(Senate - February 12, 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 S1006-S1012]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                      CONGRESS--MOTION TO PROCEED

  Mr. KAINE. Madam President, I move to proceed to S.J. Res. 68.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the motion.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       Motion to proceed to S.J. Res. 68, a joint resolution to 
     direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from 
     hostilities against the Islamic Republic of Iran that have 
     not been authorized by Congress.

  Mr. KAINE. Madam President, finally, I ask unanimous consent that the 
time until 2 p.m. be equally divided between the two leaders or their 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from Virginia.
  Mr. KAINE. Madam President, I now rise to speak to the body in favor 
of the bipartisan War Powers Resolution, S.J. Res. 68, which is now 
pending before the Senate.
  Before I address the resolution, I want to acknowledge the combat 
deaths of SFC Javier Gutierrez and SFC Antonio Rodriguez. Both of these 
Army sergeants, sergeants first class, were 28-year-olds who were 
killed last week in Afghanistan. While the incident is still under 
investigation, it appears that they were killed by a member of the 
Afghan security forces or somebody posing as a member of the Afghan 
security forces. As we know well, this is a security force that the 
United States has armed, equipped, and trained for 19 years.
  Sergeant Gutierrez leaves behind a wife, Gabby, and four children, 
ages 2 through 7. His grandfather was a POW during World War II, and 
his father was a marine. He had previously deployed both to Iraq and 
  Sergeant Rodriguez leaves behind a wife, Ronaleen. He had previously 
deployed to Afghanistan 10 times. I thought that was a misprint when I 
read it--a 28-year-old who had previously deployed to Afghanistan 10 
times before he was killed.
  We honor their memories and send our condolences to their families as 
  The resolution before the body today is about Congress reclaiming its 
rightful role in decisions about war. The resolution is pretty simple: 
We should not be at war with Iran unless Congress votes to authorize 
such a war.
  While the President does and must always have the ability to defend 
the United States from imminent attack, the Executive power to initiate 
war stops there. An offensive war requires a congressional debate and 
  This should not be a controversial proposition. It is clearly stated 
in the Constitution we pledge to support and defend. The principle is 
established there for a most important reason. If we are to order our 
men and women, like Sergeants Rodriguez and Gutierrez, to risk their 
lives and health in war, it should be on the basis of careful 
deliberation by the people's elected legislature and not on the say-so 
of any one person.
  Congressional deliberation educates the American public about what 
are the stakes, what are the stakes involved in any proposed war.
  Congressional deliberation allows Members of Congress to ask tough 
questions about the need for war, about the path to victory, and about 
how a victory can be sustained. And if following that public 
deliberation, there is a vote of Congress for war, it represents a 
clear statement that a war is in the national interest and that the 
efforts of our troops are supported by a clear political consensus. We 
should not allow this important process to be short-circuited.
  Our Framers believed that the congressional deliberation would be the 
best antidote to unnecessary escalation.
  I have spoken often about this topic on the floor during the 7 years 
I have been in the Senate, and I don't want to repeat arguments that I 
have made dozens and dozens of times here, but I do want to address at 
least three objections that I have made to this resolution.
  First, there is an objection that says the bipartisan resolution is 
``an effort to restrain President Trump's powers.'' This is not a 
resolution about the President. The resolution does not say anything 
about President Trump or any President. It is a resolution about 
  I want a President that will fully inhabit the article II powers of 
Commander in Chief, but as a Member of the Article I branch, I want an 
article I branch that would fully inhabit the article I powers, 
including the sole power to declare war. This is not an effort to 
restrain President Trump or some other President. This is not an effort 
by a Democrat to point a finger or to restrain Republicans. No. In the 
history of this country, even in recent history, I believe we have 
often gotten it wrong with respect to the initiation of war, whether 
the President was a Democrat or Republican or whether the majority in 
Congress was Democratic or Republican.
  The legislative branch, article I, has allowed too much power to 
devolve to the Executive in this fundamental question of whether the 
Nation should be at war. This is not directed toward President Trump. 
It would apply equally to any President. It is fundamentally about 
Congress owning up to and taking responsibility for the most 
significant decisions that we should ever have to make.
  A second argument against the bill that I have heard made on the 
floor in recent days is that it would send a message of weakness to 
Iran or to other adversaries. I have to admit, I am more interested in 
the message that we send to the American public and to our troops and 
to our families. That is the message I am most interested in.
  As a father of a marine and as a Senator from a State that is just 
chock-full of Active-Duty Guard and Reserve veterans, DOD civilian and 
DOD contractor military families, this bill sends a very strong and 
powerful message to our public and to our troops and their families 
that before we get into a war, there will be a careful deliberation 
about whether it is necessary.
  That is a message of comfort. That is a message that can give our own 

[[Page S1007]]

and our troops confidence, but to the extent that we want to consider 
the message this might send to Iran and adversaries, I do not think 
that America sends a message of weakness when we proudly hold ourselves 
up as a nation of laws, and we pledge to follow the law when it comes 
to the monumental question about whether or not we should be at war.
  In fact, I believe we are most effective in countering our 
adversaries--and, face it, most of our adversaries are authoritarian 
states which do not honor the rule of war--when we send a clear message 
that, in this country, we will stand for democratic principles, such as 
the rule of law, and we will follow those principles when we are making 
momentous decisions, such as whether or not we should be at war.
  A third objection I have heard is this: It sends a message that 
America is not likely to use military force, a message that, thereby, 
might embolden bad actors. I find this argument bewildering.
  I don't think anyone in the world questions whether America will use 
military force. We have been engaged in a war against nonstate 
terrorism now for 19 years. The pages in this body have known nothing 
but war. These two 28-year-olds who were just killed last year, they 
virtually knew nothing other than war during their whole lives.
  Is America willing to use military action? We have been in a war for 
19 years. We are losing troops on the battlefield--like Sergeants 
Rodriguez and Gutierrez--to this very day. We have tens and thousands 
of troops deployed around the world to fight a war against terrorism, 
and the current President is increasing the total footprint of those 
troops in the Middle East to prosecute this fight.
  In Afghanistan alone, where these two sergeants were killed, we are 
spending $45 billion a year. It is 19 years later, and we are still 
spending $45 billion a year to prosecute this fight. No one can 
question whether the United States will protect itself or our allies, 
but the choice of when to fight wars and when to use other available 
tools is always a question of such importance that the most careful 
deliberation is warranted.
  As I conclude, I just want to say this. I went and visited the 
Hampton veterans hospital last Friday as part of just, sort of, a 
regular visit maybe once a year just to check in with the Hampton VA, 
which is one of three VAs in Virginia, to see what they are doing. I 
know every Member of the Senate does the same thing, visiting VA 
hospitals in their States and elsewhere--going to see our veterans at 
Walter Reed, for example, or going to see wounded warriors who are at 
the hospital at Fort Belvoir in Virginia. Any visit of that kind 
produces a million emotions: pride in service providers, pride in 
resilience of our veterans as they are grappling with challenging 
illnesses and disabilities in their lives, often long after they have 
served. The one impression that is always vivid when you visit a 
veterans hospital is this: the enduring consequences of war.
  As I visited the Hampton VA, I spent time in, sort of, two particular 
units. One is a women's clinic. We have so many more women veterans, 
and a number of VAs that were not set up very well to deal with women 
are now having to really build out the capacity to deal with the 
growing number of women veterans and the issues that they are bringing 
to the table. I applaud what I saw in Hampton at the women's clinic.
  I also spent time in the mental health unit that is trying to pioneer 
new technologies, magnetic imaging, to help people deal with some of 
the signature wounds of the Iraq and Afghanistan war: traumatic brain 
injury and PTSD.
  We make a promise to these veterans that we will be there for them, 
even when we don't fully know the consequences of the promise we make 
because they don't know the consequences of what they will experience 
and suffer.
  A signature aspect of the Iraq and Afghan wars that really doesn't 
have an earlier precedent is the 10-deployments phenomena. In what 
earlier war that this country fought do we have 28-year-old sergeants 
who are serving their 11th deployment in a theater of war? Those 
repeated deployments have a long consequence in the life of a person 
and in the life of those close to that person.

  Madam President knows this from her own service: When you go to the 
VA and you grapple with the long consequences of war, it has to make an 
impression upon those of us in this body charged with the sole 
responsibility for declaring war that, if and when we do so, we owe it 
the most careful deliberation that we bring to any question that would 
ever result in the loss of lives. That is not too much to ask for us to 
deliberate carefully when what is at risk for those who serve, who 
depend upon us to make the best possible decision, are consequences 
that will last their own lifetimes and affect the lives of so many 
  That is what this resolution is about. I don't believe it should be 
controversial. It is certainly bipartisan, and I hope we will stand up 
for this important proposition that the careful deliberation of the 
Senate is the most necessary thing we can do and what we owe to our 
troops and their families.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.
  Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, I come to the floor today to strongly 
urge all of my colleagues to join Senator Kaine, and I want to thank 
him for his extremely thoughtful and amazing approach to this.
  I think it is so important that we reassert Congress's authority in 
decisions concerning our Nation's security and curbing this 
administration's ability to put our troops in harm's way without 
consulting the American people.
  Following the early January attack on U.S. troops deployed in Iraq 
triggered by President Trump's decision to launch a drone strike that 
killed Iran's Qasem Soleimani, I know that many Americans were 
frightened, as I was, to then watch tensions with Iran escalate so 
rapidly in realtime. I am glad the President has backed down and 
decided not to further escalate those tensions in recent weeks--as a 
voice for my home State of Washington, including all of our 
servicemembers and military families and communities. But we are not 
off the hook, and we have every reason to believe that Iran may 
retaliate again, which is why I remain deeply disturbed by President 
Trump's rush to incite conflict in ways that could have significant 
negative impacts on our strategic goals in the region and, more 
importantly, the long-term safety and security of Americans at home and 
  To date, neither President Trump nor his administration has provided 
any evidence to us here in Congress to justify his actions, and despite 
reports from the administration shortly after the attack that there 
were no U.S. casualties, we are now learning more than 100 
servicemembers--100--have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury 
following that attack--serious injuries that President Trump dismissed 
as simply ``headaches.''
  The American people expect their representatives--us--to have a say 
in decisions that may put their lives or the lives of a loved one at 
risk. As the daughter of a World War II veteran and Purple Heart 
recipient, here in the Senate I make decisions about our national 
security with deep concern for our brave servicemembers and their 
families, with a personal understanding of the sacrifices they make for 
all of us and our Nation and an unwavering commitment to ensuring that 
they have the support they need while they serve and when they come 
  That is exactly why our Constitution mandates that the power to 
declare war rests with Congress--not the Commander in Chief--because 
those decisions weren't meant to be made by one person alone. That is 
why I am glad that my friend from Virginia, Senator Kaine, is offering 
this War Powers Resolution, of which I am very proud to be a cosponsor.
  Passing this resolution is a first step toward protecting our 
servicemembers and our interests in the region by removing our troops 
from hostilities in or against Iran unless there is a declaration of 
war or a congressional authorization for the use of force.
  This isn't just an issue for Democrats. I am very proud that this 
resolution has bipartisan support because, no matter what side of the 
aisle you are on, we should all agree that Congress must play a role in 
our Nation's foreign policy, as well as matters related

[[Page S1008]]

to the health and safety of our servicemembers.
  I am grateful for all of those who are serving in the Middle East and 
around the world, and that is why I refuse to stand by and accept that 
they could be put in jeopardy or that our Nation's foreign policy and 
safety could be upended by an impulsive, late-night tweet.
  So I will continue to demand that the President provide his legal 
justification for the drone strike in Iraq, commit to coming before 
Congress in advance of any further escalating steps, and explain to us 
how he will move forward in the region with the goal of protecting 
Americans, our allies, and our interests.
  In the meantime, considering the unique recklessness of this 
administration, it is urgently important for Congress to pass this 
resolution to block President Trump's ability to start a war with Iran 
and ensure that Congress is guaranteed the opportunity to hear whatever 
case the President may have before taking a vote to determine the path 
that we want our Nation to go down.
  In 2002 I voted against the war in Iraq because I felt the 
administration was asking us to send our men and women into harm's way 
without a clear plan or a goal. Last week the House passed legislation 
to repeal that 2002 AUMF, which is a step in the right direction toward 
bringing our brave troops home.
  The Senate should stand up and assert our authority to represent our 
constituents on this critical issue, too, because, as Senators, they 
are the people to whom we are all accountable. We have to be able to go 
home and look them in the eye and say that we gave questions as grave 
as decisions concerning war and peace the deliberation that they 
warrant and that we have done everything we can to protect our Nation 
and our servicemembers. You simply can't do that if you allow this 
President--or any President--to continue conducting foreign policy--
especially by tweet--unchecked.
  So Congress has an obligation to ensure a debate. We have an 
obligation to press this administration for a strategy and check its 
power if it doesn't present a compelling one, which so far it hasn't.
  Passing this War Powers Resolution will help us--us--do exactly that, 
so I strongly urge our colleagues to support this resolution.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority whip.
  Mr. THUNE. Madam President, today we are taking up a War Powers 
Resolution ostensibly aimed at hostilities with Iran. The impetus for 
this resolution was the strike the President authorized to take out 
Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.
  Iran has a long history of fomenting violence and conflict in the 
Middle East, and General Soleimani was always right in the center of 
that. As head of the Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, 
Soleimani masterminded Iran's terrorist activities for two decades. 
Iran has been linked to one in six U.S. military deaths in Iraq, 
notably through the IEDs that have become so emblematic of the War on 
  This was Soleimani's work. He is responsible for the deaths of 
hundreds of American soldiers and countless innocent civilians, and the 
threat Iran poses to U.S. personnel is an ongoing threat. At the end of 
December, an Iran-backed militia fired more than 30 rockets at an Iraqi 
military base, killing an American contractor and wounding four U.S. 
troops. Days later, Iran-backed protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy in 
Baghdad, conducting a 2-day siege of the Embassy before withdrawing.
  The strike on General Soleimani wasn't just based on these recent 
attacks or on Soleimani's long reign of terror in the Middle East. The 
President authorized the strike on Soleimani because there was credible 
intelligence that Soleimani was planning imminent attacks against U.S. 
interests. That was the conclusion not of the President but of the U.S. 
intelligence community and nonpartisan experts like the CIA Director 
and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. It was in response to this 
conclusion from the intelligence community that the President ordered 
the strike.
  The War Powers Resolution coming before the Senate was introduced out 
of concern that taking out Iran's top terrorist leader would lead to 
escalation, but that has not happened. The perspective provided by the 
nearly 6 weeks that have passed since Soleimani's killing underscores 
the one-off nature of the strike. The President has not escalated this 
conflict or used Soleimani's death as an excuse to send troops into 
action against Iran. In fact, this strike was designed to check 
escalation in the region--specifically, increasing aggression and 
imminent attacks by Iran.
  We live in a dangerous world. The United States must be able to 
respond to imminent threats to our security. I support the robust 
interpretation of Congress's constitutional prerogatives when it comes 
to the declaration of war and the deployment of U.S. troops, but I also 
believe that the President has the authority and, indeed, the 
responsibility to protect the United States from imminent threats.
  The strike against Qasem Soleimani has reminded those hostile to the 
United States that we will not stand idly by while U.S. personnel are 
threatened. It has removed the top terrorist leader from the arena, a 
leader responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans. It has 
reduced, although certainly not eliminated, the risk to our men and 
women in uniform deployed in the Middle East.
  I believe that the President's action was justified, and I think this 
resolution is an ill-advised and potentially problematic response to 
the President's action.
  With Soleimani's evil influence removed from the Middle East, Iran 
has the chance to chart a new course, to rethink its participation in 
terrorism and its oppression of its own people. I hope that Iran will 
moderate its activities, but, of course, we have to be prepared for the 
likelihood that it will not. We have to continue to ensure that our 
words and actions make Iran and any other hostile nation think twice 
before attacking American citizens.
  We have to continue to ensure that our military and intelligence 
community have the resources they need to identify and to defeat any 
threat. I will continue to work to ensure that our military is the best 
prepared, best equipped fighting force in the world and that our 
intelligence professionals have the resources they need to protect our 
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Romney). The Senator from Ohio.


  Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from South Dakota.
  At the conclusion of President Trump's impeachment trial, I heard 
some of my Republican colleagues, most of whom I consider my friends, 
say that the President would be chastened by impeachment. Some of you 
told me you knew what he did was wrong. A number of Republicans told me 
they admit that he lies a lot. They would acknowledge extorting an ally 
for help in the 2020 Presidential campaign wasn't bad enough to rise to 
the level of warranting removal from office--even though Richard Nixon 
never did that; even though, just on the face of it, thinking of 
soliciting a bribe from a foreign country to help you in your 
reelection as President of the United States is worse than untoward.
  But you told me--many of you on the Republican side--that holding the 
trial was enough to check his bad behavior. You said things like this--
and these are quotes, but I will not mention who they were because they 
were private conversations. You said: ``I think he has learned he has 
to be maybe a little more judicious and careful.''
  Some of you said these publicly too. A reporter asked another of you 
whether Trump might see acquittal as a license to do it again, and you 
responded: I don't think so.
  One of my colleagues said: ``I think he knows now that, if he is 
trying to do certain things . . . he needs to go through the proper 
  Another colleague said: ``The President has been impeached. That's a 
pretty big lesson. . . . I believe that he will be more cautious in the 
  Well, the President learned a pretty big lesson. The lesson he 
learned--because everybody, every single person, from the majority 
leader down the hall to every Republican sitting at this

[[Page S1009]]

desk and this desk and this desk--every Republican except for Mitt 
Romney voted to acquit. Every single Republican voted to acquit, so the 
lesson is he can do whatever he wants; he can abuse his office because 
he will never, ever be held accountable.
  One Republican had the courage to stand up and do it. Every other 
Republican sitting at these desks said to the President of the United 
States: Yeah, it is OK. You have learned your lesson. Yeah, your lesson 
is that you can do whatever you want and this body will never, ever 
hold you accountable.
  So do you know what? And I thank the Presiding Officer, by the way. 
Do you know what? The President went on what we call a PR tour--a 
personal retribution tour--starting at the prayer breakfast--the prayer 
breakfast--the next day when he attacked and he attacked and he 
attacked all kinds of people, continuing through to his speech in the 
East Room where many of my colleagues were in the audience clapping for 
the President when the President made these attacks on people.
  They say he will never do it again; even if we vote to acquit, he 
will never do it again. But then they clap for him when he starts his 
personal retribution tour.
  He removed Colonel Vindman, a patriot, a Purple Heart recipient who 
spent his life serving our country. He was an immigrant. He left the 
Soviet Union. He wanted freedom. He served in our country's military.
  The President, when he attacked Colonel Vindman, mocked his accent. 
He grew up speaking Ukrainian, and his English was damn near perfect 
when I have listened to him, but he had a bit of a Ukrainian accent. He 
mocked his accent. And then he suggested he could be subject to 
military prosecution.
  He removed Ambassador Sondland, who was a Trump appointee, after he 
testified to the quid pro quo.
  Yesterday, President Trump continued this PR tour--his personal 
retribution tour--interfering at the Department of Justice. I am not a 
lawyer. I know the Presiding Officer is. Most of my colleagues on both 
sides of the aisle are. But they know a President doesn't interfere 
with the Department of Justice. As part of his personal retribution 
tour, he is interfering there. He is strong-arming appointees to 
overrule the decision of career prosecutors.
  Do you know what? These career prosecutors withdrew in protest. One 
of them resigned from the Department--more on that later.
  Late last night, when the country's eyes were on the primary in New 
Hampshire, the President of the United States was on part of this 
retribution tour, and my colleagues had said: Oh, no, he has learned 
from impeachment. Well, he hasn't. He has learned he can get away with 
stuff. He yanked his own Treasury nominee, who was working on terrorist 
financing and financial crimes, former U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu, who 
had worked as U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and had worked 
on, among other things, oversight of prosecutions from Special Counsel 
Mueller's investigations. The Treasury Department has offered zero 
explanation. I am going to get a chance in a few minutes to ask the 
Treasury Secretary, coming in front of my committee, why they are 
withdrawing her nomination 48 hours before her confirmation hearing.
  We can take a guess at why President Trump pulled down her 
nomination. She oversaw the U.S. attorneys prosecuting President 
Trump's criminal associates, his political operatives, like Rick Gates, 
Michael Flynn, and Roger Stone.
  This is so obvious. There were people out there who displeased the 
President. One of them was doing his public duty. He is career military 
and had fled the Soviet Union. He was speaking under oath about what 
the President had done because he knew it was wrong to solicit a bribe 
from a foreign country. Another was a lawyer that oversaw the 
prosecution of some of the President's political operatives and 
political hacks--criminals, as it turned out. They oversaw the 
prosecution. The President is attacking them. The President is using 
his power to attack him.
  My colleagues--who sit at this desk, and this desk, and this desk, 
and this desk on the Senate floor--think it is OK to acquit him and 
then tell me that he is going to quit acting the way he acts.
  No sentient human being, including the Presiding Officer, would 
possibly think that way. Ms. Liu was scheduled to testify under oath 
before members of both parties at our hearing in the Banking Committee 
tomorrow morning. We need answers as to what she would have said. Were 
there discussions and decisions she was part of as U.S. attorney 
involving the President's associates that he didn't like? Was he afraid 
more would come out about the actions of some of the President's 
associates, the criminal actions? Was she aware of efforts by the 
President and his political appointees to interfere in the operation of 
our justice system? We need a swift and thorough DOJ inspector general 
investigation of these prosecutorial decisions.
  With every passing day, we don't see a humbled President. We see a 
President unleashed. Again, he didn't learn a lesson from impeachment. 
Actually, he learned a lesson from his acquittal. The lesson he learned 
is that he can do whatever he wants. He is a President unleashed. He is 
bent on turning the arms of a government that is supposed to serve the 
American people into his own personal vengeance operation--his own 
personal vengeance operation.
  I implore my colleagues: We can't let that stand.
  The Department of Justice is supposed to be impartial and immune from 
political influence, but it has become no more than a personal weapon, 
or it is becoming--it is not there yet, but it started to be--a 
personal weapon the President can unleash on his political enemies.
  As I said, I am not a lawyer, but I know enough to know the 
Department of Justice and the executive branch are not there to serve 
the President of the United States. The Department of Justice and the 
executive branch are there to serve the same people we do--the people 
of Ohio, the people of the Presiding Officer's State of Utah, the 
people of Maine, Iowa, Tennessee, and every State across this country. 
No one--no one--should be above the law.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from Wyoming.

              America's Transportation Infrastructure Act

  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, during the State of the Union, President 
Trump called on Congress to rebuild America's infrastructure. He 
specifically asked Congress to pass America's Transportation 
Infrastructure Act ``to invest in new roads, bridges, and tunnels all 
across our land.'' The Senate is ready to answer President Trump's 
  America's roads and bridges are important to every State, every 
community, and every Tribe in the Nation. The quality of our roads 
affects everyone. Our economy is built on a well-functioning road 
system that allows products from rural areas--like Utah, like Wyoming--
to get to our population centers. Interstates like I-80, in my home 
State of Wyoming, are critical arteries of commerce. America's roads 
create American jobs, move American products, and they fuel America's 
  In 2015, the U.S. transportation system moved a daily average of 
roughly 49 million tons of freight. That is an average of $53 billion 
worth of freight every single day. The quality of our roads has to keep 
pace. We must maintain and upgrade and, where necessary, build 
America's highway infrastructure.
  Last July, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which I 
chair, unanimously passed America's Transportation Infrastructure Act. 
The vote was 21 to 0. I introduced this bipartisan bill with fellow 
leaders on the committee--Ranking Member Carper, Senator Capito, and 
Senator Cardin. This legislation will make a historic investment in our 
  America's Transportation Infrastructure Act authorizes $287 billion 
over 5 years from the highway trust fund. That is the largest 
investment in

[[Page S1010]]

America's roads included in any highway bill ever passed by Congress. 
Our bill is going to help the entire country. Senators on our committee 
represent rural areas like Wyoming, Iowa, and Alaska and urban areas 
like New York, Chicago, and Baltimore. America's Transportation 
Infrastructure Act is a win for them all.
  Over 90 percent of the money in our legislation will go to States 
through highway formula funding. Formula funding gives each State the 
flexibility to address its specific surface transportation needs. The 
formula-based approach has been very successful in the past. It 
effectively and efficiently delivers infrastructure money to States, 
and they can make decisions as to which projects to pursue. America's 
Transportation Infrastructure Act maintains this important approach so 
States get the funds they need.
  America's Transportation Infrastructure Act also expands successful 
Federal loan leveraging programs. A single taxpayer dollar in one of 
these Federal loan programs can leverage 40 times that much in actual 
infrastructure spending.
  Between new authorizations, leveraging programs, State-match 
requirements, and input from other communities, our bill's total impact 
on infrastructure will be nearly half a trillion dollars.
  America's Transportation Infrastructure Act is momentous, and it must 
be responsibly paid for. When our committee passed the legislation, it 
included a commitment that the bill should be paid for. The Environment 
and Public Works Committee doesn't have jurisdiction over revenues for 
the highway bill. That is why I am working closely with Senate Finance 
Committee chairman Chuck Grassley to make sure this legislation is paid 
for. It is no silver bullet. We all need to find multiple sources of 
  One thing the Democrats and Republicans agree on is that the people 
who use the roads should contribute to maintaining them. This must 
include drivers of electric vehicles. Right now, the drivers of 
electric vehicles contribute nothing to the highway trust fund. If 
these electric vehicles were contributing at a rate comparable to 
drivers in my home State of Wyoming, it would generate billions of 
dollars for road maintenance over the next decade.
  Electric vehicle fees alone won't pay for this legislation, but it is 
an important start. I am going to continue to work with Chairman 
Grassley to find responsible ways to fund the legislation.
  It is time to make a historic investment in America's roads and 
bridges. America's Transportation Infrastructure Act will grow our 
economy, improve the safety of our roads, and enhance the quality of 
life for the American people.
  I yield the floor.
  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. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                         War Powers Resolution

  Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, today I would like to rise in opposition 
to Senator Kaine's War Powers Resolution, S.J. Res. 68.
  I have had a longstanding opposition to the War Powers Act. I think 
it is an unconstitutional intrusion on the ability of any Commander in 
Chief to defend the Nation and to direct military operations.
  This statute passed, I think, in the 1970s. It was a way to deal with 
the Vietnam war.
  I have always believed the best thing Congress can do when it comes 
to dealing with military operations--longstanding conflicts that it 
disapproves of--is to cut off funding. I think that is what the Framers 
had in mind.
  The inherent authority of any Commander in Chief to defend the Nation 
is part of our constitutional checks and balances. The President is the 
Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. You cannot have 535 people 
planning and implementing military operations. That 535 would be 
Congress. Can you imagine what would happen if our Nation had to 
respond in real time and we had to get 535 Members of Congress to agree 
on anything?
  This resolution is designed to prevent actions against the Islamic 
Republic of Iran without congressional authorization. It does 
acknowledge in the law that we can take defensive action. We can always 
defend ourselves. I think that is inherent to putting people in harm's 
  I have been consistent over time. I have opposed the War Powers Act 
being used against all Presidents, Republican or Democratic. I will 
continue to do so because I do believe, from a national security point 
of view, this will create a nightmare for our country's ability to 
defend itself. Every Commander in Chief has to have the latitude and 
the flexibility to engage enemies of this Nation in real time and to 
send messages that are clear.
  When the President decided to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear 
agreement early on in his Presidency, I supported that action. We are 
trying to find a way to replace it with something that is more 
sustainable and acceptable to the region and the world. Without boring 
everyone with the flaws in the Iran nuclear agreement, I thought it was 
a bad deal. It gave the Ayatollah and his henchmen a bunch of money 
without their having to change their behavior. It was tied to their 
nuclear program and had nothing to do with their missile program or 
their being the largest state sponsor of terrorism.

  Now you see Iran has been acting out since this agreement has been 
signed. Iran has been involved in operations in Yemen, Lebanon, and 
throughout the entire region. It has captured American sailors on the 
high seas and humiliated them. Its efforts in Lebanon put Israel's very 
existence at risk by its flooding Lebanon with weapons that could be 
used to destroy our friends in Israel, and it is the largest state 
sponsor of terrorism.
  I applaud the President for standing up to the Iranians. They have 
attacked the largest oilfield in the world in Saudi Arabia, and they 
have attacked international shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.
  The President decided to use military force against Soleimani, who 
was a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and a commander who was 
on the international no-fly list--for lack of a better term--who was 
sanctioned by the U.N. I think he was a legitimate target of war 
because he had been pushing war against the United States for decades.
  We have had at least 500 to 600 soldiers killed in Iraq from IEDs 
that had been developed in Iran and had been used inside Iraq. They 
have been very, very lethal to American forces.
  Now we find ourselves in a position wherein Iran is getting more 
provocative, and the worst possible thing Congress could do would be to 
send a mixed signal.
  I want the Iranians to know that the Trump administration would like 
a new deal and a better deal but that it has to occur through 
negotiations and that if they continue to dismember the region and 
develop technology that could destroy our friends in Israel or that 
could one day come to our homeland, they will be met with all options 
on the table.
  The authors of this resolution are friends. Senator Kaine has had a 
longstanding concern about the original AUMF that had come right after 
9/11. It is one thing to try to rewrite it; it is another thing to use 
the War Powers Act to tie the hands of the President at a time when our 
Iranian enemies--and they are the enemies of the United States and the 
region and the world--are becoming more provocative. The Iranian people 
could be a great ally one day, but the Ayatollah is a religious Nazi, 
in my view, and I can't imagine why we are doing this now. It makes 
conflict more likely, not less.
  If this passes, the President will never abide by it. No President 
would. It will be vetoed, if that is the appropriate way to do it, but 
it is going to have no effect on his ability to conduct military 
operations. It will have an effect on our enemies' perception of the 
will of the United States to stand up to Iranian aggression. It will 
have an effect on our allies: Can you really trust America? Our friends 
in Israel are watching with great concern about this debate.
  I will oppose this resolution--the fundamentally flawed concept of 
having a statute that would restrict military

[[Page S1011]]

operations based on the view of 535 Members of Congress. We can only 
have 1 Commander in Chief, not 535. I think the War Powers Act, as it 
has been written, is blatantly unconstitutional.
  Having said that, we find ourselves at a time of choosing in the 
Middle East, for the Iranians are making calculations every day of how 
hard to push: What would the Americans do if we did this or that? I 
want the Iranians to understand that when it comes to their provocative 
behavior, all options are on the table.
  Let me tell you the scenario that I fear the most. The Iranians are 
now up against the wall because of sanctions. What if they reactivate 
the centrifuges that have been dismantled or at least mothballed? They 
have probably not been dismantled. What if they began enriching uranium 
at 20 percent? What if they went from 3.5 to 20 percent? Going from 20 
to 90 takes months, not years. What would be the appropriate response? 
Would that be a hostile act under the War Powers Act?
  I know this: It would be an unacceptable outcome for the United 
  I hope the Trump administration is communicating to the Iranians that 
any effort to have a nuclear breakout--a dash to a bomb--would be 
considered a threat to the United States, our allies--particularly 
Israel--and would be met with military force if the provocation were to 
continue. I can't think of a more dangerous scenario in real time than 
the Iranians' making a miscalculation that the international 
community--particularly the United States--will sit on the sideline as 
they try to ramp up enrichment and have a breakout toward a bomb.
  The regime believes that if it can ever get a nuclear weapon, it will 
be home free, that the world will back off. All I can say to the world 
is that containing the Ayatollah with a nuke is a non-option for me. If 
you are in Israel, it is not even close to being an option. What you 
have to understand is that the Iranians are wanting to make a bomb, not 
build powerplants for peaceful purposes. They want a bomb for a 
reason--not as an insurance policy to guarantee the regime's 
survivability but to enact a religious agenda that is very dangerous, 
very radical, and very real.
  People don't want to believe things like this. After World War I, 
nobody wanted to believe that Hitler had a plan that included killing 
all of the Jews. People just thought he was bluffing and talking, 
rhetoric-wise, just to grab more land and that he would be appeased if 
you just gave him one more thing. It is hard for peace-loving people to 
imagine that folks like Hitler actually exist and will do the things 
they say they will do. It is hard for us here, in the safety of the 
United States, to imagine that someplace in the Mideast, there is a 
regime that is bent on our destruction because of our religious 
  Here is what I do believe: If the Ayatollah had a nuclear weapon, he 
would use it, and it would be a competition for the first use. Would 
the Iranians go after the Sunni Arabs, who are the mortal enemy of the 
Islamic faith and the regime? Would they go after Israel? There is no 
spot on the planet for a State of Israel in the radical Shiite 
theology. Would they come after us, the greatest of all infidels? I 
don't know where we would be--No. 1, 2, or 3--but we would be in the 
top three. I do know this: Our Arab allies and our Israeli friends can 
never let that day come.
  The best way to prevent the Ayatollah from having a nuclear breakout 
is for Congress and this administration and every other administration 
to make it clear what will happen if you try. We were able to win the 
Cold War because all parties and every President adhered to the idea 
that we would stand up to the expansion of communism.
  This is one of those moments in history in which I hope we do not 
miscalculate. The Iranians are watching. North Korea is watching. The 
world is watching. I am hoping that Congress will not miscalculate 
because, if we pass this resolution, the chance of war goes up, not 
down. The chance of a nuclear breakout becomes almost inevitable.
  I ask all of my colleagues to think long and hard about how they will 
vote today. You may think nothing will really happen if this passes 
because it will never become law as we know law to be in the United 
States. You are right about that. Yet you are wrong about the signal it 
will send. It will send a signal that will be picked up by the most 
dangerous people on the planet that we really don't mean it when we 
say: When it comes to Iran's getting a nuclear weapon, it will never 
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Blackburn). The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. RUBIO. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. RUBIO. Madam President, in a few minutes, we are going to vote on 
this resolution to begin debate on it, and what most people would think 
by reading it is this is a resolution to diminish the chances of war 
with Iran.
  I actually think that if this resolution were to ever pass and 
actually become law--or I would argue that even this debate we are 
having now, to some extent--potentially increases the chances of war, 
and I will explain why in a moment.
  First, let me start out by saying I don't question the motives of the 
sponsors and proponents, the people who are in support of this. These 
are people with a long history of wanting to assert congressional 
oversight over the conduct of armed warfare, and it is certainly 
something I respect.
  The problem is that their intentions and how this will be perceived 
by the audience that I believe it matters the most to right now, and 
that is the leadership of Iran, perception and the reality are two 
different things, and the perception is very serious.
  What is the perception? I can tell you, just moments ago, I went 
online before coming here just to see if anything has been written 
about it, and here is what I found. It was just one headline. That is 
all I needed because I think this broadly captures the way it is going 
to be talked about in the press and all over the world. Here is the 
headline from POLITICO: ``Senate to rein in Trump war powers after Iran 
  The first paragraph goes on to say: ``The Senate is set to pass a 
bipartisan resolution . . . to limit President Donald Trump's authority 
to launch military operations against Iran weeks after the U.S. killed 
a top Iranian general.''
  That is the opening paragraph of that story. That is basically the 
way it is going to be reported, and I am going to explain to you why 
that is a problem.
  One of Iran's objectives in the Middle East is to push the United 
States out of the region. They don't want us in Iraq to help the Iraqis 
fight ISIS. They don't want us in Syria. They don't want us to have 
military bases anywhere in the region, including Bahrain, as an 
example, where one of our major naval fleets is headquartered. They do 
not want us in the Middle East.
  Their strategy to drive us out is attacks conducted primarily by 
surrogates, meaning other groups--groups they have created, groups they 
sponsor, groups they arm. Their strategy is to use those groups to kill 
  Their reasoning is, No. 1, if they use these groups, it gives them 
deniability so the world can't condemn them. They will go on and say: 
It wasn't us. It was some Shia militia or some other group that did it. 
So they think it gives them some level of plausible deniability.
  The second reason why they do it is they calculate that if Americans 
start to die in the Middle East, the American people will demand that 
we withdraw from the Middle East. So it is a pressure tactic that they 
are trying to institute.
  They do direct attacks. As an example, I remind you that just a few 
months ago they were out in the ocean putting limpet mines on 
commercial vessels, and there were people in the city arguing: We have 
seen no evidence that it was the Iranians.
  Well, it wasn't Luxembourg. It wasn't the Belgians. They are the only 
people in the region that had the ability to do it, but that is the 
kind of deniable attack that they seek to conduct and to kill 
Americans. By the way, the person who ran that program was General 
Soleimani. When I say ``general,'' he really wasn't a general.

[[Page S1012]]

He was a terrorist with a uniform on, but the point being is, that is 
the campaign Iran is trying to carry out.
  When they decide what kind of attacks to conduct against Americans, 
they weigh a couple things. The first is how many Americans can we kill 
before America retaliates because they don't want a war with America. 
They do not want an open conflict with the United States. It is a war 
they can't and will not win. So they are trying to see how many 
Americans they can kill, how much they can get away with before 
triggering a direct response from the United States, and part of the 
calculus they use to determine that is our domestic political 
  I believe there is strong evidence that indicates--and I say this 
just from everything you see--that Iran already miscalculated once. 
They thought Soleimani could travel the region with impunity and plan 
attacks to kill Americans and nothing would happen, and they were wrong 
and they miscalculated. It was evident they miscalculated. It was 
evident by their own body language and the things they did in the days 
after that they truly were shocked that the President took the steps he 
took. Hopefully, it reset their deterrence level.
  We are in a period of time right now where it seems, from all 
indications, that Iran, at least in the short term, has decided to 
stand down on some of these attacks, but it is not because they have 
suddenly found peace in their hearts. It is because they are hoping the 
political process inside of Iraq will force us to leave there.
  Eventually, if that doesn't happen, they are going back to these 
attacks. They continue to plan them on a regular basis. They continue 
to prepare for those attacks to happen. What is going to happen when 
that moment comes and they determine: We believe that the threshold of 
attack, meaning the number of Americans we kill, the number of attacks 
we conduct--how brazen they are--we think we can get away with a 
certain level because in America--in America, the President, Members of 
both parties, do not want him to attack us.
  In fact, they would calculate: If we can even make it deniable, if we 
can even create some doubt that we were behind it and it wasn't just 
some other group that was going to attack us anyway, it is going to 
make it even harder for him to respond.
  Now, that is not the reality. The reality of this administration is 
the reality of what I hope anyone who would ever occupy that position 
would be, and that is, if they know and they believe that American 
lives are at risk and they have a chance to disrupt it, they will do 
so. I believe--and I know this President would--if Americans are 
attacked and harmed, there would be a strong response in retaliation.
  The President has the constitutional power--and I would argue the 
duty--to do both of those things. The problem is, the Iranians may not 
believe it. They may say to themselves: It is an election year. The 
President doesn't want to start a war. There are Members of both 
parties who have, as POLITICO's headline says, reined in his war powers 
and decide that they can strike or conduct multiple strikes and 
terrorist attacks and miscalculate and elicit a response--a strong 
response--to which they would have to respond, to which we would have 
to respond. That is how a war starts.
  That is the danger embedded in this resolution, not the intention of 
its sponsors, whom I truly do believe--I know they are standing for a 
constitutional principle they believe in. They are not the problem.
  The problem is how this is going to be portrayed and how the Iranians 
are going to take it and what it will lead them to conclude they can 
get away with.
  That is why I say that passing this, having this go into effect, even 
if the President vetoes it, sends a message, whether you like it or 
not--and with all due respect I say this--whether you like it or not, 
the message that this sends is that, in America, Members of both 
parties do not want the President to respond militarily to an attack 
and do not want the President to act proactively to prevent one.
  That may not be the intention of the sponsors--I don't believe it 
is--but that will be how it is portrayed, and that is a chance we 
cannot take. We are playing with fire.
  An Iranian miscalculation, an attack that goes beyond our redlines on 
what we would tolerate, is going to lead to a strong American response, 
to which they would have to respond, to which we would respond in kind. 
Suddenly, that is how you find yourself in an escalating conflict and 
even a war.
  So I hope those who are thinking about supporting this will rethink 
their position because while your positions might be pure in terms of 
your constitutional views, the foreign policy impact--the real foreign 
policy impact that even this debate is going to have is to instill, in 
the minds of some in Iran, that there are certain kinds of attacks they 
can get away with, and the President's hands are tied by politics in 
Washington. That is a dangerous proposition and a fire with which we 
should not play.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Perdue). All time has expired.
  The question is on agreeing to the motion.
  Mr. PORTMAN. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The yeas and nays have been ordered.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk called the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from Colorado (Mr. Bennet), 
the Senator from Minnesota (Ms. Klobuchar), the Senator from Vermont 
(Mr. Sanders), and the Senator from Massachusetts (Ms. Warren) are 
necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber 
desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 51, nays 45, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 45 Leg.]


     Cortez Masto
     Van Hollen


     Scott (FL)
     Scott (SC)

                             NOT VOTING--4

  The motion was agreed to.