EXECUTIVE SESSION; Congressional Record Vol. 166, No. 2
(Senate - January 06, 2020)

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 S13-S20]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                           EXECUTIVE SESSION


                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I move to proceed to executive session 
to consider Calendar No. 525.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on agreeing to the motion.
  The motion was agreed to.
  The clerk will report the nomination.
  The legislative clerk read the nomination of Michael George DeSombre, 
of Illinois, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the 
United States of America to the Kingdom of Thailand.

                             Cloture Motion

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

                             Cloture Motion

       We, the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the 
     provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, 
     do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination 
     of Michael George DeSombre, of Illinois, to be Ambassador 
     Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of 
     America to the Kingdom of Thailand.
         Mitch McConnell, John Boozman, James M. Inhofe, John 
           Barrasso, Roy Blunt, Todd Young, Shelley Moore Capito, 
           Michael B. Enzi, Lisa Murkowski, John Cornyn, Steve 
           Daines, Lindsey Graham, Chuck Grassley, Josh Hawley, 
           Roger F. Wicker, Marsha Blackburn.

  Mr. McCONNELL. I ask unanimous consent that the mandatory quorum 
calls be waived.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                  Recognition of the Democratic Leader

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic leader is recognized.


  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, it has been 4 days since the United 
States carried out a military operation that killed Major General Qasem 
Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds 
Force. In the days since, I have become increasingly alarmed about the 
strike, a strike that was carried out with insufficient transparency, 
without consultation of Congress, and without a clear plan for what 
comes next.
  President Trump had promised to keep the United States out of endless 
wars in the Middle East. The President's actions, however, have 
seemingly increased the risk that we could be dragged into exactly such 
a war. It is indicative of President Trump's foreign policy record, 
which is riddled by chaotic, uninformed, erratic, and impulsive 
decision-making without adequate consideration for the consequences.
  In just about every foreign policy area President Trump touches, we 
are worse off than we were before he started with it. Whether it is 
with China, North Korea, Syria, Russia, the President has careened from 
one impulsive action to the next, with no coherent strategy. North 
Korea today--despite what President Trump said, we don't have to worry 
about them--is a greater nuclear threat than they have ever been. 
Trump's actions have been disastrous. North Korea has more nuclear 
weapons, and, by all reports, has either developed or is very close to 
developing an ICBM that can hit the U.S. mainland. That is a result of 
President Trump's bumbling.
  The situation in Syria is much worse than before. Doing what he did 
in Syria, pulling out those troops, made no sense to anybody, even the 
most hawkish foreign policy people we have, and every time the 
President seems to deal with Putin, Putin seems to come out ahead. 
Looking at the President's chaotic and rudderless foreign policy in 
hotspots around the globe, it is hard to conclude that any of the 
situations are better off than when the President took office 3 years 
ago. His policies seem to be characterized by erratic, impulsive, and 
often egotistical behavior, with little regard to a long-term strategy 
that would advance the interests of the United States.
  At times like this, it is essential for Congress to provide a check 
on the President and assert our constitutional role in matters of war 
and peace. In my view, President Trump does not--does not--have 
authority to go to war with Iran. There are several important pieces of 
legislation that seek to, again, assert Congress's authority and 
prerogative on these matters.
  Senator Kaine has a War Powers Resolution that would force a debate 
and vote in Congress to seek to prevent further escalation of 
hostilities with Iran. That resolution will be privileged, so it will 
have to come to the floor. My colleagues, we are going to vote on it.
  Senator Sanders has introduced a bill that would block funding for 
the war with Iran. I am supportive of both Senator Kaine's and Senator 
Sanders' efforts, and I urge the Senate to consider both in the coming 
  Additionally, the Trump administration must start acting with greater 
transparency. By law, the Trump administration must make a notification

[[Page S14]]

to Congress when it conducts a military operation like the one last 
Friday. That is known as a War Powers Act notification. Unusually, the 
Trump administration made the notification on Saturday, after the 
action occurred, and then they did it in a completely classified 
  Let me be clear. An entirely classified notification--in the case of 
this particular military operation--is simply not appropriate, and 
there appears to be no legitimate justification for classifying this 
  Ranking Member Menendez and I sent a letter to the President urging 
declassification. It is critical that national security matters of such 
importance--war and peace and the possibility of another ``endless 
war'' in the Middle East--that knowledge of the actions and 
justification should be shared with the American people in a timely 
manner. It is Americans who will be asked to pay for such a war if it 
occurs. It is American soldiers who will bravely risk their lives once 
  The reason the Founding Fathers gave Congress war-making authority is 
very simple: They were afraid of an overreaching Executive. They wanted 
to make sure that any act as important as war--war and peace--be 
discussed in an open manner by the Congress so it could be vetted, so 
questions could be asked, so a small, insular group--and the 
President's group seems even more and more insular because anyone of 
strength and courage, people like Mattis and McMaster, who disagrees 
with the President because he is so erratic leaves, leaving a bunch of 
``yes'' people who seem to want to do whatever the President wants. 
That means having a debate in Congress where questions are asked and 
coming to the American people so that people can hear a justification 
and see if it is actually a valid one is vital.
  The administration still has to answer several very crucial questions 
about their actions last week. Iran has many dangerous surrogates in 
the region and a whole range of possible responses. Which responses do 
we expect? Which are the most likely? What do we know about what Iran 
would plan to do in retaliation, and what are our plans to counter all 
of these responses? How effective does our military, does our CIA, does 
our State Department think these responses will be?
  The next question is, What does this action mean for the long-term 
stability for Iraq? What does it mean for our presence in Iraq? What 
does it mean to the trillions of dollars--trillions--and thousands of 
American lives sacrificed there? How does what we are doing now fit 
into that? How does the administration plan to manage any escalation of 
the hostilities? How does the administration plan to avoid a larger and 
potentially endless conflagration in the Middle East?
  These are crucial questions. Not one has been answered by the 
President or anyone in the administration. All of the tweeting and all 
of the bravado is no substitute for strategic thinking and long-term 
foreign policy goals and ways to achieve those goals. This 
administration seems to be devoid of that. It certainly was when it 
came to North Korea. It certainly was when it came to Syria. It 
certainly is when it comes to Russia, and it seems likely the same case 
is now occurring with Iran.
  At a minimum, the questions I mentioned must be answered. This is an 
important moment for our Nation. The American people need clarity that 
the Trump administration has a plan--not just a tweet but a plan--to 
keep our troops, our Nation, and our people safe.


  Mr. President, as my colleagues return from the holiday recess, one 
question looms before us: Will the Senate conduct a fair impeachment 
trial of the President of the United States? Will we search for all of 
the facts, or will we look for a coverup--a sham trial--on one of the 
most important powers the Founding Fathers gave the American people?
  The Framers gave the Senate the sole power to try Presidential 
impeachments because they could not imagine another body with 
``confidence enough'' in its own status to ``preserve the necessary 
impartiality.'' It is up to every Senator now to live up to that 
awesome and profound responsibility.
  At the moment, there is a very clear difference of opinion between 
the Republican leader and myself about what it means to have a fair 
trial. I believe a fair trial is one that considers all the relevant 
facts and allows relevant witnesses and documents--a feature of every 
single impeachment trial of a President in the history of our Nation. 
We have never had one with no witnesses--not once.
  Leader McConnell likes to cite precedent. That precedent stares him 
in the face, and he can't answer it. My Republican counterpart believes 
that a trial should feature no relevant witnesses and none of the 
relevant documents. He has made clear in his public appearance on FOX 
News that it should proceed according to the desires of the White 
House--the defendant in this case. Glaringly, the Republican leader has 
yet to make one single argument why witnesses should not testify.
  I am waiting to hear it, Leader McConnell. Give us specific answers 
why these witnesses should not come forward. Don't call names. Don't 
finger-point. Don't get angry at Nancy Pelosi. Tell us why, here in the 
Senate, witnesses and documents should not come forward that are 
directly relevant to the charges against the President of the United 
States of America.
  Leader McConnell has sort of exempted himself from fair debate. He 
doesn't want a fair trial; he wants a quick and sham trial. Now it is 
up to every Senator. Every Senator will have a say in deciding which of 
the two views wins out. Will we have a fair trial or a coverup? Will we 
hear the evidence, or will we try to hide it? It will not be me and not 
the Republican leader alone but a majority of Senators who will decide 
whether we have a fair trial with facts and evidence or a Senate-
sponsored coverup of the President's alleged misconduct.
  Make no mistake--there will be votes on whether to call each of the 
four witnesses we proposed and subpoena the documents we have 
identified. Under the rules of the Senate trial, the minority will be 
able to offer motions subject to a majority vote.
  My colleagues on the other side of the aisle, your constituents and 
the voice of history are watching. You will be required to vote on 
whether we have a fair trial with witnesses and with documents, or you 
will say: I am running away from the facts. I am scared of the facts. I 
will go for a coverup.
  A few hours ago, the momentum for uncovering the truth in a Senate 
trial gathered even more momentum. One of the key witnesses I have 
asked for, Mr. John Bolton, former National Security Advisor to 
President Trump, correctly acknowledged that he needs to comply with a 
Senate subpoena for his testimony, if issued. Previously, Mr. Bolton 
said he was leaving the question of his testimony up to the courts. 
Today, he made it perfectly clear that he will come if the Senate asks, 
as he should. The other potential witnesses we have identified--Mr. 
Mulvaney, Mr. Duffey, and Mr. Blair--should do the same.
  We know that Mr. Bolton, like Mr. Mulvaney, Mr. Duffey, and Mr. 
Blair--the three other witnesses--has crucial, eyewitness knowledge of 
the President's dealings with Ukraine, about how decisions were made to 
withhold security assistance and how opposition within the 
administration to that delay President Trump seemed to want was 
  A simple majority is all it takes to ensure that the Senate issues a 
subpoena for these witnesses. If only four Republicans decide that Mr. 
Bolton and the three other witnesses ought to be heard, they will be 
heard, because every Democrat will vote to hear them. It is now up to 
four Senate Republicans to support bringing in Mr. Bolton and the three 
other witnesses, as well as the key documents we have requested, to 
ensure that all the evidence is presented at the outset of the Senate 
  Given that Mr. Bolton's lawyers have stated he has new and relevant 
information to share, if any Senate Republican opposes issuing 
subpoenas to the four witnesses and documents we have requested, they 
would make it absolutely clear they are participating in a coverup on 
one of the most sacred duties we have in this Congress--in this 
Senate--and that is to keep a President in check.
  Leader McConnell has suggested we follow the 1999 example of 
beginning the impeachment trial first and then deciding on witnesses 
and documents

[[Page S15]]

after the arguments are complete. He keeps making this argument. It 
doesn't gather any steam because it is such a foolish one. Let me again 
respond for the benefit of my colleagues.
  Witnesses and documents are the most important issue, and we should 
deal with them first. To hear Leader McConnell say ``no witnesses now 
but maybe some later'' is just another indication that he has no 
argument against witnesses and documents on the merits. He is afraid to 
address the argument because he knows it is a loser for him, so he 
says: Let's decide it later.
  Why? There is no reason. In fact, it is sort of backward. We are 
going to have all the arguments--pro and con--then say maybe we will 
have witnesses and documents? We will have the arguments first and the 
evidence later? As I have said, Leader McConnell's view of the trial is 
an ``Alice in Wonderland'' view--first the trial, then the evidence.
  More important than precedent is the fact that his analogy plainly 
doesn't make sense because you don't have both sides present their 
arguments first and then afterward ask for the evidence that we know is 
out there. The evidence should inform the trial, not the other way 
  When Leader McConnell proposes that we follow the 1999 precedent, he 
is essentially arguing that we should conduct the entire impeachment 
trial first and then once it is over, decide on whether we need 
witnesses and documents. Again, McConnell's view is ``Alice in 
Wonderland,'' where we first have the trial and then the evidence. If 
the Senate were to agree to Leader McConnell's proposal, the Senate 
would act as little more than a nationally televised meeting of a mock 
trial club.
  Leader McConnell's proposal on witnesses and documents later is a 
poorly disguised trap. He has already actually made clear what his 
goals are. He said it on FOX News radio: ``After we've heard the 
arguments, we ought to vote and move on'' with no witnesses and no 
  Well, at least 47 Democrats and I hope some Republicans won't fall 
for that kind of specious logic. What McConnell said doesn't sound like 
someone who will reasonably consider witnesses and documents at a later 
date; he sounds more like someone who has already made up his mind.
  You cannot have a fair trial without the facts and without the 
testimony from witnesses with knowledge of the events and related 
documents. A trial without all the facts is a farce.
  If the President is acquitted at the end of a partisan sham trial 
with no witnesses and no documents, then his acquittal will not carry 
much weight in the minds of the American people or in the judgment of 
  President Trump, if you are hurting about this impeachment and you 
are wishing for a fair trial and a real acquittal, join us in asking 
for the witnesses to come forward. Join us in asking for the documents. 
What are you hiding, President Trump? What are you afraid of, President 
Trump? If you think that you have done nothing wrong, you wouldn't mind 
having your own witnesses come here. These are people you appointed.
  Most Americans know that President Trump seems to be afraid of the 
truth. And 64 percent of all Republicans who almost always side with 
President Trump in the polling data say there should be witnesses and 
documents--64 percent. A trial without all the facts is a farce. The 
verdicts of a kangaroo court are empty.
  It is time for a bipartisan majority in this Chamber, Democrat and 
Republican, to support the rules and procedures of a fair trial. A vote 
to allow witnesses and documents does not presume a vote for conviction 
in any way. It merely ensures that when the ultimate judgment is 
rendered, whatever that judgment will be, it will be based on the 
facts. We don't know what the witnesses will say; it could be 
exculpatory for President Trump or it could be more condemning. 
Whatever it will be, we should have the facts come out and let the 
chips fall where they may. The Senate Democrats believe we must conduct 
a fair trial. As for the Senate Republicans, we will see.

  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Ernst). The Senator from Texas.
  Mr. CORNYN. Madam President, I have some prepared remarks regarding 
the Soleimani strike and some other related matters, but I want to take 
a moment and just respond briefly to my friend, the Democratic leader.
  There seems to be a lot of irony involved in this question of the 
Articles of Impeachment. First of all, of course, Speaker Pelosi, who 
said this is an urgent fulfilling of a constitutional duty and who 
wanted the Articles of Impeachment voted on in the House, has been 
radio silent and appears to be getting cold feet on whether or not she 
will even send the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate.
  I would suggest that the first thing we need to know is if Speaker 
Pelosi is actually serious about this. If she is not, there is no 
occasion for us to even begin this conversation about how the Senate 
trial will proceed. Speaker Pelosi is mistaken if she thinks she can 
direct or influence the Senate's decision on how the trial will 
proceed. In fact, one of the things I am pretty sure of is that the 
Senate will not replicate the circuslike atmosphere of the impeachment 
inquiry in the House, which was one of the most partisan undertakings I 
have seen in my time in the Senate.
  I think they are really grasping at straws now and are recognizing 
they did a poor job in developing the case that led to the two Articles 
of Impeachment. One was because of a disagreement over the manner in 
which the President exercised his authority under the Constitution to 
engage in foreign relations, and the other was based on this bogus idea 
that by saying: I need to go to court to get some direction on a claim 
of executive privilege, that somehow, even though Mr. Schiff dropped 
the subpoena or no longer sought that witness's testimony, one has 
obstructed Congress's investigation. All of this was without even 
alleging any crime.
  I suggest that the Senate is an institution that follows the rules 
and that we follow our precedents. The most obvious precedent for this 
impeachment trial is the Clinton impeachment trial. There, we saw 100 
Senators agree to a procedure which allowed both sides to present their 
cases, after which there was a vote to see whether additional testimony 
would be required. Indeed, there was an agreement to provide three 
additional witnesses, not live, in a circuslike atmosphere here on the 
floor of the Senate, but through depositions taken out of court that 
could then be out of the Chamber, whereby excerpts of those depositions 
could be offered as additional evidence. That was the procedure that 
was supported by the Democratic leader, the Senator from New York. I 
suggest that what was fair for President Clinton is fair for President 
Trump. It is not much more complicated than that, and that, indeed, is 
the most relevant precedent.
  With regard to this claim that some Senators aren't demonstrating 
impartiality, I recall reading that the Senator from New York, when he 
was running against incumbent Senator D'Amato, said a vote for him for 
the Senate would be a guaranteed vote of acquittal of President 
Clinton. That was hardly impartial. Now he protests too much and, I 
think, demonstrates his hypocrisy when it comes to the standard by 
which he holds himself and others.
  I am sorry. I just can't believe that Senator Warren and Senator 
Sanders would qualify under anybody's definition of an impartial juror. 
Yet that is our constitutional system. I think what has happened is 
that they realize their case is falling short of any standard by which 
a President would be convicted and impeached, and they are simply 
grasping at straws.


  Madam President, on another matter, last Friday, Americans woke up to 
the news that one of the most brutal terrorist leaders in the world had 
been killed. Qasem Soleimani was killed in an airstrike by America's 
military, finally bringing an end to his decades-long reign of terror.
  You could legitimately call General Soleimani a master of disaster 
because that defined his entire professional life as the leader of 
Iran's military. Actually, he was the head of the Islamic Revolutionary 
Guard Corps Quds Force, which is a U.S.-designated terrorist 
organization. General Soleimani was the most consequential military 
leader in Iran, which has been designated by the U.S. State Department

[[Page S16]]

as a state sponsor of international terrorism since 1984. General 
Soleimani orchestrated Iran's efforts to squash democracy movements 
both at home and abroad by any means necessary. He and his army of 
terrorists exported violence around the region and engaged in gross 
human rights violations against the Iranian people.
  If you are curious how the Iranian Government treats its own 
citizens, just look at the recent protests that started as complaints 
over increased gas prices. When the Iranian citizens took to the 
streets in peaceful protest, the Ayatollah, the Supreme Leader, called 
them enemy agents and thugs, and the government attacked. As many as 
450 Iranians were killed in those peaceful protests, with some 2,000 
injured and 7,000 detained. This is not a government that is protecting 
its people; it is a network of criminals that masquerades as a 
government. One of the Ayatollah's most loyal henchmen was Soleimani.
  In addition to leading attacks on the Iranian people and fueling 
terrorist operations throughout the Middle East, he also played a 
crucial role in fomenting Syria's civil war. Soleimani helped to 
finance and aid the butcher, known as Bashar al-Assad, in the slaughter 
of the Syrian people. The death toll of the Syrian civil war is 
estimated to be as high as a half a million Syrians, and the number of 
refugees and internally displaced persons goes into the millions.
  While the greatest death and destruction orchestrated by Soleimani 
was concentrated in the Middle East, the United States was one of his 
and Iran's biggest targets. From the Iranian hostage crisis back in 
1979, to the Khobar Towers bombing, to the recent shooting down of a 
U.S. drone, to the death of an American contractor in Iraq, Iran's 
actions at every turn have demonstrated a desire to make the chant 
``Death to America'' a reality.
  Soleimani was known to be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of 
American soldiers. He and the Iranian regime supplied explosively 
formed penetrators that cut through American armor like a hot knife 
through butter and left hundreds of American soldiers--indeed, maybe 
1,000 or more--disabled as a result of this deadly instrument of war. 
Since 2003, at least 600 U.S. soldiers have been killed by Iranian 
proxies in Iraq, and as I have said, many more have been injured.
  I and others in this Chamber have seen their activities firsthand at 
Brooke Army Medical Center, the Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio, 
and at other places where they have received treatment, like at Walter 
Reed Army Medical Center here in Washington, DC. It is where the 
victims of these Iranian improvised explosive devices were treated for 
amputation, for burns, or functional limb loss if they survived those 
injuries in the first place. These soldiers are a reminder of the 
selfless commitment our men and women in uniform make each day as well 
as the perilous threat posed by Iran under Soleimani's leadership.
  For decades, since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Tehran has waged 
war against the United States and our allies, and recent reports 
indicate that Soleimani was in the process of plotting even more acts 
of aggression against the United States and U.S. interests, which is 
hardly surprising, though, since he had been doing that for many years. 
That is precisely why he was targeted.
  Just as quickly as the news of this attack spread, so did anti-Trump 
rhetoric. Instead of celebrating the fact that Iran's chief terrorist 
was dead and could kill no more, a number of our Democratic colleagues 
chose to bash the President instead. They claimed his action was 
unauthorized, even illegal, or that he should have sought congressional 
approval beforehand. None of that is true. The President not only has 
the authority under the Constitution but the responsibility to defend 
the United States from terrorist organizations like the Iranian 
Revolutionary Guard Corps and its leaders like General Soleimani.
  This was neither an assassination--a particularly loathsome 
allegation that has been made on social media--nor an unprovoked 
attack. This was the President of the United States exercising his 
lawful authority to protect the United States, our allies, and our 
national interests just as Presidents before have done. Perhaps the 
most stark comparison is when Barack Obama directed the killing of 
Osama bin Laden. Where were the people who now claim that Soleimani's 
death is an abuse of power? I don't recall anyone calling the killing 
of Osama bin Laden an assassination. When he was killed, they were not 
on cable TV, criticizing the move; we were all celebrating.
  Some of our Democratic friends will simply never pass on an 
opportunity to criticize the President--no matter how unfair. Thank 
goodness there are Democrats like former Department of Homeland 
Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman.
  Senator Joe Lieberman said:

       President Trump's order to take out Qasem Soleimani was 
     morally, constitutionally and strategically correct. It 
     deserves more bipartisan support than the begrudging or 
     negative reactions it has received thus far from my fellow 

  I am also grateful for the informed comments by luminaries like 
former CENTCOM Commander and former CIA Director General Petraeus as 
well as Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who have both rightly said that this 
action was authorized and necessary.
  It is unquestionable that the death of Soleimani was a major blow to 
the Iranian regime and a strong message of deterrence to all state 
sponsors of terrorism. The blood of hundreds of American soldiers and 
countless civilians is on Soleimani's hands, and because of the 
decisive action taken by President Trump, he is gone.
  I fully support this move by the President, and I commend the 
President's willingness to send a strong message of deterrence to the 
terrorist threat in the Middle East, particularly against the United 
States, our citizens, and our interests.
  Finally, I join my fellow Senators in thanking the brave men and 
women in uniform who fought and continue to fight terrorist acts 
brought about by people like General Soleimani and the Quds Force as 
part of the IRGC. I especially thank those who are fighting and who are 
prepared to defend our interests in the Middle East today.
  America must never back down in the face of this evil. Our world is 
safer today because Qasem Soleimani is dead. It would not have been 
possible without the actions that President Trump has undertaken or 
without the resolve of our military leaders and our courageous 
servicemembers who put their lives on the line each day.

                             116th Congress

  Madam President, on another matter, briefly, we have now crossed the 
halfway point of the 116th Congress, and it is safe to say that 2019 
was an unconventional and a somewhat bumpy year.
  After 2 years with Republicans controlling both Chambers of Congress 
and the White House, we were all prepared for the challenges that would 
come with a Democratically controlled House. Despite the unnecessary 
foot-dragging and political gaming and obsession with foiling the 
President, we were still able to accomplish a lot of good for the 
country and the people of my State of Texas.
  Last month alone, we made major moves to strengthen our military and 
support our troops. We passed a funding bill that increased the funding 
by nearly $20 billion--necessary to restore our readiness--and gave our 
troops the largest pay raise they had received in a decade.
  This complemented the National Defense Authorization Act, which 
authorized $400 million for military construction projects in Texas and 
90 new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters that will be built in Fort Worth.
  It also included a number of provisions that I introduced to support 
our servicemembers and veterans. In 2016, only 46 percent of Active-
Duty military voted by absentee ballot, and one-third of those who 
didn't vote said that the absentee voting process was simply too 
  To make that better, I introduced the Military Voter Protection Act, 
which became law last month. It makes the absentee voter registration 
process easier for servicemembers stationed overseas so that a 
complicated trail of paperwork doesn't prevent them from casting their 
well-deserved ballots.
  I have also heard from my Texas constituents who are veterans, who 

[[Page S17]]

fallen on hard times and had to fight for their VA and Department of 
Defense disability benefits in bankruptcy proceedings. That should 
never be the case. Another bill I introduced called the HAVEN Act, 
which is now law, shields those benefits in the same way that Social 
Security disability is exempted. No veteran should be penalized for 
receiving the disability compensation that they are rightly due.
  Of course, perhaps the biggest headline news is our continued work on 
judicial nominations. Under this administration, we have confirmed more 
than 180 Federal judges, including 20 in Texas, plus 2 Supreme Court 
Justices. Although we are still 1 year shy of the end of President 
Trump's first term, we have already confirmed more circuit court judges 
than in any other President's first term in the past four decades. 
Having these impressive judges on the Federal bench will be a 
tremendous benefit to the entire country for generations to come, and 
we will keep working to confirm even more.
  Over the last year, we have also built on our work to support victims 
of Hurricane Harvey, including the release of $4.6 billion in 
additional funding from a bill to support communities across the 
country, including those in Texas, recovering from natural disasters.
  More than 2 years after the storm, many Texans are still rebuilding 
and, sadly, have had the added struggle of fighting to get their hands 
on Federal funds already approved by Congress. In February 2018, 
Congress passed a funding package that included more than $4 billion in 
disaster mitigation for Texas, but more than a year later, folks at 
home still hadn't seen a dime of that money.
  This summer, I introduced a bill that would require the Office of 
Management and Budget to send those and any future funds approved by 
Congress within 90 days of their appropriation by Congress. Government 
bureaucrats should not be allowed to stand in the way between 
communities in need and funds already approved by Congress, and I am 
happy that those funds are finally going out the door to these Texas 
  Another challenge we have faced over the last year is the ongoing 
crisis at the border, which hit its peak in May. Local communities in 
Texas helped carry the weight of this humanitarian crisis, which has 
placed serious strain on their ability to deliver basic services at the 
municipal and State levels. They diverted taxpayer dollars from things 
like public safety, power, and clean drinking water to do a job that 
should have been done by the Federal Government in the first place to 
secure our border.
  To right this wrong, we passed a funding agreement, at my request, 
which provided $30 million in reimbursements for local governments, 
States, and charitable organizations that have spent millions of 
dollars in response to this crisis, which seems to be ignored too often 
here in Washington, DC. Nearly 40 percent of this initial funding went 
to Texas to meet immediate needs, and I expect another round to come 
soon to cover additional expenses.
  Another big victory came in the form of international trade. Through 
my role as chairman of the Senate Finance Trade Subcommittee, I worked 
with the administration on three trade agreements with Japan, the 
USMCA--the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement--and China, all of which, I 
think, will inure to the benefit of all Americans, including Texans. I 
commend President Trump and Ambassador Lighthizer for their courage in 
confronting unfair trade practices, opening new markets, and providing 
economic certainty as we move into this election year.
  On top of all of this, we passed the bipartisan Taxpayer First Act, 
which includes some of the most significant reforms to the Internal 
Revenue Service in two decades. We stood with victims of domestic 
violence and sexual assault by finally passing the Debbie Smith 
Reauthorization Act, which strengthens our fight to end the rape kit 
backlog. We helped provide additional resources to secure America's 
elections against foreign interference, and the list goes on and on and 
  It is safe to say, though, that there are a number of items that 
could have been added to this list of accomplishments, had they not 
been pulled into the political fray and this obsessive impeachment 
mania by the House of Representatives. Two things we could have done 
that were not accomplished as a result of this obsession were bills to 
reduce prescription drug pricing and to reauthorize the Violence 
Against Women Act, for which the Presiding Officer has played such an 
important leadership role.
  In both cases, there is broad bipartisan support for action, and in 
both cases, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle decided that 
political point scoring was more important than actually getting the 
job done; thus, we found ourselves at an impasse. As we gear up for a 
new year, those will be two of the top items on my priority list, and I 
hope our Democratic colleagues will work with us this time around to 
get them done.
  We are kicking off 2020 with a big, looming question mark hanging 
over this Chamber in the form of this impeachment trial, which was an 
urgent constitutional imperative until it wasn't. We are anxious to see 
what Speaker Pelosi will finally decide, and we are waiting for the 
House to transmit the Articles of Impeachment, but we are not going to 
let the grass grow under our feet in the interim. We are going to keep 
working to notch more wins for the American people, confirm more 
Federal judges, and pass the USMCA trade agreement, hopefully, before 
further delay.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Missouri.
  (The remarks of Mr. Hawley pertaining to the introduction of S. Res. 
463 are printed in today's Record under ``Statements on Introduced 
Bills and Joint Resolutions.'')
  Mr. HAWLEY. I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Virginia.


  Mr. KAINE. Madam President, I am glad to be joined today by my 
colleague from Illinois, who is a personal mentor of mine. We are here 
to talk about the threat of war with Iran and about the Constitution.
  I have been worried about this threat for some time, ever since 
President Trump chose to ignore the advice of his key national security 
professionals and allies by abandoning America's commitment to a 
diplomatic deal to limit Iran's nuclear program. The President's action 
since that tragic decision and the easily predictable responses of Iran 
to his actions have resulted in an escalating set of hostilities 
between the United States and Iran and its proxies.
  I will state at the outset my conclusion. I believe that the United 
States should not be at war in Iran and that, indeed, another war in 
the Middle East now would be catastrophic.
  But I recognize that some of my colleagues may have a different point 
of view. So I speak in the hopes of forging a consensus on at least one 
issue, and that issue is this: If there is to be a war with Iran, it 
should not be initiated by this President or any President acting on 
his or her own. It should only be initiated by a vote of Congress 
following an open and public debate in full view of the American 
  Every Member of Congress should vote and then be accountable for the 
question of whether another war in the Middle East is a good idea. The 
demand for congressional accountability is constitutionally required in 
the unique constitutional framework that we have. We pledge to support 
and defend the principle that it is up to Congress to declare war, not 
the President.
  If we engage in a war, the odds are high that young American men and 
women will be killed or injured. Some will see their friends killed and 
injured. Some will have the remainder of their lives affected by 
physical and emotional injuries, post-traumatic stress, the pain of 
losing friends, and their families and friends will bear those scars as 
well. If we are to order our troops and their families to run that 
risk, then, it should be based on a public consensus as reflected in an 
open congressional debate and vote that war is in the national 
  If Congress debates the matter in full view of the public and reaches 
the conclusion that war is necessary, so be it. Even if I were to vote 
no, if the majority of my colleagues voted yes, I would agree that the 
decision to go to war was a legitimate basis to order our best and 
brightest into harm's way.
  But by what right do we consign our troops to possible injury and 
death if

[[Page S18]]

we are unwilling to have a debate and cast a vote ourselves? We cannot 
hide under our desks, outsource our constitutional duty to any 
President, and pretend that we can avoid accountability for war and its 
  Over the course of this week, I will address three topics about the 
issue of war with Iran. The first subject which I will address today is 
this: How did we get here? How did we come to the place where the 
United States and Iran are trading violent attacks against one another 
and what does that mean for our country, the region, and the world?
  In the coming days, I will address two additional topics. I will 
discuss how Congress should reclaim its constitutional war-making 
powers by acting on a privileged resolution that Senator Durbin and I 
have filed on January 3 to remove U.S. troops from hostilities with 
Iran unless Congress passes a new declaration or legal authorization 
initiating such a war. The resolution, which is also being offered on 
the House side by Representative Slotkin, will give all 535 Members of 
Congress the opportunity to declare where they are on the advisability 
of a war with Iran, and it also gives them an opportunity to affirm 
their commitment to their oath of office.
  Finally, later in the week, I will address the larger question of how 
the United States should deescalate tensions in the Middle East so that 
we might better protect American lives and promote peace and stability 
in a very turbulent part of the world.
  How did we get here?
  The United States and Iran have a very troubled history. When Iran's 
democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossaddegh, supported 
efforts to nationalize private energy resources, the United States and 
Britain orchestrated a coup that led to his ouster in 1953.
  The overthrow of Iran's democratic government, partially with U.S. 
support, led to the strengthened rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, 
who ruled Iran as an Emperor until he was overthrown in the Iranian 
revolution of 1979. His dictatorial rule, with strong support from the 
United States, increasingly alienated the Iranian population. When he 
fled the country during the revolution, Iran abolished the monarchy and 
declared itself an Islamic republic.
  Within a few months after the revolution, Iranian protestors took 
over the American Embassy in Iran. For those of us who saw the protests 
outside the American Embassy in Baghdad last week, the images of the 
Iranian Embassy hostage taking in Iran in 1979 were at the front of our 
minds. The protesters cited America's role in the 1953 coups, and they 
asked the United States to return the Shah, who had come to the United 
States seeking medical attention, to Iran for trial. The United States 
refused. Iran held 52 Americans hostage for more than 440 days until 
they were finally released in the first days of the Reagan 
  After this attack--this inexcusable attack on the American Embassy--
U.S. and Iran diplomatic relations were severed. The United States has 
imposed significant economic sanctions against Iran for decades. The 
United States provided support for Iraq in its 8-year war against 
Iran--a war in which hundreds of thousands of Iranians were killed.
  In 1988, the U.S. Navy cruiser USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian 
commercial airliner, killing 290 passengers and its crew.
  Iran has engaged in hostilities against the United States and our 
allies in many settings--through targeted attacks and assassinations 
around the world, covert and overt support for terrorist organizations, 
and development of weapons systems in violation of U.N. security 
resolutions. Iran has been directly responsible for the deaths of 
thousands of Americans and indirectly responsible for many, many more. 
These activities over many decades have led America for years to view 
Iran as a key promoter of terrorism and one of the most concerning 
nation-state adversaries of the United States.
  In recent years, a particular focus has been Iran's nuclear program. 
Despite Iran's claim that it sought nuclear power purely for peaceful 
purposes, legitimate suspicion of its intent led to a global campaign 
led by the United States to sanction Iran even more as a means of 
getting the country to abandon its quest for nuclear weapons.
  After years of negotiations between six nations--France, Britain, the 
United States, Germany, Russia, China--and Iran, an agreement was 
reached in 2015 whereby Iran would pledge never to seek, acquire, or 
develop nuclear weapons in exchange for gradual relaxation of sanctions 
against Iran. The agreement, known as the JCPOA, contained strict 
limits on Iran's nuclear program that would gradually relax over 25 
years. Iran's pledge to never acquire or develop nuclear weapons was 
permanent, as was its commitment to abide by the inspection protocols 
of the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure compliance with 
that fundamental pledge. The JCPOA was not perfect, but it carefully 
preserved the ability of the United States and other nations to 
continue sanctions against Iran for its other activities and offered an 
opportunity for the first time in four decades for the United States 
and Iran to communicate through an established diplomatic process.
  As the Trump administration took office, the President pledged to 
undo this diplomatic deal, the JCPOA. The nations that agreed to the 
deal pointed out that Iran was complying with the deal, as did the 
IAEA, and the key officials of President Trump's national security 
team--Defense Secretary Mattis, Secretary of State Tillerson, National 
Security Advisor McMaster, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 
General Dunford--all argued that the agreement was working and should 
be maintained.
  But President Trump made the decision that the United States should 
abandon the diplomatic deal. The U.S. abandonment of a working 
diplomatic deal was historic. No U.S. President had ever walked away 
from a diplomatic commitment of this kind.
  Many of us, at the time, warned the President that abandoning 
diplomacy, against the advice of allies and our national security 
professionals, would likely lead us to an unnecessary war. It was just 
a matter of time. Indeed, since the beginning of the Trump 
administration, there have been increasing back-and-forth provocations 
that have now led us to a state of active hostilities between the 
United States and Iran.
  Unclassified examples of U.S. activity under the Trump administration 
that have escalated hostilities with Iran include the following:
  On December 12, 2017, the United States and Israel reached a joint 
strategic work plan to counter Iranian activity in the Middle East that 
included preparation for military escalation scenarios against Iran.
  On May 8, 2018, President Trump unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA 
after promising to do so for months.
  On May 21, 2018, Secretary of State Pompeo, who had earlier expressed 
a preference for bombing Iran rather than entering into the JCPOA, 
vowed to ``crush'' Iranian operatives and proxies.
  On July 23, 2018, President Trump tweeted a threat to President 
Rouhani, warning that Iran would ``SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF 
  On August 6, 2018, the Trump administration unilaterally imposed 
economic sanctions lifted as part of the JCPOA, despite Iran's 
continued compliance with the deal.
  In September of 2018, it was reported that new National Security 
Advisor John Bolton had asked the Department of Defense to prepare war 
plans against Iran. Later the same month, Bolton warned Iran that there 
would be ``hell to pay'' if the nation ever crossed the United States.
  On October 3, 2018, the Trump administration terminated the 1955 
Treaty of Amity affirming friendly relations between the United States 
and Iran. The United States terminated it. The treaty itself had long 
ago been made irrelevant by the actual hostilities between the nations, 
but the action of the United States in finding the treaty and publicly 
terminating it unilaterally was seen as a part of a pattern of hostile 
  As early as the fall of 2018, Department of Defense officials began 
to express concern that the U.S. maximum security pressure campaign 

[[Page S19]]

Iran was raising the risk of Iranian retaliation against American 
troops in Iraq and Syria. In an October 26 article in the Wall Street 
Journal, DOD officials were quoted as expressing concern that Iran's 
belief that the United States was helping Israel with airstrikes would 
jeopardize American lives in the region.
  On November 5, 2018, President Trump imposed additional sanctions on 
Iranian oil, shipping, and banking sectors.
  On February 3, 2019, President Trump stated on ``Face the Nation'' 
that troops being withdrawn from Syria would be moved to Iraq to serve 
as a check against Iran.
  On February 11, 2019, Advisor Bolton released a video addressed to 
the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution, stating that Iran's 
leaders would not ``have many more anniversaries to enjoy.''
  On February 13, 2019, the Trump administration convened a meeting in 
Poland that was publicly described by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin 
Netanyahu on his official website as designed to ``advance the common 
interest of war'' against Iran.
  In March 2019, press accounts revealed that the Department of Energy 
had approved seven transfers of nuclear technical information from U.S. 
companies to Saudi Arabia without informing Congress. The transfers 
were made despite U.S. awareness that the Government of Saudi Arabia 
had publicly threatened to develop nuclear weapons to counter Iran.
  On April 8, 2019, the United States designated the Iranian 
Revolutionary Guard as a foreign terrorist organization, the first time 
that had ever been used to apply to a foreign governmental entity.
  On May 5, 2019, Advisor Bolton announced deployment of the Lincoln 
Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the U.S. Central 
Command for the expressed purpose of countering Iran.
  On May 8, 2019, the Trump administration ordered new sanctions 
against Iran's metal industry.
  On May 10, 2019, the New York Times reported on war plans developed 
by the administration that could deploy up to 120,000 additional U.S. 
troops to the Middle East to counter Iran. On the same day, the 
administration deployed Patriot missiles to U.S. Central Command to 
counter Iran.
  On May 24, 2019, the Trump administration bypassed Congress, 
declaring an emergency citing ``Iranian malign activity'' in order to 
sell weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
  In June of 2019, President Trump ordered 3,500 more troops of the 
U.S. military to the Middle East to check Iran.
  On June 20, 2019, the United States initiated a strike against 
Iranian positions that was aborted at the last minute by President 
  On June 24, 2019, President Trump imposed additional sanctions 
against Iran.
  On September 15, 2019, after drone attacks on two key oil 
installations in Saudi Arabia, President Trump tweeted that the United 
States was ``locked and loaded depending on verification from the 
Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of the attack.''
  On November 19, 2019, President Trump notified Congress that 
``consistent with the War Powers Resolution,'' he was deploying 
additional U.S. weapons and troops to Saudi Arabia to counter Iran.
  On December 29, 2019, following a rocket attack from an Iranian-
backed militia in Iraq that killed an American contractor and wounded 
several others, the U.S. military struck Iranian-backed militia groups 
in Iraq and Syria, killing dozens.
  On January 2, 2019, President Trump ordered a drone strike killing 
Qasem Soleimani, a key Iranian military commander as well as a key 
Iraqi military leader. The December and January strikes in Iraq were 
carried out despite the objections of the Iraqi Government and without 
any prior notification to Congress. Two days after the Soleimani 
strike, the President notified Congress of the action, which had been 
in the newspaper, obviously, ``consistent with the War Powers 
  Now, during the same time, Iran has conducted escalatory activities 
as well. Their bellicose behavior includes continued arming and 
financial backing of Hezbollah, a designated foreign terrorist 
organization which carried out the bombing of the marine barracks in 
Beirut as well as efforts to target Israeli citizens and troops; 
support for the Houthis, including the supplying of ballistic missiles, 
thus escalating the civil war in Yemen; direct participation of troops 
and commanders in support of Bashar al-Assad's murderous campaign 
against the Syrian people; support for the Popular Mobilization 
Committee-affiliated Shia militias in Iraq, which pose a direct threat 
to U.S. personnel; unjust detention of U.S. citizens; cyber attacks on 
U.S. officials, agencies, and companies; the downing of a U.S. unmanned 
aerial vehicle in June of 2019; UAV strikes against Saudi oil 
facilities in September 2019; persistent interference with commercial 
shipping in the Strait of Hormuz; militia attacks on the Iraqi base in 
December that killed an American contractor; and stoking popular unrest 
against the United States in Iraq that encouraged the assault on the 
U.S. Embassy in Baghdad last week.
  I have given you these examples for a reason. You can see the reason. 
There has been an escalation that began with the U.S. decision to 
destroy a diplomatic deal, and it has been one nation acting and the 
other responding, and the other acting and the other responding, and 
now we are on the brink of war. The escalation has been so significant 
between the United States and Iran that now each country has been 
responsible for actively inflicting injuries and deaths on the other, 
and we are at the brink of war.
  Thousands of American servicemembers enjoying the holidays with their 
families were surprised by notices in the last few days that they must 
now deploy to the Middle East yet again. The current state of 
hostilities is causing other serious consequences.
  The U.S. abandonment of the diplomatic deal, together with other 
actions, has seriously jeopardized our relations with many allies, 
particularly our European allies. The U.S. abandonment of a diplomatic 
deal over a nuclear program has made it much harder to find a 
diplomatic deal with North Korea. The U.S. decision to carry out 
strikes on Iraqi soil over Iraqi objections has badly damaged U.S.-Iraq 
relations. Just yesterday, the Iraqi Parliament voted to ask all U.S. 
troops to leave Iraq. If that occurs, it will further destabilize a 
country that has been wracked with protests in recent months, and it 
will embolden both ISIS and Iran.
  U.S. actions have had the unlikely effect of driving three of our 
principled nation-state adversaries into historically unprecedented 
levels of cooperation. Just recently, Iran, China, and Russia conducted 
joint naval operations in the Gulf of Oman.
  Notably, the U.S. actions that I have described here have been 
carried out mostly by President Trump without congressional approval 
and often without any notice or any consultation with Congress. Members 
of Congress on the relevant committees have had to read about these 
actions in the newspapers rather than being informed by the Trump 
  At this particular moment, with the specter of war so present, it is 
time for Congress to assert itself. We cannot let a President destroy 
American diplomacy on its own. We cannot let a President take our 
Nation, take our troops, and take our best and brightest into an 
unnecessary war on his own. Indeed, we cannot leave the lives of our 
troops up to the whim of this President or of any President.
  That is why Senator Durbin and I have introduced, pursuant to the 
same War Powers Act referenced by the President, a resolution that will 
force the removal of U.S. troops from hostilities with Iran unless 
Congress independently votes that we should be at war. Congress has the 
responsibility, and Congress must act to shoulder its responsibility.
  I will offer more comments on the resolution later this week, but I 
appreciate the support of my colleague, who, as I said, in many ways, 
is my mentor in the Senate, the Senator from Illinois.
  I yield the floor to him.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The minority whip.
  Mr. DURBIN. Madam President, I thank the Senator from Virginia for 
his clarion call for the U.S. Senate to assert its constitutional 

[[Page S20]]

when it comes to the prospect of a war with Iran.
  He has referenced, many times, the War Powers Act. The War Powers 
Act, students of history will remember, was passed by the U.S. Congress 
after the end of the Vietnam war so Congress would assert, with 
specificity, its authority when it came to the execution of a war. The 
President at the time, Richard Nixon, opposed the War Powers Act and 
vetoed it, and because of what the United States had endured during the 
course of the Vietnam war, Congress overrode the veto of President 
Nixon to make it clear, with the War Powers Act, that we would never 
ever, by design, find ourselves in the same moral predicament we did 
with the war in Vietnam.
  Almost 50,000 American lives were lost in that war in Vietnam, a war 
which was not a declared war under the Constitution but one which still 
exacted a heavy, incalculable price on American families--families I 
know and everyone knows, whose lives were touched by that Vietnam war, 
whose sons and daughters may have served or may have given their lives 
in service. The decision was made in Congress never again. We are not 
going to let this happen again. We are not going to find ourselves 
backsliding into a war.
  The American people, through their elected men and women representing 
them in Congress, will make the decision as to whether it is time for 
us to go to war and will make the decision as to whether our men and 
women in uniform are going to risk their lives at war. The decision 
will be made by the American people through their elected 
representatives in Congress. It was not a novel idea. We find it in 
this little Constitution, which we are all handed when we take the oath 
of office.
  As Senator Kaine from Virginia has noted, article I, section 8, in 
just a few words, says: The Congress shall have the power to declare 
war. It is not equivocal. There are no footnotes, asterisks, or 
question marks. The Congress shall have the authority to declare war.
  Now, at this moment in time, with the assassination of General 
Soleimani and the escalation of the conflict between the United States 
and Iran, Senator Kaine and I come to the floor and ask this Congress, 
Republicans and Democrats alike: Do these words count? Do we have a 
constitutional responsibility to stand up and speak up and to challenge 
this President or any President of either political party when they 
start moving us toward a moment of war which could easily claim the 
lives of many Americans?
  That is the purpose of our resolution. It is simple and 
straightforward, but it really goes to a fundamental question. The men 
and women who serve this country in uniform--God bless them for their 
sacrifice and their courage. We know that when they take the oath to 
serve, they are prepared to risk their lives in service. Many of us 
have attended the funerals of servicemembers who gave their lives in 
Iraq and Afghanistan and so many other places. It is a heartbreaking 
experience to see that emotional family leaving a church or a synagogue 
after a service honoring someone in uniform who has given their life 
for this country. That is so fundamental.
  Senator Kaine and I have come to the floor today to say we are 
finding ourselves now moving, day by day, closer and closer to a 
confrontation with Iran that could result in a war. What Senator Kaine 
has catalogued and gone through is this long buildup under the Trump 
administration that brings us to this moment.
  To think President Trump inherited from President Obama an 
international agreement that included the signatories of not only our 
traditional European allies but also China and Russia to stop Iran from 
developing a nuclear weapon; to think that that agreement was being 
monitored by international overseers who reported back to us that they 
had ready access throughout the nation of Iran when it came to making 
certain that the JCPOA agreement was lived up to; to think that that at 
least gave us the assurance that Iran would not develop a nuclear 
weapon--and then this President, with a series of tweets and actions, 
swept it away and said we are going to ignore this treaty, we are going 
to walk away from it, and we are going to confront the Iranians in a 
variety of ways, as Senator Kaine has spelled out.
  So we come to the floor this afternoon to really appeal to our 
colleagues on both sides of the aisle. On behalf of the American 
people, let us learn the lessons of history--a lesson bitterly learned 
during the Vietnam war--that if Congress does nothing, a war can 
develop and continue at great human cost.
  I know the moments of great decision that are made in the U.S. 
Congress, and I have been fortunate to be part of some of them. I 
remember October 16, 2002, as if it were yesterday. I remember that 
well, at that place that I point to, where in the early morning hours, 
three of us--three Senators stood and spoke to one another as we left 
to go home. There had just been a vote for an authorization for use of 
military force in Iraq. The three of us had gathered in the well, 
including Senator Paul Wellstone from Minnesota and Senator Kent Conrad 
from North Dakota, and we looked at one another, having all three voted 
against the invasion of Iraq, and realized we were headed home to face 
the electorate on that decision. It was an emotional moment.
  I remember saying to Senator Wellstone, who had voted against the 
invasion of Iraq, as I had: Paul, I hope this doesn't cost you the 
election. He said: Dick, if it does, it is all right because that is 
what I was elected to do, to come here and to vote on issues. Is it 
possible there is any issue more important than the issue of asking 
American families to give their children in service of this country in 
a war?
  Senator Wellstone passed away a few days later in an airplane crash. 
It was my last conversation with him, but I remember that moment, and I 
remember the responsibility we had. What Senator Kaine and I are doing 
now is to appeal to our colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Do not 
walk away from our responsibility when it comes to the future decision 
of whether we go to war with Iran. Stand up for those American families 
who sent us here to do our constitutional duty and engage in the debate 
as to whether it is the right thing at the right moment of history or 
whether it is an impulsive decision by a President who broke away from 
a political campaign meeting to authorize the assassination of General 
Soleimani and then returned to the campaign meeting. Make the decision 
as to whether this is the right moment in history. Don't point to the 
President that it is his responsibility; it is our responsibility. That 
is what this Constitution says.
  (Mr. BOOZMAN assumed the Chair.)
  Now, with that responsibility, we need to stand up and act. I am 
honored to join Senator Kaine. We have filed our resolution. We are 
seeking a ruling by the Parliamentarian, and we want to move forward on 
a schedule for a debate on the floor of the Senate. It may be the 
single most important debate we face this year for many years to come.
  I yield the floor.