WAR POWERS RESOLUTION; Congressional Record Vol. 166, No. 28
(Senate - February 11, 2020)

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[Page S972]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                         WAR POWERS RESOLUTION

  Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, on another matter, this week, we 
expect the Senate will take up a War Powers Resolution by the junior 
Senator from Virginia that would severely limit the U.S. military's 
operational flexibility to defend itself against threats posed by Iran. 
I will strongly oppose our colleague's effort and urge the Senate to 
defeat it.
  First, let's discuss what prompted this: the President's successful 
decision to remove Soleimani from the battlefield last month. This 
limited yet decisive precision strike eliminated the terrorist 
mastermind who had been responsible for more American military 
casualties than anyone else alive.
  This was not some reckless act. It was a calculated and limited 
response to a significant, growing threat of attack against U.S. 
personnel in Iraq by an emboldened adversary. Years ago, Soleimani had 
concluded America was a paper tiger whose people he could kill with 
relative impunity. It was a strike designed to stop an escalation cycle 
we all knew was underway and to restore deterrence and reduce the risk 
of war.
  Yet, when Soleimani's record of brutality was brought to an end, some 
Washington Democrats immediately suggested President Trump was leading 
us into World War III. While the Middle East masses rejoiced at the 
death of a principal architect of Iran's campaign of terror, the 
Washington elites fretted.
  Yet, thus far, it appears the Soleimani strike has, indeed, had the 
intended effect. As I observed back in January, ``We appear to have 
restored a measure of deterrence in the Middle East. So let's not screw 
it up.'' Well, I am afraid that is just what our colleague's resolution 
would do. Just as we have successfully sent Iran the strong signal of 
our strength and resolve, a blunt and clumsy War Powers Resolution 
would tie our own hands.
  With China's and Russia's watching, is it really a good idea to 
suggest that we are willing to let a meddling power like Iran push us 
around? This self-flagellation and self-limitation would be tantamount 
to snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
  For 8 years, President Obama and Senate Democrats, like my friend the 
Democratic leader himself, frequently said that, when it comes to Iran, 
we should never take the military option off the table. Yet, now that 
someone else is in the Oval Office, they seem to want to remove all 
options from the table. Lest we forget, the fact is that we are not 
conducting ongoing hostilities with Iran. This was a one-off operation 
to disrupt and deter planned attacks--not a campaign, not a conflict, 
not a war.
  This discrete and limited exercise of American power pales in 
comparison to the ways in which past Presidents of both parties have 
routinely used Presidential authorities to utilize our military might 
without their having the prior consent of Congress--President Clinton 
in Kosovo, President Obama in Libya, and so on.
  Do most of my distinguished Democratic colleagues really agree with 
several of their party's leading Presidential candidates who have 
suggested President Trump made a mistake by taking this sort of 
Executive action to eliminate this brutal terrorist?
  Do my colleagues really agree with the prominent voices on their side 
who have proposed to exit the Middle East altogether rather than to 
continue to work to support our local partners and defend our national 
security and national interests in this critical region?
  I have been trying to have this broader debate for more than a year 
now. I have repeatedly sought to give my Democratic colleagues the 
opportunity to go on record about their actual, big-picture strategic 
vision for the Middle East.
  Are they willing to support a continued military presence in Syria? 
in Iraq? Do they believe we can magically support our partners, like 
the Kurds, without having a military presence; that we can counter 
Iranian and Russian influence if we are nowhere to be found in the 
region? Do they believe Israel will be safer in a region without 
American influence?
  Ill-conceived potshots at Presidential authorities--in the wake of a 
strike that succeeded--by using the blunt instrument of a War Powers 
Resolution is no substitute at all for answering these broader 
questions.
  I will oppose my colleague's resolution tomorrow, and I encourage our 
colleagues to do likewise.

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