NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2020--Resumed; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 109
(Senate - June 27, 2019)

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[Pages S4589-S4599]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
resume consideration of S. 1790, which the clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (S. 1790) to authorize appropriations for fiscal 
     year 2020 for military activities of the Department of 
     Defense, for military construction, and for defense 
     activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military 
     personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other 


       McConnell (for Inhofe) modified amendment No. 764, in the 
     nature of a substitute.
       McConnell (for Romney) amendment No. 861 (to amendment No. 
     764), to provide that funds authorized by the Act are 
     available for the defense of the Armed Forces and United 
     States citizens against attack by foreign hostile forces.
       McConnell amendment No. 862 (to amendment No. 861), to 
     change the enactment date.
       McConnell amendment No. 863 (to the language proposed to be 
     stricken by amendment No. 764), to change the enactment date.
       McConnell amendment No. 864 (to amendment No. 863), of a 
     perfecting nature.
       McConnell motion to recommit the bill to the Committee on 
     Armed Services, with instructions, McConnell amendment No. 
     865, to change the enactment date.
       McConnell amendment No. 866 (to (the instructions) 
     amendment No. 865), of a perfecting nature.
       McConnell amendment No. 867 (to amendment No. 866), of a 
     perfecting nature.

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                           Order of Business

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the vote 
scheduled for noon today be at 11:45.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.

                   Recognition of the Minority Leader

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic leader is recognized.

                                S. 1790

  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, as the leader and I announced yesterday, 
we have an agreement in place to vote on passage of the Defense 
authorization bill today and then on an amendment to the bill tomorrow, 
led by Senators Udall, Kaine, Merkley, Murphy, Paul, and Lee, to 
accommodate all Senators who wish to vote. That is why we are doing it 
tomorrow. If the Udall amendment is passed, it would be adopted to the 
Defense authorization bill even though the vote occurs afterward.
  I want to thank the leader for understanding our position that the 
Senate ought to vote on this important amendment, which in essence 
would prohibit funds for hostilities with Iran without an affirmative 
authorization from Congress. Congress gets to approve or disapprove 
wars, period. It is crucial for the Senate and Congress as a whole to 
examine potential conflicts and to exercise our authority in matters of 
war and peace.
  Let's start with the facts. Ever since President Trump withdrew from 
the Iran nuclear deal, our two countries have been on a path toward 
conflict. For the past month, we have been locked in a cycle of 
escalating tensions with Iran. Iran attacked a tanker in the Gulf 
region and shot down a U.S. surveillance drone. The U.S. Government has 
responded to both provocations, and the President reportedly considered 
and then pulled back on a military strike.
  The American people are worried--and rightly so--that even if the 
President isn't eager for war, he may bumble us into one. Small 
provocations in the Middle East can often spin out of control. Our 
country has learned that the hard way. When the President is surrounded 
by hawkish advisers like John Bolton and Secretary Pompeo, the danger 
is even more acute.
  So while the majority leader says that ``no one is talking about 
war,'' that is only true until the folks do start talking about war, 
and by then, the chance to clarify that this President requires 
congressional authorization before engaging in major hostilities may 
have passed us by.
  And this not talking about war? Well, the President said he was 10 
minutes away from major provocation, if the reports are correct. It 
would have been on Iranian soil, three missile bases. And the President 
at one point said, in effect: We will smash Iran, blow it to 
smithereens--or something to that effect. People are talking about war. 
This President is.

[[Page S4590]]

  Even though it is plainly written in the Constitution that the 
legislature alone, not the Executive, has the power to declare war, the 
Trump administration is already signaling that it doesn't need 
Congress. The President and his team are playing up links between al-
Qaida and Iran, potentially setting the stage for them to claim legal 
authority under the sweeping 2001 authorization of military force to 
strike Iran without congressional approval.
  The President himself, asked if he believes he has the authority to 
initiate military action against Iran without first going to Congress, 
replied, ``I do.'' He continued, ``I do like keeping Congress abreast, 
but I don't have to do it legally.''
  So when it comes to a potential war with Iran, Mr. President Trump, 
yes, you do. You do. You do.
  The Founding Fathers--our greatest wisdom in this country--worried 
about housing war powers in the executive branch for precisely this 
  As James Madison wrote to Jefferson, who was not there when they were 
writing the Constitution--he was plenipotentiary to France--here is 
what Madison wrote to Jefferson:

       The constitution supposes, what the History of all 
     Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of 
     power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has 
     accordingly, with studied care, vested the question of war to 
     the Legislature.

  That is Madison, who put more into this Constitution than anyone 
  Let me read it again. It is clear as a bell. Madison wrote to 

       The constitution supposes, what the History of all 
     Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of 
     power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has 
     accordingly, with studied care, vested the question of war to 
     the Legislature.

      If there were ever a President who fits that description, it 
is Donald Trump.

  The Framers worried about an overreaching Executive waging unilateral 
war. My colleagues know well that we haven't had an overreaching 
Executive like the one we have now for quite some time, if ever. So if 
it comes to it, we should expect the President to challenge Congress's 
war powers. He has basically already told us that he would.
  So my colleagues should vote to strengthen our ability to oversee 
this President's strategy with Iran. That is what the bipartisan Udall 
amendment would do--nothing more. There has been some fearmongering 
about how the amendment might tie the hands of our military. It would 
not. It is explicitly written that in no way should it be construed to 
prevent the U.S. military from responding to an act of aggression or 
from acting in self-defense.
  It is high time that Congress reestablish itself as this Nation's 
decider of war and peace. We have been content too long to let the 
Executive take all of the initiatives and responsibility for military 
action abroad. The American people are weary of the endless conflicts 
in the Middle East and the loss of American lives and American 
  The Udall amendment would mark the beginning of Congress reasserting 
its constitutional powers. I strongly urge my colleagues on both sides 
of the aisle to vote yes tomorrow.

                          G20 Economic Summit

  Mr. President, President Trump has arrived at the G20 economic summit 
in Japan before traveling for a state visit in South Korea. Already, 
the President has managed to insult our longstanding allies, including 
Germany and Japan, the host nation.
  Rather than undermining our alliances, here are two important things 
the President should do at the G20:
  First, Russia and Vladimir Putin. When President Trump sits down with 
the Russian President, he must send an unmistakable warning that the 
United States will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections 
in 2020. President Trump has no excuse. The Mueller report, FBI 
Director Wray, virtually our entire intelligence community concluded 
that Russia was guilty of interfering in our elections and that 2020 
would be the next big show.
  President Trump has a responsibility to defend the United States. By 
directly challenging Putin, he will send a signal not merely to Putin 
but to all of our adversaries that interfering with our election is 
unacceptable and that they will pay a price--a strong price--for 
  Second, China and President Xi. Now that trade negotiations between 
our countries seemed to have stalled, there is a chance to put them 
back on track. For that to happen, the President must remain strong. He 
cannot go soft now and accept a bad deal that falls short of reforming 
China's rapacious economic policies--cyber espionage, forced technology 
transfers, state-sponsorship, and, worst of all, denial of market 
  President Trump, you know it. We have talked about it. You have a 
once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform China's economic relations 
with the world and put American businesses and American workers on a 
level playing field. Stay tough. Don't give in. Make sure Huawei cannot 
come to the United States and we cannot supply it. Enough with the 
criticism for our allies. Aim it at our adversaries, China and Russia, 
and you will have a much better chance of making the G20 a success for 
American interests.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Hyde-Smith). The Senator from Arkansas is 

                                S. 1790

  Mr. COTTON. Madam President, tomorrow morning the Senate will vote on 
whether to disarm our troops as they face a growing campaign of Iranian 
aggression in the Middle East. Tomorrow morning the Senate will vote on 
whether to empower the Ayatollahs as they continue to rampage across 
the Middle East, attacking U.S. aircraft, attacking ships in the high 
seas, threatening our troops in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Bahrain, 
Qatar, and elsewhere. That is because we will be voting tomorrow 
morning on an amendment that says, very simply: ``No funds may be used 
to conduct hostilities against the Government of Iran, against the 
Armed Forces of Iran, or in the territory of Iran, except pursuant to 
an Act or a joint resolution of Congress specifically authorizing such 
  That amendment is simple--I would say simple-minded--but it is simply 
an act of appeasement against the Ayatollahs who are currently 
conducting attacks against the United States and our interests on a 
regular and growing basis.
  Let's just take a case in point. The earlier version of this 
amendment included no exception--no exception whatsoever--for our 
troops to defend themselves against an attack by Iran. You might say 
that is a careless omission. I would, however, say that even the fact 
that it was changed after I pointed out that omission just goes to show 
you that the root of this amendment is Trump derangement syndrome.
  It does have an exception now. Let's look at that: ``Nothing can be 
construed to restrict the use of the United States Armed Forces to 
defend''--to defend--``against an attack upon the United States, its 
territories or possessions, or its Armed Forces.''
  What does that mean? What does it mean to defend against an attack? I 
don't know. I am not sure. If an F-15 pilot is shot upon in 
international airspace, I guess he can deploy countermeasures--chaff--
to disrupt the missile. Can he shoot back? Can he shoot back at the 
Iranian missile battery that shot at him?

  Let's say our troops who are garrisoned in places like Iraq and Syria 
have incoming mortar fire by an Iranian proxy militia. I guess they can 
duck and cover in a concrete bunker. I guess that is defense. Can they 
use counterbattery fire to shoot back at that mortar firing position? I 
don't know. I don't know. Can they? Beats me.
  We have thousands of troops stationed at Al Udeid Air Base, the main 
airbase from which we conducted operations against the Islamic State. 
Let's say they have a missile coming in. I guess they can use a patriot 
missile defense system to shoot that missile down. Can they fire back 
at the missile battery that shot that missile, which has many more to 
fire? I don't know. Can they? It seems like offense to me. Maybe it is 
  Let's take a page from history. In 1988, Ronald Reagan authorized one 
of the largest naval engagements since World War II in response to the 
exact kinds of attacks against commercial shipping and the U.S. Navy on 
the high seas that we have seen from Iran in the last 2 weeks. However, 
that operation didn't commence for 4 days; it was 4 days after a U.S. 
Navy frigate hit one of the Iranian mines before we struck

[[Page S4591]]

back. Is that in defense against an Iranian attack? It doesn't seem 
that it would be, to me. I don't know.
  What we are debating here is how many lawyers can dance on a head of 
a pin when our soldiers are in harm's way. They need to know that when 
they are shot upon, they can fire back, and they can eliminate that 
threat without any politician in Washington or any lawyer at the 
Department of Defense looking over their shoulders and second-guessing 
them. That is not what they get from this amendment, though.
  Consider also the consequences. Many of the speakers today will say 
this is about deescalating tension in the Middle East--deescalating. 
Who is escalating it? Who is the one firing on American aircraft? Not 
Donald Trump. Who is interfering with the freedom of navigation on the 
high seas? It is not Donald Trump; it is the Ayatollahs. They are the 
ones who have manufactured this crisis because they know that the 
United States is on the strategic offensive and that we have the 
initiative against Iran for the first time in 40 years.
  This amendment, though, would only embolden them to continue the 
campaign of the last 2 months of gradually marching up the escalatory 
ladder. It started with threats. Then it was an attack on foreign 
vessels at port. Then it was an attack on foreign vessels on the high 
seas. Then it was an attack on an unmanned American aircraft. Next it 
might be an attack on a manned American aircraft or a U.S. ship. And 
the message we are going to send is this: Well, the Congress thinks 
that the Commander in Chief and, for that matter, battalion commanders 
on the ground don't have the authority and the flexibility they need to 
take the appropriate response, as opposed to cowering inside bunkers 
and using some defensive measures.
  Let's also think about the language of this amendment. A lot of 
people are going to come here and say that this is about our 
constitutional authority, and we need to reclaim our authority, and we 
have given up too much authority to the executive branch. In a lot of 
instances I would agree with that. But this amendment is only about 
Iran. It is not about China; it is not about Russia--even though this 
President has forced our Democratic friends to finally discover their 
inner cold warrior.
  This is only about Iran in the context of Iran shooting down an 
American aircraft just a week ago. What better message can you send 
that this is not about our constitutional authority? This is about 
trying to tie the hands of a Commander in Chief whom they dislike at a 
time when a foreign nation is targeting our aircraft and our 
  This amendment would be a loud and clear message to the Ayatollahs 
that we will not strike back, that they can escalate even further, and 
that there will not be swift reprisal. If there is, it will generate 
intense controversy in our country. It will only embolden them further 
to march up that escalatory ladder and threaten American lives. It is a 
hall pass for Iranian escalation, really.
  Look, there is no amendment, no bill, no paper resolution that can 
change the iron laws of geopolitics. Strength deters and weakness 
provokes. Wars are not won by paper resolutions. They are won by iron 
resolution. But this amendment embodies irresolution, weakness, 
timidity, diffidence.
  This Congress on a good day can rename a post office, and that is 
only after months and months of debate about the post office. Are you 
telling me--are you telling me that if Iran shoots down an American 
aircraft or continues attacks on partners like the United Arab 
Emirates, then this Congress in a matter of minutes and hours is going 
to pass a resolution authorizing the use of force to respond to that 
kind of provocation? Please.
  There is a reason we have one Commander in Chief, not 535 commanders 
in chief--or, I say again, 535 battalion commanders, the level at which 
some of these decisions ought to be made.
  Think about the kind of debates we have, the know-nothings we have 
seen here in Washington over the last couple of weeks who would say: 
Oh, it wasn't Iran that made the attack. OK, it was Iran, but maybe it 
wasn't authorized by the senior leadership of Iran. OK, it was 
authorized, but it didn't really do that much damage. It is kind of 
like the old line of: It is not my dog. He didn't bite you. You kicked 
him first. That is what that debate would devolve into while our troops 
are at risk.
  This is a terrible amendment. It will do nothing but put more 
American lives at risk and imperil our interests and our partners 
throughout the region.
  I know that the minority leader said earlier that he is worried about 
the President bumbling into war. He said it last week on TV too. 
Nations don't bumble into war.
  He and others have raised the prospect of endless wars, the wars we 
have been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are long, and we have 
made lots of twists and turns on the way. But let's not forget that 
many of the Democrats in this Chamber voted to authorize those wars. We 
didn't bumble into those. They were considered, deliberate decisions.
  President Trump said just a couple days ago that he is not talking 
about that kind of operation. He is talking about the exact kind of 
thing that Ronald Reagan did in response to Iranian aggression on the 
high seas. That didn't start a war. Ronald Reagan didn't start a war 
when he retaliated against Libya for acts of terrorism against our 
troops in 1986. Donald Trump didn't start a war when he struck Syria in 
2017 and 2018 for gassing its own people. If you want a Democratic 
example, Bill Clinton didn't start a war when he struck Iraq in 1993 
and 1998.
  This amendment purports to tie the hands of the Commander in Chief 
relative only to a single nation, which just so happens to be the 
nation that just shot down an American aircraft. The only result that 
will come of this amendment passing will be to embolden the Ayatollahs 
and make more likely that which its proponents wish to avoid.
  I urge all of my colleagues to see the reality of this amendment and 
to vote no tomorrow morning.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Virginia.
  Mr. KAINE. Madam President, I rise to speak in favor of the Udall 
amendment, a bipartisan amendment. I am a proud Virginian. The 
Commonwealth of Virginia is more connected to the Nation's military 
service by our map, by the installations in Virginia, and by personnel 
than any other State, and I am the proud father of a U.S. marine. I 
love serving with my colleagues on the Foreign Relations and Armed 
Services Committees.
  Tomorrow we are going to vote on a question that cannot be more 
fundamental: Can President Trump take us to war with Iran without 
coming to Congress for authorization? That is the question. Can 
President Trump take us to war with Iran without coming to Congress for 
authorization? This is a matter of the utmost importance for this body, 
for the American public, and for our troops. Americans, especially 
those who have family serving in the military--and many of those 
families have seen their loved ones deployed multiple times since 
2001--want to know what each Senator thinks about this important 
  The Udall amendment to the NDAA, which has bipartisan sponsorship, is 
very simple. It states that no funds will be expended in a war with 
Iran or on Iranian soil, except in self-defense, unless Congress takes 
the affirmative step of specifically authorizing those hostilities.
  My colleague from Arkansas talked about lawyers dancing on the head 
of a pin, as he tried to suggest that ``self-defense'' was not a 
clearly defined term. I think most of my colleagues who read the 
language will believe it is incredibly clear; the President has the 
power to defend the Nation from an imminent attack or ongoing attack 
without asking anyone for permission. That is specifically stated in 
our resolution. There is no confusion about it. There is no attempt to 
limit a President's power to defend the Nation, but if the President 
decides that we need to go on an offensive war against a sovereign 
country, this amendment would suggest he could not do so unless he came 
to Congress.
  Those voting for this amendment will say clearly that no war should 
be started unless Congress votes for it. Those

[[Page S4592]]

opposing the amendment will say clearly that it is OK for the President 
to go to war against Iran whenever and for whatever reason on his own.
  Those who vote against this amendment, in my view, are essentially 
giving the President a green light to wage war anywhere, against 
anyone, on his own. That is not a power we should give to this 
President or any President. I believe, in my 6\1/2\ years in the 
Senate, there has only been one vote as serious as the vote we will 
cast tomorrow morning.
  Why do I believe war should not be started without a vote of 
Congress? The Democratic leader outlined the clear constitutional 
history in this regard. It is Congress that declares war. The history 
and context of that provision in article I is very plain. At that time 
in the world, in 1787, war was for the Executive. It was for the King, 
the Emperor, the Monarch, the Sultan, the Pope, but the drafters of the 
American Constitution wanted to dramatically change history in this 
Nation and say that war for the United States of America should be a 
matter not for the Executive to declare but, instead, for the peoples' 
elected legislative body to declare.
  Once declared, the President, as Commander in Chief, needs to be that 
commander. I agree with my colleague from Arkansas. You don't need 535 
commanders, but it is not up to the President to initiate or declare 
war, constitutionally; it is clearly up to Congress.
  The reason we should vote for this isn't just because of the 
constitutional provision. It is the value that underlies the 
constitutional provision. Why did the Framers put the question of war 
as a matter for the legislature? A congressional debate and vote is 
what is necessary for the American public and Congress to fully 
understand the stakes, to explain to the public and educate them why 
war is necessary--and especially, and most importantly, the debate and 
the vote by the legislative body is the evidence of support for the 
mission that American troops deserve if they are going to be sent into 
harm's way where they could be killed or injured or see their friends 
killed or injured.
  I believe it is the height of public immorality. There could be 
nothing more immoral in the public space than to order our troops into 
harm's way, where they would risk injury and death if Congress is 
unwilling to consider and debate and vote on whether a war is in the 
national interest.
  You have to go risk your life, you have to go be with others and 
potentially be injured or killed, but we don't want to have to vote on 
it. Could anything be more immoral than that? What this provision does 
is say that if we are going to be at war with Iran and, by example, 
with any nation, Congress should have the guts and backbone to come and 
cast a vote before we order our troops into harm's way.
  Why is this debate important right now? We are in the middle of 
discussing the National Defense Authorizing Act, but I also want to 
point out two very important things, one an event and one a statement 
that may have occurred in the last week, since many of us took the 
floor last Wednesday.
  On Thursday, a week ago today, President Trump ordered and then 
called off a missile strike against Iranian territory that would have 
been the start of a shooting war with Iran. It was a missile strike in 
the sovereign nation of Iran. Our military and all reasonable people 
understood that would have been responded to. So we were within 10 
minutes. President Trump says he called off the strike on Iran with 10 
minutes to spare.
  We were within 10 minutes a week ago of being in a war.
  The second thing that happened is, a few days ago, the President gave 
an exclusive interview to The Hill saying: ``I do not need 
congressional approval to strike Iran.''
  Congress is irrelevant. I don't need to come to Congress.
  The quote that the Democratic leader mentioned a few minutes earlier 
was that the President said: It is good to keep them abreast of the 
situation, but I am not legally required to do so.
  How insulting for the President, who pledged at his inauguration to 
defend and support the Constitution, to not recognize that the article 
I branch--and we are the article I branch for a reason--must not be 
just consulted with but be on board with any wars expressed by their 
  This President is holding the article I branch in contempt. Will we 
grovel and accept that monumental disrespect or will we insist that the 
President must follow the law?
  For the record, I believe a war with Iran would be a colossal 
mistake. Its cause would be laid significantly at our feet by the 
United States and the Trump administration tearing up a diplomatic 
deal, tearing it up over the objections or over the recommendations of 
the then-Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, National Security 
Advisor, Joint Chiefs of Staff, tearing it up over the recommendations 
of our allies, tearing it up over the recommendations of the 
International Atomic Energy Agency. We tore up a diplomatic deal and 
raised the risk of an unnecessary war; that would be catastrophic.

  After 18 years of two wars in the Middle East, where we still have 
troops deployed, we should not be fomenting, encouraging, blundering 
toward rushing into a third war in the Middle East. It would suck lives 
and resources away from more pressing priorities of our citizens. 
Bogging ourselves down in another war against a smaller, weaker, 
faraway nation would divert our attention from acting firmly to counter 
our chief competitor, China.
  Furthermore, another war in the Middle East would represent another 
broken promise by this President. Just as he said that Mexico would pay 
for a border wall, just as he promised not to cut the Medicaid Program 
before supporting an effort to eliminate the Affordable Care Act and 
slash Medicaid, the President criticized the Iraq war as a candidate 
and said he would end wars in the Middle East, not expand or multiply 
  I will give my colleague from Arkansas credit for having the courage 
of his convictions to come and state what he has stated on the floor. 
There are some in this body and the administration who have argued that 
a war with Iran would be a good thing or a necessary thing. Some have 
even suggested it would be an easy win. Let them come to the floor of 
the Senate and make that argument in full view of the American public 
and let Congress debate and vote and then be held accountable for 
decisions we make about war.
  As I conclude, I thank the majority leader for scheduling this vote, 
and I especially thank the Democratic leader for firmly insisting it 
must be held. Tomorrow we will all speak to a fundamental question 
about war but also about this institution: Can President Trump take us 
to war with Iran without even coming to Congress?
  I hope my colleagues will stand for the Constitution. We must provide 
assurance to our citizens, and we especially must provide assurance to 
our troops, that war is not based on the whim of this President or the 
whim of any President, but it must be based instead on a clear vote, 
following public debate by the peoples' elected legislature.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Mexico.
  Mr. UDALL. Madam President, I very much appreciate being joined on 
the floor by Senator Kaine and Senator Merkley. I appreciate Senator 
Kaine's very wise words. I think all of us are here standing up to hold 
the President accountable. We believe he should follow and obey the 
  I rise to call upon this body to do its duty, to assume its 
constitutional responsibility, and to make it clear that the President 
cannot wage war against Iran without congressional authorization. 
Whether you are in favor of giving the President that authorization or 
whether, like me, you are opposed, everyone in this Chamber should vote 
in favor of our bipartisan amendment because a vote in favor is a vote 
to fulfill our sworn oath to uphold the Constitution. I appreciate that 
at long last the Senate will finally have this debate; that we will 
finally take this vote because these matters of war and peace are among 
the most consequential responsibilities that fall to Congress. These 
are the hard votes, and we must step up to take them.
  I am proud to partner with Senators Kaine, Paul, Merkley, Durbin, 
Murphy, and Lee in this effort and to call

[[Page S4593]]

upon Congress to meet its constitutional responsibilities. After years 
of abdicating our responsibilities on matters of war, this entire body 
must stand up and show that we will not roll over for an unauthorized, 
unconstitutional war. We must pass this amendment.
  This dangerous course with Iran began last May when the President 
unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement. This hard-fought 
diplomatic achievement denied Iran the nuclear material required to 
even begin work on a nuclear weapon. Since this administration turned 
away from diplomacy and resorted to a maximum pressure campaign to box 
in Iran, the risk of war has steadily risen.
  Just last week, we were 10 minutes away from a strike on Iran, 10 
minutes from a nightmare of escalation in the Gulf. This week, the 
President threatened Iran. I am quoting his words here--these are 
pretty strong words--he said to Iran: I threaten them with ``great and 
overwhelming force,'' and he used the word ``obliteration.'' That is 
not diplomacy; that is a drumbeat toward war without congressional 
  Tensions are the highest they have been in many years, and the risk 
of a costly miscalculation grows day by day. Just days ago, the 
President falsely claimed he does not need congressional approval to 
launch strikes against Iran. Article I, section 8 of the Constitution 
could not be clearer: It is Congress and Congress alone that has the 
authority to ``declare war.'' This is not a close call; the Founders 
placed this responsibility squarely on our shoulders. The consequences 
of going to war are profound, so this decision rests with the people's 
representatives, not one person--not even one President. It is time 
that Congress confront the administration's rejection of diplomacy.
  Our amendment prohibits funding for military action against Iran 
without congressional authorization. It does not prohibit war 
altogether; it prohibits an unconstitutional war, a war that has not 
been authorized by Congress.
  We must be accountable to the American people and to our men and 
women in uniform whose lives would be on the line. Our soldiers are 
brave enough to face the danger of war. If my friends in this Chamber 
believe they should, we should be brave enough to be held accountable 
for that decision.
  Some have claimed that this amendment would prohibit the President 
from defending the United States against attack. That is wrong. It is 
completely false. This amendment and the War Powers Act incorporated as 
part of it allow the United States to act in self-defense. I am going 
to quote from our amendment. The amendment clearly states that it shall 
not be interpreted ``to restrict the use of the United States Armed 
Forces to defend against an attack upon the United States, its 
territories or possessions, or its Armed Forces.'' It is explicit. The 
United States may defend itself against an attack by Iran. The claim 
that the military's hands would be tied in the event of an emergency 
has no basis and cannot be used as an excuse to vote against the 
  I am heartened, as Senator Kaine was and as I am sure Senator Merkley 
will also say, that Senator McConnell and the Republican leadership 
will finally allow debate and a vote on this amendment. This is what 
the American people want and deserve.
  Over the years, Democratic and Republican Presidents alike have 
steadily encroached upon Congress's war powers, and Congress has 
tacitly allowed that encroachment.
  I stood up to President Obama when he threatened to attack Syria 
without authorization, and so did many of my colleagues. I am standing 
up again now because the administration's reckless actions have brought 
us to the precipice of war.
  Mr. Bolton and Secretary Pompeo's failed strategy has led directly to 
these heightened tensions, to the brink of war, with no benefits to 
show for their tactics.
  The administration has reimposed and tightened sanctions on Iran 
three times--sanctions we agreed not to impose if Iran agreed not to 
develop nuclear capabilities.
  Secretary Pompeo placed a dozen conditions on negotiations and then 
withdrew them.
  Just this week, at the same time that Advisor Bolton claims we will 
talk with Iran anytime, the President sanctions the lead diplomat in 
Iran and tweets out his threat of obliteration, shutting the door on 
any diplomatic overtures.
  This ping-pong diplomacy, manufactured crisis, and go-it-alone 
posture further diminish our world's standing and credibility. None of 
the signatories to the Iran nuclear agreement, including our closest 
allies, backs us in what we are doing.
  This reckless diplomacy is dangerously reminiscent of the run-up to 
war with Iraq. But any war with Iran, with its military capability, 
proxy forces, and a population of 80 million living in a geographically 
perilous region, would be more disastrous and more costly than Iraq. 
Yet we continue to march up to the brink.
  According to the President's tweet last week, he stopped a strike 
against Iran that he had already ordered because he learned at the last 
minute that 150 lives were at stake. I know I am not alone in being 
deeply alarmed at this decisionmaking--national security decisionmaking 
process. I know Members on both sides of the aisle share my concerns.
  We must assert our constitutional authority. We must tell the 
President and affirm to the American people that we will assume our 
constitutional responsibility. And we must do so now before, through 
miscalculation, mistake, or misjudgment, our Nation finds itself in yet 
another endless war.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.
  Mr. MERKLEY. Madam President, our Founders recognize that no decision 
carries more consequences than the decision of whether to go to war. 
They were well familiar with the carnage of human lives and blood, 
injuries, and treasure that our initial war, the War of Independence, 
  As we stand here several hundred years later, we recognize the wars 
in between; that more than 400,000 Americans died in World War II, that 
more than 50,000 Americans died in the Vietnam war, and that more than 
4,000 Americans died in the war in Iraq. Those are just some 
indications of the enormous impacts and consequences of a decision to 
go to war.
  It was an issue that the Founders struggled with in a republic: Where 
should this immense power rest? Should it rest with one individual--the 
President--or are the consequences too great to have the judgment of a 
single person carry the decision to its completion?
  After intense debate, after many arguments, the Founders became very 
clear that this power should never rest in the hands of a single 
person; that it should not just be one body but two bodies--the House 
and the Senate--that should weigh in on the issue of war. The 
consequences being so profound, they could not leave it to the 
idiosyncrasies or the biases or the misjudgment of a single individual.
  It was in fact one of the defining arguments about the difference 
between a King and a President. A King could make that decision, with 
often horrific consequences for the people of the kingdom, but not in 
the United States of America. This is why it is so deeply embedded in 
our Constitution. In Article I, section 8, under the enumerated powers 
of Congress, are simply the words ``to declare war.'' That power is 
vested in Congress, not the President.
  The Founders weighed in time and again about this. Turning to James 
Madison, the father of the Constitution, he commented:

       The constitution supposes, what the History of all 
     Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of 
     power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has 
     accordingly with studied care vested the question of war to 
     the Legislature.

  He went on:

       The power to declare war, including the power of judging 
     the causes of war, is fully and exclusively vested in the 

  Madison continues:

       The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the 
     question, whether there is or not cause for declaring war.

  He was the father of our Constitution. That led to this document that 
vests the power to declare war with Congress, not the President.
  George Washington, the father of our Nation, said: ``The constitution 

[[Page S4594]]

the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive 
expedition of importance can be undertaken until they shall have 
deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.''
  This was the Commander in Chief speaking. This was the hero of the 
American Revolution speaking. This was the man most trusted to be the 
first President of the United States, who was to steer the course and 
make sure the Presidency did not become a kingship. And his conclusion? 
``[T]herefore, no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken 
until after they shall have . . . authorized such a measure.''
  This is enormously at odds with the vision our colleague from 
Arkansas presented on the floor--dismissing the role of Congress, 
dismissing the Constitution, and instead saying let the President, as 
Commander in Chief, do what he will. That was not the vision.
  George Mason of Virginia--if you stand in DC, you can look across the 
Potomac River, and you can see a monument to George Mason. He made 
notes of the Constitutional Convention. George Mason remarked that he 
was ``against giving the power of war to the executive'' because the 
President ``is not safely to be trusted with it.'' That was the point, 
that no one individual, no matter how wise--not even a George 
Washington--could be trusted with this decision. George Washington, as 
President, agreed with this completely, that despite his expertise as a 
Commander in Chief, it was not to be the judgment of one person.
  Thomas Jefferson, one of the most brilliant minds our country has 
ever produced, commented: ``We have already given in example''--
referring to the Constitution--``one effectual check to the dog of war 
by transferring the power of letting him''--the dog of war--``loose 
from the Executive to the Legislative.'' So he is commenting on the 
Constitution and saying: We have put a check on the dog of war by 
putting that power in the legislative body, not the executive.
  Jefferson became President. Did he change his mind when he became 
President? His initial quote I gave you was from 1789, but later he 
became President of the United States. And what did he think then? He 
thought the same exact thing, just as President Washington had. 
Jefferson said: ``Considering that Congress alone is constitutionally 
invested with the power of changing our condition from peace to war, I 
have thought it my duty to await their authority for using force in any 
degree which could be avoided''--his message to Congress in 1805.
  He recognized what the Constitution did. Are we going to recognize 
the constitutional vision? Now, there may be folks in this Chamber who 
simply disagree with the Founders and say that Congress is too 
complicated, that the power to declare war and the power to go to war 
should be vested solely in the Commander in Chief. Well, then, come and 
present a constitutional amendment on the floor of the U.S. Senate. You 
took an oath to the Constitution of the United States, and that oath 
says that power rests in this body.
  If you want to change the Constitution, then, have the guts to come 
down here and propose doing so. I guarantee it will be roundly defeated 
because the wisdom of our Founders that it is a mistake to give the 
power of war to one person is wise and does stand the test of time.
  Alexander Hamilton noted the following:

       The Congress shall have the power to declare war; the plain 
     meaning of which is, that it is the peculiar and exclusive 
     duty of Congress, when the Nation is at peace, to change that 
     state into a state of war. . . .

  Alexander Hamilton said: ``exclusive duty of Congress'' and ``the 
plain meaning'' of our Constitution.
  This viewpoint continued to carry the day far into the future. 
Abraham Lincoln was speaking in 1848, and he said:

       The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making 
     powers to Congress, was dictated, as I understand it, by the 
     following reasons.

  Those are Lincoln's words.

       Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their 
     people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the 
     good of the people was the object. This, our [Constitutional] 
     Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly 
     oppressions and they resolved to so frame the Constitution 
     that no one man should hold the power of bringing this 
     oppression upon us.

  In the words of these great leaders of America--Washington, Hamilton, 
Mason, President Lincoln--all point to the power and wisdom of putting 
the decision about war with the House and the Senate, not the 
  Now, this resolution before us says: Mr. President, there is no 
foregoing authorization to go to war against Iran. It says: Any 
authorization has to come after debate specifically on that topic.
  And why is this? Because we have heard from the administration that 
they want to use the 2001 authorization for the use of military force, 
an authorization specifically about al-Qaida in Afghanistan, to 
authorize war with Iran. Nothing could be more convoluted, and that is 
why we need to stand up and say: That is wrong. That is not right.
  Anyone who pays even just a modicum of attention knows that the 
resolution to take on al-Qaida in Afghanistan is very different than 
going to war against the Shiite Islam nation of Iran. But we have to 
say it because the administration has been trying to prepare the case 
saying this 2001 resolution somehow has a link that authorizes war.
  And why are we so concerned at this moment? Why are we here on the 
floor in this debate? Well, it is because the drums of war are beating 
loudly. It is because the President has deployed the Abraham Lincoln 
carrier strike force to the Gulf to threaten Iran. It is because the 
President has preplaced a squadron of B-52 bombers to be ready to bomb 
Iran. Why are we so concerned--when we have a National Security Advisor 
who has said that no agreement can ever be reached with Iran and we 
have to bomb them and when we have a Secretary of State who says that 
no one has ever stood up to Iran and we have to teach them a lesson, or 
words to that effect, and we have a President who has proceeded to say 
that any attack will be met by great and overwhelming force?
  So envision these preplaced forces. And, in fact, the President has 
declared that a section of the Iranian military, the Revolutionary 
Guard is a terrorist force. Add all of that up, and the President is 
talking about looking for a trigger to apply great and overwhelming 
force. That is why we are here. A response in proportion to defend a 
direct attack on the United States is authorized by the War Powers Act. 
That is honored by the resolution that is before us, the Udall-Paul-
Kaine amendment that is before us. That is honored. But as for the use 
of great and overwhelming force the President is threatening, that is 
war. That has to come before this body.
  The President went on and said: ``In some areas, overwhelming will 
mean obliteration.'' So for any attack? And we have heard the Secretary 
of State say if there is a Shiite force in Iraq that we can tie to 
Shiites in Iran and some communication, we will consider that an attack 
by Iran--looking for a trigger to go to war. And the President has said 
any act will be met with overwhelming force.
  Not under our Constitution. You want that authority? You come here. 
You want to change the Constitution? Then, come here. I say this to my 
fellow Senators: Do you want to change the Constitution? Bring your 
amendment to the floor of the Senate to change the Constitution.
  The Constitution speaks clearly. The President has no authority to 
apply overwhelming force or obliterating force and conduct a war 
against Iran. Make your case here or honor the Constitution.
  We are in a troubling and difficult time, and I would like to see 
every Member of the Senate down here talking to each other about this. 
That is the gravity of the consequences. It is not a few Members who 
are here to stand up for our Constitution and the vision of wisdom in 
our Constitution. This is the time, before there is that trigger in 
which the President responds with great and overwhelming force and 
before he responds with obliterating force. Now is the time to pass 
this amendment put together in a bipartisan fashion that lays out the 
fundamental requirements of our Constitution and the fundamental 
requirements embraced by the Founders and the fundamental requirements 
repeated and honored by the greatest Presidents who have ever served 
our Nation.

[[Page S4595]]

  Let us not allow the vision of our Constitution to be shredded. Let 
us honor our responsibility when we took an oath in office to defend 
it, and let us honor the wisdom of holding that debate on the floor, 
should the President ever ask us for such authorization to go to war 
against Iran.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alabama.

                  Military Widow's Tax Elimination Act

  Mr. JONES. Madam President, I approach to say how much I appreciate 
my colleagues, Senator Merkley and Senator Kaine, for their eloquent 
thoughts on an important issue of our time.
  Let me also now rise in total frustration on a completely different 
issue--but total frustration, bafflement, and, quite frankly, just 
angry and disappointed in this body. I am angry because we have turned 
our back for over 40 years on military families. We have turned our 
backs on the widows of the very men and women who have given their 
lives to protect this country, to uphold our democratic ideals, and to 
make possible the very work that we are doing in the Senate and the 
very work that we, as Members of the Senate and as Members of Congress, 
are charged to do every day on behalf of the American people and, 
particularly, on behalf of veterans and their families.
  I am talking about this body's refusal to bring up the Military 
Widow's Tax Elimination Act--the refusal to bring it up for a single 
floor vote--despite the fact that we have 75 cosponsors--75 cosponsors 
of this bill. It is the most bipartisan legislation, except for the 
robocall bill, which everybody could agree on. And we can't get that to 
a vote in this body?
  Where have we gone wrong? Where have the rules of the body--the rules 
that the leadership of both parties are operating under--gone off the 
rails that we can't bring this to a vote, to just get a simple up-or-
down vote, on a process that is ripe, and that is the NDAA?
  In my 17 or 18 months--I forget how many now in this body--I have had 
some frustrating moments, as I know all of my colleagues who have been 
here for a long time have had a lot of frustrating moments. We have 
shut down this government three times since I have been a U.S. 
Senator--three times. I have seen disaster relief held up for 5 or 6 
months, with farmers and others needing that relief, needing that 
money, needing that help, and we held it up for political reasons so 
that someone can score a point because everything is seen through the 
eyes of a political gamesmanship. That is how we are operating today, 
and it is incredibly frustrating for those of us who want to make sure 
we go forward with things when we see bipartisan efforts.
  In this situation, we are talking about military families who are 
getting ripped off by us. You can call it the government if you want 
to, but at the end of the day, they are getting ripped off by every 
single Member of this body and the House of Representatives, and they 
have had it. It is no wonder that the American people think that 
Congress and Washington, in general, are just completely broken. If we 
can't fight for military widows and spouses, who are having their 
survivor benefits shortchanged, then, for whom are we going to fight? 
For whom are we going to stand up?
  We always talk about standing up for the least of these. I have 
people wanting to stand up for the immigrants coming across the border. 
I have people wanting to stand up for corporations and to make sure 
that they are paying their share of the taxes, as opposed to 
overburden. I have people standing up for people every day, but here we 
have a chance to stand up for people who have given their lives for 
this country, and we are not doing it. We are not doing it.
  If we can't do the right thing on this, with 75 cosponsors, how can 
we possibly tackle immigration reform? How can we possibly tackle 
healthcare reform or education in this country if we can't come to some 
agreement and one simple vote when we have 75 cosponsors?
  How can we not fight for people like Cathy Milford, a retired 
schoolteacher from Mobile, AL, whose husband passed away unexpectedly 
25 years ago from a service-connected illness just months after his 
retirement from the Coast Guard? Instead of a long and happy retirement 
together, Cathy has been fighting to right this wrong for all of the 
some 65,000 military spouses who are hurt by the current law.
  During a recent visit here to Capitol Hill, she said: ``Every time I 
talk about this''--and she is up here a lot talking about elimination 
of the military widow's tax--``I have to dig up my husband and bury him 
all over again.''
  Just think about that. Let that just sink in a minute: a military 
widow, one of many of thousands, who had to return to lobby Congress 
year after year at their own expense, saying she feels like she is 
digging up and burying her husband all over again when she has to talk 
about this issue. That is not only sad, it is shameful.

  We have tried to pass this legislation. The Senate has, in some form, 
repeatedly over the last almost 20 years. It has been included in the 
NDAA numerous times only to be stripped out during conference. It has 
been included without an immediate pay-for to offset the budget issues 
that everybody kind of falls back on and hangs their hat on. We don't 
have that immediate pay-for.
  It has passed before. It has passed before in this body with 
bipartisan support, but for some reason it just hasn't been able to get 
across the finish line. For some reason, even though the bill today has 
historic levels of cosponsorship, we are not allowed to bring it up for 
a vote as an amendment to this NDAA. Frankly, that is the frustration.
  It is a frustration that goes beyond just this bill. It is a 
frustration that we can't debate on the floor of the Senate anymore. We 
can't bring up amendments. I think we have brought up one amendment in 
legislation in this Congress because of the rule between the leader and 
minority leader. There are all these deals going on. You have to have a 
Republican package; you have to have a Democratic package; you have to 
play one against the other. We are constantly playing the political 
games in this body when we should be working for the American people as 
a whole.
  That is why today, at this time, I am once again calling for our bill 
to eliminate the military widow's tax, to pass it or get it voted on 
and bring it to the floor and pass it on unanimous consent. Every one 
of my colleagues would do well to remember that we are the ones who 
should be fighting for these spouses. We are the ones. We are the only 
people they can turn to. This can't be fixed on the streets. It can't 
be fixed at the Department of Defense or the Veterans' Administration. 
The legislature, the Congress of the United States, is the only one 
that can do it, and we are the ones who should be fighting for these 
military spouses, the widows and widowers whose loved ones gave their 
lives for this country, the widows and widowers whose lives are forever 
changed because of their family's selfless service to this country.
  Caring for military families has long been part of the foundation of 
our government. In President Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural 
address, he spoke in no uncertain terms on this obligation. In the 
midst of the Civil War, he addressed a nation that had sustained 
unimaginable loss--unimaginable loss--in order to preserve the Union we 
so cherish.
  The country was then more divided than it ever had been, and God help 
us if it ever gets that divided again, but the values Lincoln asserted 
during that speech were so fundamental that, even at war with itself, 
it could agree on the importance.
  He said this:

       With malice toward none, with charity for all, with 
     firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let 
     us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the 
     nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the 
     battle and for his widow, and his orphan, to do all which we 
     may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among 
     ourselves and with all nations.

  Let me repeat that critical phrase today: `` . . . to care for him 
who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.''
  This is the promise we have made to those who raise their hand in 
service to our Nation. This is the contract, the solemn contract, that 
we have made to those who have raised their hand in service to this 
Nation; that we will honor and support them and care for their families 
if tragedy occurs.

[[Page S4596]]

  President Lincoln was assassinated just over a month after he issued 
this appeal, but the weight of his words still resonate today. In some 
ways, on this issue, they resonate more because in those days you could 
count on the fact that the legislative body, the Congress of the United 
States, heeded those words and took care of those families.
  It has been 154 years since President Lincoln spoke those words; yet 
the Government of the United States, the Members of this body, the 
Members of the House have yet to fulfill that promise. It has been 154 
years, and we still get caught up in the deals that are made as to what 
gets on the floor and what does not get on the floor, the political 
deals that have to be jockeyed, where we give and take, and it is one 
over the other. We need to fix that today.
  We need to fix it in a broader sense and let this body get back to 
its real work and be the great deliberative body it is supposed to be. 
We are not doing that, but that is a different issue for a different 
  Let's start today and stand up and exhibit just a fraction, a small 
fraction--a small, small fraction--of the courage that these military 
spouses did on our behalf. Let's let our actions speak louder than 
words simply ever could. Let's put the issue to rest and give these 
widows some peace.
  Let us do our duty.
  It was Atticus Finch, who told the jury in ``To Kill a Mockingbird,'' 
as he closed out, knowing what the outcome was going to be, as I do 
here--knowing what the outcome was going to be, it was Atticus Finch, 
who said: ``In the name of God, do your duty.''
  I say that to this body. I say that to the leadership. In the name of 
God, let's do our duty to these people. Let's get behind the political 
deals and let's do our duty, once and for all.

              Unanimous Consent Request--Amendment No. 269

  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that it be in order to set 
aside the pending amendment; that amendment No. 269 be considered and 
agreed to; and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and 
laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there an objection?
  The Senator from Oklahoma.
  Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, reserving the right, let me share a story 
of something that happened.
  The timing sometimes happens at very inconvenient times, but on 
September 7, 2011, I was in my State of Oklahoma and was in 
Collinsville, OK. Probably not many people have been to Collinsville, 
OK, but I have. It was the home of a really beloved individual and 
family. The family was the Chris Horton family, and the wife was Jane 
  I remember it so well. This was September 7, 2011. I was talking to 
the group, and I was telling them that I was preparing to make one of 
my regular trips to Afghanistan. At that time, I was not chairman of 
the Senate Armed Services Committee, but I was a high-ranking member of 
the Senate Armed Services Committee.
  In the audience was Jane Horton, and Jane said: Well, if you are 
going to go over there, why don't you go by and see my husband, Chris? 
I said: I will do it. I found out his whereabouts, exactly where he 
was. I got over there to look up Chris, only to find out that 2 days 
after I made that commitment in Collinsville, OK, that Chris died in 
action. Chris died in action. I was the one who had to call on and 
share that with his wife, Jane Horton.
  In fact, after that, we hired Jane to go around and help us with the 
widows' benefits. Starting at that time, I was the leader and continued 
to be a leader long before the Senator from Alabama was into this, and 
he will agree that I was actively working on this issue.

  I support and will continue to support the permanent fix. It is going 
to happen. We are going to do it. In fact, I am the first Senate Armed 
Services chairman to cosponsor this legislation.
  Mr. Jones mentioned there were 75 people who cosponsored it. That is 
I. I was on there on the initial legislation and will continue to be 
and will always be, and that reflects my commitment to the permanent 
  Here is the problem we have. There has to be a fix, but it can't be 
on this bill. The reason it can't be on this bill is because it has a 
mandatory spending that has no offset, and there is not an exception to 
this on the bill. This is part of the agreement in bringing the bill 
  Now, what we can do is go ahead and do what is necessary with this 
very popular cause, and I will be standing with the Senator from 
Alabama to make sure this happens.
  Let's assume that were not true, that we couldn't do it under the 
rules. Under the rules, there is another rule that, if there is an 
objection to any amendments coming up, then I, as the chairman of the 
committee, if the party objecting is not here, I have to offer his 
  There is an objection to this, and I will therefore object and be in 
the strongest position of helping this to become a reality. I owe it 
not just to the many people I know but also to the family whom I just 
referred to from Collinsville.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Alabama.
  Mr. JONES. I thank my friend and colleague Chairman Inhofe, and let 
me say I know where he has been on this issue. I have seen his speeches 
from years past on this issue, and I do appreciate that, and I 
appreciate the fact that he is a cosponsor.
  I also know this has been put on an NDAA before in this body without 
a pay-for, without an offset, in order to have a sense of the Senate 
and to go on record, and that is what I think we should do. I 
understand we are not there this year for whatever reason. I still 
believe, in part, that it is a procedural issue that ought to be put 
aside for this, but that is an argument for another day.
  I do so very much appreciate the chairman's remarks. I have enjoyed 
working with him, Senator Reed, and others on the NDAA. That has been 
an effort. I told folks back home and across the country where I have 
spoken that I wish people could have actually seen what happened in 
that markup behind closed doors and the bipartisanship that the 
chairman showed and the other Senators showed. I wish people could have 
seen it because we don't get to see it. I don't think if we opened it 
up that we would have seen it, but it was remarkable.
  So we are where we are in the Senate. I understand that, and I knew 
that coming in here. I will simply say this. The House of 
Representatives is also going to take up the NDAA, and I hope my 
colleagues on the other side of the wonderful Capitol are listening. 
Put it in. It is not in the committee bill. Put it in. Bring it to 
conference because, if it gets to conference, I am going to continue to 
have this in this NDAA, and let's get this done, once and for all.
  Thank you, Chairman Inhofe, and thank you, Mr. President.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Dakota.

              Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bills

  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, if I might, let me describe where things 
are in the state of play with respect to the supplemental 
appropriations bill that deals with the border.
  I know the situation at our border has been at a crisis point for 
weeks now. Our agencies are stretched to the breaking point, struggling 
to care for the overwhelming flow of migrants; yet we have House 
Democrats continuing to play politics with the border funding bill.
  Again, to describe the state of play, we had a request from the 
President 7 weeks ago for $4.5 billion to address this humanitarian 
crisis we are having at our southern border, and the Democrats didn't 
act on it. They described it as a manufactured crisis. When I say the 
Democrats, I am talking about the House Democrats, which is where most 
spending bills originate.
  After the House failed to act and failed to respond to the 
President's request for emergency funding, the Senate decided to act. 
So the Senate Appropriations Committee took up and passed a bipartisan 
bill out of the Appropriations Committee by a vote of 30 to 1--not a 
vote that you see all that often around here these days.
  So that bill was reported out to the floor. In the meantime, the 
House Democrats decided that maybe it wasn't, after all, a manufactured 
crisis and perhaps they needed to act. So

[[Page S4597]]

they picked up a bill--a partisan bill--and passed it out of the House 
of Representatives on a party-line basis, after which the Senate voted 
on its bill, the bill I mentioned that was reported out of the 
Appropriations Committee by a vote of 30 to 1, and it came to the floor 
where it passed yesterday by a vote of 84 to 8--84 to 8 in the U.S. 
  Well, just to demonstrate that the bipartisan bill passed by the 
Senate is the vehicle that should move forward and should go to the 
President for his signature, the President had indicated he would veto 
the House-passed bill, but we took it up. We took up the House-passed 
bill yesterday on the floor of the U.S. Senate. We had a vote on it. It 
got 37 votes here on the floor of the Senate--not nearly enough, 
obviously, to pass the Senate. Of course, it was going to meet a 
certain veto by the President even if it had.

  That being said, there were 37 votes for the House-passed partisan 
bill that came out of the House of Representatives. Here on the floor 
of the Senate, there were 84 votes for the bipartisan bill produced by 
the Senate Appropriations Committee.
  Where we are right now is that was sent back to the House. The House, 
frankly, should just take up that bill and pass it. We know for certain 
the President would sign it. Again, I think it demonstrates a body of 
work that reflects the will of both sides, Republicans and Democrats--
certainly in the Senate--to get a vote of 30 to 1 out of the 
Appropriations Committee or 84 to 8 on the floor of the Senate. You had 
to have a high level of bipartisan cooperation.
  That bill to address the humanitarian crisis at our border is 
awaiting action by the House of Representatives. All they have to do is 
simply pick it up and pass it and send it to the President, where it 
will be signed into law, and we will get much needed resources and much 
needed manpower to the southern border, where they desperately need it. 
I hope that will be the case.
  We are being told that the House is now considering sending yet 
another partisan bill over here to the Senate. The only thing I can 
tell you is, if you want to get legislation signed into law by the 
President of the United States that actually does deliver and put the 
much needed assistance on the ground that is desperately needed on the 
southern border, the only surefire way to do that right now is for the 
House to pick up the Senate-passed bill, which passed here with 84 
votes, pass it, and send it to the President, where it will be signed 
into law, and that $4.5 billion will be on its way to the border to 
assist with all the needs down there that are currently being unmet. I 
hope that can happen yet today.
  That is the state of play with respect to the supplemental 
appropriations bill.

                            Democratic Party

  Mr. President, I think 2019 is going to go down in history for the 
Democratic Party. It has been a notable year.
  While the Democratic Party has obviously always been left of center, 
I never expected to see the Democratic Party running so far to the left 
of the American people or wholeheartedly embracing socialism and a 
government takeover of a large part of the economy.
  The socialist fantasies are rapidly piling up: a government takeover 
of healthcare, a government takeover of the energy sector, government-
funded college, a government writeoff of all student loan debts, 
guaranteed income, government-guaranteed housing, and on and on. So 
what is wrong with that? After all, those proposals sound really nice--
free healthcare, free college, the government guaranteeing you an 
income. Here is the problem: Providing all that stuff is going to cost 
a lot of money, an almost inconceivable amount of money. Somebody is 
going to have to pay. You might say that obviously the government is 
going to pay, but the government has to get its money from somewhere. 
Here is the catch: The government gets its money from the taxpayers.
  Can't we just take that money from rich taxpayers? If you talk to 
some of the socialist Democrats offering these proposals, they will 
talk about making the rich pay. The rich are their favorite funding 
mechanism. Want free college? We just get the rich to pay for it. Want 
free healthcare? We can just get the rich to pay for it. There is just 
one big problem with that: There aren't enough rich people in America 
to even come close to paying for Democrats' socialist fantasies. Deep 
down, Democrats know it, which is why they tend to get very foggy when 
pressed on the details of how they are going to pay for some of their 
  Take the junior Senator from Vermont's proposal of a government 
takeover of America's health insurance, the so-called Medicare for All 
plan. A conservative estimate puts the cost of that plan at $32 
trillion over 10 years. The current cost is likely much higher since 
the Senator from Vermont's most recent plan for government-run 
healthcare also includes long-term care, which we all know is an 
incredibly expensive benefit.
  The Senator from Vermont did release a list of proposed tax hikes to 
pay for his proposal. The only problem is, the tax hikes wouldn't come 
close to covering the estimated cost of his original Medicare for All 
plan, much less the cost of his new expanded Medicare fantasy.
  Of course, as staggering as the costs of Medicare for All would be--
more money than the Federal Government spent in the last 8 years 
combined on everything--they pale in comparison to the cost of the so-
called Green New Deal. An initial estimate found that the Green New 
Deal would cost somewhere between $51 trillion and $93 trillion over 10 
years--$93 trillion. That is more money than the 2017 gross domestic 
product for the entire world. That is right. You could take the entire 
economic output of every country in the world in 2017, and it still 
might not pay for the Democrats' socialist fantasy. Once you realize 
that, it is pretty obvious that the Green New Deal is not a plan that 
could be paid for by taxing the rich.

  How about taxing every household making more than $200,000 a year at 
a 100-percent rate for 10 years? That wouldn't even get you close to 
$93 trillion. How about taxing every household making more than 
$100,000 at a 100-percent rate for 10 years? That wouldn't get you 
anywhere close to $93 trillion. Like Medicare for All, the Green New 
Deal would be paid for on the backs of working families.
  I have talked a lot about the money aspect of Democrats' socialist 
proposals, and that is one of the major problems with these proposals--
they sound nice until you realize that actually nothing is really free. 
Working Americans are still going to be paying for the cost of all 
those programs through new and much higher taxes.
  But that is far from the only problem with some of the Democrats' 
socialist fantasies. Leaving aside the fact that the Federal Government 
is not exactly known for its efficiency or bringing programs in on time 
and on budget, there is the tremendous cost Americans will pay in the 
loss of their freedom, the loss of their autonomy. Americans are used 
to choices and being able to make their own decisions. It is part of 
our heritage. Those are freedoms we cherish. That is not the way things 
work under socialism.
  Nowhere is this more obvious than with Medicare for All. Medicare for 
All doesn't give Americans health insurance options; it takes them 
away. Are you part of the majority of Americans who are happy with 
their current healthcare? Too bad. Medicare for All eliminates all 
private insurance plans and replaces them with a single, government-
run, one-size-fits-all plan. Under Medicare for All, private health 
insurance plans as we know them would actually be illegal. If you are 
not happy with the government-run plan, too bad; you won't have any 
other choices.
  The treatment options would also be limited by what the government 
decides. If the government doesn't want to pay for a particular cancer 
treatment, for example, as has happened in other countries with 
socialized medicine, you will be out of luck.
  Then, of course, there are the long wait times that are the hallmark 
of socialized medicine. Imagine having to wait months for diagnostic 
imagining or needed surgery or having to stand by while your spouse or 
child is forced to wait months for care. That is the kind of thing 
Americans would have to look forward to under Medicare for All.

[[Page S4598]]

  Margaret Thatcher once said that the problem with socialism is that 
eventually you run out of other people's money. Once Democrats have 
taken every dollar they can from the rich to pay for their socialist 
fantasies, they will come after the paychecks of ordinary Americans, 
who will face higher and higher taxes for fewer and fewer benefits and 
greatly reduced choices. Democrats' socialist dreams would quickly trap 
the American people in a nightmare.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maine.
  Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, before I deliver comments on a bill that 
I am introducing, let me express my disappointment that the Senate will 
not be voting today on the amendment that Senator Jones and I have 
filed to eliminate the military widow's tax. This is a tremendous 
inequity, as is recognized by the fact that 75 of our colleagues have 
cosponsored our freestanding bill.
  Nevertheless, I am heartened by the commitment and the compassion of 
the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, Senator Inhofe, who has 
indicated his receptivity to dealing with this issue but in a different 
way on a different bill. I hope that today is just a temporary setback 
and that we can see this bill taken up as a freestanding bill by the 
entire Senate.
  Mr. President, I send a bill to the desk and ask that it be 
appropriately referred.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. It will be received and appropriately 
  (The remarks of Ms. Collins pertaining to the introduction of S. 2018 
are printed in today's Record under ``Statements on Introduced Bills 
and Joint Resolutions.'')
  Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak as in 
morning business.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  (The remarks of Mrs. Murray pertaining to the introduction of S. 2008 
are printed in today's Record under ``Statements on Introduced Bills 
and Joint Resolutions.'')
  Mrs. MURRAY. I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Jersey.

                                S. 1790

  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I rise to explain the context in which I 
will vote for the Romney amendment.
  First, I am grateful for Senator Romney's substantive contributions 
and his collegiality as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.
  The plain text of the amendment states the obvious--that funds 
authorized by the NDAA may be used to ensure the ability of our Armed 
Forces to defend themselves and U.S. citizens.
  I believe every Member of this body certainly shares the fundamental 
understanding that our Armed Forces must have the ability to defend 
themselves and our citizens against foreign enemies. Indeed, the 
purpose of the NDAA is to provide the authorizations that are necessary 
to ensure the Department of Defense is in a position to defend the 
United States and our citizens.
  In my opinion, in that respect, this amendment is not necessary. For 
anyone who argues that the Romney language is somehow necessary because 
of the Udall amendment that we will be voting on tomorrow, I say reread 
the Udall amendment. It includes an explicit exception for self-
  I am concerned that this administration will seek to twist the Romney 
amendment into something that is completely unrecognizable, something 
that we are not voting on today, and something that has no basis in 
law. As a legal matter, the amendment does nothing more than to 
explicitly provide the authority to use funds under the act to ensure 
this ability.
  Let me be clear. This amendment does nothing more than that. Either 
implicitly or explicitly, it does not authorize the use of military 
force. Let me repeat. It is not an AUMF. An explicit authorization 
would have to come to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee following 
serious and substantive engagement by the executive branch.
  It is no secret that there are some in this administration who are 
eager to engage militarily with Iran. This week, the President himself 
argued that he does not have to go to Congress to seek authorization. 
But those who don't want to completely bypass our congressional 
prerogative will be grasping at any purported source of authority that 
could justify, in their minds, that Congress has authorized these 
  Look no further than the Secretary of State, who is purportedly 
pushing the bogus legal theory that the 2001 AUMF, which Congress 
passed in the wake of 9/11, somehow provides authority to use force 
against Iran. Apparently, Secretary Pompeo is not dissuaded by the 
facts. The plain language of the 2001 AUMF does not extend to Iran. 
Congress did not intend for the 2001 AUMF to cover Iran, and neither 
Republican nor Democratic Presidents who have operated pursuant to this 
AUMF have claimed such authority.
  Against this backdrop and a President who has evaded Congress in 
unprecedented and unlawful ways, we must make crystal clear that the 
Romney amendment cannot be abused by those in this administration who 
appear to be desperate to build a case that the President has all of 
the authority he needs to take us into war with Iran.
  We cannot leave anything up to chance when it comes to the choice of 
whether we send our sons and daughters into war. I believe we should be 
having a serious conversation about our use of military force and about 
what constitutes self-defense and attacks on our allies.
  I am pleased that the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee has 
previously committed to holding these hearings, and I believe we should 
commence with hearings with multiple stakeholders, including the 
administration itself. Previous administrations have sent up 
representatives to explain to Congress their rationale for war or to 
explain the type of authorizations they are seeking. We should demand 
nothing less from this administration.
  I support the amendment, and I look forward to continuing appropriate 
oversight over the executive branch's pursuit of military action around 
the world.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Utah.
  Mr. ROMNEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to complete my 
remarks before the vote.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. ROMNEY. Mr. President, I thank my esteemed friend and ranking 
member of the Foreign Relations Committee for his kind words in support 
of my amendment.
  As we debate the Defense Authorization Act today, one of our most 
pressing concerns is how we deter Iran from further escalating its 
attacks. The decisions we make on this bill will have a direct bearing 
on the options the President and the military have available to keep 
our military, our citizens, and our friends and allies safe.
  The Senate is poised to vote soon on my amendment, No. 861. It would 
reaffirm what has long been American policy. Our military is authorized 
to defend itself and to protect our citizens. Enacting this amendment 
makes it clear to our military, as well as to any potential adversary, 
that America does not shrink in the face of attack. This is not an 
authorization to use military force against Iran or anyone else; it is 
a statement of continued commitment to our national defense.
  Under the Constitution, only Congress may declare war, but also under 
the Constitution, the President can defend against attacks and can 
respond in an appropriate manner to an attack that has been made.
  As we all know, my esteemed colleague from New Mexico, Senator Udall, 
has proposed an amendment on a related topic which I wish to briefly 
  We do not need the Udall amendment to tell us what the Constitution 
already demands--that Congress alone can declare war. His amendment is 
clearly intended to limit the President in some other ways that he has 
not yet explained to this body.
  As it is written, the Udall amendment would dramatically limit the 
existing authority that the Constitution provides to the President to 
respond to Iran. It would prevent the President

[[Page S4599]]

from defending U.S. citizens, U.S. interests, and our allies. This is 
not only my opinion; it is the carefully considered conclusion of the 
U.S. Department of Defense.
  In its letter on June 26 to Chairman Inhofe, it states this, 
referring to the Udall amendment:

       ``The Department strongly opposes this amendment . . . At a 
     time when Iran is engaging in escalating military provocation 
     . . . this amendment could embolden Iran to further 

  Tying the President's hands in some undefined way in the midst of the 
current crisis is misguided, dangerous, and surely sends the wrong 
message to both Iran and to our allies.
  Last week, the Iranians continued their provocative escalation in the 
Middle East. After weeks of buildup in which Iran attacked six 
commercial ships, and its proxies bombed an oil pipeline and launched a 
rocket into a commercial Saudi Arabian airport, Iran shot down an 
American drone over international waters.
  The Udall amendment raises serious questions about how the military 
could respond to these attacks after the fact. Could we fire on the 
missile launcher that downed our drone? Could we sink one of their 
small, outboard motor vessels that attached the mines to the ships that 
were attacked?
  Imagine for a moment that in the future, another American aircraft, 
perhaps one that is manned by an American pilot, were to be shot down 
by an Iranian rocket. It is possible that the Udall amendment would 
limit our military's options to subsequently respond to such an 
  I don't pretend to know whether Iran will continue its pattern of 
aggression, but I do know that when bad actors think they can escape 
consequence for malevolent acts, such acts are more likely to occur in 
the future.
  I am glad that Senator Udall's revised amendment concedes the broad 
point that our military has the inherent right of self-defense. But in 
the case of a rocket hitting one of our planes, the President should 
not have his hands tied in responding after such an attack in an 
appropriate manner.
  Note also that while the Udall amendment provides for the military to 
defend itself from attack, it does not provide for the defense of our 
citizens. Iran could take this as an invitation to attack Americans 
  Further, it would prohibit our military from defending or responding 
to an attack by Iran on our Iraqi partners so long as it didn't 
directly hit American troops. Passing the Udall amendment would 
effectively give a green light to Iranian forces to carry out attacks 
in Iraq so long as they don't attack U.S. forces.
  If Iran were to attack Israel, one of our NATO allies, the Udall 
amendment would not allow the President to respond.
  Finally, by carving out Iranian territory, the Udall amendment would 
potentially prevent us from pursuing and taking out terrorists who seek 
refuge in Iran.
  I oppose the Udall amendment not because I want to go to war with 
Iran or rush to respond without carefully evaluating our long-term 
strategy to counter Iranian aggression. I know no one who wants to go 
to war with Iran.
  I fully concur with my many Senate colleagues who desire to reassert 
the constitutional role of Congress in declaring war. But to engage in 
this effort now, and in an undefined way, and then to attach that to 
Iran when Iran has just shot down an American aircraft would send a 
terrible message to the Ayatollahs and to the world.
  I mean, think about it. Iran shoots down an American aircraft, and 
what does the U.S. Senate rush to do? It rushes to vote in some 
undefined way to restrict military consequence. That is simply 
  My amendment is not about Iran. It does not even mention Iran. My 
amendment is about affirming the constitutional authorities that any 
President must have to properly protect and defend this Nation.
  As the Department of Defense maintains, the President of the United 
States must always have the option of responding to attacks by Iran or 
anyone else at a time and place of our choosing--today and in the 
  I urge my colleagues to support my amendment.