IRAN; Congressional Record Vol. 166, No. 1
(Senate - January 03, 2020)

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From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                                  IRAN

  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, last night, the United States conducted a 
military operation designed to kill Major General Qasem Soleimani, a 
notorious terrorist. No one should shed a tear over his death. The 
operation against Soleimani in Iraq was conducted, however, without 
specific authorization and any advance notification or consultation 
with Congress.
  I am a member of the Gang of 8, which is typically briefed in advance 
of operations of this level of significance. We were not. The need for 
advance consultation and transparency with Congress was put in the 
Constitution for a reason--because the lack of advance consultation and 
transparency with Congress can lead to hasty and ill-considered 
decisions. When the security of the Nation is at stake, decisions must 
not be made in a vacuum. The Framers of the Constitution gave war 
powers to the legislature and made the executive the Commander in Chief 
for the precise reason of forcing the two branches of government to 
consult with one another when it came to matters of war and peace.
  It is paramount for an administration to get an outside view to 
prevent groupthink and rash action and to be asked probing questions, 
not from your inner and often insulated circle but from others--
particularly Congress--which forces an administration, before it acts, 
to answer very serious questions. The administration did not consult in 
this case, and I fear that those very serious questions have not been 
answered and may not be fully considered.
  Among those questions: What was the legal basis for conducting this 
operation? How far does that legal basis extend? Iran has many 
dangerous surrogates in the region and a whole range of possible 
responses. Which responses do we expect? Which are most likely? Do we 
have plans to counter all of the possible responses? How effective will 
our counters be? What does this action mean for the long-term stability 
of Iraq and the trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives 
sacrificed there? How does the administration plan to manage an 
escalation of hostilities? How does the administration plan to avoid 
larger and potentially endless conflagration in the Middle East? These 
are questions that must be answered.
  It is my view that the President does not have the authority for a 
war with Iran. If he plans a large increase in troops and potential 
hostility over a longer time, the administration will require 
congressional approval and the approval of the American people.
  The President's decision may add to an already dangerous and 
difficult situation in the Middle East. The risk of a much longer 
military engagement in the Middle East is acute and immediate. This 
action may well have brought our Nation closer to another endless war--
exactly the kind of endless war the President promised he would not 
drag us into.
  As our citizens and those of our allies evacuate Iraq and troops 
prepare for retaliatory action, Congress needs answers to these 
questions and others from the administration immediately, and the 
American people need answers as well.

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