MOTION TO DISCHARGE--S.J. RES. 54; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 187
(Senate - November 28, 2018)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.

[Pages S7155-S7165]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                   MOTION TO DISCHARGE--S.J. RES. 54

  Mr. SANDERS. 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 move to discharge S.J. Res. 54 from the Committee on Foreign 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The motion is pending.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, I want to speak very briefly on behalf of 
the resolution being offered today by Senator Sanders, Senator Lee, me, 
and several others. I encourage my colleagues to support it. I want to 
use my brief time to respond to some of the arguments that the 
administration has made over the course of the last few days as to why 
we should not stand together as a body and say that without a 
congressional declaration of war, the United States cannot and should 
not be involved in a disastrous civil war in Yemen.
  This is as important a vote as we will take in the Senate. Lives are 
at stake; lives are in the balance. I don't need to repeat everything 
Senator Sanders and others have said about the humanitarian catastrophe 
that exists inside that country. Yet this is different than other 
famines. This is different than other cholera outbreaks. This is 
different than other humanitarian nightmares in which tens of thousands 
of children lose their lives because we are not just a spectator in 
Yemen; we are participant. The bombing campaign that is causing the 
worst humanitarian nightmare in the world today is caused by a military 
campaign of which the United States is a major player and participant. 
So we have something to say today about whether this civil war ends. We 
have something to say about whether this Congress is going to allow the 
administration to continue to perpetuate a war that has had no debate 
in the U.S. Congress.
  Let me take the four arguments the administration uses to try to 
argue against our resolution and talk to you a little bit about them.
  The first argument that has been made--it is probably the most clear 

[[Page S7156]]

Secretary Pompeo's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this morning--is 
that the real issue is not Saudi Arabia, it is Iran, and if we do not 
continue to support the Saudis' bombing campaign inside Yemen, the 
result will be that Iran will win in the region.
  First, that exhibits a third-grade understanding of the Middle East. 
The Middle East is not a zero-sum game between the Saudis and the 
Iranians. Every time you do something that is potentially 
disadvantageous to the Saudis doesn't mean it results in an equal-sized 
benefit for the Iranians. In fact, it may be that both countries are 
doing things that are deleterious to American national security. It may 
be that we want to pick and choose when we engage with the Saudis and 
when we don't engage with the Saudis. Just because we choose not to 
engage in one particular aspect of Saudi foreign policy does not mean 
that it equals a gift to the Iranians. Yet that is what Secretary 
Pompeo would have you believe; that if we don't blindly support the 
Saudis' civil war inside Yemen, then that will be a win for the 
  The reality is, while this civil war has been occurring, al-Qaida and 
ISIS have gotten stronger and more numerous. In fact, the greatest 
threat to the American homeland today comes from the wing of al-Qaida 
that is inside Yemen. This civil war that we have been helping to 
perpetuate is actually making our most sacred enemy even stronger 
inside that country.
  Second, there has to be a line that is crossed in which our ally has 
gone too far, that we are not willing to follow. Clearly, that has 
happened in Saudi Arabia as they intentionally bomb schools and 
hospitals and schoolbuses. Just because we stand up and say: We are not 
willing to support you, Saudi Arabia, in your targeted bombing of 
civilians, that does not equally gift to Iran. We are still able to 
decide when we engage or not engage even with our allies.
  Third, a lot of folks seem to believe there is some command-and-
control relationship between the Iranians and the Houthis. They are, 
certainly, tied together. There are, certainly, weapons capabilities 
that have been gifted, granted, to the Houthis by the Iranians, but the 
Houthis are not Hezbollah. This is not a group of fighters that Iran 
controls. In fact, as the civil war goes on and on and gets deeper and 
deeper, the Houthis and the Iranians get closer and closer together. So 
as we continue to just feed enough support to the Saudis to keep the 
civil war going, we are actually perpetuating the very end we seek to 
avoid, which is the merger of the Iranian regime and the Houthi rebels. 
They are becoming closer and closer the longer and longer the United 
States becomes engaged in this conflict.
  The Middle East is not a zero-sum game. You do not have to 
unconditionally back the Saudis in everything they ask of us simply 
because you don't like the Iranians. That is not how the Middle East 
works. You can pick and choose the places in which you back up your 
ally--at no cost to your campaign--so as to try to delegitimize and 
reduce the influence of Iran.
  Second, the claim is that this resolution, if it were to be agreed 
to, would hurt the negotiations that are scheduled for next month. 
False. It is exactly the opposite for two reasons.
  One, the Saudis need to understand that our support is not 
unconditional, that they actually have to bend at the negotiating 
table. Right now, they don't believe they have to do that. In fact, 
over the course of this civil war, they have been, more often than not, 
the reluctant party in these negotiations because they believe that if 
negotiations fall apart and they return to a state of military 
hostilities, the United States will give them whatever they need. It is 
really important right now for the Saudis to understand, as they head 
into these negotiations, that if these negotiations don't succeed, 
there will be consequences.
  Second, the idea that the Houthis are ready to give up the fight, 
that they are tired, is also false. There is no evidence of that. The 
Houthis don't believe the negotiation is real, so they are prepared to 
just fight it out. If the Houthis believe the United States is an 
honest broker here, that there is some point at which we are unwilling 
to follow the Saudis into battle as they continue to deliberately 
attack civilians inside Yemen, then the Houthis will be actually more 
willing to sit and talk at the negotiating table. Showing that there is 
some conditionality to our support for the Saudis, that there is some 
line on war crimes that they cross that is too far, is actually helpful 
in getting both of these parties closer together at the negotiating 
  Third, the claims that if this resolution were to be agreed to, it 
would hurt our work against al-Qaida and ISIS are absolutely false. 
Inside this resolution is an exclusion. What we say is, if there is an 
existing authorization for war inside Yemen, this resolution does not 
erase it. There is an existing authorization for any campaign anywhere 
in the world that the United States launches against al-Qaida. The 
administration and the prior administration, the Obama administration, 
have expanded the 9/11 AUMF to cover ISIS as well, so nothing in this 
resolution hurts our ability to go after al-Qaida and ISIS inside 
Yemen. All of those operations can continue, even if this is to be 
agreed to and becomes law.
  Second, al-Qaida has been growing in strength. ISIS had no foothold 
in Yemen before this civil war. It is stronger today than it was 3 
years ago because, once again, like we did in Iraq for 10 years and 
like we are doing in Syria, we are giving just enough help to the 
Saudis to keep the civil war going without actually ever being willing 
to give enough force so as to be dispositive on the ground. All we are 
doing is lengthening the civil war. Nature abhors a vacuum, and in the 
vacuum that is created by that civil war, especially in the vast, 
ungovernable portions of Yemen, al-Qaida takes advantage, and ISIS 
continues to grow. Every day we continue to just keep this thing going, 
our sworn Sunni extremist enemies are getting stronger.
  Lastly, the argument is made that if the United States is not 
involved with the Saudis, the humanitarian nightmare would be worse. 
How could it be worse? How is that a justification? There are 85,000 
children under the age of 5 who have died of starvation and disease. 
There are 22 million people in the country, and three-quarters of the 
population cannot live without humanitarian assistance. The world's 
worst cholera epidemic in the history of the world is happening right 
now inside that country. Why? Because the Saudis have been deliberately 
hitting the water treatment facilities. I am not making this up. They 
have been targeting the water treatment facilities so you can't get 
clean water, so people get cholera.
  Today, humanitarian supplies have been reduced by 50 percent to the 
Port of Hodeidah because, as we speak, the Saudis, with U.S. support, 
are bombing all around Hodeidah, and humanitarian agencies have cut off 
many of the supplies they would traditionally send into that capital. 
The humanitarian nightmare is getting worse right now, as we speak 
today, because this civil war continues to go on and on.
  It can't get much worse than it is today, and there is no evidence 
that the U.S.' participation in this campaign has made it better. In 
fact, since we have been sitting inside these targeting centers, with 
U.S. personnel helping the Saudis pick targets, more civilians have 
been killed, not fewer. We actually pulled out of the targeting centers 
at the end of the Obama administration. The Obama administration made a 
determination in 2016 that we were potentially committing war crimes by 
being with the Saudis as they were choosing to hit the water treatment 
facilities, so they pulled our people out.
  There is no evidence that during the time we were not in the 
targeting centers, the Saudis were hitting more civilian targets. In 
fact, the evidence tells us that the deeper we get involved in the 
targeting decisions, the more they hit civilian targets. There is a 
perfectly reasonable explanation for that. So long as they have the 
United States inside the tent, they have moral cover for hitting 
civilian targets. They can use us to say: Well, the United States was 
there. It was inside the room when these decisions were made, so it 
can't be that we are doing the kind of damage you say we are.
  The evidence doesn't suggest the contrary. The evidence says, the 
contrary is true--of a 160-percent increase in civilians being killed 
just this year versus last year. So the Middle East

[[Page S7157]]

isn't a zero-sum game. The adoption of this resolution does not empower 
Iran. We are not obligated to follow the Saudis into every mistake they 
  Second, this resolution will not hurt negotiations. It will 
absolutely help negotiations by showing that the United States is going 
to be an honest broker. The Houthis are bad players. They have killed a 
lot of people. They have done a lot of damage inside that country. This 
is not just a question of what the Saudis have done. Seventy percent of 
the civilians have been killed by Saudi bombs, but the Houthis need to 
be held to account for what they have done as well. We need to be a 
broker of peace. This resolution will help us be a broker of peace.
  Third, al-Qaida and ISIS can still be confronted, even if this 
resolution is agreed to, and the quicker this civil war ends, the less 
power they have.
  Fourth, theoretically, maybe things could be worse. Maybe we could 
have 185,000 children under the age of 5 die from starvation and 
disease, but this is not a justification to just stay the course. We 
need to shake up the stalemate that exists today. We need to send a 
signal that the United States is not OK with the way the Saudis have 
perpetuated this war--frankly, the way they have lied to us over the 
course of the last several months about other things they are doing to 
quell dissent in and around the Kingdom. We need to send a message, but 
we also need to get the United States out of a conflict right now that 
is of no benefit to American national security and that has become a 
nightmare for people who are stuck in Yemen today.
  I urge the adoption of the resolution.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Tillis). The Senator from Vermont.
  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. LEAHY. 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. LEAHY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that my remarks 
begin at this point and not a minute or so ago.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                       Nomination of Thomas Farr

  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, as we all know, we have a constitutional 
obligation as U.S. Senators to provide advice and consent to a 
President's nominee. That is not advice and rubberstamp; it is advice 
and informed consent.
  I do my best to scrutinize each nominee on the merits, regardless of 
party, and decide whether they deserve a lifetime appointment to our 
Federal bench. During my 44 years in the Senate, I have actually voted 
for more Republican nominated judges than almost all but one or two 
Republican Senators in this body today.
  The simple fact is, given Mr. Farr's track record of working to 
systematically dismantle the franchise for thousands of African-
American voters, Thomas Farr becomes one of the most controversial 
nominees of either party I have ever encountered. Someone who has made 
a career out of attacking a sacred constitutional right, indeed the 
very right that gives democracy its name, simply does not belong on the 
Federal bench.
  Let's begin with his role on Jesse Helms' Senate campaign in 1990--a 
campaign I remember very, very well. The Department of Justice alleged 
that Senator Helms' campaign sent thousands of postcards to every 
African-American precinct, falsely telling voters that they were 
ineligible to vote and threatening prosecution against those who did. 
Mr. Farr served as a top lawyer to Senator Helms at the time. He 
appears to have misled Congress about his role in that brazen voter 
suppression scheme. When Senate Judiciary Committee members asked Mr. 
Farr whether he knew about or had provided any counsel on the decision 
to send these postcards, Mr. Farr said he hadn't learned about their 
existence until after they were mailed out, but a former DOJ official 
has stated that Mr. Farr definitely knew about the postcards before 
they were sent out and that Mr. Farr's responses to Congress were just 
plain contrary to the facts.
  Setting aside this outrageous attempt at voter suppression, each 
Senator in this Chamber should care whether the President's nominees 
tell the truth. If a nominee will not tell us the truth, especially 
when they are under oath, then they are unfit to take another oath--the 
oath of judicial office.
  Mr. Farr's embrace of voter suppression appears only to have grown 
after his work on the Helms campaign. In 2013, he chose to defend North 
Carolina's racially restrictive voting law--a voting law that the 
Fourth Circuit struck down because it ``target[ed] African Americans 
with almost surgical precision.'' Undeterred, between 2014 and 2017, 
Mr. Farr again defended North Carolina legislature in numerous lawsuits 
alleging that it had racially gerrymandered its State house and senate 
map. In each of these cases, higher courts found North Carolina's 
gerrymandering to be unconstitutional.
  There is a pattern here. It is deeply troubling. Mr. Farr has 
dedicated his skills as a lawyer to suppressing the right to vote for 
minorities. His refusal to acknowledge, under oath, his involvement in 
disenfranchisement operations makes him doubly unqualified for the 
Federal bench.
  I urge all Senators who care about the right to vote and who care 
about the right of this body to hear the whole truth from a President's 
nominees, especially when they are under oath, to vote no on Mr. Farr's 
  As a child, I remember going into voting booths with my parents in 
Montpelier, Vermont, and watching them vote. They emphasized to me, my 
brother, and my sister how important it was to be able to vote, that 
democracy required it.
  When our children were growing up, we said the same to them: Always 
vote. No matter who you vote for, vote. It is a sacred right.
  I have been in countries where people fought revolutions, had family 
members die for their right to vote, but they all show up; everybody 
who is left shows up when they can vote. I want to think that my 
grandchildren will have the right to vote when they grow up, that all 
of my grandchildren--no matter what color their skin is--have the right 
to vote. That should be the same for everybody's child, everybody's 
grandchildren in this country.
  Mr. Farr doesn't think that should be the case. He does not think 
people of color should be able to vote. That is wrong, and such a 
person does not deserve my vote or any other Senator's vote to sit on 
the Federal court.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. LEAHY. 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. LEAHY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the time of 
further quorum calls be equally divided between the two leaders.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                         Saudi Arabia Briefing

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, there was a classified briefing this 
morning that Members of the Senate were invited to on a bipartisan 
basis, Democrats and Republicans. It is rare. We don't do it very 
often. We do it when there is an important issue of national security 
and something else of great moment.
  What we came to discuss today was Saudi Arabia, and that discussion 
really focused on our guests--the Secretary of State, Mr. Pompeo, and 
the Secretary of Defense, Mr. Mattis. They talked to us about our 
relationship with Saudi Arabia, for obvious reasons. Hardly anyone in 
the world could have missed what happened over the last several weeks 
when a man named

[[Page S7158]]

Khashoggi went into the consulate for Saudi Arabia in Istanbul and 
never came out.
  We have a videotape that shows the Saudi citizen and American 
resident entering that building. For the longest time, there was a 
debate as to what actually happened to him. All sorts of stories were 
manufactured and fabricated. It turned out that the Turks had access to 
audio recordings of what actually happened inside that consulate. They 
eventually made them public, released them to the Government of Saudi 
Arabia as well as to the United States, and we came to learn that Mr. 
Khashoggi, a frequent critic of the Saudi royal family, was murdered. 
He walked into that consulate and never walked out alive. Some group 
flew in from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, ambushed him, killed him, and, as 
hard it may be to believe, brought with them a bone saw so they could 
dismember him and take parts of his body out to be destroyed and buried 
somewhere in Turkey.
  That story eventually emerged, and President Trump was confronted 
repeatedly: What are we going to do about this?
  Saudi Arabia is supposed to be one of our allies. We have arms 
agreements with them. We are involved in a lot of things relative to 
energy and national security. For the longest time, the President was 
dismissive, saying: I have spoken to the royal family, and they have 
denied they had anything to do with it.
  Well, that excuse worked for a while but not very long. Once the 
recordings were released by the Turks, once the world came to grips 
with what actually happened to Mr. Khashoggi, serious questions were 
raised about this outrageous abuse of human rights at the hands of the 
Saudi regime.
  There is a lot of speculation back and forth about who ordered it and 
who knew about it. Those questions may never be answered. But we do 
know that some 15 to 17 people close to the Crown Prince in Saudi 
Arabia have been implicated to the point where the Trump administration 
finally acknowledged that we have to do something. We have to take a 
stand even when it involves a country that has been our ally in many 
  If you read the history of Saudi Arabia's relationship with the 
United States, it has a lot to do with oil. For the longest time, we 
counted on the Middle East for oil. We looked the other way. We helped 
them, and they made a fortune in the process. The opulence of the 
royalty in Saudi Arabia rivals any royalty in the modern world, and the 
lavish lifestyles of the Saudi princes as they travel around the world 
has been well documented.
  The United States has looked the other way many times because we 
needed the oil or we needed them as a strategic ally or a strategic 
partner. Those times have changed in some respects. We are becoming 
more energy independent. We are not as dependent on Saudi Arabia as we 
once were for energy supplies to fuel our economy.
  In the meantime, something else has happened within the Kingdom. 
There has been a transition of power to the Crown Prince, who is known 
as MBS. He is a young man in his thirties, and he announced when he 
came to power that he was going to make some real changes in Saudi 
Arabia. One big breakthrough he announced was that women would be 
allowed to drive cars. In the West, it is almost comical to think of 
that as a concession, but in Saudi Arabia, that is progress in a 
country that has been slow to give women recognition in roles they 
  Then he got engaged in foreign policy and started doing things that 
were hard to explain, one after the other. One of them was the decision 
to take the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Mr. Harari, and, basically, to 
put him under house arrest when he visited from Lebanon in the Royal 
Kingdom and, then, to have a confrontational relationship with Qatar, a 
country that we rely on for our military basing and support in the 
region. Then, of course, there is what brings us to the floor later 
this afternoon for an important--maybe historic--vote. He decided that 
the Saudis would invade Yemen because they believed the Iranians were 
establishing a power base there and because there was aggression from 
Yemen against Saudi Arabia.
  That decision to begin this war in Yemen sometime in the recent past 
resulted in outcomes that no one could have predicted. There are about 
28 million people who live in Yemen. We estimate that 14 million of 
them, half of the people living in that country, are subjected now to a 
famine that threatens their very lives. We know that over 80,000 
children have been killed so far in the war in Yemen.
  What is the role of the United States? Well, it is hard to define it 
in specific terms. At one point--I think it has been discontinued now--
we were fueling the bombers the Saudis sent into Yemen, releasing the 
bombs that killed civilian populations and other innocent people. At 
one point--I think it is still the case--we were assisting them in 
targeting the areas in Yemen where they were going to drop their bombs.
  So the United States has not been on the sidelines. We have been 
involved. Our military, the best in the world, has been involved in 
helping the Saudis with this invasion of Yemen. They have discontinued, 
I understand, the fueling mission, but other things continue.
  The question we have to ask ourselves now is this: Why are we there? 
By what constitutional authority? It is this little book here that is 
supposed to guide our conduct. By what constitutional authority is this 
administration and the Department of Defense waging a war in Yemen? It 
isn't because of any vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate or the House 
of Representatives, though the Constitution is explicit that the 
declaration of war is in the hands of Congress--really, in the hands of 
the American people through Congress. In this case, whatever is going 
on in Yemen has never been expressly approved.
  What they hearkened back to was a measure that was passed on the 
floor of the Senate 17 years ago, and I remember because I was here. It 
was after 9/11. Who will ever forget that? Three thousand innocent 
Americans were killed by terrorists who crashed planes into the World 
Trade Center in New York and into a field in Pennsylvania. Do you know 
the nationality of the terrorists who were on those planes, the ones 
who commandeered them and killed those innocent Americans? Saudis. They 
were all Saudis.
  Yet we passed this resolution saying the United States can use force 
to retaliate against them, and I voted for it. We found them in 
Afghanistan. We went after them. But could anyone have possibly 
imagined that that vote 17 years ago gave authority to our government 
today to engage in a war in Yemen?
  True, there are terrorists on the ground in almost every country in 
the Middle East, and you could justify our military involvement by 
saying we are fighting terrorism. But let's be honest. This 
Constitution did not want a generic declaration of war. It wanted us to 
be careful when we chose those battlegrounds.
  So today we had a briefing by the Secretary of State, Mr. Pompeo, 
which I cannot recount in detail because it was in a classified 
setting, but we do know this. This morning, that same Secretary of 
State authored an article in the Wall Street Journal about this issue. 
It is entitled ``The U.S.-Saudi Partnership is Vital,'' by Secretary of 
State Mike Pompeo. I would like to read the opening paragraph of 
Secretary of State Pompeo's statement. When it comes to our 
relationship with Saudi Arabia and the war in Yemen, here is what he 

       The Trump administration's effort to rebuild the U.S.-Saudi 
     Arabia partnership isn't popular in the salons of Washington, 
     where politicians of both parties have long used the 
     kingdom's human-rights record to call for the alliance's 
     downgrading. The October murder of Saudi national Jamal 
     Khashoggi in Turkey has heightened the Capitol Hill 
     caterwauling and media pile-on. But degrading U.S.-Saudi ties 
     would be a grave mistake for the national security of the 
     U.S. and its allies.

  It is a long article. Read it in its entirety and draw your own 
conclusions, but the first paragraph sets the tone. We are not 
discussing our role with Saudi Arabia in the salons of Washington. We 
are discussing them on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Why? Because we 
were elected to do just that.
  The American people entrust us with the foreign policy of the United 
States and decisions that need to be made

[[Page S7159]]

about whether we commit American tax dollars or American lives in a 
military conflict. It isn't some group of academics in a salon. It is 
Members of the U.S. Senate, duly elected, who are facing their 
responsibility to debate it today.
  Listen to these terms that the Secretary of State uses: ``The October 
murder of Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi has heightened the Capitol 
Hill caterwauling and media pile-on.''
  ``Caterwauling''--you don't run into that word much, do you? I went 
to look it up to make sure I understood it. It is the shrieking of cats 
when they are in a fight.
  So the national reaction--the international reaction--to the cold-
blooded murder of an American resident, a Saudi citizen and the 
dismemberment of his body and its disposal in ways we couldn't even 
explain is ``caterwauling''? To me, it is a reflection of your values, 
and, rightfully, people around the world are protesting that this sort 
of activity could happen.
  That is why we are bringing this measure before the Senate this 
afternoon. I see my colleague from Indiana is here. I thank him for his 
  I will close with this. I am reluctant to display this picture, 
though it was on the front page of a major newspaper in the United 
States. But I want those who wonder why we are in this debate and why 
we are caterwauling about this assassination of Mr. Khashoggi to 
understand what is really the issue that we are debating and voting on.
  Amal Hussain died at the age of 7 in Yemen. ``My heart is broken,'' 
her mother said. She died just a few days after the picture was taken. 
She is a victim of famine in Yemen. This is what the decision is all 
about on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Will we continue to expend 
American taxpayer dollars--even American lives--in support of the Saudi 
regime and their invasion in the war in Yemen?
  I understand the threat of Iran, and I understand we have to stand up 
to their aggression when and where it takes place. But did we enlist in 
this war? Did the American people have a national debate about this 
war? Did we vote in the Senate to engage in this war? The answer is, 
clearly, no.
  I will be supporting this resolution that will be coming before us 
this afternoon. I thank my friend from Indiana for waiting an 
additional moment while I completed my remarks.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.

                    Nomination of Kathleen Kraninger

  Mr. PETERS. Mr. President, I rise today in opposition to the 
nomination of Kathleen Kraninger to be Director of the Consumer 
Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB.
  This is one of the most important positions in our entire 
government--a job that is dedicated to protecting consumers from 
fraudsters, from predatory lending, and from dangerous financial 
products that can drive families to bankruptcy.
  Ms. Kraninger does not have the experience or the values to hold such 
an important job. In fact, she has fully endorsed this administration's 
ongoing efforts to systematically dismantle protections for consumers.
  This time last year, I led over 40 of my colleagues in writing to the 
President urging him to nominate a professional, bipartisan expert with 
a proven record of being tough on financial institutions that rip off 
consumers. Instead, this administration has spent the past year working 
to gut the CFPB under Interim Director Mulvaney. They have frozen data 
collection of consumer complaints and undermined enforcement tools. 
They have slow-walked enforcement actions and weakened protections for 
our servicemembers and seniors. They have stripped the Fair Lending 
Office of enforcement powers and closed the Office of Students and 
Young Consumers. Ms. Kraninger supports all of these actions, and all 
of these actions run contrary to the mission and to the purpose of the 
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  This nominee is not a bipartisan professional with a proven record of 
financial enforcement. She is a politically driven choice who will 
dismantle protections for the men and women currently serving in our 
military, and for our veterans, our students, our seniors, and all 
American consumers.
  I had the honor of serving on the Dodd-Frank conference committee, 
where we finalized the strongest Wall Street reform bill in a 
generation and created the CFPB. I have spent the past decade defending 
the CFPB from one attack after another--efforts to cut off its funding, 
efforts to make it harder for them to hire qualified staff, and efforts 
to make it harder for them to put in place important new protections 
for the American people.
  It is unconscionable that this administration will now spend the 
coming years attacking the CFPB from within by putting in place 
leadership that fundamentally does not believe in protecting consumers. 
We need to hold financial bad actors and special interests accountable, 
not let them set the CFPB's agenda.
  My Democratic colleagues and I told the President this a year ago, 
and I will say it again. The Nation needs a professional, bipartisan 
expert with a proven record of being tough on financial bad actors to 
run the CFPB. We must have a Director who is focused on the prosperity 
of all American families and not payday lenders and fraudsters.
  Ms. Kraninger does not meet the standard. So I will oppose her 
nomination, and I urge my colleagues to join me.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Indiana.
  Mr. YOUNG. Mr. President, I rise today to discuss my vote on the 
motion to discharge S.J. Res. 54. This resolution is a joint resolution 
to direct the removal of the U.S. Armed Forces from hostilities in the 
Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by this Congress.
  As my colleagues well know, since March of 2017, I have focused on 
the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and ending the civil war that has made 
it so much worse. During that time period, I have spent as much time as 
anyone I can conceive of here on Capitol Hill focusing on this 
humanitarian tragedy in Yemen--this national security disaster. I have 
studied all sides of this issue and have tried to approach it with the 
seriousness it deserves.
  Before saying where I am going to come down on today's vote, I wish 
to discuss why I opposed S.J. Res. 54 in March, what has happened since 
then, and why I plan to vote the way I do today.
  In March, I voted to table S.J. Res. 54. In a speech here on the 
Senate floor on March 20, I explained my three reasons for doing so at 
that time.
  First, I expressed concern that the bill hadn't been considered and 
marked up by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of which I am a 
  Second, I said that it would never become law because the 
administration has threatened to veto it, and even if Congress were 
able to override a veto, I said it would fail to achieve its stated 
objective, because the administration rejects the premise that the 
legislation is related to hostilities in Yemen.
  Third, I said I wanted to introduce legislation that could actually 
pass and provide the administration with the leverage it needs to 
pressure the Government of Saudi Arabia to do two things: No. 1, end 
the civil war in Yemen, and, No. 2, improve the humanitarian situation.
  What has transpired since then? Well, I, along with Senators Shaheen, 
Collins, and Coons, introduced S.J. Res. 58 on April 11.
  Our bill required the Secretary of State to repeatedly certify the 
Government of Saudi Arabia is taking urgent steps to end the civil war 
in Yemen, alleviate the humanitarian crisis, and reduce the risk to 
civilians. If he cannot make these written, detailed, and unclassified 
certifications, the legislation would prohibit U.S. air refueling for 
Saudi-led coalition aircraft, conducting missions exclusively focused 
on the civil war in Yemen.
  We, in a bipartisan way, worked successfully to ensure the Senate 
Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee 
passed versions of our legislation. We then worked, in a bipartisan 
way, to ensure it was included in the National Defense Authorization 
Act as section 1290, which the President of the United States signed 
into law.
  In September, pursuant to section 1290, Secretary of State Pompeo 
sent to

[[Page S7160]]

Congress the required submission regarding Saudi actions in Yemen. 
Secretary Pompeo chose not to use the national security waiver and 
instead certified that Saudi Arabia was indeed taking urgent steps to 
end the civil war in Yemen, to alleviate the humanitarian crisis, and 
to reduce risk to civilians.
  There were numerous problems with the Secretary of State's 
certifications. No. 1, the Secretary certified that Saudi Arabia was 
undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to 
civilians and civilian infrastructure resulting from military 
operations in Yemen. That was not a credible certification because we 
saw in the preceding months a dramatic increase in civilian casualties 
and deaths.
  No. 2, the Secretary certified that the Saudis were complying with 
applicable agreements and laws regulating defense articles purchased or 
transferred from the United States. That also was not a credible 
certification because the Secretary's own memorandum of justification 
for the section 1290 submission explicitly said the Saudis were not 
doing so. The document was directly and explicitly self-contradictory.
  In summary, as a group of us wrote in a letter I led on October 10 to 
our Secretary of State, it was ``difficult to reconcile known facts 
with at least two of [the] certifications.'' In other words, the 
Secretary's September section 1290 certification--the law of the land, 
a statute signed into law by the President of the United States--was 
not credible.
  Despite repeated requests for answers to our questions regarding 
Saudi Arabia and Yemen, we couldn't get responsive or timely answers 
from the administration. After repeatedly calling for the 
administration to do so, I appreciated the decision to no longer 
provide air refueling to the Saudis in Yemen. Again, I appreciated that 
decision. However, I was disappointed the administration didn't use 
section 1290 to end the air refueling.
  Why is this important? Such an approach would have demonstrated 
respect for the law and this article I branch of government. It would 
have also provided the administration additional leverage to persuade 
the Saudis to support our objectives--not the Saudi's objectives, our 
objectives--in Yemen.
  I also thought the claim the Saudis requested to end the refueling 
was, shall I say, lamentable. In our October 10 letter, seven of us--
again, a bipartisan group--asked for answers on a number of questions 
related to Saudi Arabia and Yemen and the section 1290 certification. 
We asked for a response by October 31.
  Failing to receive those answers from the administration on November 
15, more than 2 weeks after that deadline, I worked with Ranking Member 
Menendez to introduce the Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act of 
2018, S. 3652. Among other things, this bill seeks to ensure effective 
congressional oversight of U.S. policy on Yemen, provide leverage to 
push the stakeholders in Yemen's civil war toward a political process, 
and address the world's worst humanitarian crisis. I am told this is 
the worst crisis since the 1940s.
  Yesterday, the day before a potential vote on this legislation, we 
finally received a response to the October 10 letter. It was late, and 
it was unresponsive. For me, the briefing today with Secretaries Pompeo 
and Mattis, though appreciated, raised more questions than it answered.
  Let me now turn to today's vote. Recall my reasons for voting to 
table this bill in March. I wanted legislation to go through the 
Foreign Relations Committee, and I wanted something that could actually 
become law. With the support of the chairman and the ranking member, 
that is exactly what we did with my legislation, which ultimately 
became section 1290 of the Defense bill and was signed into law.
  Unfortunately, as I have laid out, the administration did not take 
that law seriously, and it submitted a certification with highly 
troubling and problematic elements. That puts me in a very different 
place than last March. Plus, with 14 million people on the verge of 
starvation in Yemen and things getting worse by the day, there is no 
time to lose. I believe the Senate must speak clearly that we expect 
all parties--all parties--to the civil war to come urgently to the 
negotiating table to end the civil war.
  Let me lay out my thoughts on Iran in the big picture. There is, of 
course, Iranian influence in Yemen. Iran is the world's worst state 
sponsor of terrorism, and Iran has played an immoral and illegal role 
in Yemen. I will take a backseat to no one as an Iran hawk.
  I have studied the situation in Yemen as closely as anyone, and I 
believe the best way to oppose Iran and Yemen and stop ballistic 
missile attacks on our partners is to bring all parties to the 
negotiating table, to end this civil war, and to address the 
humanitarian crisis.
  Famine and the indiscriminate targeting of civilians will only push 
more Yemenis toward Iran and its proxies, giving Tehran increased 
opportunities to threaten Americans, our allies, and our interests.
  If you are not sure about this, ask yourself the following questions: 
Does Iran have more or less influence in Yemen now than it did a year 
ago or than it did when the civil war started? Will Iran have more or 
less influence in Yemen if the civil war continues indefinitely?

  Solely from an anti-Iran perspective, I think an objective assessment 
of those questions demonstrates the need to end the civil war and the 
need to pursue an inclusive political solution that seeks to drive a 
wedge between the Houthis and Tehran.
  In addition, there is no way we are going to make any real or 
sustainable progress in the world's worst humanitarian crisis unless we 
end the civil war. Ending the civil war would also allow us to focus 
more effectively on isolating and killing members of ISIS and al-Qaida 
in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen.
  To counter Iran, to help 14 million people on the verge of 
starvation, and to more effectively go after ISIS and AQAP, we need the 
civil war over now. The United States has leverage with the Saudis to 
help bring this about, and we need to use all of that leverage 
immediately. We have not done so thus far.
  Since March of 2017, I have tried to give the administration all the 
leverage it needs to accomplish the outcomes I have laid out. The 
administration has failed to fully utilize the leverage I provided, and 
so I have no choice. Based on that history, based on those facts, based 
on our national security interests, based on our humanitarian 
principles, I plan to support S.J. Res. 54 today.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. REED. Mr. President, I rise to express my concern about the 
continued violence and humanitarian crisis in Yemen and to share my 
views on the resolution that is currently before us. The conflict in 
Yemen has persisted for far too long. I strongly support the efforts of 
the U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, to bring the 
internationally recognized Government of Yemen and the Houthis to the 
negotiating table in the near future, with the goal of reaching a 
sustainable political solution. I also welcome the call by Secretary 
Mattis and others for a cease-fire that would provide space for such 
negotiations to occur while also providing a measure of relief to the 
Yemeni population that has suffered so horrifically during this 
  According to the United Nations, half of Yemen's population--
approximately 14 million people--are on the brink of famine and 
entirely reliant on external aid for their own survival. These 
challenges have been exacerbated by mass displacement in much of the 
country and recent fighting in the vicinity of Hudaydah--one of Yemen's 
only functioning ports through which approximately 70 percent of 
Yemen's food and other supplies enter the country. Even when food is 
available for purchase, reports indicate that currency inflation has 
made it too expensive for most Yemenis to afford. More must be done by 
both the coalition and the Houthis to facilitate the flow of 
humanitarian aid into and throughout Yemen.
  I also have significant concerns about persistent reports of civilian 
casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure in Yemen caused by 
both the Houthis and the coalition of Armed Forces led primarily by 
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, UAE.

[[Page S7161]]

According to the United Nations, there have been nearly 17,000 
documented civilian casualties since the beginning of the conflict, 
although that number is likely much higher given the difficulty of 
investigating such incidents in a conflict zone. Most of these 
casualties have been the result of airstrikes led by the Saudi-led 
  Unfortunately, well-intentioned efforts by the United States to help 
the coalition avoid civilian casualties have not produced sufficient 
results. 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.
  Secretary Pompeo's September certification that the coalition is 
taking demonstrable action--in his words--to reduce the risk to 
civilians does not seem to be borne out by the facts on the ground. 
According to reports, civilian casualty incidents increased 
dramatically over the summer. Indeed, Secretary Pompeo's own 
certification acknowledged that ``recent civilian casualty incidents 
indicate insufficient implementation reforms and targeting processes'' 
and ``investigations have not yielded accountability measures'' into 
the behavior of coalition pilots flying missions into Yemen.
  Any U.S. 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 or 
noncombat purposes and that which could be used to enable offensive 
military operations in the Yemeni civil war. I strongly support the 
recent announcement by Secretary of Defense Mattis that the U.S. would 
no longer provide aerial refueling support to the Saudi-led coalition--
an outcome I have long advocated for.
  Earlier this year, I led an effort with Senator Blumenthal and a 
number of other colleagues to raise concern about the apparent 
inability of the Department of Defense to account for the required 
reimbursements from members of the Saudi-led coalition for aerial 
refueling support provided by the United States. We were informed 
yesterday afternoon that, as a result of our inquiry, the Department 
has found errors in accounting and will now be seeking full 
reimbursement from Saudi Arabia and UAE for aerial refueling support 
provided from March 2015 through September of this year--an action that 
is expected to recover millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer funds.
  Going forward, I believe that any U.S. assistance to members of the 
Saudi-led coalition should be explicitly limited to the following 
objectives: first, enabling counterterrorism operations against al-
Qaida and ISIS; second, defending the territorial integrity of Saudi 
Arabia and the UAE, including against ballistic missile and UAV 
threats; third, preserving freedom of navigation in the maritime 
environment around Yemen; and fourth, enhancing the training and 
professionalism of their armed forces, with a primary focus on the 
adherence to the law of armed conflict and the prevention of civilian 
  With particular regard to defense against ballistic missile and UAV 
threats, the United States cannot be in the position of providing 
targeting information in Yemen that would be misused by Saudi or UAE 
forces either deliberately or through carelessness.
  I recently joined a bipartisan group of colleagues in introducing a 
bill that would advance these principles. Among other things, the bill 
would suspend offensive weapon sales to Saudi Arabia, prohibit a 
resumption of U.S. refueling of Saudi-led coalition aircraft, and 
require sanctions for persons blocking humanitarian access and those 
who are supporting the Houthis in Yemen. I believe these actions would 
contribute to a resolution of the conflict in Yemen by making the best 
use of the tools and leverage available to the United States.
  The United States can and should engage with the Saudi-led coalition 
if there is a possibility that we can help minimize collateral damage 
by providing them with training and advice on best practices. To date, 
such engagement by U.S. military personnel has resulted in the 
incorporation of a no-strike list into target development procedures, a 
cessation of the use of cluster munitions, and the formation of a joint 
assessment team to investigate strikes that result in collateral 
damage. These are positive steps, but it is clear that the coalition 
has not sufficiently minimized the impact of the war on Yemeni 
civilians, and more must be done.
  Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE face a significant threat from Houthi 
rebels armed with ballistic missiles--apparently with the technical 
assistance of Iran. There have reportedly been dozens of such attacks 
against Saudi Arabia since the spring of 2015, including against 
numerous civilian targets. I support the right of our partners to 
defend themselves from these threats and believe that continued sharing 
of U.S. intelligence for strictly defensive purposes--not to be used as 
an excuse for offensive operations in Yemen--is appropriate.
  I continue to support U.S. engagement for the purposes and in 
accordance with the principles outlined above--activities that I do not 
believe conflict with the War Powers Resolution. The resolution before 
us would make clear that Congress does not support the introduction of 
U.S. forces into hostilities in Yemen absent an affirmative 
authorization for the use of military force. I commend my colleagues--
Senators Sanders, Murphy, and Lee--for their continued efforts to keep 
focus on the need to bring an end to the violence in Yemen.
  When we last considered this resolution 8 months ago, I was hopeful 
that a negotiated settlement to the conflict was attainable and 
expressed concern about the possibility of escalation. I also hoped 
that the principles I articulated above could be rigorously adhered to. 
Unfortunately, since that time, fighting in Yemen has continued to 
intensify, civilian casualty incidents have risen, and the humanitarian 
crisis has only worsened. The status quo cannot persist, and the Senate 
should take every opportunity to make its views clear. For that reason, 
I intend to support this resolution.
  Moreover, the administration must make it clear to both the Saudi-led 
coalition and the Houthis that there is no military solution to this 
conflict and that the time has come to reach a negotiated settlement. 
The conflict in Yemen has negatively impacted the strategic security 
interests of the Saudis, the Emiratis, and the United States. It has 
emboldened Iran and relieved pressure on al-Qaida and ISIS. Most 
importantly, the conflict has resulted in the largest humanitarian 
disaster facing the world in recent memory. It is time for this war to 
  It is also appropriate to reassess our relationship with Saudi Arabia 
in response to the brazen murder of Jamal Khashoggi and other 
violations of human rights. We must ensure that all individuals who 
played a role in directing, planning, and carrying out the murder are 
held accountable. Despite denials by the President, it is inconceivable 
to me that such an operation would be conducted without at least the 
awareness of Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman--if not in its planning, 
then certainty in its immediate aftermath. The Crown Prince effectively 
controls all levers of power in Saudi Arabia, and it is no coincidence 
that those who have been publicly identified as most directly 
responsible for the murder included his closest adviser and numerous 
members of the Saudi Royal Guard. If the Saudis are now being honest--
despite repeated denials and shifting explanations for the 
disappearance of Khashoggi--then they should voluntarily submit to an 
independent international investigation.
  President Trump should also publicly release a declassified 
assessment of our intelligence community with respect to what role 
Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman and other Saudi leaders had in 
the murder.
  Finally, the Senate should immediately take up and pass the 
bipartisan Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act of 2018, which is 
comprehensive legislation to ensure effective congressional oversight 
of U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and demand meaningful 
accountability for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Toomey). The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

[[Page S7162]]


  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 stood before this body in March of this 
year to protest our country's unconstitutional intervention in Saudi 
Arabia's bloody war in Yemen. I was proud to stand with my colleagues, 
Senators Sanders and Murphy, to file a discharge motion of our 
resolution, S.J. Res. 54, which would remove U.S. Armed Forces from 
  At that time, members of the Foreign Relations Committee requested 
additional time to study the issue and to debate the resolution in the 
Foreign Relations Committee. The chairman of that committee, my friend 
and colleague from Tennessee, Senator Corker, requested this with the 
commitment to ``bring forth legislation to actually appropriately deal 
with many of the issues relative to Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and 
ourselves.'' So with that, the Senate voted to table the motion.
  Since then, the committee has held a hearing on this issue and 
introduced a separate bipartisan bill to address it, but no further 
action has been taken.
  So today, 8 months later, the bloodshed continues, still abetted by 
the United States, even amidst further revelations of Saudi depravity. 
It is long past overdue that Congress remove U.S. forces from Yemen, as 
recent circumstances only confirm. Today, we have a chance to remedy 
our course of action and to do what the Constitution and justice 
  The situation in Yemen is dire. The war has killed tens of thousands 
of innocent civilians--human beings, lest we forget--each one of them 
possessing immeasurable dignity and inherent worth. It has created 
refugees, orphans, widows, and has also displaced countless families.
  The numbers and the inhumanity are staggering--nothing short of it. 
Since 2015, more than 10,000 civilians have died, and 40,000 have been 
wounded. In an attack just a few months ago, a bomb was dropped on a 
school bus that killed 40 young boys who were on a school trip and 
wounded another 56 children.
  What few Americans knew until recently is that the U.S. military has 
actually been making the crisis worse by helping one side bomb these 
innocent civilians. So how did we get entangled in this crisis to begin 
  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, quickly authorized U.S. military forces to provide 
``logistical and intelligence support'' to the Saudi-led coalition. 
U.S. military support has continued since then, including midair 
refueling, surveillance, reconnaissance information, and target 
selection assistance. In other words, we have been supporting and 
actively participating in the activities of war in Yemen.
  But article I, section 8 of the Constitution states that Congress 
shall have the power to declare war--Congress, not the President, not 
the Pentagon, not someone else in the executive branch, not any other 
part of government but Congress. The Founders could not have been any 
clearer about this.
  They did so with very good reason. The Founders set up our system of 
government 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 know from experience and we knew then from our young Nation's 
experience under British rule that bad things happen, especially on a 
national level, when too few people exercise too much power and that 
power goes unchecked. Nowhere is this more evident than in the case of 
the power to declare war.
  So the Founders placed that war power squarely in the legislative 
branch, the branch where honest, open, and public debate is supposed to 
happen and the branch that is held most accountable to the people 
through elections at the most regular intervals.
  As Alexander Hamilton pointed out in Federalist Paper 69, this power 
would not be exercised by the executive branch so that it would be less 
likely to be abused, just as it was when the King of England acted in 
and of himself, by himself, to send his country--and ours, for that 
matter--into war.
  Now, some opponents of our resolution claim that our involvement in 
Yemen is somehow constitutionally justified under the War Powers Act of 
1973. This isn't true. It is true that the War Powers Act makes it 
possible for the executive branch of government acting alone to use 
Armed Forces in cases of emergencies and subject to certain limited, 
defined time constraints. But the conflict in Yemen by no means--in no 
way, shape, or form--constitutes a threat to the safety of American 
citizens. Our involvement has far surpassed the allotted emergency time 
  The Houthis, while no friends of ours, are a regional rebel group 
that does not itself threaten American national security. In fact, 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. The more we prolong the activities that destabilize the 
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 or participate in hostilities of a foreign country 
constitutes a conflict of war. Some have argued that we have not been 
engaging in hostilities and therefore have not violated the War Powers 
Act, but this claim, too, falls flat on its face. We have specifically 
aided the Saudi coalition with midair refueling and target selection 
assistance. As Defense Secretary Jim Mattis himself said in December of 
2017, our military is helping the Saudis ``make certain [they] hit the 
right thing.'' In other words, we are helping a foreign power bomb its 
adversaries. If that doesn't constitute hostilities, I don't know what 
  Finally, some critics say that this resolution would somehow hurt our 
efforts to combat terrorism in the region, specifically, al-Qaida and 
ISIS. However, the resolution explicitly states that it would not 
impede the military's ability to fight these terror groups.
  In fact, the U.S. effort 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 the Houthi insurgents has helped al-Qaida in the Arabia 
peninsula--AQAP--and ISIS's 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 serious consequential harm at that.
  The situation in Yemen now poses a true humanitarian crisis. The 
country is on the brink of rampant disease and mass starvation. An 
estimated 15 million people don't have access to clean water and 
sanitation, and 17 million don't have access to food. More innocent 
lives are being lost every single day.
  My position on this has not changed for the past 8 months, but with 
the taking of another innocent life--that of Jamal Khashoggi--the 
circumstances have only further deteriorated.
  Intelligence suggests, despite his repeated denials, that the Crown 
Prince of Saudi Arabia himself ordered the murder. Saudi Arabia's moral 
depravity has only been made plainer.
  This is not an ally that deserves our support or military 
intervention on its behalf, especially when our own security is not 
itself on the line. On the contrary, to continue supporting them in 
this war would be bad diplomacy and undermine our very credibility.
  U.S. intervention in Yemen is unauthorized, unconstitutional, and 
immoral. We must not--we cannot--delay voting to end our involvement 
and our support of Saudi Arabia any further. If we do, we have 
ourselves to blame for our country's lost credibility on the world 
stage, and, more importantly, our own consciences will bear the blame 
for the thousands of lives that will surely continue to be lost.
  The Founding Fathers had incredible wisdom in requiring these 
issues--issues of American blood and American treasure--to be debated 
and discussed between two equal branches of government. They understood 
that matters of war and alliances must constantly be reconsidered and 
reevaluated--and in an open, honest, and public manner.

[[Page S7163]]

That is one of our most solemn duties in this body, and it is the 
opportunity that lies squarely before us today.
  We owe it to the sons and daughters of the American people who put 
their sons and daughters in harm's way to defend us. We owe it to their 
parents and their families, and we owe it to ourselves, who have taken 
an oath to uphold, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United 
  I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of the motion to discharge the 
  Thank you.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.
  Mr. SANDERS. I ask unanimous consent to speak for up to 10 minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, let me thank Senator Lee for his 
leadership on this resolution. At a time when many bemoan the lack of 
bipartisanship, we are seeing it here--people coming together around an 
issue of enormous concern. I want to thank Senator Lee and Senator 
Chris Murphy of Connecticut, also one of the leaders in this effort, 
and the other 17 cosponsors of this resolution.
  In one-half hour or so, we are going to be casting one of the most 
important foreign policy votes that we have cast in recent years. It is 
a vote to demand that the humanitarian crisis in Yemen be addressed. It 
is a vote that will tell the despotic dictatorship in Saudi Arabia that 
we will no longer be part of their destructive military adventurism. It 
is a vote, as Senator Lee just mentioned, that says that the Senate 
respects the Constitution of the United States and understands that the 
issue of war-making--of going to war, putting our young men and women's 
lives at stake--is something determined by the Congress, not the 
President of the United States. It is a congressional decision, not a 
Presidential decision, whether that President is a Democrat or a 

  In March of 2015, under the leadership of Muhammed bin Salman--then 
Saudi Defense Minister and now the Crown Prince--Saudi Arabia and the 
United Arab Emirates intervened in Yemen's ongoing civil war.
  Let's be clear. Yemen has been a poor and struggling country for many 
years, but as a result of the Saudi-led intervention, Yemen is now 
experiencing the worst humanitarian disaster in the entire world.
  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 
have already starved to death and millions more face death, face 
starvation, if this war continues.
  According to the United Nations, Yemen is at risk of the most severe 
famine in more than 100 years, with some 14 million people facing 
  Further, Yemen is currently experiencing the worst cholera outbreak 
in the world, with as many as 10,000 new cases developing every week, 
according to the World Health Organization. Cholera is a disease spread 
by infected water that causes severe diarrhea and dehydration and will 
only accelerate the death rate and the misery in that country. The 
cholera outbreak, as it happens, has occurred because Saudi bombs have 
destroyed Yemen's water infrastructure, and people are no longer able 
to access clean water.
  The fact is that the United States, with limited 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. We have been 
assisting with intelligence.
  In too many cases, our weapons are used to kill civilians. As is now 
well known, in August there 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. 
According to the independent monitoring group Yemen Data Project, 
between March 2015 and March 2018, more than 30 percent of the Saudi-
led coalition's targets have been nonmilitary.
  A few weeks ago, I met with some brave human rights activists from 
Yemen, and they are urging Congress to put a stop to this war. They 
told me that when Yemenis see ``Made in U.S.A.'' on the bombs that are 
killing them, it tells them that the U.S.A. is responsible for this 
war, and that is the sad truth. This is not the message the United 
States of America should be sending to the world.
  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 military policy. Above and beyond the humanitarian 
crisis, this war has been a disaster for our national security and the 
security of our allies.
  The administration defends our engagement in Yemen by overstating 
Iranian support for the Houthi rebels. While Iran's support for Houthis 
is of serious concern to all of us, the fact is that the relationship 
between Iran and the Houthis has only been strengthened with the 
intensification of this war. The war is creating the very problem the 
administration claims to want to solve. The 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 
  This war is both a humanitarian disaster and a strategic disaster in 
our fight against international terrorism. Further, let's never forget 
that Saudi Arabia is an undemocratic monarchy controlled by one 
family--the Saud family.
  In a 2017 report by the conservative Cato Institute, Saudi Arabia was 
ranked 149th out of 159 countries in terms of freedom and human rights. 
For decades, the Saudis have funded schools, mosques, and preachers who 
promote an extreme form of Islam called Wahabbism. 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, 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. Earlier this 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 Saudi Arabia. She is currently being held 
without charges. The same is true of many other Saudi political 
  Sadly, President Trump continues to proclaim his love and affection 
for the Saudi regime. The brutality and lawlessness of that regime was 
made clear to the whole world with the murder of dissident Saudi 
journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey. 
Pathetically, as part of his continuing respect for authoritarian 
regimes around the world, President Trump rejected the findings of the 
CIA's assessment that the Saudi Crown Prince was responsible for that 
  Finally, an issue that has long been the concern of many of us--and 
Senator Lee touched on that very thoughtfully--it is the Congress, not 
the President of the United States, who, under our Constitution, has 
war-making responsibility. For too long, under Democratic and 
Republican Presidents, we have abdicated that responsibility.
  Today, I say to my conservative friends: Respect the Constitution. 
Reclaim Congress's rightful role on the issues of war and peace. 
Congress has not authorized the war in Yemen; therefore, that war is 
unconstitutional, and that must change and must change now.
  In a few minutes, we are going to undertake a very important vote, 
and I hope that all of my colleagues--Democrats, Republicans, 
Independents--will vote to discharge this resolution.
  Thank you.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. CORKER. Mr. President, I know Senator Inhofe is trying to get to 
fly home. Do we know the order here?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. There is no consent request setting up an 
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I am happy to yield to the chairman.
  I understand Senator Inhofe wants to speak to this issue.
  Mr. CORKER. No.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. No, he doesn't want to speak to this issue.
  I am happy to yield to the chairman, or I am ready to go--whichever 
way you want.

[[Page S7164]]


  Mr. CORKER. We will both speak very briefly. Why don't you go ahead, 
and then I will go.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Jersey.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I rise today to speak to S.J. Res. 54, 
legislation brought forward by Senators Lee, Sanders, and Murphy more 
than 8 months ago. The past 2 years have reminded us time and again of 
the urgent responsibility of Congress to perform real checks and 
balances and to steadfastly defend our American values both at home and 
abroad. I thank them for their continued efforts throughout these 
intervening months to shed light on the devastating humanitarian crisis 
in Yemen and to make sure this body fulfills its oversight duties.
  Over the last 3\1/2\ years, the tragic humanitarian crisis in Yemen 
has continued to deteriorate. More than 10,000 people are dead and 14 
million people are on the brink of starvation. We have seen the 
heartbreaking photos of malnourished starving children on the brink of 
death. We have learned from U.N. reports of the cholera outbreaks that 
jeopardize more than 10,000 people every week. We have come to the 
conclusion that the status quo cannot stand.
  Back in March, I joined a majority of my colleagues in voting to 
table this resolution with the understanding that the Senate Foreign 
Relations Committee would hold hearings to fully weigh our options in 
Yemen and the hope that the administration would strategically leverage 
our limited military support for the Saudi coalition to lessen civilian 
casualties, to influence a potential political settlement, or at the 
very least prevent the situation from getting worse.
  At the time, I also made clear to this body, to the President, and to 
the Saudi Government that our relationship and our limited military 
support was not and is not a blank check. I had hoped the 
administration would provide convincing evidence that our military 
support was, in fact, reducing civilian casualties--a goal we heard 
repeatedly emphasized by U.S. officials. I had hoped the administration 
would use this foreign policy tool to advocate for a meaningful 
political process.
  Unfortunately, this administration has failed to adequately address 
either problem. The Saudi coalition has not provided any more 
confidence in its operations. Despite being reassured that our engaging 
with the Saudis was decreasing civilian casualties, the facts on the 
ground speak far more powerfully against those assertions.
  On a broader scale, we are seriously evaluating our bilateral 
relationship with Saudi Arabia. The bombing of a schoolbus full of 
children and other civilian targets is not something I want America's 
fingerprints on.
  Make no mistake--the United States and Saudi Arabia do share common 
security interests. Saudi Arabia faces real and imminent threats from 
Yemeni-originated attacks inside its territory--from ballistic and SCUD 
missile attacks aimed at major Saudi population centers, to cross-
border attacks by Iranian-backed Houthis.
  Meanwhile, Iran continues its destabilizing behavior across the 
Middle East, and the terrorists with al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula 
take advantage of the security breakdown.
  I continue to believe the United States must live up to our 
commitments and support our partners in the face of real and imminent 
threats, but over the past year, I have failed to see how continued 
U.S. military support for the Saudi-led coalitions operations in Yemen 
have, in fact, promoted our interests or, indeed, the long-term 
interests of the Saudi population.
  As I said in March, this particular resolution raises the question of 
how we leverage all of the foreign policy tools at our disposal to 
advance peace and prevent the tragic loss of more human life.
  Today, it is clear to me that the status quo is not advancing these 
critical interests. The limited military support we are providing the 
Saudi coalition is not our best tool, and today I offer my support for 
discharging something I normally oppose--discharging a resolution from 
the committee.
  I call on the administration again to develop a cogent strategy, in 
concert with the international community, to compel all the parties to 
the negotiating table and to ensure that the millions of Yemenis at 
risk of starvation receive the humanitarian support that is ready to be 
  I have also worked with Senators Young, Reed, Graham, Shaheen, and 
Collins, as well as with my colleague Senator Murphy, to introduce 
legislation with reference to the Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen 
Act of 2018. I had hoped the committee would have considered this 
legislation and that we would have had a vote on it in this Congress.
  In the aftermath of the Saudi Government's murder of U.S. resident 
and journalist Jamal Khashoggi and of the whitewashing the Trump 
administration has performed to avoid real consequences for those who 
ordered his death, this legislation is needed now more than ever. 
Without a real diplomatic and political strategy, there is no end to 
this conflict. There is no end to the violence. There is no end to the 
human suffering. It is time we bring this resolution to the floor for 
the full consideration of the Senate.
  Over the last several months, I have seen nothing to convince me that 
our limited military support for the Saudi coalition's efforts in Yemen 
continues to serve our national security interests or to reflect 
America's enduring values and commitment to freedom and human rights. I 
continue to believe that an absence of American leadership undermines 
our interests, our security, and the security of our allies. An 
American presence does not necessarily equal American leadership. 
America's leadership on the global stage must always be driven by a 
sense of purpose and moral clarity. I feel that when we lose that sense 
of moral clarity, that sense of purpose, then we lose who we are as a 
nation, and we lose sight of the very values that make America a leader 
of nations. That is, in fact, what we have lost sight of here.
  I yield the floor.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise today in support of the 
Sanders-Murphy resolution. It is time to end our involvement in the war 
in Yemen.
  In 2015, I was notified by a senior Saudi official of the Kingdom's 
intention to take military action in Yemen. I was assured the conflict 
would not last long. I was told it would be precise and focus on 
ousting the Houthis and restoring the Hadi government.
  Nearly 4 years later, the war in Yemen has dragged on. All we have 
seen is widespread death and destruction with no end in sight.
  For nearly 4 years, the coalition has bombed Yemen once every 100 
minutes, and one-third of those strikes targeted nonmilitary sites.
  So far, the war has directly killed more than 16,000 civilians, with 
tens of thousands more injured. Without a resolution to this conflict, 
many thousands more will undoubtedly die.
  But those deaths don't paint the whole picture. The ongoing war, with 
our support, has created the world's worst humanitarian disaster.
  Nearly 85,000 children have died of severe malnutrition, and another 
400,000 are at risk of the same fate.
  Fourteen million people require emergency food aid just to see 
another day.
  A majority of Yemen's population does not have access to clean water, 
sanitation or adequate public healthcare.
  Cholera and other diseases are rampant throughout Yemen as public 
services have collapsed.
  There have been 1.2 million suspected cases of cholera, resulting in 
2,500 fatalities from this entirely preventable disease.
  Today, nearly three-quarters of the population--almost 22 million 
people--need some form of humanitarian assistance.
  That is because more than half of Yemen's healthcare facilities have 
been purposefully destroyed by the Saudi coalitions' relentless 
bombing. The few medical facilities that remain lack sufficient staff, 
equipment, and medicine to serve the millions of Yemenis who require 
their help.
  The conflict is getting worse. Since the coalition's assault on the 
port city of Hodeidah, civilian deaths have increased by 164 percent.
  The United States can no longer turn a blind eye to this conflict 
because we are a party to it. The United States provides targeting 
assistance, military advice, and until recently, aerial refueling for 
the Saudi-led coalition. We

[[Page S7165]]

do all that despite the lack of a military solution to end the war. The 
longer we enable the conflict to continue, the more innocent men, 
women, and children will die.
  Instead of facilitating endless fighting, we must push for 
reconciliation. I have personally urged Saudi and Iranian officials to 
meet to discuss their differences. To my great disappointment, they 
refuse to do so. I welcomed Secretary Mattis's announcement that the 
United States will no longer refuel the coalition's aircraft, but more 
must be done.
  Until there is a congressional authorization, all U.S. forces 
supporting the coalition's war should be withdrawn. That is why I 
support the Sanders-Lee resolution. Voting to remove our forces will 
send a clear message that we will no longer be complicit in this 
conflict. Secretaries Mattis and Pompeo have publicly called for a 
ceasefire, which has been ignored.
  By ending our participation in this brutal war, we will send an 
unambiguous message that we will not accept continued bloodshed.
  I am voting for the Sanders-Lee resolution, and I urge my colleagues 
to do the same.
  Thank you.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. CORKER. Mr. President, I rise to speak on the issue before us.
  On every occasion, I too have done what is necessary to keep us from 
alienating our ally Saudi Arabia. I think I was the last man standing, 
during the Obama administration, in my trying to make sure that the 
JASTA bill, at the time, ended up being corrected in such a manner that 
it wouldn't have had unintended consequences. I did so unsuccessfully. 
Yet, on multiple occasions, I have stood with others to make sure that 
we have not blocked arms sales and that we have not done those things 
that might have undermined our relationship.
  For those who are tuning in, let me walk through what the process is.
  We have a vote, today, on discharging this piece of legislation out 
of the Foreign Relations Committee. That is all that is happening 
today. There is an Executive Calendar in which we have cloture votes 
pending on nominees. That will burn off. Then, sometime next week, 
after this is discharged today--if it is so successfully--there will be 
another vote to actually proceed to this bill. If we proceed to the 
bill, what will happen will be a series of amendments that will be 
voted upon. Then there will be another vote at the end of that as to 
whether people will actually support the product that will have been 
  I just want to make it clear that what I am not doing today is voting 
for the substance before us; yet I reserve the right to do so. I am 
voting on our ability to have a debate as it relates to our 
relationship with Saudi Arabia.
  We had a briefing today, which was very unsatisfactory, by two people 
whom I highly respect. Secretary Mattis and Secretary Pompeo are two 
people with whom I work closely and admire greatly. I found their 
briefing today to be lacking. I found, in substance, that we are not 
doing those things that we should be doing to appropriately balance our 
relationship with Saudi Arabia between our American interests and our 
American values.
  There has been a lot of rhetoric that has come from the White House 
and from the State Department on this issue. The rhetoric that I have 
heard and the broadcast that we have made around the world as to who we 
are has been way out of balance as it relates to American interests and 
American values. As I said this morning in the SCIF, where we were 
having this briefing, I hope that in the ensuing few days--maybe this 
afternoon--the administration itself will take steps to rectify this 
balance in an appropriate way.
  As to whether the Crown Prince was involved in this killing, it is my 
belief that he was. It is my belief that he ordered it, but I don't 
have a smoking gun. What I do know is that he is responsible for this 
agency that carried out the killing. He has done nothing to take 
ownership of what has happened, and that is an affront not just to the 
American people but to the world.
  The administration, in its broadcast, in its referring to this issue, 
has been way out of balance as it relates to what is important to us--
their buying arms from us but neglecting this other piece and not 
demarching the leadership of Saudi Arabia in an important way. So what 
I am doing today is voting to discharge this bill out of our committee. 
There will be another opportunity next week to decide whether we will 
proceed to it.
  As I said to the administration again this morning, it is my hope 
that it will figure out a way to bring American interests and American 
values into balance so that it can cause the Saudi Arabian Government 
to take appropriate ownership over what has happened in the killing of 
this journalist. That, to me, would be the best solution. If not, we 
will have another decision to make, and that will occur next week when 
we will decide whether we want to proceed to that and then, after that, 
proceed to deal with the issue of Saudi Arabia. There will be another 
point in time at which we can decide whether we like the substance that 
may be created in an amendment process in our going through this.
  I support discharging this piece of legislation so that this body can 
have a fulsome debate about our relationship with Saudi Arabia as to 
what has happened with the journalist, the important issue of the war 
in Yemen, and as to all of the things that we need to be doing as a 
country to counter what Iran is doing in the region.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I yield back all time.
  Mr. CORKER. Mr. President, out of respect for Senator Inhofe and a 
personal issue he has to deal with, we would hope to be able to vote 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. All time is yielded back.
  The question is on agreeing to the motion to discharge.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk called the roll.
  The result was announced--yeas 63, nays 37, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 250 Leg.]


     Cortez Masto
     Van Hollen


  The motion was agreed to.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Gardner). On this vote, the yeas are 63, 
the nays are 37.
  The motion is agreed to.