tv U.S. Senate CSPAN September 10, 2013 2:00pm-8:01pm EDT
what took place on august 21st is a revulsion. i told the caucus that i was sorry we had to do this when we were having lunch, because a lot of appetites were certainly stymied as a result of watching this. the goal of our actions has been to limit or take away from assad, his ability to use these chemical weapons. the pr's credible threat -- the president's credible threat of military action has opened up the possibility that this goal can be achieved through diplomatic means instead of military means. but overlying all of this if we're going to have any success
diplomatically in the future on this issue, we have to make sure that the credible threat of military action remains. it's important to understand that the only reason russia is seeking an alternative to military action is that the president of the united states has made it very clear that we will act if we must. and that's a message he gave us. what we have going on now with the international community is a positive development. but it's only just that, it's a development. it's really important to remember that syria has an extremely, extremely low level of credibility. he has denied even having these
poisonous gases, these chemical weapons. so for such a diplomatic solution to be possible, the assad regime must act and act quickly to prove their offer is real and not merely a ploy to delay military action or the action of the senate. any agreement must also insure chemical weapons in the hands of syria can be secured. and this must be done in an open to process, even in the midst of the ongoing war. this is no classified information, but we know exactly where the chemical weapons are. any agreement must insure if
syria's unable to transfer this poison to the hands of terrorists hezbollah, for example. such intent would be met with a rapid response from government. and it would be a robust response. i'm glad the administration's considering looking closely at what is taking place in the international community. russia, syria, france is involved. for are you -- for russia i hope this will mark a change away from confrontation and towards constructive engagement. putin saying while there's no
proof they have chemical weapons and i'm not sure, in fact, he didn't believe there'd been a chemical attack, that might sell on state-run tv in russia, but no place else. no one, no one discounts the fact or disbelieves that this attack took place killing men, women and children. so if something works out, that would be great. but as reagan said, trust but verify. so that's what we'll be doing as we move forward. >> [inaudible] to bide more time for diplomacy and more time for the u.n. to act? >> we talked about that in the caucus. a thurm of senators expressed to the president that maybe it does need some work on the caucus, i
mean, on the resolution before the caucus. and i'm satisfied it's the right thing to do. i've spoken to senator mccain, democrats are working on. but i want to make sure, and i think senator mccain understands this and others working with him, that anything that is done will go through menendez and corker who have done such an outstanding job of getting us to the point we are. >> leader reid, -- now not just to confiscate, but to continue to arm syria's free arm and to topple the regime. >> well, i know there's a lot of talk about -- we want to be careful, want to be careful we don't use words like regime change and all this. i'm speaking only for me. assad is a demon, a tyrant, and the sooner he goes, the better.
so i'm all in favor of helping the liberals all we can. >> senator reid, how much time do you give to international negotiators to work something out? can you guarantee at some point there will be a vote -- [inaudible] >> i'm not guaranteeing anything. i do know this, our schedule's being driven by developments that are taking place, not by some artificial timeline that we have here. and that's why i took this off the calendar last night to move to have a vote tomorrow morning. as i said last night, i'll tell everybody again, it's important we do this well, not quickly. >> [inaudible] at what point do you close the door? >> we'll see what goes on. i mean, we have -- you know, this is the last 24 hours has had some remarkable changes in what people are talking about. let's see what else happens. >> senator reid -- [inaudible] are you personally comfortable with the -- [inaudible]
>> i have said and i tried to say here last few minutes, if something can be done diplomatically, i'm totally satisfied with that. i'm not a blood and thunder guy. i'm not for shock and awe. i think it's a situation where we have to be very calm and deliberate what we do. and if things can be worked out with the international community to get these weapons out of the hands of this madman, then i think that's what we should do. >> [inaudible] you going to keep working on the resolution, or -- [inaudible] >> i think it's somewhere in between. we're going to continue to work on moving forward with this. but keeping pronounced -- and i pronounce it now -- that the credible threat of our doing something about this attack is going to remain. okay, everybody, thank you. >> thank you. >> senator reid --
[inaudible] [inaudible conversations] >> host: here on c-span2 and c-span radio, the comments of senate majority leader harry reid following their meeting with president obama on the proposed resolution authorizing the president to use military force against syria in retaliation for the chemical attacks of august. we're staying here live in the ohio clock area just outside the u.s. senate. the president at hour is meeting with the republican conference. the senate's supposed to gavel back in at 2:15 eastern. we will take you there live here on c-span2, obviously, when they do come back in. just a couple of comments on twitter about the meeting with democrats. a tweet from jeff of abc, senior political correspondent, a readout. obama spoke for ten minutes, he took questions for an hour.
senators el me he and u.s. must keep military options open and ready. one more here from ed o'keefe of "the washington post" on capitol hill, senator baldwin, tammy wald wynn, quote: there is an opportunity not to vote today while we see the news of the last 24 hours playing themselves out. we're going to continue talking your time up to the time the senate comes in or maybe even beyond that and hoping to hear from some senate republicans as well. lisa in indianapolis, just the phone numbers are on your screen, but democrats, 202-585-3885. republicans, 202-558-3886. independents and others, 202-5 202-585-3887. indianapolis on republican line, sorry about that. >> caller: hi. i was an officer with the military. i had gone to chemical school, so i truly understand the importance of getting those weapons out of syria.
i think that, you know, our government is just misguided in saying our goal is just to punish them and make it so they won't employ them again. i think the whole message that they should have been saying all along is we're going to get those weapons away from you. we don't want them to fall into the hands of al-qaeda. we don't want them to be something that our children have to deal with in the future. i mean, you know, if you want to picture what a chemical weapon would do to a person, just go outside and pray an ant hill with raid and look how they just twist and convulse, and that's the effect that a chemical weapon has on a person. so i really think that our whole goal should be to get those weapons out of syria. >> host: lisa, thanks for weighing in. paducah, kentucky, next up. democrats' line. jimmy, hello there. >> caller: yes.
i support president obama on this. i believe he's used extreme restraint over the last two years for not getting involved in syria and only doing so on a limited basis when we actually have been foul following up on our negotiations with the groups over there that we can trust. we couldn't just have gone in like mitt romney wanted us to and armed anyone. and if mitt romney had been president, we'd have been in there six months ago. he's used, i think obama's used extreme restraint. i believe he has the right message in trying to level the playing field with, against assad so that we can support a militia that can do some damage against him and continue to take some for story. if there is negotiations available, i believe he'll take them, but it only needs to be within a four or five-daytimeline.
he does not -- the vote from congress, congress needs to quit sitting on their hands and supporting assad and going over rush limbaugh talking points in the political arena and become americans and become people that represent america and what we stand for in the world. and that we don't stand for chemical weapons to be used against children and innocent people during a war. and i believe assad could just as well give these weapons to hezbollah. i don't think the people that are calling in are realizing this, that hezbollah could just as easily use them against israel and a whole host of other terrorist organizations. and if we do not -- [inaudible] and eventually get him out of power, then the whole regime's going to blow up because he's going to just empower his --
hezbollah when he returns -- >> host: we have time for another couple of calls. unclear whether they will take up any sort of resolution or proceed to a resolution or any sort of vote this afternoon. to be determined when the senate gavels in. we'll have live gavel-to-gavel coverage here on c-span2, obviously. a couple of twitter comments, reaction to majority leader harry reid who spoke just moment ago. this one says: does anybody else feel like senator reid is throwing mud at the wall hoping it will stick? listen how baseless he sounds. phil says: if nonmilitary option proceeds, will assad evade being held accountable for war crimes? can he be given a pass on 1400 dead? >> to our others' line, john is in massachusetts. what do you want to hear from president obama tonight? >> caller: how you doing? i'd like to have him address something that up to this point has not been addressed. and there's two points. the one point is saudi arabia,
its intelligence chief and his appearance on the scene in syria with the al-qaeda rebels and giving them the canisters of two types of chemical weapons. one young man that was later killed by -- because he wasn't given the proper instructions on how to use the canister, and that's what happened on august 21st. there were 355 people killed, and some of the doctors, of course, doctors without borders had gone in to help out, and some of them were killed in that 355 people. but the -- oh, boy, the intelligence, the intelligence chief of saudi arabia bandar, militant educated, he's over this giving out the canisters to this boy. before this boy was killed, he showed the canisters to his
father and said i wonder what they are. but they worth trained in the proper use of them, and they had an accident. the other point was on the not getting into the hands of bad people -- >> host: right. >> caller: and then what about the opposition to the syrian regime. there's an awful lot of al-qaeda and al-qaeda -- >> host: john, i'm going the let you go there, the senate is gaveling back in. thanks for all your calls. live coverage of the senate here on c-span2. ing officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: and, madam president, i would ask that i be allowed to speak for up to 20 minutes at this time. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: madam president, today there are hopeful signs -- hopeful signs -- that the international community will act to secure syria's chemical weapons which have caused so
much pain and so much suffering, including the suffering of little infants and children. a peaceful resolution to the assad's regime to these lethal outlawed weapons would certainly be the best outcornlings and i -- outcome. and i commend president obama's resolution. i want to lay out for the record why we must act, why we must act in response to the use of chemical weapons. and, yes, of course i prefer it to be done through the international community. but i want to be clear. there are certain norms, there are certain rules, there are certain laws that must be respected and obeyed.
otherwise, we lose our humanity, and this is an example. now, famous leaders throughout history have called war various things. they've called war a contagion. they've called war hell. they've called war a scourge, murder, a crime, despicable. but, madam president, even in the chaos and in the darkness of war. , there are rules. there is red lines. there are boundaries. there are limits. there are norms. and there are laws. and that is why in our nation, as difficult and as painful as it has been, we have held our service members accountable when they have acted outside those norms. we did it just last month with the conviction of a soldier for war crimes committed in afghanistan.
now, the use of chemical weapons, is way, way outside international laws, rules, boundaries, limits and norms, and these weapons have been so since the end of world war i, when the world uniformly condemned them. now we know -- we know without a shadow of a doubt -- that they have been used by syria in a big way. and it is time for all members of congress and, frankly, all members of civilized society to look into our hearts, to look into our hearts and to look into our conscience. and the painful way to do it first is to look, look at the shocking acts committed against innocent men, we believ women an in syria. look at those videos, as difficult as it might be. children and their families dying horrible, ghastly deaths,
wrightinwrightwrighting in paint the mouth as the gas attacked their nervous systems. do we have a conscience? i pray that we do. albert einstein once said -- and i quote -- "the world is a dangerous place not because of those who do evil but because of those who look on and do nothing." let me repeat it. "the world is a dangerous place not because of those who do evil but because of those who look on and do nothing." now, nothing can sometimes be an attractive alternative. i understand it. but each of us who looks, who looks at these videos, who looks
as what happens, each of us must ask ourselves, as human beings, as citizens of this great nation, can we respond to these atrocities by doing nothing? can we sit back and do nothing in the face of serious use of chemical weapons on its own people, its own children? now, when the president said he had a red line on this, he wasn't speaking for himself alone, he was speaking for the world. that disavowed these weapons. and i have to tell you, to me, the senate has a red line on this, madam president. anyone who voted for the syria accountability act in 2003, be it in the house or senate, drew a red line, because in it, we condemned and we decried the development of chemical weapons by the assad regime and we tied that program to our own national
security. there is no way that our martial security is unaffected when these weapons are used and no one is held accountable. did we mean -- did we mean it when we voted for the syria accountability act? did we mean it when we passed the chemical weapons convention in 1997 that i was proud to vote for? did we mean it? words are good, by tyrants don't heed words. history is replete with tyrants who stood up in the face of the worst condemnation and annihilated people. if we stand by and do nothing, what message do we send to those who have these weapons? now, i mentioned the ratification of the chemical weapons convention in 1997.
and i will tell you, as we look at the world -- and there's a lot to complain about and be ashamed of and worry about -- one of the good things is that since we passed the chemical weapons convention and ratified it, 80% of the chemical weapons of the world have been destroyed. and i think we should listen again to colleagues during the senate debate on the chemical weapons convention. here's what joe biden said, our vice president. "norms are created so we have standards for civilized conducted by which to judge others. without them, we leave the rogue countries to behave as free actors." our own pat leahy said, "i truly believe we will ratify this treaty. it will show the moral leadership that the senate should show and the united
states should show. we will act as the conscience of this nation and we will advise and consent to this create. we will show the moral leadership because we began this by saying we would act unilaterally, renouncing our own use of chemical weapons with or without this treaty that. is an act of true leadership. -- this treaty. that is an act of true leadership." so you hear the words conscience, morality, leadership. these shouldn't be just words. we should show that courage. words from john warner, our former colleagues. he said, "i first learned of chemical weapons at the knee of my father, who was a surgeon in the trenches in the world war i. he described to me in vivid detail how he cared for the helpless victims of that weapon." and he said, "we can't turn back now from our leadership role." so now, 16 years later, in had very chamber in which i stood
and proudly cast my vote for the chemical weapons convention, we are facing a clear violation of law and humanity. how do we react? if we do nothing, what is the signal? to assad? to kim jong-un in north korea, who has amassed massive chemical weapons, in an area where we have 20,000 troops keeping the peace? i will tell you the message, madam president, that we send, if we do nothing -- it is not a good one. it will send a message that says, we don't mean what we say, we don't stand behind the laws we pass or the conventions we ratify. now, if you read history, you know that these weapons were used on the iranians by saddam
hussein. and one of the iraqis who saw this firsthand said, these chemical weapons killed people like cockroaches. they're an annihilation insecticide. that's what they've been called. these weapons cause excruciating death. that's why a monster like hitler chose them to wipe out millions of those he considered subhuman. we all know the history. he didn't use them on troops. he used them on those groups that he considered subhuman. yet, while the rest of the world was eliminated chemical weapons, syria was stockpiling precursor chemicals and building one of the largest chemical weapons arsenals in the world. a syrian foreign ministry
spokesman said in 2012 that syria reserved the right to use these weapons against external forces. now, his saying that already is a violation of international l law, madam president. he said, we reserve the right to use these weapons against external forces. but he went on to say -- and we have his name -- quote -- "any stock of w.n.d. or unconventional weapons that the syrian army possesses will never, never be used against the syrian people or civilians during this crisis under any circumstances." remarkably, syria violated its own red line. chris miller is a u.s. army veteran and he's an expert in the area of chemical and biological weapons. here's what he wrote in "the guardian.
"he said, "we must jealously guard what progress has been made in working toward a more peaceful world." he added, the steady worldwide reduction of chemical weapons is a prime example of that progre progress, one that we cannot allow to be eroded so easily." madam president, i can't underscore this enough. in a world full of challenges and disappointments, and for people like you and i who believe so much that we can have a peaceful world, this is one of the few areas we can point to where 80% of the world's arsenal of chemical weapons have been destroyed. if we turn our back on this tyrant and on this use, clearly the chemical weapons will go right back into production, there will be a market in chemical weapons and we know what will happen when they get
into certain hands.we should not -- into certain hands. we should not ignore history or reare destined to repeat it. a historian wrote this in an effort of world war i. this is what he said, "if you could hear at every jolt the blood come gargling from the blood-corrupted lungs." he saw it firsthand in world war i, where 0,000 troops were killed by these heinous weapons, including 6,000 british, canadian, french and belgian troops. they were killed by forces just in one battle alone. nations flocked to sign the geneva protocols after world war i. syria joined them. and now more than a thousand syrian civilians lay dead due to assad's decision to bring back these horrors. how will we react?
our former colleague and respected national security leader, dick lugar, says chemical weapons -- and i quote -- "may be the greatest threat to our country of any security risk that we have, much more than any other government, for example, or any other nation because these weapons can be used by terrorists by very small groups." dick lugar, who played such a great role in securing nuclear weapons after the cold war, dick lugar, who understands what could happen if we turn our back now. so i respectfully ask my colleagues, don't look away, don't rationalize inaction. we cannot stay silent. if we fail to act in the face of such a brazen violation of international norms, in the face of an assault on conscience, then these laws, outlaws these
weapons, become meaningless and we put the security of all of us at risk. if we fail to act, we make it more likely that these weapons will be used again in syria and elsewhere. if we fail to act, we send a terrible message to brutal regimes like north korea and iran, which are seeking to develop nuclear weapons. and in the case of north korea, they have what has been described by secretary hagel, they have a massive amount of chemical weapons. if we fail to act, we make it more likely that these horrific weapons could be used against our allies, like israel, and our troops. that's for sure. if we fail to act, we make it more likely that chemical weapons will fall into the hands of terrorists and others who do us harm. if we fail to act, we send a message that the civilized world will permit the use of these ghastly and inhumane weapons and
not just on the battlefield but against children and families sleeping in their beds. i ask my colleagues and the american people, do not look away. i.t. easier to look away. we had a chance to sigh some of the films, madam president, as you know, during our meeting -- our luncheon meeting. we can't sit by and do nothing in the face of such horror. we can't. so here's the thing ... we have a chance now, because of president obama's resolve, because of the resolve of the senate foreign relations committee, because of the resolve of many people inside government and outside government, we have the resolve to do something.
and the best segregation would t something would be an international response to this. and i am a proud of our president for making sure that this alternative was in putin's mind when they met. and i'm ghad that secretary kerry said, look, there's an alternative. let them hand over their weapons. let's dismantle them and do it right and verify it and hold them accountable, and we can pass this. that is the route i believe we all want to see happen. we want to see the world stand up against this inhug this inhut let's not be naive about it. when you're dealing with tyrants, you have to enforce that kind of a plan. and so i am hopeful today -- not
sanguine, but i am hopeful that the united nations will take this as an opportunity to stand firm, to say that the outlawing of chemicals meant something in reality, not just on paper but in reality. and when we said people shouldn't die like cockroaches, we meant it. and so i'm hopeful that we will have a small pause here and we will give diplomacy a chance to work between the nations. and i praise our leadership in the obama administration and france's leadership and the leadership of the british, and i hope that the russians meant it when they said, let's try to resolve this in a way that will result in the absolute
destruction of the chemical weapons that syria has. i hope they mean it. we can't walk away from an inhumane act that caused innocent children to die a in unspeakable ways. because i tell you, if we walk away, then i think the menl is that there's no -- the message is that there's no limit on gross violations of international norms. there is a he no limits on the gross violation of international laws. there would be no limits on vialviolations of human decency. i'm very pleased that the president took this to the congress. i think it was right. but i want to be clear. the president, as our commander in chief, has the authority. if he believes there is an
imminent threat to us, he has the authority to afnlgt and i think that richard lugar is sending us a very powerful message when he says -- one of our greatest national security threats -- he said even greater than a threat posed by any nation -- is the possibility that a small terrorist group could get their hands on these weapons. and i just will tell you, madam president that that is an unacceptable situation. and i know the president worries about this every day and every night when he goes to sleep. it is on his mind. and one way to make sure that the chance of that happening is lessened greatly is to make sure that one of the largest caches of these weapons is controlled internationally and then destroyed. and that will in fact mean we have a more peaceful world. there is a civil war going on in
syria. no one wants to get in the middle of it. least of all those of us who voted against the iraq war, because we saw what would happen and years and years and years later, unfortunately, we were proven right. i was proud to vote "no" on that war. i think i have a little credibility here for not wanting to go to war. for making sure the intelligence is right. for making sure that there is a limited mission, for making sure that this is well-thought-out. and i would say, in closing, the best ending to this crisis is for the international community to take hold of this, together all of us, and work to see that these weapons of mass destruction are first accounted for, then controlled, and then
destroyed. if we can do that, then the horrifying deaths that we have witnessed and we have seen on tape today, and the american people have been witnessing, at least there will be some -- something good that could come out of this. because, otherwise, if there is no action, their deaths won't mean anything. they will be forgotten. so we need to keep a credible plan before us, which means we want to see international rules apply. we want to see the international community take hold and have a good outcome. and i will tell you this, and i believe this with every fiber of my being, such a gross violation of humanity cannot go unanswered. thank you very much. i yield the floor, and i note the answer of absence of a quo.
the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: i ask that the time during all quorum calls be charged equally to both sides. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. sanders: madam president, i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: madam president, i wanted to use this opportunity to say a few words about the issue that is on everybody's mind, and that is syria, and to tell you that approximately 95% of the thousands of e-mails and phone calls that my office has received are against u.s. military intervention in the bloody and chaotic civil war in syria. now the truth is that the numbers in vermont may be higher than the national average in terms of opposition to this war, but there is probably no state in this country where u.s. military intervention in this bloody and complicated civil war in syria is being supported.
it's an interesting phenomenon is that we have a very, very divided nation politically, but on this issue it appears that the vast majority of democrats, republicans, independents, a vast majority of progressives -- and i am a progressive -- conservatives, moderates, have all come together to express deep concern about the united states being involved in the third military intervention in the middle east in years. and let me tell you why i feel the united states feels so strongly against military involvement in syria. clearly it has much to do with the fact that the united states has already been at war for 12 years. there are kids in this country
who are halfway through primary school who have never known an america that has not been at war. and what the american people also understand is these wars have been enormously costly in many, many ways. not only have these wars in iraq and afghanistan cost us the lives of some 4,600 brave american men and women who fought in iraq and afghanistan, but as chairman of the veterans' committee, i can tell you that today we have tens of thousands of veterans from iraq and afghanistan who are dealing with traumatic brain injury, who are dealing with post traumatic stress disorder, problems that
they are going to be carrying with them for the rest of their lives. the human cost of these wars have been enormous. but it is not only the human cost. it is the financial cost as well. today, at a time when working families are struggling to keep their heads above water economically, we are throwing thousands and thousands of little kids who desperately need preschool education off of head start. we should be expanding head start. but because of sequestration, we are throwing them off of head start. we are denying nutrition programs, the meals on wheels program that goes to some of the most vulnerable and fragile seniors in this country, we are throwing them off basic
nutrition programs. we are forcing massive cuts through furloughs on tens of thousands of federal employees, including many members of the vermont national guard. at the end of the day, by the time we take care of the last service member who served in iraq and afghanistan, those wars will have cost us at least 3 trillion. but it is not only the human cost of these twhars trouble the american people -- not only the human course of these wars that trouble the american people. it is not only the financial cost of these wars that trouble the american people. it is a deep sense that exists across the political spectrum that foreign policy and going to war is a lot more complicated and unpredictable and has unintended consequences far more
so than many of our leaders in past years have believed. afghanistan is a small country that in 2001 virtually had no army when the united states invaded afghanistan. no army against the most powerful military force in the history of the world. what's t -- what's the problem? 12 years later, we are still in afghanistan. all of us remember president george w. bush standing on an aircraft carrier telling us that in iraq, the mission was accomplished. mission accomplished. well, it didn't turn out quite that way. thousands of deaths later for american service members, tens of thousands of deaths later for the people of iraq, peace and
democracy in that country has not yet been accomplished. a lot more complicated than people thought it would be. and today, people worry, what are the long-term implications, what are the unforeseen consequences of the united states being involved in a horrendous bloody and complicate ed war in syria? all of us know that assad is a ruthless dictator who has exploited his people terribly and used chemical weapons against them, but not every american knows that some 20% to 25% of the opposition to assad turn out to be islamic fundamentalists, some of them affiliated with al qaeda. what are the long-term
implications and unintended consequences of being involved in a war in that area? and i know the president has been very clear about saying he is talking about strikes that are very targeted, very minimal, but once you break the egg, once you get involved, we have to bear and will bear a certain amount of responsibility for what happens during the war and even after the war if assad is overthrown. and that is why the american people are extremely concerned about the united states unilaterally going into syria without the support of the international community and without the support of the united nations. but madam president, having said all of that, in my mind, there is another reason, a deeper reason, mr. president, as to why
there is so much opposition to the president's proposal and the proposal that came out of the foreign relations committee which was more open-ended and really spoke about regime change, and that is, i think -- that has everything i think to do with the fact that the favorability rating of the united states congress is today somewhere between 8% and 15%. inand the vast majority of the american people don't know, they don't care who controls the senate, whether it's the democrats or republicans. they don't know who controls the house. that's the republicans. by and large, the american people have given up believing that the united states congress and the white house are listening to their needs, which are very, very serious at this
moment, or is interested or capable of responding to their needs. what the american people are saying, and they are saying it very loudly, is that we have a congress and a white house which continues to ignore the enormous crises facing the middle class and working families of our country, and what they are saying is yes, mr. president, we agree with you. what assad is doing in syria is unspeakable, that he is gassing his own kids is beyond belief. we understand that. we want the international community to address that. but what they are also saying is, mr. president, members of congress think about our children, the kids in west virginia, the kids in california, the kids in detroit, the in vermont.
what about our kids? what kind of future are they going to have in an economy in which the middle class continues to disappear and poverty remains, and it almost -- at an almost all-time high for the last 60 years? today, mr. president, real unemployment in this country is not 7.4%. that's the official unemployment rate. real unemployment is close to 14%. youth unemployment -- and this is a real, real tragedy. kids are graduating high school. they're going out looking for jobs. they want to get a sense of independence. there are no jobs for them. youth unemployment in this country is close to 20%. and for minorities, that number is considerably higher. black youth unemployment in this country is close to 40%.
parents are worried that their kids are graduating from high school, there are no jobs available to them, and just before i came here to washington the other day, i talked to a fizz in the state of -- to a physician in the state of vermont who said bernie, in vermont, beautiful vermont, rural vermont, we are facing a heroin epidemic. kids are shooting up in vermont, not to mention the rest of the country, because they don't see much of a future facing them. parents are worried that their kids are graduating college often deeply in debt and that either they can't find a job or the jobs that they do obtain often do not really require a college degree, and the fact of the matter is that most of the new jobs being created in this country are either part-time jobs with minimal benefits, and they are often low-wage jobs.
and what the department of labor is telling us that, in fact, most of the new jobs that we see coming down the pike for our kids do not really require a college degree, low-wage jobs. and the people are saying from one end of this country yes, we are concerned about syria, but we are also concerned about los angeles, about detroit, about st. johnsbury, vermont, and please, mr. president, create jobs for the working families of this country. what they are begging the congress to do is to address the needs that our people face, and what they fear -- and i think this has a lot to do with why there is so much opposition to getting involved in this war in syria -- is they understand right now that the congress has
virtually done nothing to improve the economy for working families, and they worry very much that if all of our time and our energy and our resources are devoted to syria, that we are never going to address the serious problems facing the working families of this country. mr. president, tens of millions of our fellow americans today are working longer hours for lower wages, and many of them are earning wages that are simply too low to support a family. we have been happy to hear that in michigan, for example, the automobile industry is doing better. more people are being hired. that's the good news. but you know what the bad news is? the new jobs in the automobile industry are barely more than 50% in pay of what the old jobs
were. and all over this country, the new jobs that are being created are not paying what the jobs in this country used to pay. we have millions of people working for a disgracefully low minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. and people are saying, mr. president, members of congress, ya, we're worried about syria, but why don't you work to make sure that every person who has a job in this country can earn a wage which enables him or her to take care of their family? and the people also understand the media doesn't pay a lot of attention to it, congress doesn't pay a lot of attention, but the american people also understand that it's not only high unemployment and low wages, something else is going on in this country, and they know that while the middle class is disappearing and 46 million americans are living in poverty, they understand that the people
on top today, the people whose lobbyists surround this institution, the people who make huge campaign contributions to the political parties, they are doing very well, they're doing extraordinarily well. corporate profits all-time high. the people on wall street whose greed, recklessness and illegal behavior caused the worst economic downturn since the great depression, well, guess what? they are doing phenomenally well. they are making record-breaking profits. the rich are doing well, corporate america is doing well. they're making all kinds of campaign contributions, and the american people are looking around and they're saying what are you doing for us? what are you doing to protect the seniors and their social security? what are you doing to protect the children of this country to make sure they get a decent education? what are you doing to make sure that the united states joins the rest of the industrialized world so that all of our people have
health care as a right. so one of the reasons i think that the -- there is so much lack of support for this war is the american people feel that it is high time for us to pay attention to their needs. now, mr. president, we have recently heard and the news is being updated almost momentarily that russia, for whatever reasons, has decided finally to play a positive role in this crisis, and they are urging syria to allow the international community to take possession of their chemical weapons, and we
believe that france right now is prepared to go to the security council with a resolution similar to what the russians are talking about. now, i can't tell you how honest the russians are being in this effort, what their ulterior plans may be, but i think now is the opportunity to work with russia, to work with china, to work with the security council and the united nations, and it would be an extraordinary victory, in my view, for the people of syria who are going through horror after horror right now and for the entire world and for the future of the world if we could take those terrible chemical weapons out of assad's hands and destroy them, and i would hope very much that the president and our secretary of state will be working with
the international community to make that happen. but let me conclude, mr. president, that i think we are in a very interesting and in fact momentous moment in the history of the united states of america, and that is that the people are coming together to say we have enormous crises in our own country, that if we don't get our act together, we are going to see the decline of our once-great nation, and we're going to see for the first time in the modern history of our country our children having the lowest standard of living than we do. -- having a lower standard of living than we do. so, mr. president, i would hope that the lesson that we learn of this entire episode is that the american people do not want us unilaterally getting involved in another war in the middle east, and i would hope also that the lesson that we learn is that the
american people are saying very ludly and clearly that this country faces enormous crises economically, global warming, health care, education, income and wealth and equality, and they want us to start addressing those needs. so i hope, mr. president, out of this very difficult moment that the silver lining is that we learn something from what the american people want and we begin to do what they say. mr. president, with that, i would yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. mr. udall: i would ask to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. udall: i ask to be recognized for the time i may consume. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. udall: mr. president, i rise today to speak about the very serious vote before us, the vote to authorize force against syria. but let's be clear: this is a vote to authorize an act of war. the american people are watching, they know what this is, a dilemma with no easy answers. they know it could spiral out of control. it has happened before, and it could happen again.
the use of chemical weapons is an outrage. what happened in syria was despicable. the horror is clear. the world cannot look away. this crime is a crime against humanity. it demands an international response, strong and unequivocal, on this we can all agree. however, what should that response be? the president has presented a plan for military strikes on the syrian regime, an attack that has been presented to the american people as limited in scope. but with very great consequences. so we are confronted with urgent appeals to strike, but i believe there are strong reasons not to do so. first, we should pursue all diplomatic and economic options, to pressure both assad
and his backers to change course. we have not yet done that to the fullest extent. we all know that the russian government is aiding and abetting the criminal regime in syria, supplying military support, providing diplomatic cover, preventing an international response to this atrocity. the world is rightly outraged. that outrage should be loud and clear, and the full force of international condemnation must be exerted, not just against assad. as of this week there are signs that russia may be getting the message. if their proposal to help secure syria's chemical weapons is sincere, then we should welcome this the country. we should work with the international community to make this a reality. the inability to use chemical weapons in this conflict will restore the international norm
we seek to uphold and prevent a recurrence of the horrors we have seen. if russia aims to be a responsible world power and not a rogue nation, they will seek solutions, not obstructions. they are a signa troy tri to the -- signatoriy to the chemical weapons convention. let's hold their feet to the fire to do what is right. the president's mandate is stronger with congressional approval, and the mandate of the united states is stronger with international support. i would urge ambassador power and secretary kerry to keep up the pressure on russia, make the forceful case to the security council, continue to share the evidence with the people of the world. this situation will not be solved with tomahawk cruise missiles fired into syria. it will require a concerted international effort to push
assad and the various rebels to pursue a political solution. but for us to go it alone, to take unilateral action, that will put us on shaky ground, legally and strajally. second --, strategically. secondly, the proposal to use military force coulden embroil the united states in a complex middle east civil war. there is a cancer in syria from assad to al qaeda. the civil war is a twilight zone comprised of international players, internationally and regionally and within syria. many of the rebels do not share our values. some we don't know how many, are enemies of the united states and our allies. many of these rebel groups have also committed terrible atrocities, tilting the balance too far in their favor is not in our nation's interest, and will not leave syria safer for
innocent civilians. these strikes have been presented as limited and targeted but last week there were reports about expanding military targets, of regime change, even the resolution we are considering today includes veiled language. the language that could make it the policy of the united states to tilt the momentum in the civil war and endorse the policy of arming the syrian rebels, a policy that i and others believe is very dangerous. arming rebels whom we know too little about. third, there is a real risk that even limited u.s. military involvement may make assad feel more desperate, putting our allies, israel, turkey, and jordan, at risk of attack. this could spark a regional war, creating a situation on the ground where assad may be more, not less, inclined to
use chemical weapons. and as with so many elements here, the question occurs, what then? here's the reality: there's no simple solution. and the american people know this. i understand that there is a natural instinct to want to retaliate, to strike out. no one can forget the horrific images, the terrible suffering of the victims, but we need a clear strategy and will -- that will not mire -- a strategy that will not mire the united states in a bloody and uncertain civil war. i remain unconvince the that we have such a strategy in place. the iraq war, which i voted against, began as an international effort to kick saddam hussein out of kuwait. there follows years a no-fly zones and airstrikes to prevent
saddam from threatening his neighbors or reconstituting his arsenal of chemical weapons. and as we all know, these limited military actions led to one of the biggest blunders in u.s. history. americans are understandably skeptical after the fiasco of iraq. they want to know if we are going down the same path in syria and into a civil war that is far more complex and potentially damaging to the u.s. and its interests. limited attack or broader, there is no easy way out of the quicksand. have we not learned at least that after 12 years of war? i have listened to the administration's arguments closely as well as the opinions of new mexicans. the american people do not believe a limited strike will deter assad. they fear that the strike will just lead us further towards direct involvement.
they rightly ask for what purpose and to what end. public officials should not always let polls be their guide before making important decisions for our country. but i agree with the majority of americans and new mexicans -- we must exhaust our political, diplomatic and economic options first. this is not a lack of resolve. america has the greatest military on earth. no one should doubt that we will defend our interests and our allies. but a military strike in syria is the wrong response in the wrong place at the wrong time. i come to the floor not to push my colleagues one way or anoth another. each of us must make us his or her own mind. i come here simply to explain my reasons for voting "no" on this authorization for the use of
mr. cardin: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: mr. president, make no mistake about it, the resolution before us and the judgment on it is one of the most difficult decisions a member of the united states senate will ever have to make. the authorization of force is an awesome responsibility that each us has. none of us want to see american troops in harm's way. none of us want to see the need for the use of military force. so this is a difficult judgment for us to make. the constitution envisions that both the president and congress are involved in the deploying of u.s. military. certainly the president as commander in chief and the congress under the war powers act have a responsibility to authorize the use of force. now, today in this country, americans are tired of war. we've been involved in iraq and
afghanistan for way too long. we thought these campaigns would be short campaigns. they turned in to be very long campaigns. there's been a tremendous loss in human life, in fiscal resources as a result of the wars that the united states has participated in. but the public also understands that we have a responsibility to use our military to protect the national interests of the people of this country. they understand that america's military strength keeps the people in this country safe and they expect that the president and the congress will use that military force in order to protect the national security of the people of this country. now, what is in our national security interest and why would the president come to congress asking us to consider the use of
military force in the current circumstances in syria? understand people recognize that we're about ready to be attacked, that there's a need to use force. the united states plays a unique role in the international community, for we understand that standing up for basic internationally recognized human rights is a responsibility that we all have. mr. president, i supported president clinton when he asked for the authorization of force for the united states along with the international community to be involved in restoring order in the republics of the former yugoslavia, where there was ethnic cleansing in bosnia and kosovo. but for the leadership of the united states, communities -- additional communities would have been destroyed, people would have lost their lives.
we stood up because it was in the united states interest to stand up for the enforcement of basically established -- basic established international human rights. so let us evaluate what's happening in syria today and understand that what's happening there may be far from our shores but the impact is very much could be felt here in the united states. i serve on the senate foreign relations committee and we were called back into session last week because of the president's request for the congress to act on his request for force, use of force. we held hearings that were open to the public. we held classified hearings in order to better understand what this happened in syria. mr. president, i think it is now clear beyond any doubt that the
assad regime in syria used chemical weapons. the evidence is clear. it was not the first occasion that they used chemical weapons. they had used chemical weapons in the past. but not in the magnitude that they did on august 21 of this year. in which over 1,400 people were killed, many of whom were children. videos of that image are now available publicly. people can see the horrific act that was imposed upon the people of syria by its president, president assad. the action of syria on august 21 violated international norm. since chemical weapons were used in world war i, the international community has come together and said, even in war, we will not permit the use of
chemical weapons. it is so horrific, so indiscriminate in its killing, in its maiming, that as an international community we will stand up and say, "no, you cannot use chemical weapons." the evidence is clear that president assad of syria used chemical weapons in a mass way, killing over 1,400 people. that action requires the response of the international community, for if it goes unchallenged, it is more likely that president assad will continue to use chemical weapons. he just considers it one of the weapons in his toolbox, and he will call it out more and more if it goes unchallenged by the international community. the people of syria are not the
only ones at risk, mr. president. these chemical weapons could easily be used against american allies in that region, could be used against turkey, could be used against jordan, could be used against i will rail. -- israel. and if the use of weapons of mass destruction in syria goes unchallenged, that president assad can get away with the use of chemical weapons, what message does that send to the regime in iran and its ambition to become a nuclear weapon state and perhaps use nuclear weapons? what message does it send to the government of north korea, which is openly testing the use of nuclear weapons? we have a direct interest in preventing the use of weapons of
mass destruction, and we have to work with the international community to say that this will not go unchallenged. we have not only a moral imperative, but we also have an issue of our national security interest. if these weapons of mass destruction get in the hands of terrorist organizations and groups, it threatens the security of americans, it threatens the security of our allies. we have a responsibility to protect nationa the national sef the people of this country. mr. president, i've talked to many people in maryland who have talked to me about their concerns about the use of the american military in syria. they recall what happened when the congress authorized the use of force in iraq, where there
was evidence of chemical weapons, and then we went in and found no chemical weapons. there were statemented made about this -- there were statements made about this would be a limited operation. our troops were there for are a decade. so there is obviously concern about the information being made available to us and what is being asked of the congress of the united states. when force was authorized against iraq and that resolution was pending before, i served in the other body, in the house of representatives. i had a chance to firsthand see the information about iraq and its risk factors to the interests of the united states. you may recall that the popular sentiment was for america to authorize the use of force, for congress to authorize the use of force. i voted "no" on that resolution because i was convinced that america did not have a national
security interest to use military force. so let me explain the difference between the circumstances in iraq over a decade ago and what we're facing today in syria. the justification, the original justification, for the united states entering its combat troops in iraq was that iraq was deeply involved with the then-government of afghanistan and the attack on our country on september 11. well, liked for that information, mr. president, and i saw no relationship between the iraqi government and the attack on our country. yet those statements were made, and it was used as justification for use of military force. here the justification is the use by syria of chemical weapons which has been established.
and i believe the international community has now understood the -- the evidence is clear that the assad regime used chemical weapons, in contravention to international norm. when we were authorizing the iraq use of force, there was no restrictions on the u.s. military. and, as you know, we used ground troops, we used hundreds of thousands of ground troops in our campaign in iraq, putting american lives directly at risk and putting america directly in harm's way. the request of the president of the united states for military action in syria does not include shall did and i-- and in fact tn that has come out of the senate foreign relations committee, makes it clear that there will be no ground combat troops from
the united states of america. we will not be drawn into a ground war. the iraqi resolution that was approved over a decade ago had no time limit on that authorization. as we saw with that authorization and with the afghanistan authorization, those campaigns went for over a decade putting american troops at risk. the authorization that has come out of the senate foreign relations committee contains a 60-day limitation on the authorization on the use of force. 60 days. can be extended once for an additional 30 days, a limited campaign. it is very clear that this authorization is restricted to the specific objective -- the specific objective -- to degrade and deter the use of chemical weapons by the syrian regime, to
prevent the transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist organizations. the senate foreign relations committee-recommended resolution is limbed. it is limited to that mission. it is limited in the time of military operation -- no ground troops. it's limited in time, not to exceed 90 days, and it is limited to the fact that it should be -- use of force should be the last operation -- not the first, the last option. i have said many times before the house and now before the senate that the use of military should be the last resort, that there are other options that need to be explored first. so the resolution that has come out of the senate foreign relations committee requires the president to pursue diplomatic
ways to resolve the issue before he can use force. and he must certify to congress that he has done that before he can use force. mr. president, you understand this directly because you've raised some of these issues. we now have an opportunity that we hope will work. we now have the attention of russia and syria, since they know that america is serious about reacting to their use -- to syria's use of chemical weapons. they know that we won't stand by. they now have acknowledged that chemical weapons in great numbers exist in syria and, quite frankly, i think they've acknowledged the attack -- the use of chemical weapons in syria. of course, the videos speak for themselves and the physical evidence is overwhelming.
so now the suggestion is they would turn over those chemical weapons to the international community. if that's done, we have achieved our objective in the resolution that's before us. the resolution before us is to -- is to degrade and deter the use of chemical weapons by syr syria. if they turn their chemical weapons over to the international community, we have achieved our objective. however, any such plan must be verifiable, enforceable, and timely. excuse me by being a little bit suspicious of the suggestions made by russia and syria. i want to make sure that it is verifiable, that it's e
enforceable, and it's a timely. but, mr. president, we anticipated a diplomatic effort when the senate foreign relations committee recommended this resolution to the floor of the united states senate. there are many members of the senate, including the presiding officer, that are looking at ways that we can come together to support the president's effort to stand up against the use of chemical weapons. and i hope we will be a able to come together with language in this resolution that will allow the syrian government to turn over their chemical weapons in a timely way and enforceable way 1so that military force will not be necessary. but make no mistake about it ... but for the leadership of president obama, but for their fear of the use of american military force, we would never be at this opportunity right now
where we have a viable diplomatic channel that we can pursue. so i just want to acknowledge that but acknowledge that we anticipated that diplomacy will be used, as it rawls should be t always should be used, before the use of military. we thep that militar hope that t be necessary, but we have to react to the use of chemical weapons. let me explain some of the things we don't want to see happen. i referenced the hearings that we had in the senate foreign relations committee. i want to kraut senator menendez and senator corker, the chairman and the ranking republican on you are committee. we had a very open hearing. and we had bein access to classd information. we had an open process in our committee and all views were heard. we tried to recommend a resolution that we thought was responsible for the united states congress to weigh in on. it was not the resolution that the president had submitted to us. it was one that was much more
limited to the authorization that we thought was appropriate. and i think it has served its purpose from the point of view of putting syria on notice that the united states is prepared to join the international community to say chemical weapons will not be allowed to be used. but we also made it clear that we will not be drawn into a civil war. president assad has done some horrible things in that country. he's lost, in my view, the legitimacy of leading the country. but it's up to the syrians to resolve their civil conflict. american troops will not be drawn into the military problems within -- or the civil problems within syria itself. they're going to have to resolve that issue. and as the united states has said, as the international community has said, there needs to be a political solution to
the future of syria. and, yes, there are some good people in p opposition. there are some people we're concerned about in the opposition. at the end of the day, it is up to the syrians, through a political process, to determine their own government. what we should expect is a government that will respect the human rights of all the people of syria and will respect the right of syrians to determine who their leaders should be. but all ethnic communities should be able to live in peace in syria, and that's our objective, to get to that political solution. we won't be drawn into a broader conflict. as i said earlier, the people i talked in maryland don't want war. the people i talked to in this nation don't want the united states going into another war. and neither do i. one more point about the response to the use of chemical
weapons. yes, our first priority is to make sure these chemical weapons aren't used again. the best way to do that is to get control of the weapons and make sure they are not used, hopefully destroyed. but president assad needs to be held accountable. he has committed war crimes. he has committed crimes against humanity. he needs to be held accountable for the criminal actions that he has perpetrated on the people of syria. as we know, over 100,000 have lost their lives. many of these are civilians who were put in harm's way by the syrian government against international norms. so i have encouraged my colleagues to join me in an effort calling on an international tribunal to take
president assad and his case and establish the international justice so that he goes -- that he is held accountable for his actions. one last point about the resolution before us, and that is it is important to work with the international community. and i would hope that we would find more countries standing up for the importance of international participation on the use of chemical weapons. one of the hopes that we have in this new opportunity for a diplomatic solution is for the united nations to assume its appropriate role. the united nations security council will have an opportunity as early as today to pass an enforceable resolution
condemning what happened in syria and accepting the offer to take control of all of its chemical weapons, and do it in a way that is enforceable and in a way that accomplishes its goal. i hope that the united nations security council will act. i hope the international community will join us. the united states leadership is needed. president obama is providing that. but the key point is that we must respond to the use of chemical weapons. i think this debate is strengthening our country. i understand that there are different views. i would urge my colleagues to get together to support a resolution that puts america on record supporting president obama on saying that we will not
permit the use of chemical weapons to go unchallenged, that our objective is to make sure the world is safer from the use of chemical weapons, and we're prepared to work with the international community in order to achieve those objectives. with that, mr. president, i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll quorum call:
the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. manchin: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the time until 7:00 p.m. be allly ae equally divide i had and controlled between the two -- i want to vitiate the quorum call, ma'am. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. manchin: thank you. i ask unanimous consent that the time between 7:00 p.m. be equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. manchin: madam president, i also ask unanimous consent to enter into colloquy with senator heitkamp from north dakota so that we can talk about the serious situation that we have before us. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. manchin: madam president,
approximately nine days ago we were -- most of us were on a call and being briefed by the administration on what was evolving and how desperate the situation was and how dire it was. and at the time it was being proposed as an imminent strike had a had to be done for the defense of this nation, and we listened to that. immediately after that conversation we had with many senators and secretary kerry, my dear friend, senator heitkamp, called me and she said, you know, i would hope we could have another option. we were looking for an option. the only thing we had before us was to vote either to support an imminent strike or to not support an imminent strike. it has been proposed that if we don't show the strength of this great country of ours, that it would weaken our standing in the world and our intentions might not be taken seriously the next time. and also the presidency, which
none of us want to do -- none of us, no matter which side of the finance you may be on. so we keep looking and talking. i canceled all my appointments in west virginia. senator heitkamp did the same in north dakota and we came back as quickly as humanly possible. we attended every meeting, every briefing. wntwent to my armed services committee meeting and also the foreign relations committee hearing to hear the testimony from all of the people. at the end of the day it still did not rise to the level in my mind and i think the senator's, too, that we were at a point where it was -- it would be of an imminent danger to the united states. so with that, we brought all the people together, and senator heitkamp -- i want her to chime in here -- but we kept pushing and pushing the people who had the knowledge, who had been down
the road before, military leaders past and present, diplomacy, diplomats, if you will, and also a think tank, that we finally came up with something that could be done. and, senator, i would defer to you on this, we kept saying, if the problem is chemical weapons, how come we haven't addressed -- all we knew is there was an imminent strike. we weren't going to be able to take out, nor does w did we into take out the regime or change ts.nor would we put boots on the ground. you might want to say, how did we come to the position that we came to and why we felt it was so important. height hoot i thinms. heitcamp:e first thing to talk about is to look at the mission and to look at the event that led to the need for a discussion in this body and a discussion in this country about our relationship in syria. and that was the united states
of chemical weapons by the assad regime in their own home country against their own people. and we know that that activity is not only a crime against the syrian people but it is a crime against humanity. it is a crime against an international standard that's been in place since world war i, has been greatly honored because of the devastating effects of using chemical weaponry. so when we looked at this -- and senator manchin and i had long discussions with experts in the region -- our first concern was securing the chemical weapons and what we could do to make sure those weapons would never again be used on any citizen of syria and would not be -- we would not encourage or in any way give permission to another country to engage in that activity. that is fundamentally the greatest interest that we have in securing some kind of resolution here in the united states congress, is to address
that concern. unfortunately, what we saw was not a targeted resolution that addressed that specific problem, plus what we were presented with when we returned were really two options: do nothing, which both of us concluded that you cannot let an attack like this go unresponded to. do nothing or agree to imminent strikes. and that was not an option that either of us saw as appropriate, nor was that an optio option the could agree to. so we looked for the common ground, listening not only to the experts in the administration, the diplomats, the military experts, the national security folks, but also bringing a broader group of people together to say, what is our mission, how do we accomplish this? and the result really is the resolution that you have before you, senator manchin, and the resolution that you and i have
advanced for discussion in this body. it seems critical to me that, you know, a week ago the -- interjecting the chemical weapons ban and the chemical weapons convention into this discussion in a very meaningful way, looking at what is in fact international law, was absolutely critical. today we have a very fluid and much different landscape, diplomatically we'd like to think that these kinds of discussions that occurred all across the country have driven this, ahonk with the president's -- along with the president's discussion with putin, along with the administration's efforts. and so we now today have a situation where we're glad to see some involvement, we're glad to see some movement. but it is absolutely critical that we remind everyone that actions speak louder than words and we cannot trust, i don't think, agreements between russia or syria until we actually see
syria sur surrendering these weapons. but today we have an option on the table that is the manchin-highheitkamp alternative resolution that can engage the international community and i would say, senator manchin, that truly was the motivation behind our work and i think you'd agree with that. mr. manchin: i sure do, senator. first of all, we all applaud president obama for bringing it to congress. we think this is the right place for these types of decisions. and with the consequences that we were facing and the repercussion there could be, we've come to a conclusion that any time of an imminent strike and the reaction from that would be greater than inaction right now. but doing nothing was not acceptable and that's how we did come to this, which is -- basically we call it the chemical weapons control act. and the thing about the chemical weapons convention that we felt
-- and we've heard from diplomats -- this was the proper course. it was basically giving the assad regime 45 days -- ours is very straightforward -- 45 days to sign and comply. and that means you identify, you secure, and you start eliminating and destroying. and you cannot use and you cannot continue to produce these types of weapons. also in that 45-day period we've asked the administration and the president to lay before congress a plan on what syria would look like at the end, if they don't sign what are r reto do and -- what are we to do and if they don't sign that brings to end to a civil war. that needs to be looked at also. we've all talked to our constituents. i think talk to our colleagues we've heard a lot more. we've had some that say, listen, we don't want strikes under any
circumstances. no way on god's green earth do we believe that a strike will produce anything but reper cussions. i've said this and i think the senator has talked about this. if you believe that money or military mite might would change course and direction of that part of the world which we define as the middle east or north africa, if you believe that will happen, then we would have had success by now. we've spent 12 years in the longest war in our history. we've spent over $1.6 trillion and the rument results have not been beneficial and we've lost thousands of lives. i've also said being a superpower means more than showing the rest of the world that you have the supermight to use whatever you feel is necessary. superpower comes with not only have the supermilitary power, it comes with having the supe supergoings ability, the superdiplomacy, the
superpatience, and the superhumanitarian aid as needed. and we have the ability to do all of that. that's really what we've asked for and now we're seeing today evolving not only 24 hours before every 24 minutes is seems like something is changing. the russians have said that they would ask assad's regime, syria, to sign or to be involved. syria says they have accepted. then we have now that they said they will comply and join the c.w.c.. these are things that we have to continue to try to bring to fruition. senator, on that, we're very happy -- i know you and i spoke about that, our colleagues are looking at different options, that we didn't have an option monday morning. there was no option. it was are you going to vote to strike or are you not going to vote to strike? i'm just pleased that we're moving, and i think cooler heads
will prevail. i believe the president is open to making sure that the players are sincere and real and mean what they're saying. and i believe now that they've announced to the entire international world that we will sign and we will be honest brokers. let's put them on the spot and see if they will sign that and be part of this and become part of the 21st century, if you will. i continue and will continue to work with you. i think that the geneva protocol 1925 which prohibit the use of chemical and biological weapons in conflict, but it didn't go far enough, and we know that. syria signed the geneva protocol in december 1969. they signed that one. but then they would not and have not been a signator towards the chemical weapons convention of 1993. and that's what we're speaking of. and that one specifically says it's the modern-day equivalent
of the geneva protocol, the international community began negotiating the c.w.c. in 198 to close the loopholes of the geneva protocol. the c.w.c. opened for signature in 1993, and after the required 65 ratifications were received, entered into force in 1997. we have, i think, five countries that have not signed. most of all countries, 191, have signed. that's what we're asking for them to comply, which we think is the best way because there is implementation. there is an implementation organization which oversees it and it's not the united states, not russia or any other country taking the lead, but basically it's a way to have the entire international community come back into play. ms. heitkamp: to add another point to what you've spoken about, senator manchin, which is the results have not been what -- satisfactory. i think the other point that we need to make is that the results
of all that interaction over these, this decade-plus of activity in this region has not been what was promised. and it has made the american people perhaps cynical and very hesitant to rely on what is being told and said today. one of the great honors but also amazing pieces of sadness in my first days of being a senator-elect, i attended two funerals for two national guardsmen who were killed in action in afghanistan. and i remember sitting in the funerals and remembering, telling myself before you vote ever to engage in that kind of conflict, you absolutely need to look at alternatives. you owe it to our men and women in uniform. you owe it to the people of this country who have invested not only the lives of their brothers and sisters and family and
friends, but the people who have also invested american treasure. what we're seeking is a discussion, a broader discussion beyond two opposite and unacceptable alternatives. and what we're seeing this week, much to, i think, our appreciation is in fact not just our proposal but other proposals coming forth, a broader discussion about what all the options are and taking a look at how we can work together as a united states government, speak with one voice and walk together to resolve this conflict. i think we cannot ignore that we have a national security interest in working together. we have a national security interest in addressing and resolving the current issues in front of us, and that that discussion can't be done among a small group of senators.
it can't be done in back doors with a promise, trust us, because some of that trust has been broken over time. and so a broad open discussion as we're having here today, senator, i think is absolutely critical to reestablishing american trust that we can in fact make the right decision in their interest and in the interest really of protecting our service men from chemical weapon attacks. i mean, that is obviously a great concern of ours. we need to continue to have this dialogue, and we need some kind of response. the question is how measured and what that response should be. and i have very much appreciated your willingness to work with me, and i think the rest of the members who have approached us who want to talk about this proposal and other proposals, their willingness to broaden their thinking about what those options are. mr. manchin: i'm so proud also to be working with you on this, senator. our staffs have worked well
together. they are most competent and they have done yeomen's job. the resolution we've come with basically is only -- the only option there today that basically controls these chemical weapons from being used on another human being, which we all deplore. with that, maybe we can help now move on to try to help resolve this civil war. the carnage is just unbelievable. they said there's 99,000 people been killed in syria with conventional weapons and 1,000 with chemical. to me, every one of them is a life we can save, we ought to try to save. but with that being said, we've got to give them a chance to become involved, and that's what we've done. and this time last week we would have never thought we would be here. this time two days ago we would not have thought we would have been here. but we're moving in the right direction. let me just neighboring it very clear what the -- let me make it
very clear what the resolution does. the section, our title is this, this joint resolution may be cited as the chemical weapons control and accountability resolution. basically exactly what it says. the statement of policy is this. the policy of the united states that the government of syria must become a signatory to the chemical weapon convention and take concrete steps to comply with the terms and conditions of the convention. number two, the failure by the government of bashar al-assad to comply and sign with the convention clearly demonstrates a willful disregard on the use on the norms of chemical weapons. number three if the government of syria does not sign or comply with the convention within 45 days of this resolution all elements of national power will be used by the united states
government. that reaffirms the war powers the president has. i know there are some that don't believe that is constitutional or that is law. but we have checked it and researched it and it is. and we reconfirm that t. doesn't say imminent strikes will happen at the end of 45 days. it leaves it to the president to determine whether negotiations are moving in the right direction, if all players are being sincere in coming on board. but it gives him the chance to be the president that he's elected to do, whoever that he or she may be, you want the president's office to be able to exercise the powers that they have by law. and that's what we've done here. everybody has a different approach. some may say 45 days. fine, we're open to all that. we've said that before. but the experts that helped us put this together put the timetables that were reasonable and they felt they were attainable. ms. heitkamp: senator manchin there are some who would question whether this is
capitulation or whether this is a lack of showing of american unity. how would you respond to those concerns? mr. manchin: we've had our colleagues, we've had some good conversations with our colleagues. we've had other people say? for real or are you just trying to stall? i said no, i don't believe anyone really questions the might of the united states government. i don't think it weakens the united states government to show super restraint, knowing the volatility of that part of the world. also past experience, in my little state of west virginia -- and i know your great state of north dakota -- feels when you try something and put as much effort as we've put trying to change that part of the world and haven't had the success nowhere near and spent $1.6 trillion at the sacrifice of americans, maybe that's not something we should repeat. we all know that. we get no support basically from our constituents, but those of us who are privileged to all
these high-powered meetings, if you will, we haven't been convinced that that will change. with that being said, i will say to my friends if you believe that anyone would discount the might of this nation, i don't think so. the resolve of us to protect our country and our americans, i don't think so. or to support our allies, our true friends and allies, i don't think so. but you know back home we have a saying, secretary, sometimes you don't have a dog in the fight. we can't really find a friend in that fight. that's the problem. that's the hard sell. and with that being said, i've said this before. they should step forward. that's in their backyard. we should give all the support. we have humanitarian aid. we'll give all the support we possibly can. but they need to take the lead. it can't always be the americans being the policemen of the world and everyone saying, okay, called 911, which goes right to washington, and they'll take care of it.
so i discount when they start saying it doesn't show your strength. we might not have that strength of reputation or it might weaken the president. no, i don't think so. not at all. ms. heitkamp: i think what we would say to the enemies of our country, do not take from this democratic process and this discussion a lack of resolve. we will stand together shoulder to shoulder. this is the process that the constitution gave us. this is the process that the president has asked us to engage. and it shows the strength of this country, that we can have an open debate, open disagreements. but at the end of the day we will stand together, and we will stand together strongly against our enemies. and so there should be no comfort taken in any way, shape or form by the enemies of our country that this somehow weakens our country. in fact, it strengthens our country to have this discussion and then stand shoulder to shoulder together. i do want to mention that during those times last week when we were attending the classified
briefings, and a lot of those briefings were bicam rat as well as bipartisan -- bicameral as well as bipartisan and i know we have that reputation today of being hyperpartisan, that we can't have meaningful and open discussion, it just degenerates into pettiness and partisanship, i can tell you from my experience of sitting through every one of those briefings what i heard was reasoned discussion. what i heard was rational questioning. what i heard was an equal measure of restraint on both the democrats and the republican side and a search for common answers and commonality. and it was that discussion that led us to introducing this type of resolution. and so for those who say this is just another example of disfunctionality, it's too bad they couldn't look in at those discussions, because i think they would have seen a congress that was very engaged. they would have seen individual members who weren't looking to score political points but were
looking for information so they could exercise the judgment that their people, their districts or their states elected them to exercise. and so that's the pros -- process we're going through and it's a critical process. but it can't be done yes or no, no other options. that's why we're grateful for what's happening on the ground. we'll wait to see if it's real. we'll wait to see. it's not enough. talk is never enough. we have to see action. but in the meantime we will continue to have these discussions about what is in america's national security interest and how we resolve our collective -- how we exercise that collective will with a resolution that reflects our values and our commitment to this country and its national security. mr. manchin: i really believe, senator, that as the world watches what's unfolding now, they're watching the super power make a decision, and we are using super restraint. we're using super compassion, if you will.
but we're super resolved, and we have the super might to do what we need to do. and i don't think anyone should take that lightly. i don't believe that anyone would take for granted that we will not defend this country and every citizen of this country with everything we have, and try to spread humanity, if you will, all over the world. but it takes more than us as we move outside of the boundaries of the united states of america. we need an international community working with us. we need some of them stepping to the plate, not just the rhetoric that we hear but basic stuff. we need the united nations to be functioning again, to have a functioning role and have a strong support role and be able to step to the plate and do it in a fashion that really protects a civilized world. those are the things we've asked for. and i think this gives it a chance. today we've seen breakthrough. if president assad has said, i will sign and i will be a member and i will comply, and i will have inspectors come in, and i
will make sure these weapons are secure and will start destroying them, taking them off the shelf. russia can play a part in that. they can pull their ships up, load them up, take them to a secured area. that's taking that weapon out of that part of the world. then hopefully they can get people together to start working on this civil war they have and stop the carnage going on with innocent people too. we're hoping for all of that, but it starts here. people are looking to the united states and i think they're looking for the leadership that we have been able to give. not just in the military and not just in financial, but in some good, solid concrete decisions that brings this country and the suffering to an end that's going on in syria. i am very proud to work with you on this. we're asking all of our colleagues to be involved in any way, shape or form. we'll work with them if there is anyone that has ideas that can better this, make it a more perfect piece of a document, then we're all for that, and i know you are -- you have been that way and i know your team is
that way also. so i want to thank you for the -- for the work that you have done and also the friend that you have been and that i believe that we're close to getting something in the right direction where cooler heads will prevail and i think the world will be safer. ms. heitkamp: thanks, senator manchin. i want to thank you for the work that you have done and the leadership that you have shown. i think that when we work together and when we collaborate, when we actually begin that discussion about what's the -- in the american national security interest and how do we fashion a position and a resolution that reflects that national security interest and when we work together and we open up the opportunity for a broader dialogue, not just two choices but a broader dialogue so that we can build consensus not only in this body, because if we can build consensus in this body and we can work forward to build consensus in america, we can in fact move this issue forward and it might be an example of what we can do
in the future. so thank you again for your participation and your inclusion and thank you so much for the work that you have done. i think it has been a very -- it's offered a very significant alternative, the work that we have done, but it also has, i think, set an example of where we can go in the future. mr. manchin: thank you, senator, and i think that the seriousness of syria is not going to be a military action to correct it. it's going to be diplomacy, it's going to be democracy that hopefully and diplomacy that will work there, and that's what we're trying and i think we are putting that forward first, more people coming on board. we appreciate that. we appreciate all of our colleagues on both sides. this is not a partisan issue. it truly hasn't been a partisan issue and it won't be a partisan issue. this is an american issue that involves all of us and it's a world issue which we think that the world has great interest but they also have to have participation. so with that, i want to say that i thank you, senator, and i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from wisconsin. ms. baldwin: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. baldwin: madam president, i have come to the floor today to stand up and speak to the important debate we're having about the most sobering issue i face as a senator, as a wisconsinite and as an american. the issue of military action by the united states. let me start by saying that the assad regime's use of chemical weapons against the syrian people is morally reprehensible and a serious violation of long-standing international law. the various treaties and conventions addressing these issues have been ratified by most of the world's nations.
there is reason why almost the entire world has gathered under the chemical weapons conventions to ban these weapons. it is because chemical weapons are truly barbaric in nature. they are a global threat, and they therefore require a global response. the president has made the right choice to seek congressional authorization for any potential military action in syria. the gravity of these issues before us are significant, and they deserve a full debate. president obama should be praifd for understanding -- praised for understanding and appreciating that fact. we must demand that all presidents, not just this president, come to congress to get approval before taking military action in another country in instances where we are not facing an imminent threat.
and i have made that case with both democratic and republican presidents. but i strongly believe that our response to this situation must not be a unilateral military action. this is not america's responsibility alone, and it is not in our interests to set the precedent that it is our responsibility alone. syria violated international laws and should be held accountable by the international community. america must not act alone. the use of chemical weapons is a global atrocity and demands a global response, and that is why i oppose going to war in syria, and that is why i oppose authorizing military involvement in syria's civil war.
not for one day, not for 60 days, not for a decade. i believe in engaging and involving ourselves militarily -- i do not believe we should involve ourselves militarily in the middle of a brutal years-long civil war. that would not strengthen america's national security. but the answer is not to do nothing. the answer rather is to create a situation where these violations of humanitarian norms and crimes against humanity can be dealt with effectively by the u.n. and other international institutions. so we must continue to focus on building a global coalition to support the encouraging developments in the past few days, to resolve this crisis without the use of unilateral
military engagement in syria. by working through the united nations and its institutions, we strengthen international frameworks that can help resolve the conflict in syria and build a safer and stronger international community moving forward. i firmly believe that the recent potential for progress in today's u.n. discussions is a testament to american democracy. by president obama fulfilling his constitutional duties to come to congress and by our serious debate here on capitol hill, i believe that america has helped drive a more constructive international debate and engagement on assad's regime's atrocities. we must now give the opportunity of a path forward without military involvement in syria a
a senator: th madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: may i ask unanimous consent the present quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: we are back from the august recess and i'm here for the 42nd time to try to wake this body up to the threat of change. today i've come to talk about some of what went on during the recess while we were away. in my home state of rhode island and around the globe. here is some of what happened in rhode island. on august 14, nancy subtly, the chair of the council on environmental quality joined me to deliver a clear message as she said, i quotes, climate change poses a very real threat to public health, both now and in the future. warmer temperatures in our northeast mean harmful ozone can form very quickly. that leads to the bad air days
that we hear about on the news when children with asthma and other vulnerable citizens are urged to stay indoors, often on what appear to be beautiful, sunny, summer days. we heard from nick friend, a 15-year-old from east providence, and kenyatta richards, an 8-year-old from warwick about the six rhode island bad air days we've had already this year. that threaten nick and kenyatta's health and thousands more children. in narragansett, a lovely rhode island beach town i visited two sites that sustained significant damage during hurricane sandy to see how that town is using recovery aid to repair roads and public housing. people in narragansett realize that rebuilding is not enough. we need to start adapting for future storms. the oceans are warming, undeniably, and as they warm,
they expand so sea levels rise leading to more erosion and flooding. tide gauges in newport show an average sea level increase of nearly 10 inches since 1930 so storm surges like the damaging surge from hurricane sandy will batter our shores further inland. and we have to adapt to that. so in westerly, rhode island, town officials and the university of rhode island's coastal resources center held an informational meeting about the effects of sea level rise on the town's coastal wetlands. planning for one, three, and five feet of coastal sea level rise. so that werely -- westerlily can create a communitywide plan. cranston, rhode island had been hit hard by the floods of 2010. in august during this recess demolition crews began tearing
down homes in a neighborhood near the patuxet river to buffer the surrounding homes to protect against future flooding. cranston also announced a series of climate change workshops to increase awareness about the threats facing city residents and to help them plan ahead. so that's some of what happened in rhode island. nationally in august, the rim fire burned in california near yosemite national park, the third largest wildfire on record in california. no one can say that climate change caused this fire, wildfires have been happening forever. but hotter, drier years make for worse wildfire seasons. spring and summer temperatures are edging up, snow is melting earlier, wildfire season is lengthening and the intensity of wildfire season is increasing. as state and federal fire and
forest managers forewarned our bicameral task force in a hearing just before the recess. during august, nearly all of new mexico experienced drought with the majority of that state in severe, extreme or exceptional drought. in late august, the bureau of reclamation announced the first reduction of outflows from lake powell since the reservoir was filled in the early 1960's. tens every millions of people who rely on the colorado river for water will be affected. reports are that a late august heat wave in the midwest caused school closures in minnesota and students were released early from schools in colorado, illinois, iowa, nebraska, north dakota and south dakota. again, it's the loaded dice phenomenon. you can't assign specific blame for this heat wave to climate change but on a planet with
hotter summers, we can expect worse and more frequent heat waves. so that's nationally. globally, globally noaa announced that july, 2013 was the sixth warmest july on record. i was traveling in asia during the recess with senator john mccain. immediately following record-setting heat. in mid iewg august temperatures passed 105 degrees fahrenheit in shanghai, china, the hottest temperatures measured in the city since records began to be kept about 140 years ago. the temperature in shimonto, japan, hit 105 degrees fahrenheit, the hottest ever recorded in that nation. south korea's president park talked with us about climate change and its importance in northeast asia.
and while we were there in south korea the ministry of trade, industry and energy warned of power storages due to high temperatures. so we met with public officials in rooms with air conditioners shut off to save power. senator mccain and i heard from china's leading climate official, minister shia, about cha'lan to invest almost $475 billion on clean energy and emissions reducing projects through 2015, nearly half a trillion dollars between now and 2015. and about seven regional cap-and-trade programs that will eventually include other large cities like shanghai, beijing and tenzin. for my colleagues who say china must act first on climate
change, they are acting and we should not look 0 to them for an excuse to delay action here at home. indeed, a report recently by the pew charitable trusts describe china as -- let me quote this -- china -- "the epicenter of clean energy finance, attracting $65.1 billion in investment, it garnered 25% of all solar energy investment, 37% of all wind energy investment, and 40% -- 47%, i correct myself -- 47% of the investment in the other renewable energy category." that's what the pew report said about china. the report compared that to the -- and i quote again -- "disappointing u.s. performance in the worldwide race for clean energy jobs, manufacturing, and market share."
madam president, that's not a race we want to lose and yet we are exhibiting dispointing performance against china. august was also a month for the usual climate denial. one of our senate colleagues reportedly self-declared that he was a global warming denier. and said he believes evidence points to the earth entering a miniice age. one california representative told constituents just so you know, global warming is a total fraud. a conservative representative from iowa told his constituents climate change is not science, it's more of a religion than science. a representative from florida said our climate will continue to change because of the way god formed the earth. august even brought a climate denier opinion piece to my home state, providence journal.
climate science is in turmoil, the piece said, because global service temperatures have been flat for 16 years. rhode island's politofact quickly determined this claim and i quote -- leaves out important details that would give a very different impression." in truth, there have been steps in the upward march of global surface temperature before, but my skeptical colleagues should read about these steps and what may cause them in mainstream news outlets which explain while these pauses do happen, they do have not and do not herald the end of climate change. and setting aside surface temperature for a moment, we continue to see warming rising, and acidifying oceans. the recess brought the latest
issue, for instance, of national geographic whose cover story is rising seas. let me read two excerpts. "a profoundly altered planet is what our fossil fuel driven civilization is creating. a planet where sandy scale flooding will become more common and more destructive for the world's coastal cities. by releasing carbon dioxide and other heat trapping gases into the atmosphere, we have warmed the earth by more than a full degree fahrenheit over the past century and raised sea level by about eight inches. even if we stopped burning all fossil fuels tomorrow, the existing greenhouse gaffeses would continue to warm the earth for centuries. we have ir reversibly committed future generations to a hotter world and rising seas.
and here, focusing on a specific location, among the most vulnerable cities is miami. quote -- "i cannot envision southeastern florida having many people at the end of this century, says hal romliss, chairman of the department of geological sciences at the university of miami. we're sitting in his basement offices looking at the maps of florida on the compute. with the click of a mouse, years pass, the peninsula rises and florida shrinks. florida and mangrove swamps collapse. a death spiral that has already started on the southern tip of the peninsula. with seas four feet higher than they are today, a distinct possibility by 2100 about two-third of southeastern florida is inundated.
the nor florida keys have almost vanished. miami is an island. that from that extremist publication, the "national geographic. "august also brought news that the ipcc will announce that its now more than certain than ever that human activity is the main cause of recent climate change. let me be very clear about this -- there is a broad and strong scientific consensus that climate change is ongoing and that human actions are a cause. it is a consensus of a breadth and strength that it is disgraceful and stupid for us to ignore it. that consensus should come as no surprise, because the science behind it, behind the proposition that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere warms the
earth, dates back to the civil war. it ain't news. we've known it for more than a century. even the contrarian scientists brought in by the deniers to testify in congress, agree that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that warms the earth. the science is credible. the danger is credible. now it's about time for congress to become credible. it's time to wake up. it's time to do our duty to our country and to our fellow man here in congress. it is time for us to get serious and protect americans from the looming harms of climate change. madam president, i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
mr. reid: madam president? the presiding officer: the leader. mr. reid: are senate is in a quorum call. officerster. the presiding officer: i ask unanimous consent it be permitted without objection. mr. reid: madam president, let me announce now we had an all-senators briefing scheduled for 2:30 tomorrow. we're not going to do that now. i've just spoken to the present chief of staff, and there are too many things moving. there are a lot of moving targets here, and i think it would be better for the senate that we don't have that briefing tomorrow. there are a lot of things going on. we've had many, many briefings, had committee hearings. tomorrow i think to have this with what's going on, it's my understanding that the secretary of state is going to be in geneva to meet with the russian,
russian counterparts. there are a lot of things going on and i think the briefing tomorrow would be premature with all the moving targets. everyone should know at 2:30 the all-senators briefing will not occur. so that, everyone knows, the schedule a little bit tomorrow. i ask consent the senate proceed to s. res. 221. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 221 designating the week of october 7 through october 13, 2013, as natural patheoic medicine week and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that the committee on financing discharged from further consideration of s.1427
and the bill be referred to the committee on judiciary. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: madam president, i ask consent the senate adjourn until 10 a.m. tomorrow morning and following the prayer and pledge, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day. following the prayer and pledge there will be a moment of silence as a tribute to the thousands of americans whose lives were taken on september 11, 2001. and of course those were other casualities, some of whom are still suffering the ravages of that sinister attack. following leader remarks the time until 2:30 will be equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: in addition to the moment of silence at 10:00 in the morning there will be a bipartisan bicameral remembrance ceremony for the 12th
anniversary of september 11 at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow. members will gather in the rotunda at 10:45. if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it adjourn. madam president, senators will gather in the rotunda but then they will walk out and -- with the few speeches we have on the east front of the capitol. if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that we adjourn under the previous order. the presiding officer: the
mcconnell. in addition to that, he's going depress the nation tonight. he's going speak directly to the american people about the potential for a military action in sir imrap he will do that the at 9:00 tonight. as i said last night, it's appropriate to allow other conversations to go on. we now have, as a result, done by other countries, france, russia, and we understand syria's involved in this. it's aimed at -- military action. we'll have to see if it works out. it's important understand that the only reason washington is seeking an alternative to military action. president obama has made it plain and clear that the united states will act if we must. our critical threat of force is being -- diplomatic discussions with syria possible. and the united states should withdprawl from this. the direction we're taking as a
country. if there's a realistic chance, i hope there is. to secure's syria's chemical weapon, we should turn our back on the chance. but for such a solution to be plausible, assad we sheem must act quickly to prove the offer is real and not delayed to delay military action or action for the united senate. in agreement must also ensure chemical weapon in the hands of syria can be secured. and done in an open process. the amendment with this ongoing we have in iraq. must syria is unto be tran for the dangerous chemical weapons in the hands of terrorist in the weapon. such an attempt would be met with a rapid response, and robust for the united states. so i'm pleased that the administration's considering this offer. i am pleased that other
countries are involved. notion russia. it's my understanding -- it's my understanding that france is heavily involved as of a few hours ago. i think that is the right direction at this time. i'll dot general criteria i suggested. and outlined. the statement should give the international discussions time to play out, but not unlimited time. that's why a lot there's support to move forward and debate the bipartisan resolution reported by senators man -- menendez and corker they can a terrific job for the committee last week. we don't need to prove how quickly but how well. syria should understand the united is watching very close i the assad we sheem could be
warned. our country will not tolerate the breech of human decency and long e health international consensus against the use of chemical weapons. mr. president, i ask anonymous concept with respect to s1392 which is the energy efficiency legislation be modified so the motion proceed be agreed to turned by me with the concurrence of the republican leader. not consultation with him but concurrence with him. >> is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. president? a republican leader. >> mr. president, first i would like to welcome the president to the capitol today. members on both sides of the i'm are egger to hear from him, and
to share their own thoughts. we look forward to a spirited and constructive exchange. it often said of all the questions we face as lawmakers. none is more serious or indeed more difficult than the question of whether to commit ourselves to military action. that's why it's important for us to have this debate. to lay out the arguments for and against military action in syria. to let the public know where we stand on the issue, and why. but if debates like this are always challenging, in some ways this one has been even more difficult. not because of some political caucus they will always suspect that. no, the debate has been made more difficult because even those of us who truly want to support the commander in chief have struggled to understand the purpose of the mission. over the past several days, i've
spoke within a lot of people. a lot of kentucky begans. and i have to tell you most of them aren't exactly clear about the mission themselves. or shy about saying so. what i told them i understand their concern. i share them. i also appreciate the war weariness out there. but then i tell them there's other potential concern that we can't ignore here either. among them is the fact that the credibility of the commander in chief matters. and related to that is the fact we can't afford as a country to withdrawal from the world stage. so no one should be faulted for being skeptical about this proposal regardless of what party they're in, or being dumbfounded literally dumbfounded at the manner in which the white house announced it. there's absolutely no reason. no reason.
to signal to the enemy when and how and how long you plan to strike then. none. as i said before, you don't send out a save the date card to the enemy. and yet there are other important considerations to keep in mind here as well that go beyond the wisdom or the marketing of the proposal. i spent a lot of time weighing these things. i thought a lot about american's obligations and ther replaceable role i believe and still believe america plays in the world. and i've also thought a lot about the context about this president's vision, and his record, and what it says about whether we should be confident in his ability to bring about a favorable outcome in syria.
because how we got this point sayses a lot about where we may be headed. and that's why before announcing my vote i think it's important to look at president's other decisions on matter of foreign policy and national security and turn back to what he's proposing new in syria. because until the end they can't be separated. it's not a secret i'm not a fan of the foreign policy. on the deepest level, i think it comes down to a fundamentally different view of america's role in the world. unlike the president, i've always been a firm and unapologetic believer in the idea that america isn't just another nation among many. that we are indeed exceptional. as i said, i believe we have a couth as -- duty as a super power without
the aim to help maintain an international order and balance of power that we and other allies have worked very hard to achieve over the years. the president, on the other hand, has been a very reluctant commander in chief. we saw that in the rhetoric of this famous cairo speech. and speech he gave in other foreign capitols in the early days of his administration. the tone and the policies that follow it were meant to project a humbler, more withdrawn america. frankly, i'm hard pressed to see any good that came from any of that. without any plan of what to do
with the detainees. the cia -- we saw the are so-called reset with russia. how the president stated commitment to a world without nuclear weapons to substantially reduce the stock part-time, or tactical nuclear weapon. we saw the president announce the strategic pivot to the asia-pacific regions. without any real plan to fund and effort to end the capture integration and tension of terrorists as well as an old idea that terrorism should be treated. as a law enforcement matter. after a decade-long counterinsurgency in afghanistan. we have seen the -- strategic modernization needed to make this pivot to asia
meaningful. specifically, his failure to make the investment needed to maintain our dominance in the asia-pacific theater, in the kind of that value, air, and marine corps. forces that we'll need there in the years ahead scrolled tragic consequences down the road. his domestic agenda has obviously had serious implications for our global standing. while borrows trillions and wasting taxpayer dollars at home, the president imposed a policy of austerity at the pentagon that threatens to undermine our stabilizing presence around the globe. and of course, we have seen how eager the president is to declare an end to the war on terror. unfortunately, the world just hasn't cooperated.
they haven't cooperated with the president's vision or his hopes. far from responding favorringly to the gentler approach. it's become arguably more dangerous. we have learned the hard way that being nice to our enemies didn't make them like you or clear a path to peace. i understand the president ran for office on an anti-war platform. that his rise to political power was marked by determination to get us out of afghanistan and iraq. i know he would focus on the domestic agenda. but the ongoing threat from al qaeda and the affiliate and the turmoil unleashed by uprising in northern africa and the middle east and not to mention the rise of chinese military power, make it clear to me, at least, it's not the time for america to --
the world a dangerous place. and the wake of the arab spring, large part of the sinai, libya, syria, are basically ungoverned. we have seen prison breaks in iraq, and the release of hundreds of prisoners from egypt. terrorists have escaped from prisons in a country no more ready to dpe -- detain the terrorists at guantanamo now than in 2009. it -- suggests the civil war will left side for years. regardless whether assad is still in power. yes, the president deserves praise for weakening al-qaeda's senior leadership. but the threat we face from al qaeda of affiliates is very real. these terrorists are adaptable. they are versatile, lethal, resilient, and they aren't going
away. mocts of these terrorists extent from north after can to the persian gulf and at the time he faced up to it. it's time to face up to something else as well. international order is maintained its backbone as american military might. which brings me back to syria. for two years now, syria has been marred in a fell madly row -- with more than 100,000 killed with conventional arms. that's according to u.n. estimates. it promoted many to look to the united states for help. so one year ago president obama made the declaration. if assad moved or used chemical
weapons he would do something about it. as we know august of 21st of this year the right lane was crossed. the president's delayed response was to call for a show of war for targeted limited strike against the regime. we have been told the purpose of the strike is to deter and degrade assad's regime ability to use chemical weapons. let take a closer look at the aims. first, no one dispute the atrousesty committed in syria in recent weeks are unspeakable. no one disputes those responsible for the crimes against the innocent should be holed account. we were absolutely right, of course, con dpem the crimes. -- condemn the crimes. let's be clear about something. these attacks monsterrous as they are not attack against the
united or the treaty allies. so there's no confusion, let me ensure everyone if a weapons of mass destruction were used against the u.s. or one of our allies, congress would react immediately with an authorization for the use of force and support of an overwhelming response. i would introduce the resolution myself. no leader in north carolina or iran or any other enemy of the united should take any -- if the u.s. not respond to the attack with action against syria. we will never ever toll the rate the use of chemical weapons against the united or any its treaty allies. second, in the course of administration hearings and briefings over the past several days, secretary of state kerry used chemical weapons repeatedly over the last year. there's a further question about
why the administration didn't respond to those occasions. third, assad as i've indicated has killed tens of thousands of people with conventional weapons. is there any reason to believe he won't continue if the president strike or limited as we're told they would be. fourth, what if degrading assad's control of those weapons if in doing that you make it easier for other extremist elements like those associated with al qaeda to actually get ahold of them themselves. what if weakening by the military you tilt the military -- no position to governor or control anything right now? i think the chairman and joint chief of staff put the particular issue benchmarking when he recently suggested in a letter to congress that the issue here isn't about choosing
between two sides in syria. it's about choosing one among many sides. his estimation even if we were to choose sides, the side we choose -- promote their own interest our ours. there's a question how he would react in syria. if aside views an campaign for as reparation for a regime change, may lose all constraint in the use of arsenal, chemical, or otherwise. lose any incentive whatsoever to move to the negotiating table. it's very clear that the unintended consequences of this strike could very well be a news cycle of escalation which drags us to a larger war than we're all seeking to avoid. some of you have suggested that
the humanitarian crisis surrounding the syrian civil war could be made worse. worse as a result of even targeted u.s. strikes. in the end, then, the president's proposal seems fundamentally flawed. it may not i did territorial-type assad's further use of chemical weapons. if it's too broad, if writtens jeopardizing the security of the same stockpile. that's why i think we are compelled to apply a more traditional standard to whether to proceed with the use of force let me ask a simple question. does assad's use of chemical weapon pose a threat to the national security interest of the united states? and the an to that question is fairly obvious. even the president himself said
it doesn't. one could argue there's an important national security concern at play we have a strong interest in preserving the credibility of our commander in chief regardless of the party in power and giving him the political support that reinforces that credibility. in is an issue i take very seriously. it's the main reason i want to take my time in making a final decision. but ultimately, i concluded that the incredible in syria requires presenting a credible response. and having a credibility strategy. for those reasons, i indicated this proposal just doesn't pass muster. indeed, if through the limited strike the president's credibility is not restored because assad uses chemical weapons again, what then?
and new target aimed at toppling the regime which end up jeopardizing control of the chemical weapons allowing them to fall to the hands of the al qaeda or others intent on using them again the united or our allies where would the cycle of escalation end? last night we learned about a russian diplomatic gamete to force all military action through a proposal to secure and eventually destroy the syrian chemical weapon stockpile. this morning there are initial reports that suggests syria is supportive much it. let me remind everyone if it's agreed to. it's still a long way off to reaching an agreement at the united nations. to syria gaining entry to the chemical weapons convention, and to eventually secure and destroying the stock pile. as we have seen in my own state of kentucky, where we have been
working for thirty years to finally destroy a stockpile of chemical weapons, destroying chemical weapons is extremely challenging and requires a great deal of attention to detail and safety. none the less, this proposal is obviously worth exploring. but more broadly, and this is my larger point, this one punitive strike we're debating could not make up for the president's performance over the last five years. the only way for him to achieve the credibility he seeks by embracing the kind of serious, integrated national security plan that matches strategy to resources. capabilities to commitments. and which shows our allies around the world the u.s. is fully engaged and ready to act in a moment's notice at the major area of concern around the globe. whether it's the mediterranean,
the persian gulf, or in the south china sea. and just as importantingly, he's willing to invest in the strategy for a long-term. in syria, a limited strike would not resolve the civil with war there. nor will it remove assad from power. there appears to be no broader strategy to train,ed a vies, and assist a vetted opposition group on a meaningful scale. as we if during the cold war. what is needed in syria is what is needed almost everywhere else in the world from america right a clear strategy and president determined to carry it out. when it comes to syria, our partners in the middle east, countries like turkey, jordan, saudi arabia, and israel all of them face real consequences from and stability, refugee flows and the growth of terrorist networks. responding to the crisis
requires a regional strategy and leadership. what we have gotten instead is an administration that seems more interested in telling us what the mission is not more interested in telling us what the mission is not than what it is. we have gotten the same reduck assistant i have seen from the president for nearly five years. when the president united asks do you take seriously. you must do. so too is the credibility of the commander in chief tied up to a large extend with mesh's credibility in general. there's no doubt about that. so let me repeat, i'll stand sthowrld shoulder with this president or any case where our vital national security interests are threatened. our treaty allies are attacked,
or we face an imminent threat. as for vale, very few people if anyone expect that syria would test the readiness to respond on its own. which goes to show you the importance of credibility on the world stage. as prime minister netanyahu put last week, the enemy of israel have very good reason not to test its mite. -- might. the prime minister should know, none the less, that america stands with him. i have never been an isolationist, and i vote against the resolution shouldn't be confused by anyone as a turn in that direction. just as the most committed isolationist could be convinced of the need for intervention under the right circumstance which confronted with a threat, so too do the internationalists among us believe that all
interventions are not created equal. all interventions are not created equal. and this proposal just does not stand up. so i'll be voting against this resolution of vital national security risk and clearly not play. there are too many unanswered question about the long-term strategy in syria. including the fact that the proposal is utterly detached from a wider strategy to end the civil with a there. and specific question of deterring the use of chemical weapons. the president's proposal appears to be based actually on a contradiction. it will -- or we will execute a strike sonar row as to be a demonstration. it's at not as all as general dempsey said -- what is needed to preserve a
functioning state. after the fact. we cannot ignore the unintended consequences of our action. we also cannot ignore our broader obligation in the world. i firmly believe that the international system that was constructed on the ashes of world world war ii rest upon the stability provided by the american military. and by the commitments to our allies. it is a necessary role that only we can continue to fulfill in the decades to come. especially in times like this, the united states cannot afford to withdrawal from the world stage. my record reflects that belief and commitment regardless of which party has control of the white house. we choose to be dominant in the world or we resign ourselves and our allies to the mercy of our enemies. we either defend our freedom and the civilization, or it
crumbles. so as we shift our military focus to the asia-pacific, we cannot ignore our commitment to the middle east, to stability in the persian gulf, to enduring presence in afghanistan, to hunting down the terrorists that threaten the united and its people. and when the commander in chief sets his mind to action, the world should think he believes it. the commander in chief sets his mind to an action, the world can think he believes it. frankly, the president didn't exactly inspire confidence when he distanced himself from the right lane in stoke home last week. it's long past time the president drops the pose of the reluctant warrior and leave. you can't build an effective policy on the vilification of your predecessor at loan. at some point you is a to take responsibility for your own
actions and see the world the way it is. not the way you would like that to be. if you wish to engage countries that have been host time, so be it. be a realist. know the limit of rhetoric and prepare for the worse. for too long the president has put the faith in the power of the own rhetoric to change the mind of mesh's enemies. for too long he's been more interested in showing the world that america is somehow different now than it has been in the past. it's humbler. it's not interesting in mettling the affair of others or shaping event. but in his eagerness to turn the page she's blinded himself to the trends and development from tunisia to damascus, to tehran and countless places in between. a year ago, this month, four americans were senselessly murdered in benghazi. last month, the president
ordered the closing of more than two dozen diplomatic posts stretching from west africa to the bay of bengal. as that indicated, and as the decision to close the embassies clearly shows the terrorist threat continues to be real. expressions of antiamericannism are rampant throughout africa and the middle east. even more so than when the president took office. the president's new approach has clearly come with a cost. for the sake of our own security and that of our ally it's time he recognized it. because if america doesn't meet the international commitment, who will? that's one question those on the left who are comfortable with the weakened america can't answer. because the answer is too fightenning. no one will. that's the answer. this episode showed us anything, it's that the time has come for the phot finally acknowledge there's no substitute for
american might. it's time for america to lead again. it's time from the front. we need strategic vision in the middle east and many places around the world to do it. the republican leader mitch mcconnell earlier today after 10:00 a.m. eastern when the senate came in expressing his opposition to a proposed authorization of military force against syria. not long after knitch spoke, the assistant majority leader in the senator spoke on the senate floor supporting the use of military force in his floor speech gave a breech history of the use of chemical weapons and conflict throughout modern history. >> let me say a word about the issue of syria. you can't on the one hand, criticize this president for stepping up and saying we need
to take action if necessary to stop the use of chemical weapons. then on the other hand, say he's reluctant warrior and doesn't support it. how in the world do you reconcile those two points of view? the president has shown leadership on this. what he asked for the congress follow. what i heard from the republican senator from kentucky he's not interested. in following that leadership. let me also add, this putin ofture we find some peaceful way to resolve this. i hope it turns out to be true that something that works. and if it does, give credit where it due. the president stepped up and said we have to challenge the use of chemical weapons in syria, even if it doesn't affect the united states directly or the allies directly. we have to stand up to them. it this putin oprah oprah instruction of the -- give the president credit for
it. don't criticize him for not leading. he has shown more leadership on the issue with than frankly many politicians of either party wanted to face. i think when it comes to a credibility strategy this president has one. it's a strategy which is ending a two wars, which is put an end to the leader of the terrible terrorist attack on the united on 9/11, it's a strategy which is improved the image of the united since the president has come to power over the last several years. and it's a strategy question build on in the future we need to make certain what we cois done with an eye toward the reality of the world we live in. it's a danger use world. it's one where the united states may be called on to lead at times when we don't want to lead. we cannot be isolationist.
the united has a responsibility in this world. that responsibility has to be used very carefully. mr. president understands that. my hope at the end of the day we can in fact see a peaceful resolution in syria. i hope we can find a way to harkin back to ronald reagan where we can trust that will happen but verify it as well. that will be the right ending to this. i think the president has taken the right position. i also want to add something when it come to the nation of israel, our closest and best ally in the middle east, they understand what we are trying to do with chemical weapons in syria, and they have knead clear through their friend in the united states and other ways they support it without fear of retaliation by syria. they're ready, according to prime minister netanyahu for whatever syria chooses to do. we shouldn't be any less
forceful or committed when it come to the threat of ending chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the mid east. i yield the floor. prawment will speak to the nation about syria. we'll have live coverage at 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, c pan radio, and c-span.org. and follow that with your comments. senator durbin alluded to russia in the brief floor speech from the morning. and the associated press reporting under which syria would turn over the chemical weapons in order avoid western missile strike. the plan bogged down today. moscow rejected u.s. and french demands. kerry testified this morning he talked about the russian plan. it was before the russian reacted to the u.n. proposal.
here is what secretary kerry had to say. >> yesterday we challenged the regime to turn them over to the secure control of the international community, so they can be destroyed. and, of course, would be the ultimate way to degrade and tenth deter the arsenal. it's an ideal way to take the weapon away from his. his chief ben factor responded by saying they would come up with a proposal to do exactly that, and we have made it clear to them. i have in several conversations with foreign minister that this cannot be a process of delay, this cannot be a process of avoidance, it has to be real, it has to be measurable, tangible, and exceedingly difficult. i want everybody here to know to fulfill the conditions. but we're waiting for that proposal. we're not waiting for long.
brought this regime to even acknowledge that they have a chemical weapons arsenal and it is the threat of this force and our determination to hold assad accountable that has motivated others to even talk about a real and credible international action that might have an impact. so how do you maintain that pressure? we have to continue to show syria, russia, and the world that we are not going to fall for stalling tactics. if the challenge we laid down is going to have the potential to become a real proposal, it is only because of the threat of force to we are discussing today , and that threat is more compelling if congress stands with the commander in chief. >> john kerry from earlier
today. the president is speaking in about two hours at 9:00 eastern from the white house on syria. live coverage overrun c-span, c-span radio, and c-span.org. continuing to ask you the question on our facebook page about proposed military intervention is syria. do you support or oppose? over 1800 people have voted, 200 or so supporting and some 1600 plus opposing military intervention in syria. that is facebook dot com / c-span. well, the hill writes about the address tonight. the president's speech from the east room was initially billed as a chance to persuade of war-weary american public that it needs to launch a military strike response to serious use of military weapons. a last-minute offer from syrian officials as renewed hope of a diplomatic solution while complicating the president's task. they write the president obama told democrats a meeting on capitol hill today he wanted the vote authorizing military force
delayed to give the international diplomatic process more time to work. senator ben cardin of maryland spoke supporting the use of military force. >> mr. president, make no mistake about it, the resolution before us in our judgment, one of the most difficult decisions a member of the united states senate will ever have to make. the authorization of force is an awesome responsibility that each of us has. none of us want to see americans in harm's way. none of us want to see the need for the use of military force. so this is a difficult judgment for us to make. the constitution envisions that both the president and congress are involved in that applying of u.s. military. certainly the president as commander-in-chief and the congress under the war powers act have a responsibility to
authorize the use of force. now, today in this country americans are tired of war. we have been involved for way too long. we thought these campaigns would be short campaigns. they tended to be very long campaigns. there has been a tremendous loss human life and physical resources, the wars that the data states has participated in. but the public also understands that we have a responsibility to use our military to protect the national interest of the people of this country. the understand that america's military strength keeps the people in this country safe, and they expect that the president and the congress will use that military force in order to
protect the national security of the people of this country. now, what is in our national security interests and why would the president come to congress asking us to consider the use of military force? the current circumstances in syria. understand, recognize that there is a need to use force. the united states plays a unique role in the international community. for we understand that standing up for basic internationally recognized human rights is a responsibility that we all have. mr. president, i supported president clinton when he asked for the authorization of force for the united states along with the international community to be involved in restoring order
in the republics of the former yugoslavia. ethnic cleansing in bosnia and cause of low. but for the leaders of the united states, communities, it is their communities would have been destroyed. people lost their lives. we stood up because it was in the united states interest to stand up for the enforcement of basic established international human rights. so let us evaluate what is happening in syria today and understand that what is happening there may be far from our shores. the impact is very much felt here in the united states. i served on the senate foreign relations committee. we were called back into session last week because of the president's request for the congress to act on his request for use of force. we held hearings that were open to the public.
we held classified hearings, we could better understand what happened in syria. mr. president, i think it is now clear beyond any doubt that the assad regime in syria used chemical weapons. the evidence is clear. it was not the first occasion that they use chemical weapons. they used chemical weapons in advance. the nod in the magnitude that they did on august 21st of this year. in which over 1400 people were killed, many of whom were children. videos are now available public. you can see the how terrific act that was imposed upon people in syria. the action of syria on
august 201st violated international norms. since chemical weapons were used and will war won the international community has come together and said, even in war we will not permit the use of chemical weapons. it is so horrific us so indiscriminate that it is an international community that will stand up and say no. you cannot use toggle weapons. the evidence is clear. president assad of syria use chemical weapons in the mass way killing of or 1400 people. that action requires the response of the international community. for if it goes unchallenged it is more likely that president assad will continue to use chemical weapons he is considers
it one of the weapons is still walks. it will go on challahs readiness a community the people of syria are not the only ones the risk, mr. president. these chemical weapons could easily be used against american allies in that region. could be used against turkey. could be used against jordan. could be used against israel. and if they use of weapons of mass destruction in syria goes unchallenged, if president kim five can get away with the use of chemical weapons, what message does that send to there regime and its ambition to become a nuclear weapon state and perhaps use nuclear weapons? what messes says it sent to the
government of north korea which is openly testing the use of nuclear weapons. we have a direct interest in preventing the use of weapons of mass destruction, and we have to work with the international community to say that this was not going cellist. we have nattily a moral imperative, and we do have a moral imperative. our national security interests. if these weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorist organizations and groups, it threatens the security of americans. it threatens the security of our allies. we have a responsibility to protect national security and the people of this country mr. president, many people have talked to me about there
concerns, about the use of american military in syria. they recall what happened when the congress authorized the use of force where there was evidence of chemical weapons, and then we went in and found no chemical weapons. there were statements made about a limited operation. our troops were there for a decade. there was obviously concerned about the impression being made available to us and what is being asked of the congress of the united states. wind force was authorized against iraq and that resolution was pending before i served in the other body in the house of representatives, had a chance to first and see the information and is risk factors to the interest of the estate's, you
may recall that the popular sentiment was for america to authorize the use of force, for congress to authorize the use of force. i voted no on the resolution. was convinced that america will would not have a national security interest to use military force to. so let me explain the difference between the circumstances over a decade ago ammo we're facing today in syria. the justification, the original justification for the united states entering its combat troops. deeply involved with the government afghanistan. i saw no relationship between the iraqi government and the attack and our country. yet the statements were made.
it was used as justification for using military force. here the justification is the use by syria of chemical weapons which have been established. i believe the international community is now understood the evidence is clear that the assad regime use chemical weapons and contravention to international norms. we were authorizing the use of force. there was no restrictions on the u.s. military. and as you know, we use ground troops. we use hundreds of thousands of ground troops in our campaign in iraq putting american lives directly at risk and putting american directly in harm's way. the request of the president of the estate's for military action in syria does not include an
impact the resolution that has come out of the senate foreign relations committee makes it clear that there will be no ground combat troops from the united states of america. we will not be drawn into a ground war. that iraqi resolution was approved over a decade ago. no time limit on an authorization. as we saw with that authorization and with the afghanistan authorization, those campaigns went for over a decade american troops a risk. the authorization that has come out of the senate foreign relations committee contains a 60 day limitation on the authorization on the use of force. sixty days. once for an additional 30 days. a limited campaign.
it's very clear that this authorization is restricted to to the specific objectives, the specific objectives to degrade and deter the use of chemical weapons by the syrian regime, to prevent the transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist organizations. the senate foreign relations committee recommended resolutions in limited -- is limited to the mission. it's limited in the type of military operation. no ground troops. it is limited in time, not to exceed 60 to 90 days. and it is limited for the fact that it should be use of force should be the last option, not the first, the last option. i've said many times on the floor of the house another floor of the senate that the use of military should be a last resort
that there are other options that need to be scored first. the resolution that is, of the senate foreign relations committee requires the president to to pursue diplomatic ways to resolve the issue before we can use force. he must certify to congress his done that before he can use force. you understand this directive is the way some of these issues. the now have an opportunity that we hope will work. reacting to serious use of google weapons. they know that we will stand by. nl have acknowledged that chemical weapons in great numbers exist.
quite frankly i think they have announced the attack in the use of chemical weapons in syria. of course the video speak for themselves. the physical evidence is overwhelming. now the return of those chemical weapons to the international community. if that is done we achieved our objective in the resolution is before us. the resolution before us, it is to degrade and deter the use of chemical weapons by syria. if they turn their chemical weapons over to the international community we have achieved our objectives. however, any such plan must be verifiable, enforceable, and timely.
excuse me by being a little bit suspicious of the suggestions made by russian and syria. i want to make sure that it is verifiable. it is enforceable, and that it is timely. mr. president, we anticipated a diplomatic effort when the senate foreign relations committee recommended this resolution to the poor of the united states senate. there are many members of the senate including the presiding officer better looking at ways we can come together to support the president's efforts to stand up against the use of the michael weapons. and i hope we will be able to come together with language in this resolution that will allow the syrian government to turn over their chemical weapons in a timely and enforceable way so that military force, unnecessary
make no mistake about it, but for the of president obama but for the use of american military force we would never be at this opportunity right now where we have of viable diplomatic channel that we can pursue. so i just want to acknowledge that, but acknowledge that we anticipated. diplomacy would be used as it should be used. we hope that military will not be necessary. but we have to react to the use of chemical weapons let me explain some of the things we don't want to see happening. i reference the hearings that we had a senate foreign relations committee, congratulate senator mendez and senator cochran, the chairman and ranking republican. we have a very open hearing and we have access to classified information, and open discussion
and our committee. all viewers were heard the resolution that we dollars is also for the united states congress to weigh in on. the defect resolution that the president submitted to us. one that was much more limited to the authorization that we felt was appropriate. i think it has served its purpose from the point of view of putting syria on notice that the united states is prepared to join the international community to save chemical weapons will not be allowed to be used. we also made clear that we will not be drawn into civil war. his sense of moral things. he has lost the legitimacy of leading the country. but it's up to the syrians to resolve the civil conflict. american troops will not be drawn in to the military problems within the zillow
problems within syria itself. burgoyne chapters of that book -- issue right now. as the united states has said, their knees to be a political solution to the future of syria. there are some good people and the opposition, some people we are concerned about. at the end of the day it's up to the syrians, the political process to determine their own governments. will respect the rate of serious to the chairman who their leader should be. that is our objective. get to that political solution. we won't be drawn into a broader conflict. as i said earlier, people i talk
to don't want war. the people i've talked to in this nation don't want the united states tried to another war. now the . one more point about the response for the use of chemical weapons. yes, our first priority is to measure the chemical weapons and i used again. take control the weapons and make sure they're not used president assad needs to be held accountable. he is committed war crimes. he has committed crimes against humanity. he needs to be held accountable for the criminal code to our criminal actions. hundred thousand lost their eyes. many of these are civilians who put in harm's way by the syrian government against international
norms. so i have interest my colleagues to join me in an effort calling on an international tribunal to take president assad in this case and establish the international justice so that he goes -- so that he is so accountable for his actions. it is important to work with the engineer said community. and i would hope that we will find more countries standing a for the importance of international participation on the use of chemical weapons. the smell opporunity for a diplomatic solution.
assume the appropriable. the united nations security council have an opportunity as early as today to pass an enforceable resolution condemning what happened in syria and accepting the offer to take control of all of its chemical weapons and do it in a way that is enforceable and in no way that accomplishes its goals. i hope that the united nations security council will act. i hope the international community will join us. the united states leaders, the key point is that we must respond to the use of chemical weapons. i think this debate is threatening our country. a understand that they're
different use. i would urge my colleagues to get together, to support a resolution that puts america on record supporting president obama on saying that we shall not permit the use of chemical weapons to go unchallenged. there objection is to make sure the world a safer from the use of chemical weapons and will prepare the work that the international community in order to achieve. i suggest -- >> in this area resolution under consideration in the senate was approved last week by the foreign relations committee in a 10-7 vote with one senator democrat ed markey of massachusetts voting present. he explained his committee by saying he needed more time to review all the classified material about the chemical weapons attack in syria. today he announced that he will vote against this year resolution and the full senate
takes it up saying i cannot support the resolution because it is too broad. the effects of a striker to unpredictable and i believe we must give diplomatic measures that could avoid military action a chance to work. in just over an hour and half the president will be addressing the nation of assyria. live coverage of his comments from the white house beginning at 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, c-span radio, and c-span.org. up next we're going to bring you the opening statements from today's house armed services committee and military strikes on syria. they heard from secretary carry and general dempsey. >> we need you, the congress. many of you said please bring this to congress. the president has done this. he sprang into congress with confidence that the congress will want to join in an effort to in order to uphold the word of the united states of america,
not just president. the united states of america with respect to the weapons of mass destruction. now want to be crystal clear about something else. some people want to do more in syria. some people are leery about doing anything in all. but one goal that we ought to all be able to agree on is that chemical weapons cannot be under the control of a man so craven that he has repeatedly uses chemical weapons against his fellow syrians with the terrific results that all of us a been able to see. yesterday we challenge the regime to turn them over to the secure control of the international community. that, of course, would be the all-time away to degrade into terror the arsenal of assad that is the ideal weapon, ideal way to take this up and away from them. the cheaper venture of assad,
the russians, have responded by saying that there would come up with the proposal to do exactly that. we have made it clear to them, have been several conversations with the foreign minister that this cannot be a process of the lay this can be a process avoidance. has to be real, measurable, tangible, and it is exceedingly difficult. i want everyone here to know, to fill those conditions. but we are waiting for the proposal president obama will take a hard look at it, but it has to be swift. it cannot be a delaying tactic command of the united nations security council seeks to be the vehicle to make it happen that cannot be allowed to happen simply because it is debating society. military action to those are
skeptical, want to see if this idea can become a reality. make no mistake about why this idea has any potential legs at all. why the syrians had initially suggested they might be interested. a lot of people say that nothing focuses the mind like the prospect of hanging. well, it is the credible threat of force that has been on the table for these last weeks. as for the first time it is brought this regime to even acknowledge that they have a chemical weapons arsenal. and it is the threat of this force and our determination to hold assad accountable that has motivated and others to even talk about a real and credible international action that might
have an impact. how do you maintain and pressure? we have to continue to head share of syria, russia, and the world of we are not going to fall for stalling tactics. it is a challenge the laydown and as the potential to become a real proposal. it is only because of the threat of force the we're discussing today. the threat is more compelling if congress stands with the commander-in-chief. finally, let me just correct the common ms. concepcion. my conversation, i talked with many of you. he told me you would hear it. the instant reaction of a lot of americans, and i'm completely sympathetic to it. they understand it. and the word comes from. i only stopped sitting were used said a few months ago. i know exactly where those
feelings are. mr. chairman, with all due respect we cannot make this decision based solely on the budget. we cannot make this decision based solely on our wishes, on our feeling that we know we have been through the ringer for a while. we are the united states of america, and people look to us. they look to us for the meaning of our words. the look to us for our guidance, being followed up by the imprint of action where necessary. we are not talking about america going to war. president obama is not asking for a declaration of war. we are not going to war. there will be no american boots on the ground. let me repeat, no american boots on the ground. what we're talking about is a
targeted, limited, but consequential action that will reinforce the prohibitions against chemical weapons. general dempsey and secretary a goal of tell you how we can see that. there confidence in our ability to achieve it. we're talking about an action that will degrade the capacity of assad use these weapons and to ensure that they do not proliferate. and with this authorization, the president is asking for the power to make sure that the united states of america means will we say. mr. chairman, mr. rankin member, members of this committee, i can say to you with absolute confidence the risk of not acting is much greater than the risk of acting. if we fail to act assad will believe that he has licensed to gases and people again. and that will turn red weapons
into a tactical weapons. general did see can tell you about this. it would make -- it would make an exception, a purposeful exception that has been enforced since 1925 and make it to rule today. it would undermine our standing, degrade american security and credibility in the restaurant in the world. in the world of terrorists and extremists, we would choose to ignore those risks at our peril. we cannot afford to have chemical weapons transformed into the new convenient weapon, the ied, the car bomb, the weapon of everyday use in this world. nighter our country nor our conscience can bear the cross of inaction, and that is why we have come before you at the instruction of the president to ask you to join as in this
effort. >> mr. chairman, ranking member, the department of defense has a responsibility to protect the national security interest of the united states. general dempsey and i take responsibility seriously. that's why i strongly support president obama's decision to respond to the assault resumes chemical weapons attack of its own people. a large scale and heinous sarin gas assault on innocent civilians, including women and children. i also wholeheartedly support the president's decision to seek congressional authorization for the use of force in syria. i believe secretary carrier outlined those reasons very clearly. the president has made clear that it is in our country's national security interest to degrade chemical weapons
capabilities of assad and deter him from using them again. as he mentioned yesterday, we outlined a way to accomplish this objective and avert military action that would require the assad regime to swiftly turn its chemical weapons arsenal over to international control so that can be destroyed forever as president obama noted in a verifiable manner. all of us are hopeful that this option might be a real solution to this crisis, yet we must be very clear ride in ensuring is not a stalling tactic by syria and its russian patriots. and for this diplomatic option to have a chance of succeeding the threat of the u.s. military action, the credible, real threat is of u.s. military action must continue as we are
talking today. it was the president's determination to hold assad accountable and the fact that he put military action on the table and enable this new diplomatic track to maybe gain some momentum and a credibility. the support of congress for holding assad accountable would give even more energy and more urgency to these efforts. so congress has a responsibility to continue supporting debate on authorizing the use of force against the syrian regime. as each of us knows, committing our country to using military force is the most difficult decision leaders will make. all of those who are privileged to serve our nation have a responsibility to ask the tough questions before that commitment is made. we must be able to assure the american people that the leaders are acting according to u.s. national interest, with a
well-defined military objectives , and with an understanding of the risks and the consequences. the president is working with his entire national security team to ask the difficult questions before we conclude that the united states should take military action. i want to address briefly how we reach this decision by clarifying the u.s. interest a stake here today and in the future. our military objectives and their risks of not acting at this critical torture. as president obama has said, the use of chemical weapons in syria is not only an assault on humanity, is a serious threat to america's national security interest and those of our closest allies. the syrian regime is actions risk during the long standing international norm is the use of conoco weapons. and on that it has helped
protect. the weakening of this has grave consequences for our troops, country's future security, and global stability. these weapons are profoundly destabilizing and have rightfully been rejected by the international community. serious use of chemical weapons also threatens our friends and partners, including israel, jordan, turkey, lebanon, iraq. increases the risk that terrorist groups like hezbollah which has force is in serious supporting the assad regime could acquire chemical weapons and use them against our interests and our people. we must do all that we can to prevent any terrorist group determined to strike the united states from acquiring chemical weapons and we cannot allow terrorist groups in or
authoritarian regimes to mistakenly believe that they can use chemical weapons against u.s. troops are america's friends and partners in regions without severe consequences. our allies to route door of must be assured the united states will stand by its security commitments and its word. our adversaries must not believe that they can develop and use weapons of mass scrap -- destruction without consequence. the world read these adversaries are emboldened instead of deterred is not the world that we want to live in, as president obama's said last week. for example, north korea threatens our treaty allies, the republic of korea. directly threatens the 28,000 u.s. troops stationed there. during my recent trip to asia and the very serious and long
conversation with the south korean defence minister about this real threat that north korea's chemical weapons presents to them. given these threats the united states must demonstrate through our actions that the use of chemical weapons is acceptable. the president has made clear that our military objectives in syria would be to hold the assad regime accountable for its chemical weapons attack, degrade its ability to carry out these kinds of attacks, and to turn their regime from further use of chemical weapons. the department of defense has develop military actions to achieve his objectives, and we have positioned u.s. assets throughout the region to successfully execute the mission we believe we can achieve them with a military action there would be targeted to my consequential, and limited.
general dempsey and i have assured the president at u.s. forces will be ready to act whenever the president gives the order. we are working to build broad international support for this effort has secretary kerrey has noted. last week the leaders of a number of countries condemned this atrocity and call for a strong international response. in the days since a number of other nations have also signed on. in defining our military objectives we have made clear that we are not seeking to resolve the underlying conflict through direct military force. we will not send american sons and daughters to fight in other countries. we are not contemplating any kind of open in his intervention and an operation involving american ground troops. a political solution created by the syrian people is the only way to ultimately end the
violence. the secretary is helping to lead that it's a national effort to help the parties and syria move toward a negotiated transition. we have also expanded our assistance to the modern syrian opposition. the military action we are contemplating will reinforce the larger strategy, strengthening diplomatic efforts in making clear to assad that he cannot achieve victory to further violence. having to find america's interest, our military objectives, we also must examine closely the risks and consequences. there are always risks in taking action, but there are also significant risks within action. the assad regime under increasing pressure from the syrian opposition and with a massive arsenal of chemical weapons could feel empowered to carry an even more devastating chemical weapons attacks. this would deepen the refugee
crisis faced by syria's natives, neighbors, and further destabilize the region. a refusal to act would undermine the credibility of the head states, including the credibility of the president's commitment to prevent iran from requiring nuclear weapons. the word of the united states must mean something. it is file currency in foreign relations and international and allied commitments. every witness here today has served in uniform, fought in wars. we have seen its and the realities of close, like many of you. we understand that the country faces few decisions as craze is using military force. we are not aware of the costs and ravages of war. but we also understand that america must protect its people, that we must protect our national interest. not just for the immediate, but
for the future. that is our highest responsibility. all of us who have the privilege and responsibility of serving discrimination or the american people and especially those wearing the uniform of our country and vigorous debate and how america should respond to the horrific chemical weapons attack and syria. i know everyone on this committee agrees and takes the responsibility of office just as seriously as the president and everyone at this table thus. mr. chairman, thank you. >> thank you. >> chairman, ranking member, mayors of the committee, thanks for the average he took share my perspective on the use of force in syria. the males of thank you for your service in this committee and a great support you provided america's armed forces. the president has made the determination that is a national interest to respond to the use of chemical weapons by president assad of limited military force.
we have reached a point at which assad use of chemical weapons is just the military to let his arsenal of the is willing to use indiscriminately and that is what makes this a dangerous. my role is to provide the present options about how we could employ military force. he has directed me to plan for a militarily significant strike that would be the following command deter the further use of chemical weapons and degrade their regimes military capability to employ chemical weapons in the future. we have assembled target package is in line with those objectives we have both an initial target set and subsequent target sets should it become necessary. the planned strikes will disrupt those parts of the forests directly related to the chemical attack, degrade his means of chemical weapons delivery and finally degrade the assets that assad uses to threaten his
neighbors in to defend his regime. collectively such strikes will send assad a deterrent message demonstrating our ability to all the rest the capabilities see values most and to strike again if necessary. the united states military has forces ready to carry out the orders of the commander-in-chief the limited nature of these strikes seeks to mitigate the potential for miscalculation an escalation as well as minimize collateral damage. however, we are postured to address a range of contingencies and a prepared to support our friends in the region should assad choose to retaliate. the men and women of america's armed forces are exceptionally well trained and prepared. i am honored to represent them if call to execute your military will respond, and i stand ready to answer your questions.
>> responsibility to protect national security interest of the united states. gerald dempsey and i take their responsibility very seriously. that is why i strongly support president obama's decision to respond to the assad regime chemical weapons attack on its own people. large-scale and anus serin gas assault on innocent civilians, including women children. i also wholeheartedly support the president's decision to seek congressional authorization for the use of force in syria, and i believe secretary perry outlined those reasons very clearly. the president has made clear that it is in our country's national security interest to degrade the chemical weapons
capability of assad and deter him from using them again. as the secretary mentioned yesterday realigned a way to accomplish this objective and avert military action. it would require the assad regime to is roughly turn its chemical weapons arsenal over to international control so that it can be destroyed forever. as president obama noted in a verifiable manner. all of us are hopeful that this option might be a real solution to this crisis. yet we must be very clear right and insure it is not a stalling tactic by syria and its russian patriots. and for this diplomatic option to have a chance of succeeding the threat of a u.s. military action, the credible, real threat of u.s. military action must continue as we are talking
today it will continue. it was the president's determination to hold assad accountable and the fact that he put military action on the table and enabled this new diplomatic track to maybe gain momentum and credibility. the support of congress for holding assad accountable will give even more energy and more urgency to these efforts. so congress has the responsibility to continue this important debate on authorizing the use of force against the syrian regime. as each of us knows, committing our country to using military force is the most difficult decision leaders will make. all of those who are privileged to serve our nation have a responsibility to ask the tough questions before that commitment is made. we must be able to assure the american people that leaders are acting according to u.s.
national interest, with well-defined military objectives , and with an understanding of the risks and the consequences. the president is working with the entire national security team task is difficult questions before we conclude that the united states should take military action against the syrian regime targets. want to address briefly how we reach this decision by clarifying the u.s. interest a stake here today and in the future. our military objectives and their risks of not acting at this critical juncture. as president obama has said, the use of chemical weapons in syria is not only an assault on humanity, it is a serious threat to americans' initial security interest. the syrian regime is actions risk eroding the longstanding international norm against the use of chemical weapons, and on
that has helped protect the united states homeland and american forces operating across the globe from these terrible weapons. the weakening of the storm has grave consequences for our troops, our country's future security command level stability these weapons are profoundly destabilized and have rightfully been rejected by the engineers committee. assyria's use of chemical weapons also threatens our friends and partners along the borders, including israel, jordan, turkey, lebanon, a rock. it increases the risk that terrorists groups like hezbollah which has force is in serious supporting the -- regime could acquire chemical weapons and use them against our interests and our people. we must do all the we can to prevent has blocked or a terrorist group determined to strike the united states requiring chemical weapons, and we cannot allow terrorist groups
in of authoritarian regimes to mistakenly believe that they can use chemical weapons against u.s. troops are america's friends and partners in regions without severe consequences. our allies throughout the world must be assured that the united states will stand by its security commitments and stand by its word. our adversaries must not believe that they can develop and use weapons of mass destruction without consequence a world where these adversaries are in bold and instead of deterred is not the world that we want to live in, as president obama's of last week. for example, north korea with its massive stockpile of chemical weapons threatens our treaty, directly threatens the 28,000 u.s. troops stationed on the dmz. during my recent trip to asia and a very serious and long
conversation with the south korean defence minister about this real threat that north. chemical weapons presents to them and to our troops. given these threats to our national security, the united states must demonstrate through our actions that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable the president has made clear that our military objectives and syria would be to hold the assad regime accountable for its chemical weapons attack, degrade its ability to carry out these kinds of attacks, and deter the regime from further use of chemical weapons. the department of defense's develop military options to achieve these objectives, and we have positioned u.s. assets throughout the region to successfully execute the mission . we believe that we can achieve them with the military action that is targeted, consequential,
and limited. general dempsey and i have assured the president that u.s. forces will be ready to act whenever the president gives the order. we're working to build broad international support for this effort as secretary perry is noted. last week the leaders of a number of countries condemned this atrocity in call for a strong international response. in the days since a number of other nations also signed on in defining our military objectives we have made clear that we are not seeking to resolve the underlying conflict in syria to direct military force. we loma send america's sons and daughters to find another country's civil war. we are not contemplating any kind of open-ended intervention or an operation involving american ground troops. a political solution created by the syrian people is the only
way to ultimately end the violence in syria. secretary carious openly that international effort to help the parties in syria move toward a negotiated transition. we have also expanded our assistance to the moderate syrian opposition. the military action we're contemplating will reinforce the larger strategy, strengthening diplomatic efforts in making clear to assad that he cannot achieve victory tour for the violence. having to find america -- define america's interests and military objectives must examine closely the risks and consequences. there are always risks in taking action. but there are also significant risks with inaction. the assad regime under increasing pressure from the syrian opposition and with a massive arsenal of chemical weapons could carry out even more devastating chemical weapons attacks.
this would deepen the refugee crisis faced by serious natives, neighbors, and further destabilize the region. a refusal to act would undermine the credibility of the united states, including the credibility of the president's commitment to prevent iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. the word of the united states must mean something. it is vital currency in foreign relations and international and allied commitments. every witness to today, secretary carey, general tennessee, myself, served in uniform, fought in war. we have seen its ugly realities, like many of you to believe interest in the country faces few decisions his grave is using military force. we are not aware of the cost and ravages of war, but we also understand that america must protect its people and protect our national and trust, not just for the immediate, but for the
future. that is our highest responsibility. all of us to have the privilege and responsibility of serving this great nation of the american people and especially those wearing the uniform of our country in a vigorous debate on how america should respond to the horrific chemical weapons attack and syria. i know everyone on this committee greece and takes the responsibility of office just as seriously as the president and everyone at this table does. mr. chairman, thinking. >> thank you. >> chairman, ranking member, members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to share my perspective on the use of force in syria. let me also thank you for your service on this committee in the grey support you provide for america's armed forces. the president has made a determination it is in our national interest to respond to the assad use of chemical weapons with limited military
force. we have reached a point at which a few -- assad use chemical weapons is just another military tool in his arsenal, to he is willing to use indiscriminately, and that is what makes this so dangerous, dangerous for syria, dangerous for the region, and dangerous for the world. my role is to provide the president with options about how the we could employ military force. he has directed me to plan for a militarily significant strike that would do the following, deterred the assad regime further use of chemical weapons and degrade their resumes military capability to employ chemical weapons in the future. we have assembled target package is in line with those objectives we have both an initial target set and subsequent target sets should it become necessary. the planned strikes will disrupt those parts of the assad force is directly related to the chemical attack on 21 august, degrees means of chemical weapons delivery, and finally degrade the assets that assad
uses to threaten his neighbors and to defend his regime. collectively such strikes will send assad a deterrent message, demonstrating our ability to all the rest the capabilities he values most and to strike again if necessary. the united states military has force is ready to carry on the orders of the commander-in-chief the limited nature of these tracks seeks to mitigate the potential for miscalculation and escalation as well as minimize collateral damage. however, we are postured to address a range of contingencies and prepared to support our friends in the region should assad choose to retaliate. i don't have to tell you this, but the men and women of america's armed forces are exceptionally well trained and prepared. imi to represent them if called to execute your military will respond, and i stand ready to answer your questions. >> tonight on c-span2 the senate debates possible military strikes on syria. then secretary of state john