(Senate - March 01, 2018)

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[Pages S1307-S1309]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                               TO PROCEED

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I move to proceed to Calendar No. 287, 
S. 2155.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the motion.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       Motion to proceed to Calendar No. 287, S. 2155, a bill to 
     promote economic growth, provide tailored regulatory relief, 
     and enhance consumer protections, and for other purposes.

                             Cloture Motion

  Mr. McCONNELL. I send a cloture motion to the desk on the motion.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The cloture motion having been presented under 
rule XXII, the Chair directs the clerk to read the motion.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

                             Cloture Motion

       We, the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the 
     provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, 
     do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the motion to 
     proceed to Calendar No. 287, S. 2155, a bill to promote 
     economic growth, provide tailored regulatory relief, and 
     enhance consumer protections, and for other purposes.
         Mitch McConnell, Ben Sasse, John Cornyn, Pat Roberts, 
           Jerry Moran, John Kennedy, David Perdue, Tim Scott, 
           Thom Tillis, Dean Heller, Mike Crapo, James E. Risch, 
           Roger F. Wicker, James M. Inhofe, Tom Cotton, Richard 
           Burr, Lindsey Graham.

  Mr. McCONNELL. I ask unanimous consent that the mandatory quorum call 
be waived.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cassidy). The Senator from Massachusetts.

           No Unconstitutional Strike Against North Korea Act

  Mr. MARKEY. Mr. President, I come to the floor to share my deep 
concern over what appears to be the Trump administration's intention to 
go to war with North Korea.
  North Korea may have bent over backward to appear conciliatory during 
the recently concluded Winter Olympics in South Korea, but the Kim Jong 
Un regime has not stopped its dangerous activities--far from it. 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, but the 
responsible course of action is to use all tools of American statecraft 
to reduce those threats.
  We have an obligation to American families, servicemembers, and our 
allies to say, unequivocally, that we did everything in our power to 
curb North Korea's dangerous behavior without resorting to armed 
conflict. Instead, I fear that the Trump administration is beating the 
drums of war.
  While the North Korean regime was all smiles during the Olympics, its 
malign behavior continued. Engineers race to perfect a nuclear-tipped 
intercontinental ballistic missile. North Korean laborers around the 
world--modern-day indentured servants--sent paychecks home to the 
regime, helping fund its illicit military programs. Illegal ship-to-
ship transfers of refined petroleum products continued. North Korea's 
army of cyber warriors grew ever more capable. North Korean military 
officers reportedly continued to assist and empower Bashar al-Assad's 
chemical weapons program in Syria, and the Kim regime's thugs made no 
efforts to scale back rampant human rights abuses.

  Many smiled as the North Korean regime won a gold medal in propaganda 
at the Olympics. All the while, it got ever closer to its ultimate goal 
of perfecting a nuclear weapon that could reach the United States of 
America. We missed an opportunity to engage in talks with North Korea, 
and we did that at our own peril.
  While we must continue to ratchet up pressure on North Korea, other 
elements of President Trump's approach threaten to make an already bad 
situation even worse.
  First, we are all too familiar with the President's reckless 
rhetoric. Promising ``fire and fury'' does not minimize tensions. 
Threatening to ``totally destroy'' North Korea only increases the

[[Page S1308]]

chance of deadly miscalculation. Boasting about the size of a nuclear 
button only makes the United States less safe. How does Donald Trump 
think Kim Jong Un would react if he believed his rule were under 
immediate threat? Would Kim restrain himself?
  Second, contradictory statements from the Trump administration cause 
confusion that dampens the prospect of a peaceful solution. Is the 
Trump administration open to talks with North Korea? We certainly 
should be. If we are, what are the preconditions, and should we even 
have any? We hear different thoughts on different days. President Trump 
routinely undercuts his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and with it, 
our diplomatic high ground. Confusing our allies in South Korea and 
Japan, whose assistance 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 saw this during 
the Olympics, and we cannot allow that effort to ever take hold.
  Third, the Trump administration's recently released budget request 
for fiscal year 2019 would drastically cut State Department funding. 
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. The State Department is already alarmingly understaffed to 
handle the significant and increasingly more potent threats from North 
  Just this week, we found out that the Special Representative for 
North Korea Policy, Ambassador Joseph Yun--the lead American negotiator 
with North Korea--is stepping down tomorrow. He is one of the key 
players in any strategy with Pyongyang. But wait--there is more. 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 
special envoy for North Korean human rights issues. We still don't have 
a sanctions coordinator. It seems the only thing this administration 
has to show for its concern about North Korea is Donald Trump's Twitter 
  I sent a letter to Secretary Tillerson asking him to explain how the 
State Department is sufficiently staffed to execute a wide-ranging 
strategy of diplomatic engagement and pressure, but as I wait for his 
response, the talk of conflict persists and the drum beat of war grows 
  Sadly, we have heard this before. In less than 3 weeks, we will mark 
the 15th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. To be clear, the 
current situation we face with North Korea is not the same as the one 
we faced in the runup to the Iraq war in 2003, but, as Mark Twain once 
said, while history does not repeat itself, it does tend to rhyme. We 
should recognize the similarities and learn the appropriate lessons 
regarding the use of military force.
  Unlike Iraq, North Korea has nearly completed development of long-
range missiles, which will be capable of creating nuclear mushroom 
clouds in our cities. We all agree that we need to act to ensure that 
this never happens, but nowhere is there a convincing argument for 
military strikes. There might be a military option for the North Korean 
nuclear threat, but there is no military solution.
  According to July 2017 polls, 76 percent of Americans are worried 
that the United States will become engaged in a major war in the next 4 
years, and 86 percent of Americans believe the military should only be 
used as a last resort. We should listen to the American people.
  Congress must demand that the Trump administration exhaust all 
diplomatic and economic options in North Korea short of war. I am not 
the only one who thinks another Korean war would be horrific. Warnings 
about the consequences of conflict are coming from all corners, 
including from the senior-most national security and defense officials.

  Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said that conflict on the North 
Korean Peninsula would be ``catastrophic.''
  Former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry said that a U.S. strike 
``could turn into a disastrous military operation'' and that ``a war in 
the Korean Peninsula that extends to Japan and that goes nuclear would 
be 10 times worse than the first Korean War.''
  Victor Cha, who was to be nominated as U.S. Ambassador to South Korea 
before being removed from contention, stated that ``the answer is not, 
as some Trump administration officials have suggested, a preventive 
military strike.''
  Reports suggest that John Bolton, whom President Trump may be 
considering to replace H.R. McMaster as National Security Advisor, 
apparently ``supports preventive war through a massive strike, if 
sanctions fail.'' He said that the United States would have to 
``simultaneously destroy all known North Korean ballistic missile 
sites, submarine bases, and artillery, mortar, and missile installments 
along the North's border with South Korea.''
  That doesn't include the sites we don't know about. In October, the 
Department of Defense stated that the ``only way to locate and destroy 
with complete certainty all components of North Korea's nuclear weapons 
program is through a ground invasion.''
  Reports from a war game last week indicated that approximately 10,000 
Americans could be wounded in combat in just the first few days of a 
new Korean war. Apparently GEN Mark Milley, the Chief of Staff of the 
U.S. Army, stated that the ``brutality'' of conflict on the Korean 
Peninsula would ``be beyond the experience of any living soldier.''
  Even before these comments, 74 percent of Americans were concerned 
about a ``full-scale war with North Korea.''
  So we must ask some fundamental questions. On what criteria will the 
administration judge that all nonmilitary options have been exhausted? 
Who will be the arbiter of that decision? Will the administration 
fulfill its constitutional obligation and come to Congress to ask for 
support? How will the Members of Congress respond to such a request?
  It is because of these questions that I am here today. It is why I 
introduced the No Unconstitutional Strike Against North Korea Act. This 
bill would prevent the Department of Defense and other Federal agencies 
from spending any money to carry out an attack, conventional or 
nuclear, on North Korea without congressional approval, because we must 
only use the U.S. military--the most powerful fighting force in the 
world--if it is absolutely necessary.
  At the same time, I recognize that we must do more to stem the North 
Korea threat. That includes addressing actions by China, the primary 
enabler of three successful generations of North Korean dictators. We 
should seek China's partnership in this process, but we must not fear 
offending the Chinese Communist Party, nor fear China's reaction.
  In the interest of our security and the interests of a peaceful 
resolution, we must, No. 1, cut off the flow of crude oil from China to 
North Korea--if we do not do this, then we are not going as far as we 
need to on a package of sanctions; No. 2, give the Kim regime a warning 
that we expect them to stop selling the slave labor of its people and, 
in fact, receiving the revenues from that slave labor in order to prop 
up their regime and to fund a ballistic missile and nuclear program; 
No. 3, eliminate North Korea's illicit drug trade; No. 4, halt the 
procurement of key rocket fuel chemicals; and No. 5, restrict its use 
of the internet to evade sanctions through theft of cryptocurrencies 
and the committing of other cyber crimes.
  We must continue the pressure on North Korea, but it must be combined 
with simultaneous and direct engagement with North Korea. We have yet 
to use all of the sanctions that should be imposed upon the North 
Korean regime. We have a responsibility to ensure that we exhaust all 
sanctions, and that includes doing everything we can to shut down the 
flow of crude oil into North Korea, which props up the regime, props up 
the ballistic missile program, and props up their nuclear weapons 
  Talks with North Korea about these issues are not synonymous with 
concessions. Talks backed by targeted pressure and stronger alliances 
are the path pursued by countries that are strong, confident, and wise, 
while the drumbeat of war, on the other hand, is the sound of fear and 
  We are talking today about sanctions on imported steel and aluminum 
that come into the United States of America, but we are looking at that 
as a

[[Page S1309]]

trade issue. If we want to do something about trade that truly 
endangers our country, we should be looking at the trade between North 
Korea and China. We should be looking at the crude oil that continues 
to flow into North Korea. We should not be talking about a military 
option until we have exhausted our diplomatic and our economic 
opportunities to bring North Korea to the table.
  Without China's agreement on this, we will reach a debate on this 
floor talking about war with North Korea, but it will not be a debate 
that took place with the United States--the Trump administration--
having exhausted all of the opportunities that a cutoff of crude oil 
would have and could have presented to bring North Korea to the table. 
It worked in 2006, it worked in 1994, and I expect, for the sake of the 
American people, that the President will try to make that work right 
now. He has not done that yet. This administration has not done that 
  It is wrong to be hearing this talk about military possibilities and 
military options before we have exhausted the cutoff of oil, of slave 
labor, of drugs, of cryptocurrency. We have to do that first. We owe 
that to history so we are not judged to have rushed irrationally into a 
war with North Korea that could quickly spiral out of control.
  Let's return to a United States of statecraft, allowing our diplomats 
to advance our interests using our economic tools, our economic 
strength, as a way of ensuring that we avoid a frivolous loss of life 
in our country and other countries because we did not pursue a course 
that would work.
  I thank the Presiding Officer.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.