DIRECTING THE REMOVAL OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES FROM HOSTILITIES AGAINST THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN THAT HAVE NOT BEEN AUTHORIZED BY CONGRESS--VETO; Congressional Record Vol. 166, No. 85
(Senate - May 06, 2020)

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[Pages S2295-S2296]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




 DIRECTING THE REMOVAL OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES FROM HOSTILITIES 
 AGAINST THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN THAT HAVE NOT BEEN AUTHORIZED BY 
                             CONGRESS--VETO

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, has the Senate received the President's 
veto message on S.J. Res. 68?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. It has.
  Mr. McCONNELL. I ask unanimous consent that the veto message on S.J. 
Res. 68 be considered as having been read, that it be printed in the 
Record, and spread in full upon the Journal.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The veto message is ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:


[[Page S2296]]


To the Senate of the United States:
  I am returning herewith without my approval S.J. Res. 68, a joint 
resolution that purports to direct the President to terminate the use 
of United States Armed Forces in hostilities against Iran. This 
indefinite prohibition is unnecessary and dangerous. It would weaken 
the President's authority in violation of Article II of the 
Constitution, and endanger the lives of American citizens and brave 
service members.
  This joint resolution is unnecessary because it rests upon a faulty 
premise. Due to my decisive actions and effective policies, the United 
States is not engaged in the use of force against Iran. As Commander in 
Chief, I will always defend our Nation against threats to our security.
  In response to an escalating series of attacks by Iran and Iranian-
backed militias on United States forces and interests in the Middle 
East, on January 2, 2020, United States Armed Forces eliminated Qassem 
Soleimani, the head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods 
Force as he was traveling in Iraq. The purposes of this strike were to 
protect United States personnel, deter Iran from conducting or 
supporting further attacks against United States forces and interests, 
degrade the ability of Iran and Qods Force-backed militias to conduct 
attacks, and end Iran's strategic escalation of attacks against and 
threats to United States interests.
  On January 7, 2020, Iran launched 16 ballistic missiles against 
United States and coalition forces in Iraq. These attacks resulted in 
no fatalities. The next day, in an address to the Nation, I noted that 
``Iran appears to be standing down'' and emphasized that ``the United 
States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.''
  One day later, this resolution was introduced. Its apparent aim was 
to prevent an escalation in hostilities between the United States and 
Iran. Yet no such escalation has occurred over the past 4 months, 
contrary to the often dire and confident predictions of many.

  S.J. Res. 68 is also unnecessary because it incorrectly implies that 
the military airstrike against Qassem Soleimani in Iraq was conducted 
without statutory authority. The resolution states that ``the 2001 
Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 
1541 note) against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attack and the 
Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 
(Public Law 107-243; 50 U.S.C. 1541 notes) do not serve as a specific 
statutory authorization for use of force against Iran.'' The strike 
against Soleimani, however, was fully authorized under both the 
Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 
(``2002 AUMF'') and the President's constitutional authorities as 
Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.
  The United States has long relied upon the 2002 AUMF to authorize the 
use of force for the purpose of establishing a stable, democratic Iraq 
and for addressing terrorist threats emanating from Iraq. Such uses of 
force need not address only threats from the Iraqi Government 
apparatus, but may also address threats to the United States posed by 
militias, terrorist groups, or other armed groups in Iraq. This has 
been a consistent application of the statute across Administrations, 
including the last Administration, which relied upon it to conduct 
operations in response to attacks and threats by Iran-backed militias 
in Iraq. Moreover, under Article II, the President is empowered to 
direct the use of military force to protect the Nation from an attack 
or threat of imminent attack and to protect important national 
interests.
  In addition, S.J. Res. 68 is dangerous because it could hinder the 
President's ability to protect United States forces, allies, and 
partners, including Israel, from the continued threat posed by Iran and 
Iranian-backed militias. The resolution states that it should not ``be 
construed to prevent the United States from defending itself from 
imminent attack.'' But this overlooks the President's need to respond 
to threats beyond imminent attacks on the United States and its forces.
  Protecting the national security of the United States involves taking 
actions to de-escalate threats around the world, including threats 
posed by Iran and Iranian-backed militias. Iran and Iranian-backed 
militias have a long history of attacking United States and coalition 
forces. As demonstrated by the recent indirect fire attacks on January 
26, 2020, on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and on March 11 and 14, 2020, 
on Camp Taji, Iraq, Iran and Iranian-backed militias continue to 
present a threat. This resolution would impede the President's ability 
to counter adversarial forces by anticipating their next moves and 
taking swift actions to address them decisively.
  For all of these reasons, I cannot support this joint resolution. My 
administration has taken strong actions, within statutory authority, to 
help keep our Nation safe, and I will not approve this resolution, 
which would undermine my ability to protect American citizens, service 
members, and interests. Therefore, it is my duty to return S.J. Res. 68 
to the Senate without my approval.
                                                     Donald J. Trump.  
                                          The White House, May 6, 2020.

  Mr. McCONNELL. I ask unanimous consent that at 1:30 tomorrow, the 
Senate vote on passage of S.J. Res. 68, notwithstanding the objections 
of the President to the contrary.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered

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