[Congressional Record Volume 165, Number 45 (Wednesday, March 13, 2019)]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
THE GREEN NEW DEAL
Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, I come to the floor to discuss the so-
called Green New Deal.
America needs every form of energy in order to succeed, but the
Democrats' extreme Green New Deal would send our strong, healthy, and
growing economy over a liberal cliff. This radical plan would eliminate
fossil fuels by requiring 100-percent renewable, carbon-free fuels in
just 10 years.
Clearly, we realize that the climate is changing and that the global
community has a collective duty to deal with this and to address it.
Renewables like wind and solar are certainly a key part of the
solution, but still, in the United States today, wind and solar provide
only 8 percent of our power. Abundant, reliable, and affordable fossil
fuels, like coal and natural gas, power about three out of five U.S.
homes and businesses. Excluding them would harm our national security;
it would make us dependent on foreign energy; it would destroy jobs;
and it would reduce our quality of life.
In a letter sent to the Green New Deal's sponsors, the AFL-CIO--the
Nation's federation of labor unions that represents about 12\1/2\
million employees and 55 different unions--called the plan a threat to
U.S. workers. The letter reads: ``We will not accept proposals that
could cause immediate harm to millions of our members and their
Those at the AFL-CIO also say the plan is not achievable or
realistic, and I agree with them. By themselves, renewables can't keep
the lights on, and an all-renewable energy electric power grid would
collapse. This isn't serious environmental policy--it is a pipe dream.
The Democrats have yet to provide a cost estimate for the Green New
Deal. One analysis by the former Director of the Congressional Budget
Office estimates it could cost up to $93 trillion--with a ``t.'' That
is more than the U.S. Government has spent in our Nation's entire
history--combined. We are $22 trillion in debt right now. So how are we
going to pay for it--by borrowing more money we don't have or by hiking
The crushing burden is going to fall the hardest on working families.
To get to this number, it would drain every person's checkbook in
America, starting with Warren Buffett and going all the way down. The
Green New Deal would cost every American family as much as $65,000 a
year every year. That is more than the average family makes in America.
In Wyoming, where the average family's income is way above average, it
would cost the family $61,000 a year.
Despite the heavy toll it would take, the Green New Deal would still
fail to significantly lower the Earth's temperature. Already, America
leads the world in reducing carbon emissions. In 2017, the U.S.
produced just 13 percent of the global emissions, and China and India
combined produced 33 percent.
Let's take a look at this from a global standpoint. To me, it doesn't
make any sense at all to destroy our competitive economy and allow the
biggest polluters to continue to prioritize growth at our expense.
Backbreaking tax increases and heavyhanded mandates are not the answer.
The solution is to promote free market innovation, and the Republicans
continue to advance several innovative strategies for reducing
First, we are encouraging carbon capture, utilization, and
sequestration technologies. That means actually capturing carbon and
using it productively for medical products, for construction products.
There are things we can actually do. Last year, we passed a
bipartisan bill in this body that was signed into law. It is called the
FUTURE Act, and it expands tax credits for capturing carbon.
The Clean Air Task Force calls it one of the most important bills for
reducing global warming pollution in the last two decades.
Our carbon capture work continues with the bipartisan USE IT Act,
which is going to help turn captured emissions into valuable products.
The other thing we are promoting is advanced nuclear power
technologies. Nuclear power has helped lower emissions by providing
most of America's carbon-free energy.
In late December, we passed the bipartisan Nuclear Energy Innovation
and Modernization Act. This law will help innovators develop new-age
nuclear reactors that are cheaper, better, and more reliable.
We also have extended the nuclear tax credit to speed completion of
two new nuclear reactors. We are going to speed that completion--the
first in a generation. Together they will prevent 10 million tons of
emissions every year.
Third, we are encouraging an increase in the use of renewables.
Republicans have repeatedly passed tax incentives to promote clean
These include tax credits for wind, for solar panels, as well as
incentives for biodiesel and compressed natural gas. The clean energy
strategies that Republicans have been working on in a bipartisan way
are working because America leads the world in reducing energy-related
Since 2007, U.S. emissions have been down 14 percent. This progress
is the result of innovation. So let's continue to promote proven
solutions. Let's reject the Democrats' Green New Deal as unreasonable,
unworkable, and unaffordable.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia.
Mrs. CAPITO. Mr. President, last week, I joined several of my
colleagues to highlight the unrealistic and unreasonable and
impractical ideas of the Green New Deal--the staggering cost, which is
more than the Federal Government has spent in our history; the
misguided assumptions about what it
would take to decarbonize the U.S. economy on such an aggressive
timeline; and the sorts of social programs that fundamentally change
the United States, and, I would add, not in a good way, in my opinion.
But the worst part that has been talked about is a point I made last
week. This resolution, this green deal resolution, dismisses or ignores
the realistic and pragmatic environmental solutions that this Congress
and past Congresses have already been working on.
I serve on the Environment and Public Works Committee with Chairman
Barrasso, who just spoke, and we have been working together in many
different areas to get the same sorts of ends.
The supporters of the Green New Deal actually claim Congress has done
nothing. Unfortunately, some in the media and some others seem to be
reiterating that same message.
As in so many policy arenas, the latest shiny object distracts from
the great bipartisan work that is being done in these Halls--work that
sometimes just doesn't get noticed--and that is exactly what is
Well, today I would like to highlight some of the practical,
realistic, bipartisan efforts that will put us on the right path
without killing jobs or overburdening Americans with government
spending and higher costs.
Just yesterday, President Trump signed into law the bipartisan lands
package we passed in the Senate last month, and it was an overwhelming
vote. As part of that legislation, we permanently reauthorized the Land
and Water Conservation Fund, which is a critical resource for
protecting and preserving some of our country's most beautiful public
lands, including those in my State of West Virginia.
Another example of the legislative solutions that we have advanced is
the FUTURE Act, which I led with my Democratic colleagues, former
Senator Heidi Heitkamp from North Dakota and Senator Whitehouse from
Rhode Island, along with Chairman Barrasso. That legislation had a
bipartisan group of 25 cosponsors and the support of an incredibly
diverse and broad coalition of supporters: environmental groups, oil
and gas companies, Governors from around the country, and labor unions.
What cause could bring these diverse stakeholders together? Carbon
capture utilization and storage--CCUS.
The FUTURE Act reauthorized and improved the section 45Q tax credit
for CCUS, and it requires the certainty that the carbon stays captured
for good and is used in real products for market potential.
It is not about research and development. There are other Federal
programs that are reserved for that important endeavor. It is about
establishing real incentives for the commercial deployment of CCUS
technologies and establishing a national market for carbon.
Only a market-based solution like the FUTURE Act can lead to broad
adoption of CCUS. And CCUS is something that the International Panel on
Climate Change at the U.N. and several other climate and scientific
organizations say must be a part of the international solution to this
The FUTURE Act also includes support for direct-air capture projects,
and that means not just from a power source or some other manufacturing
source. It is actually capturing it in the free air in the environment,
which can literally pull CO2 out of the atmosphere for
storage or use in marketable products. That can work to make new
industries carbon-negative and carbon-neutral.
The United States can be a leader in this space because the
environment is a global concern, and we can't control other countries'
industrial and environmental policies, nor do we want them controlling
With CCUS and direct-air capture, not only can we cut our emissions
while maintaining high-paying coal, gas, oil, and manufacturing jobs,
but we can also capture emissions emitted abroad and use them in value-
The FUTURE Act was passed as part of the bipartisan Budget Act last
Congress, and we are already seeing new projects being proposed to
benefit from this policy. Even more will be coming forward as we build
on this success, and that is where the USE IT Act comes in.
We introduced that legislation with the same group of cosponsors with
Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member Carper stepping
in for Senator Heitkamp. We have a similar coalition of supporters
across industry, environmental groups, State governments, and labor.
The USE IT Act will direct an interagency council to review the
guidelines and create a playbook for permitting CCUS projects and
associated carbon dioxide pipelines. This certainty from Federal
Agencies is essential so that those seeking to utilize the 45Q tax
credit that I talked about previously in the FUTURE Act can do so
before it expires.
I look forward to advancing this legislation in Congress. We have
already had a hearing on it--a very great bipartisan hearing on this--
and I look forward to furthering our achievements in the CCUS space.
The FUTURE Act also includes seed money for breakthrough innovations
in carbon capture. This expands on the good work that is already being
done in CCUS research and development, primarily through the funding of
the Fossil Energy Research and Development Office.
Congress has invested more than $4 billion in CCUS through that
program alone, in addition to several other programs to make more
efficient and environmentally sound use of our fossil resources. Some
of these breakthroughs are being developed at the National Energy
Technology Lab in Morgantown, WV, in conjunction with outside partners
like West Virginia University.
I will continue to advocate for this kind of robust funding for these
sorts of innovative energy programs, and I will support improving
energy efficiency and ensuring that the United States remains a leader
in carbon-free nuclear energy.
Doing the hard-nosed legislating and coalition building to achieve
these goals is tough enough without all of the noise around a Green New
Deal. Despite this distraction, I am confident we can continue to notch
wins in this arena. We have to because there is simply too much riding
on it for our economy and for our environment.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Florida.
Mr. SCOTT of Florida. Mr. President, when it comes to bankrupting our
country, the Green New Deal puts all other ideas to shame. It calls for
rebuilding or retrofitting every building in America in the next 10
years, eliminating all fossil fuels in 10 years, eliminating nuclear
power, and working toward ending air travel. This Green New Deal is not
a serious policy idea; it is a unicorn.
Democrats failed to grasp something basic: Republicans and
Independents care about the environment. We want clean air, we want
clean water, and we want to take care of our environment and natural
resources. At the same time, we also care about our economy, jobs for
families in our States, and making sure that everyone in our country
has the opportunity to succeed. We believe that taking care of the
planet and working to create a better economy are objectives that can
and must be pursued at the exact same time.
You can't afford to take care of the environment if you don't have a
strong economy. The Green New Deal would destroy our economy. To
embrace this Green New Deal plan is to be an enemy of the American
economy and the American worker because when you stop and think about
it, the Green New Deal is, in reality, the green job killer.
Some will say: Why bother picking on this plan? It is not like it has
any chance of being enacted.
Here is the problem: A socialist from New York City with a massive
Twitter following introduced this nonserious plan, and every single
major Democrat running for President immediately embraced it. Let that
sink in for a moment.
Climate change is real and requires real solutions, but the
Democratic Party has accepted this economy-destroying new deal as a new
commandment to go alongside single-payer healthcare and higher taxes on
For most Americans, this plan is a declaration of war on the economy,
way of life, and the standard of living for working class families
across our great country.
What does this mean for Florida? Well, it would mean the end of the
tourism industry; that is, 1.4 million jobs, massive job loss, and
As for me, I love and cherish the environment. It is what makes the
great State of Florida so great. What I don't love are naive plans that
would destroy Florida's economy.
During my time as Governor of Florida, we made record investments in
our environment, and we were able to do that only because Florida's
economy was booming and we had the resources to make these investments.
The Green New Deal would reverse every ounce of progress we have made.
The most incredible part of the Green New Deal plan is the statement
that they will provide ``economic security for all people of the United
States.'' No government can ever do that. To argue otherwise is a
disservice to all hard-working Americans and nothing more than phony
I look forward to a time when we don't have to argue about ridiculous
proposals being amplified in the media and can actually focus on real
solutions to protect our environment and build our economy.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Indiana.
Mr. YOUNG. Mr. President, I rise today to speak about the so-called
Green New Deal and its impact on Indiana's agricultural community and
our Hoosier farmers.
As I said last week, this misguided Green New Deal is unaffordable,
unattainable, and unrealistic. In fact, over the next decade, this so-
called deal would cost up to $65,000 per American household per year.
This proposal is a job killer, and it is bad news for hard-working
Hoosiers. This is especially true for Hoosiers who rely on our vital
agriculture industry for their incomes.
Allow me to run through a few numbers. In Indiana, agriculture
supports more than 107,000 Hoosier jobs. Agriculture also contributes
an estimated $30 billion to Indiana's economy. Indiana is the 10th
largest farming state in the Nation, and we are the 8th largest ag
export. Perhaps most importantly, 97 percent of Hoosier farms are
family owned or operated.
Agriculture is a main driver of our State's economy. It is often said
that Indiana feeds the world, and we take a lot of pride in that. We
need our ag community to continue thriving. Yet the sponsors of this
Green New Deal have spoken about cutting back on the farming practices
that employ Hoosiers and put food on the table.
Imagine the crushing cost to Hoosier farmers of changing out all farm
equipment for electric vehicles or the cost of upgrading every single
building on every farm in Indiana. This is on top of the sharp climb in
energy prices that we would see under the Green New Deal. This bad deal
would force the cost of doing business to skyrocket for Hoosier
manufacturers and our farmers, which would mean higher prices for
consumers and less money in the pockets of hard-working Hoosiers.
Jim, a small business owner from Muncie, wrote to my office recently.
He said: ``Please stop the Green New Deal in its tracks NOW.''
I also heard from Patrick in Bloomington, who said: ``As a man who
has served my country in combat in Vietnam 50 years ago and someone who
loves my country deeply--I am very concerned about the direction our
nation is heading.'' Regarding the Green New Deal, he added: ``I hope
you won't give this idea a second thought.''
Dennis from Greenwood wrote: ``My wife and I are strongly against the
`Green New Deal'. . . . We would recommend that you not support this
Well, Dennis, I don't intend to.
Susan from Lafayette wrote: ``Please hold strong and promote the
values of Indiana and many Americans. . . . ''
The bottom line is this: Hoosiers don't want this harmful Green New
Deal. It sets unattainable goals that are bad for Hoosier farmers. It
is bad for our economy, and it is bad for our families.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.
S.J. Res. 7
Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, let me begin by thanking Senator Mike Lee
and Senator Chris Murphy for their hard work on this important
resolution--work which, in fact, has gone on now for several years.
Today is an extremely important day. Today we in the Senate have the
opportunity to take a major step forward in ending the horrific war in
Yemen and alleviating the terrible, terrible suffering being
experienced by the people in one of the poorest countries on Earth.
Today, equally important, we can finally begin the process of
reasserting Congress's responsibility over war-making. As every
schoolchild should know, article I of the Constitution clearly states
that it is Congress, not the President, that has the power to declare
war. In their great wisdom, the Framers of our Constitution, the
Founders of this country, gave that enormously important responsibility
to Congress because the Members of the House and the Senate are closer
and more accountable to the people of this country.
Tragically, however, over many years, Congress has abdicated that
responsibility to Democratic Presidents and Republican Presidents.
Today we begin the process of reclaiming our constitutional authority
by ending U.S. involvement in a war that has not been authorized by
Congress and is clearly unconstitutional.
Last December, this body made history for the first time since the
War Powers Resolution was passed in 1973. A majority of Senators--56 of
us, in a bipartisan way--used those powers from the War Powers Act to
end U.S. involvement in a war.
Today we consider that exact same resolution once again in the new
Congress. This time, however, unlike last session, this resolution will
be brought to the House floor, and I strongly believe will be passed.
Let me say a brief word about the war in Yemen.
In March of 2015, under the leadership of Muhammad bin Salman, then
Saudi Defense Minister and now the Crown Prince, a Saudi-led coalition
intervened in Yemen's ongoing civil war. As a result of that
intervention, Yemen is now experiencing the worst humanitarian disaster
on the planet.
According to the United Nations, Yemen is at risk of the most severe
famine in 100 years, with some 14 million people facing the possibility
of starvation. In one of the poorest countries on Earth, as a result of
this war, according to the Save the Children organization, some 85,000
children in Yemen have already starved to death over the last several
years--an unimaginable number, unimaginable suffering and destruction.
If this war continues, what the experts tell us is that millions more
will also face famine and starvation.
Further, Yemen is currently experiencing the worst cholera outbreak
in the world, with as many as 10,000 new cases each week, according to
the World Health Organization. This is a disease spread by infected
water that causes severe diarrhea and dehydration and will only
accelerate the death rate. The cholera outbreak has occurred because
Saudi bombs have destroyed Yemen's water infrastructure and people are
no longer able to access clean drinking water.
The fact is that the United States, with little media attention, has
been Saudi Arabia's partner in this horrific war. We have been
providing the bombs that the Saudi-led coalition is using. We have been
refueling their planes before they drop those bombs, and we have been
assisting with intelligence.
In too many cases, our weapons are being used to kill civilians. In
August, it was an American-made bomb that obliterated a schoolbus full
of young boys, killing dozens and wounding many more. A CNN report
found evidence that American weapons have been used in a string of such
deadly attacks on civilians since the war began.
This past weekend--this past weekend--at least 20 women and a child
were killed in a Saudi-led airstrike on Yemen's northwestern Province
of Hajjah, as they huddled in a house to avoid nearby clashes. As is so
often the case in war, the innocent, the women and the children, pay
Late last year, I met with several brave Yemeni human rights
They had come to Congress to urge us to put a stop to this war. They
told me clearly: When Yemenis see ``Made in America'' on the bombs that
are killing them, it tells them that the United States is responsible
for this war. That is the sad truth.
The bottom line is that the United States should not be supporting a
catastrophic war led by a despotic regime with a dangerous and
irresponsible foreign policy.
Some have suggested that Congress moving to withdraw support for this
war would undermine the United Nations' efforts to reach a peace
agreement, but the opposite is true. It is the promise of unconditional
U.S. support for the Saudis that undermines those efforts.
We have evidence of this. Last December, as we were preparing to vote
on this same resolution, we received news that U.N. Special Envoy
Martin Griffiths reached a breakthrough agreement for a ceasefire in
the port city of Hodeidah. That ceasefire, which is being maintained
today, is enabling food and increased humanitarian aid into the
I have spoken to people at the highest level of those negotiations,
who have made it clear that our actions here in the Senate played a
significant role in pushing Saudi Arabia toward an agreement. That
pressure must continue, and the resolution I hope we pass today will do
Our effort on this issue has clearly made a positive impact, and I
thank all of the cosponsors of this resolution for their efforts and
all of the civil society organizations--progressive and conservative
organizations--that have worked so hard to raise awareness of this
conflict and the constitutional implications.
Above and beyond the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, this war has been
harmful to our national security and the security of the region. The
administration defends our engagement in Yemen by overstating Iranian
support for the Houthi rebels. Let me be clear. Iran's support for the
Houthis is of serious concern for all of us, but the truth is that
support there is far less significant than the administration claims.
The fact is that the relationship between Iran and the Houthis has only
been strengthened by this war. The war is creating the very problem the
administration claims to want to solve.
This war is also undermining the broader effort against violent
extremists. A 2016 State Department report found that the conflict had
helped al-Qaida and the Islamic State's Yemen branch ``deepen their
inroads across much of the country.'' The head of the International
Rescue Committee, former British Foreign Minister David Miliband, said
in a recent interview that ``the winners are the extremist groups like
Al Qaeda and ISIS.'' Late last year, the Wall Street Journal reported
that ``nearly two years after being driven from its stronghold in
Yemen, one of al Qaeda's most dangerous franchises has entrenched
itself in the country's hinterlands as a devastating war creates the
conditions for its comeback.''
Here is something that should deeply concern us all. At a time when
we are spending billions to fight terrorism all over the world, a
February CNN report revealed that Saudi Arabia and its coalition
partners have transferred American-made weapons to al-Qaida-linked
fighters in Yemen. Does anyone here think it makes sense that U.S.
weapons should be given to groups who have declared war against the
This war is both a humanitarian and a strategic disaster.
Let us also not forget that this war is being led by a despotic,
undemocratic regime in Saudi Arabia. The United States of America--the
most powerful country on Earth--should not be led into a regional war
by our client states that are trying to serve their own narrow and
It should not be Saudi Arabia that is developing and implementing
American foreign and military policy. Saudi Arabia is a monarchy
controlled by one of the wealthiest families in the world--the Saud
family. In a 2017 report by the Cato Institute, Saudi Arabia was ranked
149th out of 159 countries for freedom and human rights. Is this really
the kind of country whose foreign policy we should be supporting with
U.S. taxpayer dollars?
For decades, the Saudis have funded schools, mosques, and preachers
who promote an extreme form of Islam known as Wahhabism.
In Saudi Arabia today, women are treated as third-class citizens.
Women still need the permission of a male guardian to go to school or
to get a job. They have to follow a strict dress code and can be stoned
to death for adultery or flogged for spending time in the company of a
man who is not their relative.
Last year, Saudi activist Loujain al-Hathloul, a leader in the fight
for women's rights, was kidnapped from Abu Dhabi and forced to return
to the country. She is currently imprisoned, along with many other
human rights activists. Human Rights Watch reported that imprisoned
women activists have been subjected to torture, including electric
shocks, and other forms of physical and sexual assault.
The people of the entire world received a very clear understanding of
the nature of the Saudi regime with the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in
the Saudi consulate in Turkey. All of the evidence suggests that the
Saudi Crown Prince was directly responsible for that murder. Is that
really the kind of regime whose leads we in the United States should be
I believe the U.S. Congress has become far too comfortable with
military interventions all over the world. We have now been in
Afghanistan for nearly 18 years--the longest war in American history.
We also have troops in many other countries around the world. The time
is long overdue for Congress to reassert its constitutional role in
determining when and where our country goes to war. This resolution
provides that opportunity.
I hope this body will do exactly as it did in December and, in a
bipartisan manner, pass this resolution. The humanitarian catastrophe
has only gotten worse in Yemen, and our intervention there is every bit
as unconstitutional as it was when we passed this resolution in
Let us bring this catastrophic war in Yemen to an end. Let us focus
our efforts on a diplomatic resolution to end that war. Let us provide
the humanitarian aid needed to protect the hungry and the sick in
Yemen. In a historic vote 45 years after the passage of the War Powers
Act, let us today reassert Congress's constitutional responsibility in
terms of war-making.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cotton). The Senator from Connecticut.
Mr. MURPHY. Thank you very much, Mr. President.
Once again, I am very pleased to join my friend the Senator from
Vermont on the floor to press this body to take seriously its
constitutional responsibility and its responsibility to ensure that the
United States doesn't enter into hostilities abroad other than in those
situations that are vitally necessary to protect our national security
I am so proud to have worked with Senator Sanders, Senator Lee, and
many others here to build a truly bipartisan coalition that is going to
do something that, as Senator Sanders said, is historic.
I have been coming down to the Senate floor for 4 years now raising
concerns about U.S. participation in this civil war. When the United
States first entered into an agreement with the Saudis to help them in
their bombing campaign, very few people could probably locate Yemen on
the map. Today, it is the subject of national conversation. With
passage in the Senate and the House, regardless of what the President
chooses to do, the world now knows that the United States is paying
attention to the world's worst humanitarian disaster--a nightmare
inside Yemen that is taking the lives of tens of thousands of people.
Sometimes humanitarian disasters and famines are caused by natural
events, those that we cannot control--droughts, for instance. This is a
manmade humanitarian catastrophe that the United States has something
to say about, and we are going to say something about it in a matter of
Let me just say a few things about what will happen if we pass this
resolution and it becomes law and what will not happen if we pass this
resolution and it becomes law. I think Senator Sanders covered this,
and we have covered this enough.
The first thing that happens is that we uphold the Constitution.
I get it. Declaring war is a lot tougher today than it was 40 years
ago or 100 years ago. It is not as if there are big armies that march
against each other across open fields. Very rarely is there a nice
peace treaty signed to wrap up hostilities. Now we have shadowy and
more diffuse enemies who are harder to define. We have wars that seem
to never end. But that doesn't obviate Congress's responsibility to set
parameters around war. Just because it is harder to declare war today
doesn't mean that we still don't have the responsibility to do it.
Over and over again, we have outsourced the decision on hostilities
to the President, whether it be President Obama or President Trump. In
large part, it is because we just don't want to be in this business any
There is no doubt that when we are helping Saudi Arabia drop bombs on
churches, on weddings, on cholera treatment facilities, and on some
legitimate military targets, we are engaged in a war, and we should
declare it here. That is the first thing that happens.
The second thing that happens if we pass this resolution and it
becomes law is that we wash our hands of the blood associated with
being a participant in the creation of one the world's worst
Never has the world seen a cholera epidemic as big as this one, at
least in recorded history. There is no secret as to why there is a
cholera epidemic; it is because the Saudis bombed the water treatment
facilities, so the water isn't clean any longer.
Whether or not the United States knew about this or signed off on it,
we don't know, but the fact is, we should not be associated with a
bombing campaign that the U.N. tells us is likely a gross violation of
Third, if we pass this resolution and it becomes law, peace becomes
We have evidence of why that is because when we passed this
resolution in the Senate at the end of last year, not coincidentally,
within days, a partial ceasefire was announced in Hodeidah. Why is
that? The reason is twofold. One, when the Saudis realize they don't
have a blank check from the United States any longer, they get more
serious about peace. Two, the Houthis, who are the other party to this
conflict and who don't believe that the United States is an honest
broker or that anyone will actually be serious about enforcing
concessions they give, come to the table because they see that the
United States and others that we support as part of the negotiations
will actually be honest brokers and that we are only willing to go so
far with our Saudi partners.
The fourth thing that happens, as Senator Sanders has mentioned, is
that we are able to send a message to Saudi Arabia and specifically to
the Crown Prince that they need to change their behavior if they want
to maintain this relationship.
Some people are going to vote against this because they say it has
nothing to do with Jamal Khashoggi. It does. Jamal Khashoggi's name
isn't in here. The names of the other American residents who are
currently being detained by Saudi Arabia aren't in here. But make no
mistake--Muhammad bin Salman, who ordered this campaign of political
repression--his No. 1 foreign policy priority is the perpetuation of
the war inside Yemen.
Given the violation of trust that has occurred with the United States
over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the coverup of it, it stands to
reason that we would rethink our association with other priorities of
the Crown Prince's if he blatantly lied to us about his participation
in the human rights violation that has become the obsession of this
country and the world. The two are connected. This will be seen as a
message to the Saudis that they need to clean up their act.
What will not happen? Casualties will not get worse. The Trump
administration says: Well, if we are not part of the coalition, it just
means we can't stop civilians from being killed.
Well, forgive me, but it doesn't seem like we have been doing too
good of a job thus far if 85,000 children under the age of 5 have died
of starvation and disease and tens of thousands of civilians have been
caught in the crossfire. We can't get into classified information here,
but let's just say there is a limit to what the United States can do as
part of this coalition.
There is no evidence to suggest that casualties will get worse. In
fact, the cover being lifted of U.S. endorsements of this bombing
campaign will make it harder for the Saudis to take chances because
they know they don't have the United States to fall back on.
Second, the Saudis will not go somewhere else. This idea that if we
just say we are not going to participate in this one single war with
you, that the Saudis will all of a sudden break relationships with the
United States and go buy their military equipment from Russia, is
belied by how this alliance has worked for years. The complication of
the Saudis turning around and choosing to go to another partner, if
that is how this works, that the nature of our relationship is one in
which the United States can never ever refuse a request from the Saudis
to participate in one of their military endeavors overseas, then that
is not an alliance. An alliance allows you to tell your partner when
you think they are wrong and choose, unless you have a treaty
obligation of some sort, whether you engage with them.
Lastly, as I mentioned, some people say we will lose our political
leverage; that we will make it harder for negotiations to happen. It is
exactly the opposite, as evidenced by the fact that when we were
debating this resolution last time, as people were telling us that if
we passed it we wouldn't have as much leverage in the negotiations,
successful negotiations were being concluded in Stockholm.
This is a historic moment for the Congress to step up and say that
enough is enough. We are made weaker in the eyes of the world when we
willingly participate in war crimes and when we allow for our partner
to engage in activity that leads to the slaughter of innocents.
Never mind the conduct of a war in which our true enemies, al-Qaida
and ISIS, are getting stronger and stronger by the day. I hope we have
the same bipartisan stamp of approval on this resolution today as we
did last year, and I hope it stands as a new day for the Senate when we
are more willing, on a bipartisan basis, to do our concurrent
responsibility, along with the executive branch, to set the foreign
policy of this Nation.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Jersey.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I rise to again support efforts to stop
U.S. direct military support for the Saudi-led coalition efforts in
I do not need to remind my colleagues what is at stake. Each time we
have considered this resolution, the situation for Yemenis is even more
Now in its fourth year, this conflict has put nearly 16 million
people on the brink of starvation, including 400,000 children who are
severely malnourished, displaced more than 3 million people, and done
nothing to increase stability or prosperity for the people of Yemen. In
fact, the longer this conflict goes on, the larger Iran's foothold in
Yemen grows and the more entrenched opposing political factions become.
In addition to the horrifying humanitarian crisis, we have also
learned that U.S. coalition partners may be transferring U.S.-origin
weapons to known--underline known--terrorist organizations. We have
read alarming reports about torture and abuse in prisons throughout
Yemen--both Houthi and coalition controlled.
I will simply repeat what I have said before. It is in the interest
of the United States to put as much political pressure on the parties
to end this conflict as we can. Yes, we have strategic partnerships
with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, but we must find a way
forward to get those relationships on a path that truly serves U.S.
To be clear, the Houthis bear significant responsibility in the
deterioration of the state of affairs in Yemen, and that is without a
doubt. We do not have diplomatic relations with the Houthis, and we
certainly don't sell them arms or provide active military support. This
resolution is a good first step, but what we really need is a
comprehensive approach to address our interests in the gulf.
Along with Senators Young, Reed, Graham, Shaheen, Collins, and
Murphy, I introduced the comprehensive Saudi Arabia Accountability and
Yemen Act. The bill calls for a suspension of offensive weapons sales
to Saudi Arabia, sanctions all persons responsible for blocking
humanitarian access in Yemen or supporting the Houthis in Yemen, and
urges accountability for all actors in Yemen guilty of war crimes.
Finally, it also addresses some of the most reckless Saudi actions by
calling for true accountability for those responsible for the murder of
American resident and journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, and a report on
human rights in Saudi Arabia.
I support this resolution and encourage us to continue to debate. We
must evaluate our relationship with these partners and find a path
forward not just in Yemen but indeed in the entire gulf region that
truly promotes American interests and American values.
Today is a day we can make a clear and unequivocal statement that we
do not support this continuing conflict and humanitarian disaster.
There is a consequence for acting in the way the coalition has--in many
cases, clearly, irresponsibly, with the reckless loss of human life. I
hope we can continue to work to go beyond that so we can deal with the
entire region's challenges.
I look forward to whatever is the agreement on amendments that may be
considered here. I personally would like to see us get an up-or-down
vote as a resolution. I understand there may be some amendments.
Depending upon what amendments are made in order, I may seek a
second-degree amendment at the end of the day. I am concerned that one
of these amendments that are contemplated may be well-intentioned but
also may very well be used in such a way to actually undermine the very
essence of the underlying vote we are taking.
I will reserve my judgment until that time on that, but in the
interim, I urge all of my colleagues to continue to support it, as they
did in the last vote on this question of this resolution.
I yield the floor.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. LEE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for
the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. LEE. Mr. President, I stand with Senator Sanders and with Senator
Murphy as a cosponsor of the legislation before us, S.J. Res. 7, which
would remove U.S. Armed Forces from Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen.
There were 56 Senators who voted in favor of this resolution just a
few months ago, in December, or at the end of the last Congress. That
vote was, of course, a victory for the Constitution and for the
separation of powers, to say nothing of prudence, of peace, and of
justice. The House of Representatives passed its own version of this
resolution earlier this year. Now it is back to us. Now it is our turn.
Now it is our job to get this passed. We have the opportunity today to
reassert Congress's constitutional role over declaring war and over
putting American blood and treasure on the line.
In this particular case, the evidence is clear that we ought not be
involved in this unconstitutional, unjustified, and, ultimately,
immoral war. The Yemeni war has claimed the lives of tens of thousands
of people, including those of countless innocent civilians. It has
created countless refugees, orphans, widows, and it has also displaced
countless families. The numbers are nothing short of staggering.
Since 2015, more than 6,000 civilians have died, and more than 10,000
have been wounded. The majority of these casualties--over 10,000 of
them--has been as the result of airstrikes led by the Saudi-led
coalition. In one attack last year, the Saudis dropped a U.S.-made bomb
on a schoolbus that killed 40 young children on a school trip and
wounded another 30 children in addition to that.
Yemen is now facing rampant disease and mass starvation. An estimated
15 million people do not have access to clean water and sanitation, and
17 million don't have access to food. Photographs from Yemen depict
malnourished children who have every rib in their tiny bodies exposed
and jetting out as manifestations of their starvation. Over 85,000
children have died of starvation since 2015.
In short, the situation in Yemen has become the worst humanitarian
crisis in the world, and the United States has been abating the horrors
of this war. Indeed, our country has actually made the crisis worse by
helping one side bomb innocent civilians. I don't say that lightly. It
is with great soberness that I raise this very real and very serious
So it begs the question: How did we get entangled in this crisis to
begin with? How did we get involved? Why and how and under what
circumstances did this become our war to fight?
In March of 2015, Saudi Arabia launched a war against the Houthi
rebels. Shortly after the Houthis ousted the Saudi-backed government in
the capital city of Sanaa, the Obama administration--without consulting
Congress, of course--authorized U.S. military forces to provide
logistical and intelligence support to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-led
coalition fighting that war. U.S. military support has continued ever
since then, for the last 4 years, including with midair refueling,
surveillance, reconnaissance information, and target selection
assistance. In other words, we have been supporting and, in fact, have
been actively participating in the activities of war. We are involved
in this conflict as, no less, cobelligerents.
Some of my colleagues have argued to the contrary and have suggested
that we are somehow not involved in this war in Yemen. Yet, if we are
honest with ourselves, we know that isn't true. We know that this
argument falls dead flat on its face. As Defense Secretary Jim Mattis
himself acknowledged in December of 2017, just a little over a year
ago, our military has been helping the Saudis with target selection
assistance or with ``making certain they hit the right thing.''
In other words, we are helping a foreign power bomb its adversaries
in what is, undoubtedly, indisputably, a war. Previously, we were
helping them even with midair refueling assistance--that is, helping
Saudi jets that were en route to bombing missions and other combat
missions on the ground inside of Yemen. If that doesn't constitute
direct involvement in a war, I don't know what does.
Other opponents of our resolution claim somehow that our involvement
in Yemen is constitutional, that it is lawful under the War Powers Act
of 1973. It is true that under the War Powers Act, the executive branch
is authorized to use Armed Forces in cases of emergencies and in other
certain, rigid, well-established time constraints. Yet, you see, the
conflict in Yemen does not constitute a threat to the safety of
American citizens, and our involvement has far surpassed any emergency
time allotted under the War Powers Resolution.
The Houthis, while, perhaps, no friends of the American people, make
up a regional rebel group that does not itself threaten American
national security. In fact, the longer we fight against it, the more we
give reason to it to hate America and to embrace the opportunists who
are our true enemies in the region--those who make up the regime in
power in Iran. The more we prolong the activities that destabilize this
region, the longer we harm our own interests in terms of trade and
broader regional security.
The War Powers Act also states that the assignment of U.S. Armed
Forces to coordinate and to participate in the hostilities of a foreign
power, of a foreign country, itself constitutes a conflict of war. Some
have argued that we have not been engaging in hostilities and,
therefore, somehow, have not violated the War Powers Act. This claim
falls flat in several respects.
First, the claim itself is categorically untrue. As we heard before,
we are literally telling the Saudis what to bomb, what to hit, and what
and whom to take out.
Second, these opponents are relying on an old, 1976 memorandum that
is internal to the executive branch and internal to the Department of
Defense itself that was written by a lawyer within the Department of
Defense. Talk about the fox guarding the henhouse. It defers to a
Department of Defense lawyer's memorandum from 1976 that uses an
unsustainably, indefensibly slim definition of the word
``hostilities.'' This definition may or may not have been relevant
then. I don't know. I was only 5 years old at the time it was written.
Yet we no longer live in a world in which ``war'' means exclusively two
competing countries that are lined up on opposite ends of the
battlefield, in two columns, and that are engaged in direct exchanges
of fire across the same ground. That is not how war is waged anymore.
War activities, of course, have changed dramatically since 1976. Like
bell-bottoms and so many fads of that era, this is a dynamic that has
changed today. Our war in today's America increasingly relies on high
technology and on high-technology solutions. Our wars have involved
cyber activity, reconnaissance, surveillance, and high-tech target
selection. These, by the way, are the precise activities that we
ourselves are undertaking in Yemen. It is not just that we are involved
somehow on the sidelines. These activities themselves constitute war.
Even aside from this overly narrow, cramped, and indefensible
definition of the word ``hostilities'' and separate and apart from the
definition of the word ``hostilities,'' under the War Powers Act, we
ourselves do not have to technically be involved in hostilities in
order to trigger the responsibilities of the Congress under the War
Powers Act in order to make sure that the legislative branch actually
does its job to declare war or to authorize the use of military force
under the War Powers Act and under the Constitution. The War Powers
Act, in fact, is triggered so long as we are sufficiently involved with
the armed forces of another nation when those armed forces of another
nation are themselves involved in hostilities, which they indisputably
The Saudi-led coalition directing the activities in the civil war in
Yemen against the Houthis is undeniably involved in hostilities. We are
undeniably assisting the coalition in those movements, in those
activities, in those acts of war. We, therefore, by definition under
the plain language of the War Powers Act itself, are subjected to the
terms of the War Powers Act. The Saudis are, without question, involved
in those hostilities. We can't doubt that. No one here can credibly
claim to the contrary.
Finally, some argue that this resolution might somehow harm or
undermine or hurt our efforts to combat terrorism in the region
specifically with regard to al-Qaida and ISIS. Importantly, however,
this resolution explicitly states that the resolution would not impede
the military's ability to fight these terror groups. In fact, U.S.
involvement in Yemen has, arguably, undermined the effort against al-
Qaida's affiliates. The State Department's Country Reports on Terrorism
for 2016 found that the conflict between the Saudi-led forces and
Houthi insurgents has actually helped al-Qaida in the Arabian
Peninsula, or AQAP, as it is often described, and ISIS' Yemen branch to
``deepen their inroads across much of the country.''
It appears that our involvement in Yemen accomplishes no good at all,
only harm--and significant harm at that. Recent events are bringing
that into an even clearer light. In October, there was the killing of
Jamal Khashoggi. Then, just the week before last, news broke that the
Saudis tortured a man while he was detained there in 2017. He had dual
citizenship in the United States and Saudi Arabia. Shortly before that,
a report also came out that suggested that Saudi Arabia had transferred
American-made, American-manufactured weapons to al-Qaida-linked
fighters and to other militant groups. In other words, the Saudis are
likely using our own weapons in violation of our own end-user
agreements with them, by the way, to commit these atrocities of war.
That is not OK.
It is becoming clearer and clearer that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
is not an ally that deserves our unwavering, unquestioning, unflinching
support. It is not an ally that deserves our support or our military
intervention, especially when our own security--the safety of the
American people--is not on the line, and I haven't heard anyone in this
body maintain otherwise.
Indeed, perhaps we ought not be supporting this regime at all. At a
bare minimum, we ought not be deferring unflinchingly to this regime,
and we ought not be fighting an unjust war on its behalf half a world
away, putting at risk not only U.S. treasure but also, potentially,
U.S. blood and the blood of countless innocent civilians who are in the
line of fire as a result of this. To the contrary, to continue
supporting them in this war would be bad diplomacy and would undermine
our very credibility on the world stage.
Look, regardless of where you stand on this war, these decisions
matter, and we ought to take them seriously. In fact, each and every
one of us has sworn an oath to take things like this seriously.
The Constitution puts the war-making power--the power to declare
war--in the hands of Congress. There was a good reason for this. It has
everything to do with the fact that Congress is the branch of the
Federal Government most accountable to the people at the most regular
intervals, and our Founding Fathers wisely understood that it was
dangerous to allow the powers of government to accumulate in the hands
of the few or in the hands of one person.
One of the reasons they put the war-making power in the hands of
Congress is they wanted to make a strong break away from the system
that had evolved in our old system of government, the one involved in
our old capital based in London, where the chief executive himself had
the power unilaterally to make war.
This was a decided break from that tradition. There were other
traditions that we continued, that we adopted. Many of our rights, our
liberties, our processes in government were patterned after the British
model. This one was not. It was deliberately the choice of the Founding
Fathers not to continue with that tradition, and that is why we and
only we can declare war.
You see, it is not that we are flawless. It is not that we are any
smarter than people in other branches. Quite to the contrary, it has
only to do--and everything to do--with the fact that we are more
accountable to the people at more routine intervals.
When you put the power to declare war or authorize the use of
military force in Congress, you guarantee that this decision will be
made carefully and deliberately in full view of the American people.
Public debates have a way of bringing the American people into the
discussion, into the deliberation.
You see, there is no such thing as a clean war. There is no such
thing as a war that is detached from moral peril, from moral
consequences, from grave and heartbreaking results in which innocent
men, women, and children lose their lives or are subjected to the worst
privations known to human beings.
It is for that very reason that we owe it to those affected by war--
not just the brave men and women who fight for us and protect us but
for people all over the world and for the good name of the United
States to be protected--that as we publicly debate the moral
consequences of war, the grave implications that war has for our
country and others involved in the conflict are the business of all of
the American people and should never be reserved for one person.
We need to carefully weigh the risks and merits of engaging in any
conflict in an open and in an honest manner. So instead of placing this
power in the hands of a King or even just in the executive branch
generally where it can be used unilaterally to declare war, the
Founders placed it here in Congress, knowing that we are more
accountable to the people than the other branches, and the power would
be less likely to be abused here.
There is a lot at stake. There is a lot at stake whenever the lives
of American military personnel are placed on the line and whenever the
lives of innocent men, women, and children are on the line, too--
precious lives, each of immeasurable worth. These decisions result in
the shedding of blood, the shedding of blood that will be on our hands
if we fail both to exercise our constitutional prerogatives and to take
that very responsibility very seriously.
Over the last 80 years, we have tragically seen what happens when the
muscle of the legislative branch begins to atrophy as a result of the
failure of those who occupy these very seats to exercise their
legislative muscle. When we fail to exercise that power that the
Constitution entrusts to us, entrusted to us in that document to which
each of us has taken an oath, we imperil the entire system and the
safety of our country. We also cheapen the moral certainty with which
our Armed Forces need to be able to proceed in order to make what they
do right and legally and morally justifiable.
So today, I respectfully and with all the passion and energy I am
capable of communicating urge my colleagues once again to vote to end
our involvement in this unauthorized, unjustified, unconstitutional,
and immoral war.