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McConnell Speaks in Opposition to War Powers Resolution

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the War Powers Resolution:

‘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 Qassem 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 under way. To restore deterrence and reduce the risk of war.

‘And 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, Washington elites fretted.

‘But 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. Let’s not screw it up.”

‘Well, I’m afraid that’s just what our colleague’s resolution would do.

‘Just as we have successfully sent Iran this strong signal of our strength and resolve, a blunt and clumsy War Powers resolution would tie our own hands.

‘With China and Russia watching, is it really a good idea to suggest that we’re willing to let a middling 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, quote, “when it comes to Iran, we should never take the military option off the table.”

‘But 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, 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 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 continuing to work to support our local partners and defend our national security and national interests in this critical region?

‘I’ve been trying to have this broader debate for more than a year now. I’ve repeatedly sought to give my Democratic colleagues opportunity to go on the 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 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, 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 would encourage our colleagues to do likewise.’

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