAYING THAT FOSSIL FUEL, EVEN WITH ALL ITS SCANDALOUS AND WELL-DEFENDED SUBSIDIES, CAN'T COMPETE. FOSSIL CAN'T COMPETE. ON THE PARIS AGREEMENT, CALIFORNIA, CONNECTICUT, HAWAII, NEW YORK, NORTH CAROLINA, OREGON, VIRGINIA, WASHINGTON STATE, AND I'M PROUD TO SAY RHODE ISLAND ALL DECLARED THAT THEY, TOO, ARE STILL IN. THEY WILL MEET THEIR GOALS. ALASKA ANNOUNCED THAT IT WOULD MEET ITS PARIS AGREEMENT GOALS. WHAT'S MORE, CALIFORNIA AND WASHINGTON STATE HAVE COMBINED WITH CANADA, CHILE, COLOMBIA, COSTA RICA, AND MEXICO IN A PLAN TO PUT A PRICE ON CARBON THAT WOULD REACH UP AND DOWN VIRTUALLY THE ENTIRE PACIFIC COAST OF THE AMERICAS, FROM CANADA ALL THE WAY DOWN THROUGH CHILE. ONE PROBLEM FOR THE FOSSIL FUEL FOLKS' POLITICAL INFLUENCE, WHICH IS SO DEADLY EFFECTIVE HERE IN CONGRESS, IS THAT IT DOESN'T DO SO WELL IN GOVERNMENT AGENCIES WHERE THE RULE OF LAW, NOT POLITICS, PREVAILS. SO THE FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION, A FEDERAL ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCY BOUND BY RULE OF LAW, MORE OR LESS BLEW OFF A PREPOSTEROUS PROPOSAL BY FOSSIL FUEL FLUNKIES AT THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY TO SUBSIDIZE COAL EVEN MORE. INSTEAD, FERC RECENTLY FINALIZED A RULE FOR ENERGY STORAGE IN AMERICA'S ELECTRIC GRIDS. THIS WILL NOT ONLY EXPAND ENERGY STORAGE, IT WILL ALSO ACCELERATE RENEWABLES LIKE WIND AND SOLAR. A RECENT STUDY PREDICTED THAT THE RULE COULD SPUR -- HOLD ON -- 50,000 MEGAWATTS. 50,000 MEGAWATTS OF ADDITIONAL ENERGY STORAGE ACROSS THE U.S., ENOUGH TO POWER ROUGHLY 35 MILLION HOMES. AND THIS ESTIMATE COULD TURN OUT TO BE CONSERVATIVE IF RENEWABLES' PRICES KEEP HEADING ON THEIR CURRENT TRAJECTORIES. THAT FERC RULE, BY THE WAY, WAS UNANIMOUS AND BIPARTISAN. FERC OVERSEES THE SYSTEM OPERATORS LIKE I.S.O. NEW ENGLAND WHO ARE STEADILY IMPROVING THE ROLE OF RENEWABLES IN REGIONAL MARKETS, REMOVING THE OBSTACLES THAT HAD KEPT RENEWABLES FROM COMPETING FAIRLY IN CAPACITY AUCTIONS AND DISPATCH DECISIONS. WITH WIND POWER SUCH A LARGE PART OF IOWA'S ENERGY MIX, FOR EXAMPLE, ITS MIDWESTERN I.S.O. FIGURED OUT THE ALGORITHMS TO TREAT WIND AS RELIABLE BASE LOAD POWER. FERC'S STORAGE RULE WILL GIVE THE SYSTEM OPERATORS A NEW ANSWER FOR FURTHER PROGRESS ON CLEAN RENEWABLE ENERGY. BELIEVE IT OR NOT, EVEN CONGRESS HAS ACTED. JUST LAST MONTH, CONGRESS PASSED A BIPARTISAN BUDGET AGREEMENT THAT INCLUDED LEGISLATION I COSPONSORED WITH SENATORS HEITKAMP, CAPITO AND BARRASSO TO SPUR INVESTMENT INNOVATION IN NEXT-GENERATION CARBON CAPTURE, UTILIZATION, AND STORAGE TECHNOLOGIES. OUR BILL ATTRACTED WHAT I WOULD CALL AN UNLIKELY COALITION OF ENERGY, INDUSTRIAL, AGRICULTURAL, AND TECHNOLOGY COMPANIES, AS WELL AS ENVIRONMENT AND LABOR GROUPS. THIS BILL PUTS A POSITIVE PRICE ON BIPARTISAN REDUCTION THROUGH A TAX CREDIT FOR PROJECTS THAT CAPTURE AND UTILIZE OR STORE CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS. WITHOUT THAT PRICE SIGNAL, THERE WAS LITTLE INCENTIVE TO INNOVATE HOW TO TURN CARBON POLLUTION FROM POWER PLANTS AND INDUSTRIAL FACILITIES INTO SOMETHING SAFE OR EVEN USEFUL. THE BILL EVEN INCENTS TECHNOLOGIES TO PULL CARBON POLLUTION DIRECTLY FROM THE ATMOSPHERE. THE KEY, THE KEY IS THAT CONGRESS FOR THE FIRST TIME PUT A DOLLAR VALUE ON REDUCING CARBON POLLUTION. THE SENATE ALSO JUST PASSED A NUCLEAR INNOVATION BILL WRITTEN BY SENATOR CRAPO AND ME TO INCREASE COLLABORATION BETWEEN PRIVATE INDUSTRY, UNIVERSITIES, AND NATIONAL LABORATORIES IN ADVANCED NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGIES. OUR BILL WAS ALSO COSPONSORED BY SENATORS BOOKER, MURKOWSKI, RISCH, HATCH, AND DURBIN. IT WOULD PUT PRIVATE INNOVATORS TOGETHER WITH OUR NATIONAL LABS, WITH THE NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION, AND WITH THE ENERGY DEPARTMENT, ALL WORKING TOGETHER ON SAFE NEW NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGIES. MY GOAL HERE IS NOT ONLY TO HELP BRING NEW CARBON-FREE TECHNOLOGIES FORWARD ULTIMATELY TO A CARBON-FREE POWER GRID, BUT ALSO TO STLOAR TECHNOLOGIES THAT MAY, THAT JUST MAY ALLOW US TO TURN OUR PRESENT HAZARDOUS NUCLEAR WASTE STOCKPILES TO PRODUCTIVE USE, TO GENERATE CLEAN ENERGY. TO MOVE THOSE WASTE STOCKPILES FROM THE LIABILITY TO THE ASSET COLUMN ON OUR NATION'S BOOKS. WHAT AN ACHIEVEMENT THAT WOULD BE. SO ALTHOUGH CONGRESS MAY BE BLOCKADED STILL BY FOSSIL FUEL INTERESTS, IT'S NEVERTHELESS THE LAW OF THE LAND THAT ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCIES MUST TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE SOCIAL COST OF CARBON, THE COST THAT FOSSIL FUEL'S CARBON POLLUTION IMPOSES ON SOCIETY IN MAKING ENERGY-RELATED DECISIONS. THAT TEST WILL REMAIN. AND LAWSUITS ARE SLOWLY CLOSING IN ON THE MOMENT OF DISCOVERY WHEN LAWYERS FINALLY GET ACCESS TO THE FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY'S FILES AND DECADES OF LIES AND DENIAL AND POLITICAL MANIPULATION ARE EXPOSED FOR ALL TO SEE. THOUGH WELL-FUNDED CLIMATE DENIAL MACHINE WITH ITS FRONT GROUPS AND TRICK PONY SCIENTISTS AND POLITICAL MUSCLE OPERATION CAN ONLY KEEP DENIAL CASTLE PROPPED UP SO LONG. BUT UNTIL THAT BATTLEMENT OF LIES COLLAPSES -- AND IT WILL -- UNTIL IT COLLAPSES, NEVERTHELESS, PROGRESS STILL CONTINUES. -- ALL AROUND US. THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I YIELD THE FLOOR.

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  • 06:02:07 PM

    MR. THUNE

    MR. PRESIDENT?

  • 06:02:08 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM SOUTH DAKOTA.

  • 06:02:10 PM

    MR. THUNE

    MR. PRESIDENT, WE ARE QUICKLY TURNING TO THE STOP ENABLING SEX TRAFFICKERS…

    MR. PRESIDENT, WE ARE QUICKLY TURNING TO THE STOP ENABLING SEX TRAFFICKERS ACT LEGISLATION COUPLED WITH LEGISLATION THAT HAS COME OVER FROM THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, AND I HOPE THAT WE WILL GET A BIG BIPARTISAN VOTE IN SUPPORT OF THAT LEGISLATION WHEN IT'S VOTED ON PROBABLY TOMORROW. MR. PRESIDENT, LET ME JUST SAY THAT FOR MORE THAN TWO DECADES THE COMMERCIAL INTERNET HAS BEEN AN UNDENIABLE FORCE FOR GOOD. IT'S DELIVERED ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY TO PEOPLE WHO WOULD NOT OTHERWISE HAVE HAD IT. IT'S EMPOWERED MARGINALIZED CITIZENS AROUND THE WORLD TO FIGHT BACK AGAINST OPPRESSORS. IT HAS EXPANDED EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES AND MADE NEWS AND INFORMATION MORE ACCESSIBLE. AND MORE -- BUT LIKE ANY TOOL, THE INTERNET CAN BE USED FOR EVIL AS WELL AS GOOD. AND RIGHT NOW CERTAIN CORNERS OF THE INTERNET ARE BEING EXPLOITED TO FACILITATE SEX TRAFFICKING, INCLUDING THE WIDESPREAD TRAFFICKING OF CHILDREN. MR. PRESIDENT, EACH YEAR THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN ARE SEXUALLY TRAFFICKED WITHIN THE UNITED STATES. THAT'S RIGHT, MR. PRESIDENT. THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN ARE TRAFFICKED EACH YEAR IN THE UNITED STATES -- NOT IN SOME FARAWAY COUNTRY BUT RIGHT HERE AT HOME IN OUR COMMUNITIES. AND MORE AND MORE EVERY DAY THIS TRAFFICKING IS BEING FACILITATED VIA THE INTERNET. THREE OUT OF FOUR CHILDREN WHO HAVE BEEN SEXUALLY TRAFFICKED IN THIS COUNTRY HAVE BEEN TRAFFICKED ONLINE. THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN REPORTED AN 846% INCREASE IN REPORTS OF SUSPECTED CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING FROM 2010 TO 2015. THE INCREASE THE NATIONAL CENTER REPORTS IS, AND I QUOTE, DIRECTLY CORRELATED TO THE INCREASED USE OF THE INTERNET TO SELL CHILDREN FOR SEX. END QUOTE. NOW, OBVIOUSLY, MR. PRESIDENT, DEDICATED PROSECUTORS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT AROUND THE COUNTRY ARE WORKING EVERY DAY TO COMBAT THE PROLIFERATION OF SEX TRAFFICKING ON THE INTERNET. BUT SOME OF THEIR EFFORTS HAVE BEEN STYMIED BY A PROVISION OF A 1996 LAW CALLED THE COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT. THE PROVISION IN QUESTION, SECTION 230, WAS MEANT TO PROTECT WEBSITES FROM BEING HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR MATERIAL THAT PEOPLE CREATE AND POST ON THEIR SITES. IT'S THANKS IN PART TO THIS PROVISION THAT SUCH POPULAR SITES AS FACEBOOK, YOUTUBE, AND TWITTER HAVE BEEN ABLE TO FLOURISH. BUT CERTAIN WEBSITES HAVE USED THIS PROVISION TO DEFEND THEMSELVES IN COURT CASES DEALING WITH CRIMINAL ACTIVITY THAT THEY HAVE KNOWINGLY ALLOWED OR PARTICIPATED IN; SPECIFICALLY, SEX TRAFFICKING. NOW, NEEDLESS TO SAY, CONGRESS NEVER INTENDED THIS PROVISION TO BE USED TO PROTECT WEBSITES THAT KNOWINGLY AND DELIBERATELY FACILITATE TRAFFICKING. THE COURTS HAVE GENERALLY HELD THAT THIS PROVISION DOES NOT PERMIT THEM TO HOLD WEBSITES ACCOUNTABLE FOR KNOWINGLY FACILITATING SEX TRAFFICKING. AND COURTS HAVE ALSO MADE IT CLEAR THAT IF CONGRESS WANTS TO ENSURE THAT THESE TRAFFICKING ACCOMPLICES CAN BE PROSECUTED, IT NEEDS TO PROVIDE SOME MORE CLARITY ON THIS PROVISION. WELL, MR. PRESIDENT, THAT'S WHAT WE'RE HERE TO DO TODAY. SENATOR ROB PORTMAN OF OHIO HAS BEEN A LEADING VOICE IN THE SENATE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING, AND THE LEGISLATION BEFORE US TODAY INCLUDES HIS LEGISLATION, THE STOP ENABLING SEX TRAFFICKERS ACT, WHICH WILL PREVENT SECTION 230 FROM BEING USED AS A DEFENSE BY THOSE WHO ARE KNOWINGLY COOPERATING WITH SEX TRAFFICKERS. UNDER THE STOP ENABLING SEX TRAFFICKERS ACT, STATE LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS WILL BE ABLE TO PROSECUTE WEBSITES THAT KNOWINGLY ASSIST IN OR FACILITATE SEX TRAFFICKING. VICTIMS WILL BE ALLOWED TO SUE WEBSITES THAT VIOLATE THE FEDERAL SEX TRAFFICKING STATUTE. STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL WILL NOW ALSO BE ALLOWED TO FILE CIVIL SUITS AGAINST WEBSITES THAT KNOWINGLY FACILITATE TRAFFICKING. THE STOP ENABLING SEX TRAFFICKERS ACT IS AN OUTSTANDING BILL, MR. PRESIDENT, AND A GREAT CREDIT TO SENATOR PORTMAN AND THE OTHERS THAT HE WORKED WITH TO GET IT CONSIDERED HERE ON THE FLOOR. IT ADDRESSES A HOLE IN OUR LAWS THAT IS ALLOWING SEX TRAFFICKERS TO EXPLOIT THE INTERNET TO FACILITATE THEIR TRAFFIC, BUT IT ENSURES THAT ONLY BAD ACTORS ARE TARGETED, AND IT MAINTAINS THE KEY FREEDOMS THAT HAVE ALLOWED THE INTERNET TO FLOURISH. UNDER THIS LEGISLATION, WEBSITES CAN ONLY BE PROSECUTED IF THEY KNOWINGLY FACILITATE OR SUPPORT TRAFFICKING. THIS BILL IS STRONGLY SUPPORTED BY MEMBERS OF BOTH PARTIES. IN FACT, 67 OUT OF THE 100 UNITED STATES SENATORS ARE COSPONSORS OF THIS BILL. THIS BILL IS SUPPORTED BY THE WHITE HOUSE. IT IS SUPPORTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT ORGANIZATIONS. IT IS SUPPORTED BY ORGANIZATIONS THAT FIGHT SEX TRAFFICKING. IT IS SUPPORTED BY FAITH-BASED ORGANIZATIONS. AND IT IS SUPPORT SUPPORTED BY A NUMBER OF TECHNOLOGY COMPANIES. I WAS PROUD TO HELP FACILITATE CONVERSATIONS WITH A NUMBER OF TECHNOLOGY COMPANIES THAT RESULTED IN SOLID SUPPORT FOR THIS BILL AMONG MEMBERS OF THE TECHNOLOGY COMMUNITY. MR. PRESIDENT, THE PROCESS OF GETTING THIS BILL TO THE SENATE FLOOR TODAY HAS BEEN CHARACTERIZED BY A WONDERFUL DEGREE OF BIPARTISAN. I'M HOPING THAT CONTINUES AS WE DEBATE THIS BILL OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS, AND I ENCOURAGE MY COLLEAGUES TO REJECT ANY ATTEMPTS TO SLOW THIS BILL DOWN WITH AMENDMENTS. WE HAVE A REMARKABLE DEGREE OF CONSENSUS ON THE STOP ENABLING SEX TRAFFICKERS ACT, BOTH WITHIN AND WITHOUT CONGRESS, AND WE SHOULD NOT DISTURB THIS MOMENTUM. WE NEED TO GET THIS BILL OVER THE FINISH LINE. EVERY DAY WE WAIT FOR THIS BILL TO BE ENACTED INTO LAW IS ANOTHER DAY IN WHICH WEBSITES IN THE DARK CORNERS OF THE INTERNET CAN FACILITATE THE HEINOUS PRACTICE OF SEXUALLY EXPLOITING VULNERABLE HUMAN BEINGS. MR. PRESIDENT, DURING THE COMMERCE COMMITTEE HEARING THAT I CHAIRED ON THIS BILL, WE HEARD TESTIMONY FROM YVONNE AMBROSE WHOSE DAUGHTER DESIREE WAS SEXUALLY TRAFFICKED REPEATEDLY BEFORE BEING MURDERED. DESIREE WAS JUST 16, A BRIGHT AND LOVING GIRL WHO DREAMED OF BECOMING A DOCTOR IN THE AIR FORCE. INSTEAD, SHE WAS RAPED AND MURDERED BY A MAN TWICE HER AGE WHO HAD SOUGHT HER FOR SEX AFTER SEEING HER ADVERTISED ON AN INTERNET SITE. MR. PRESIDENT, EVERY DAY ACROSS THIS COUNTRY THERE IS ANOTHER DESIREE BEING TRAFFICKED. SOME OF THESE CHILDREN ARE NOT YET TEENAGERS. THEY SHOULD BE GOING TO BASKETBALL GAMES AND BIRTHDAY PARTIES. INSTEAD, THEY'RE BEING TAKEN TO HOMES AND HOTELS TO BE VIOLATED BY STRANGERS. SOME, LIKE DESIREE, WILL DIE THERE. MR. PRESIDENT, FIGHTING TRAFFICKING HAS TO BE A PRIORITY FOR ALL OF US, AND I'M PROUD TO HAVE HELPED TRAFFIC TWO -- TO HAVE HELPED DRAFT TWO BILLS EARLIER. WHILE WE'VE PASSED SOME GOOD LEGISLATION OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS, THERE IS A LOT MORE WORK THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE. THERE ARE MANY MORE DESIREES OUT THERE IN DANGER, AND WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO DO EVERYTHING THAT WE CAN TO PROTECT THEM. THE STOP ENABLING SEX TRAFFICKERS ACT WILL STRIKE AN IMPORTANT BLOW AGAINST THIS NEW WAVE OF TRAFFICKERS EXPLOITING THE INTERNET TO SELL CHILDREN THE BILL IT IS NOW PART OF, THE BILL THAT WE'RE CONSIDERING TODAY, WILL ALLOW STATES AND VICTIMS TO FIGHT ONLINE SEX TRAFFICKING ACT, WILL FURTHER BOOST SESTA'S IMPACT BY ESTABLISHING NEW PENALTIES FOR FACILITATING SEX TRAFFICKING. MR. PRESIDENT, I URGE MY COLLEAGUES TO PASS THIS BILL AND TO GET IT TO THE PRESIDENT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. THERE ARE A LOT OF CHILDREN OUT THERE WHO ARE WAITING FOR OUR HELP. MR. PRESIDENT, I YIELD THE FLOOR. I SUGGEST THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.

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  • 06:10:41 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE CLERK WILL CALL THE ROLL. QUORUM CALL: QUORUM CALL: ,

  • 06:15:16 PM

    Quorum Call

  • 06:23:12 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE MAJORITY LEADER.

  • 06:23:13 PM

    MR. McCONNELL

    ARE WE IN A QUORUM CALL?

  • 06:23:14 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WE ARE.

  • 06:23:16 PM

    MR. McCONNELL

    I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT FURTHER PROCEEDINGS UNDER THE QUORUM CALL BE…

    I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT FURTHER PROCEEDINGS UNDER THE QUORUM CALL BE DISPENSED WITH.

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  • 06:23:20 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 06:23:21 PM

    MR. McCONNELL

    I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THE SENATE PROCEED TO EXECUTIVE SESSION FOR THE EN…

    I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THE SENATE PROCEED TO EXECUTIVE SESSION FOR THE EN BLOC CONSIDERATION OF THE FOLLOWING NOMINATIONS: EXECUTIVE CALENDAR 735, 736, 737, 738, AND 739.

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  • 06:23:28 PM

    FOLLOWING NOMINATIONS

    EXECUTIVE CALENDAR 735, 736, 737, 738, AND 739.

  • 06:23:35 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    IS THERE OBJECTION? WITHOUT OBJECTION. THE CLERK WILL REPORT.

  • 06:23:47 PM

    THE CLERK

    NOMINATIONS, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, WILLIAM M. McSWAIN OF PENNSYLVANIA TO…

    NOMINATIONS, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, WILLIAM M. McSWAIN OF PENNSYLVANIA TO BE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA. MATTHEW D. HARRIS OF UTAH TO BE UNITED STATES MARSHAL FOR THE DISTRICT OF UTAH. JOHNNY LEE KUHLMAN OF OKLAHOMA. JOSEPH D. MCLEAN OF INDIANA TO BE UNITED STATES MARSHAL FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA. DAVID A. WEAVER OF COLORADO TO BE UNITED STATES MARSHAL FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO.

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  • 06:24:22 PM

    MR. McCONNELL

    I ASK CONSENT THE SENATE VOTE ON THE NOMINATIONS EN BLOC WITH NO…

    I ASK CONSENT THE SENATE VOTE ON THE NOMINATIONS EN BLOC WITH NO INTERVENING ACTION OR DEBATE, THAT IF CONFIRMED THE MOTIONS TO RECONSIDER BE CONSIDERED MADE AND LAID UPON THE TABLE EN BLOC, THAT THE PRESIDENT BE IMMEDIATELY NOTIFIED OF THE SENATE'S ACTION, THAT NO FURTHER MOTIONS BE IN ORDER AND THAT ANY STATEMENTS RELATED TO THE NOMINATIONS BE PRINTED IN THE RECORD.

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  • 06:24:41 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    IS THERE OBJECTION? WITHOUT OBJECTION. THE QUESTION IS ON THE NOMINATIONS…

    IS THERE OBJECTION? WITHOUT OBJECTION. THE QUESTION IS ON THE NOMINATIONS EN BLOC. ALL THOSE IN FAVOR SAY AYE. OPPOSED NAY. THE AYES APPEAR TO HAVE IT. THE AYES DO HAVE IT. THE NOMINATIONS ARE CONFIRMED EN BLOC.

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  • 06:24:57 PM

    MR. McCONNELL

    I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THE SENATE RESUME LEGISLATIVE SESSION FOR A PERIOD…

    I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THE SENATE RESUME LEGISLATIVE SESSION FOR A PERIOD OF MORNING BUSINESS WITH SENATORS PERMITTED TO SPEAK FOR UP TO TEN MINUTES EACH.

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  • 06:25:09 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 06:25:11 PM

    McCONNELL MR.

    I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THE HELP COMMITTEE BE TKR-FPD FROM FURTHER…

    I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THE HELP COMMITTEE BE TKR-FPD FROM FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF S. RES. 434 AND THE SENATE PROCEED TO IMMEDIATE CONSIDERATION.

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  • 06:25:18 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE CLERK WILL REPORT.

  • 06:25:20 PM

    THE CLERK

    SENATE RESOLUTION 434, RECOGNIZING THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF AMERICORPS MEMBERS…

    SENATE RESOLUTION 434, RECOGNIZING THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF AMERICORPS MEMBERS AND ALUMNI TO THE LIVES OF THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES.

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  • 06:25:29 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    IS THERE OBJECTION TO PROCEEDING TO THE MEASURE? WITHOUT OBJECTION. THE…

    IS THERE OBJECTION TO PROCEEDING TO THE MEASURE? WITHOUT OBJECTION. THE COMMITTEE IS DISCHARGED AND THE SENATE WILL PROCEED.

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  • 06:25:36 PM

    MR. McCONNELL

    I FURTHER ASK THE RESOLUTION BE AGREED TO, THE PREAMBLE BE AGREED TO, AND…

    I FURTHER ASK THE RESOLUTION BE AGREED TO, THE PREAMBLE BE AGREED TO, AND THE MOTION TO RECONSIDER BE CONSIDERED MADE AND LAID UPON THE TABLE WITH NO INTERVENING ACTION OR DEBATE.

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  • 06:25:44 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 06:25:47 PM

    MR. McCONNELL

    I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS BE DISCHARGED…

    I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS BE DISCHARGED FROM FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF S. 899 AND THE SENATE PROCEED TO ITS IMMEDIATE CONSIDERATION.

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  • 06:25:56 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION, THE CLERK WILL REPORT.

  • 06:25:58 PM

    THE CLERK

    S. 899, A BILL TO AMEND TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE TO ENSURE THAT THE…

    S. 899, A BILL TO AMEND TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE TO ENSURE THAT THE REQUIREMENTS THAT NEW FEDERAL EMPLOYEES WHO ARE VETERANS WITH SERVICE-CONNECTED DISABILITIES, AND SO FORTH AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

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  • 06:26:13 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    IS THERE OBJECTION TO PROCEEDING IT TO THE MEASURE? WITHOUT OBJECTION THE…

    IS THERE OBJECTION TO PROCEEDING IT TO THE MEASURE? WITHOUT OBJECTION THE COMMITTEE IS DISCHARGED AND THE SENATE WILL PROCEED TO THE MEASURE.

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  • 06:26:18 PM

    MR. McCONNELL

    I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THE BILL BE CONSIDERED READ A THIRD TIME AND…

    I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THE BILL BE CONSIDERED READ A THIRD TIME AND PASSED, AND THE MOTION TO RECONSIDER BE CONSIDERED MADE AND LAID UPON THE TABLE.

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  • 06:26:24 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 06:26:28 PM

    MR. McCONNELL

    NOW, MR. PRESIDENT, I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT WHEN THE SENATE COMPLETES…

    NOW, MR. PRESIDENT, I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT WHEN THE SENATE COMPLETES ITS BUSINESS TODAY IT ADJOURN UNTIL 11:00 A.M., WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21. FURTHER, THAT FOLLOWING THE PRAYER AND PLEDGE, THE MORNING HOUR DEEMED EXPIRED, THE JOURNAL OF PROCEEDINGS BE APPROVED TO DATE, THE TIME FOR THE TWO LEADERS BE RESERVED FOR THEIR USE LATER IN THE DAY, AND MORNING BUSINESS BE CLOSED. FINALLY, I ASK THAT FOLLOWING LEADER REMARKS, THE SENATE PROCEED TO THE CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 1865 AS UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER.

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  • 06:26:57 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 06:27:00 PM

    MR. McCONNELL

    IF THERE IS NO FURTHER BUSINESS TO COME BEFORE THE SENATE I ASK IT STAND…

    IF THERE IS NO FURTHER BUSINESS TO COME BEFORE THE SENATE I ASK IT STAND ADJOURNED UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER.

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  • 06:27:05 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

  • 06:27:48 PM

    >>

  • 06:28:13 PM

    >>

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115th Congress - Senate
Total Hours: 1806 (After 565 days)
  • Debate1085 Hours
  • Quorum Calls425 Hours
  • Votes296 Hours

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Source: Resume of Congressional Activity (senate.gov)