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tv   Washington Journal Rep. Jim Mc Govern Rep. Tom Cole  CSPAN  March 24, 2021 12:09pm-12:37pm EDT

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do we need to recess the committee? sen. brown: we are going to be in recess until 12:30. if secretary yellen and chairman powell could remain on the call, feel free to turn off your video until we come back. and so we will recess until 12:30. chair powell: you need us to keep sitting here? or, can we come back? >> you can come back. chair powell: just making sure. >> we are joined next by the chair and ranking member of the rules committee, representative jim mcgovern from massachusetts and also from oklahoma, tom whole. thanks for joining us. >> thank you. the 1973 war powers act,
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chairman mcgovern, tell us about that act and why the rules committee in the house is taking up a revision of that act. guest: lyndon johnson had a line, he said it is easy to get into war, hard as hell to get out. over the years, both democratic and republican presidents have initiated military intervention and action involving our troops without appropriate consultation with congress, without congressional approval. basically, usurping congressional power when it comes to the issue of war. the war powers act, which was past 50 years ago, was supposed to balance things out. quite frankly, it hasn't. we had a hearing yesterday and the rules committee to examine
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how we could do things better. we talked about updating the war powers. -- war powers resolution. it was a bipartisan committee hearing. i am fortunate to serve with my ranking member tom cole who shares my -- on the issue. the hope is to establish a record and perhaps move forward legislatively to fix it. host: the war powers act passed nearly 50 years ago, in the waning years of the vietnam war did the constitutional -- been no more. the constitutional power of the president -- is clearly indicated by the circumstances only when pursuant to declaration of war, or specific statutory authorization, or national emergency created upon it -- upon attack on the united
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states. congressman cole, we seem to be operating under another one of those authorizations. where are we now in terms of being able to have troops overseas? what are we operating under? guest: the two most important author race -- authorizations are the 2001 authorization which was the congressional response to 9/11. secondly, the 2002 authorization which okayed us going into iraq. there have been others since then, but basically those two provided the justification for the executive branch to get awesome involved in innumerable conflicts. when they did not suffice, take libya in 2013, or whatever it
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was, on that occasion i think the obama administration stretched the nato alliance and got us involved in lydia -- libya's part of nato. there are endless ways for the executive branch to get us into war, and congress to be stuck with dealing with that afterwards. host: certainly over the years, almost since the beginning of the use of aumf, efforts have been made to end those and they have fallen short. why? guest: it is hard to get a majority to vote with us. part of the problem here is that the executive branch has tried to usurp power. the other part is that congress has not stood up to protect its constitutional prerogatives.
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for a lot of members of congress, i think this is true on both sides, they prefer not to vote on these issues. they prefer not to debate these issues. it is easy to stand on the sidelines. the president watches a military incursion somewhere and cheers them on if it goes well and criticizes them if it is not, but you do not have to vote or debate. that is not courage. our men and women who serve demonstrate courage every day. when congress does not do its job, when congress does not debate these issues and hold the president's feet to the fire, that is cowardice. what we are saying is look, we have responsibilities here. if you go to work, that is a big deal. we are putting the lives of our constituents in harm's way. we ought to debate these issues
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and go on record as voting one way or the other. host: ahead of the hearing, yesterday's hearing, bipartisan coalition of lawmakers introduced legislation to restore congressional war powers. in that, it says hr 7500 would "reassert congress' constitutional role." how did this come out between you and share mcgovern in terms of developing legislation and how does this legislation see congress reasserting their role? guest: i want to give the chairman a lot of credit. he has been consistent on this issue. we have been on the rules committee a few years together, and frankly, he was consistent -- didn't matter if it was obama, bush or trump, he has consistently been there. he has unique credibility on this issue.
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part of the problem is the two sides of a polarized congress want to support their president even when they disagree with him. jim was certainly supportive of president obama and is supported if -- supportive of president biden, but if we are going to commit troops there needs to be a congressional vote. i applaud him on that. we have worked together on this a variety of times trying to nudge congress toward this. as he pointed out yesterday, we have a unique opportunity because the biden administration is interested in looking at new aumf. we have not had an executive of either party that has wanted to do that. perhaps as jim suggested that is because president biden, when he was a senator, wrestled with these same problems that our colleagues are dealing with on a regular basis. host: i want to welcome our
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viewers the congressman's -- congressmen mcgovern and cole. (202) 748-8000 free democrats. (202) 748-8001 for republicans. (202) 748-8002 for independents. guest: the point of the hearing was to explore ways to tighten things up and require the necessary checks and balances be put into place. as tom pointed out, we are going to war. we are engaged in military operations today. and over the years that are being justified from an authorization that was passed over 20 years ago. i was in congressman we voted on the authorization of use of military force in afghanistan.
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every member of congress with the exception of barbara lee voted for that. i thought in the aftermath of 9/11 it was appropriate to go after those who were responsible for the terrible tragedy that took place on our homeland. today, if i go back and change that vote, i probably would. that authorization has been used to justify a continued involvement in afghanistan that has changed and changed and used to justify the luke perry operations in other countries. i voted against the use of military in iraq because i was concerned about these open ended aumfs being used for a president to do whatever the heck you wanted. that's whatever the heck he wanted. i was concerned with democratic republicans -- democrat
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presidents and republican presidents. we have lightning and a bottle right now, bipartisan congress, a president open to review, so let's pursue this and see if we can do this better. i hope that is what happens. host: the administration was barely a month old when faced with the situation in syria, the airstrike in syria that was launched in late february. under what authority was that airstrike launched? guest: the president used article to powers under the constitution, which i felt was a stretch. he didn't use existing aumfs, but this is another reason why we need to revisit the war powers resolution. president -- i love joe biden and i expect he will be a great president, but i want to make sure that when it comes to war
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that we are getting it right. that we don't prematurely and unnecessarily get into a military conflict and that there is approval of congress and there is debate. these are our constituent's lives. this is not some arcane academic discussion. people die in war. we spend trillions on war. i heard somebody complaining about the cost of the american rescue package when i was waiting to get on, well, we have spent trillions in afghanistan. these are issues that deserve our attention and deserve thoughtful debate. we ought to make sure if we are going to commit american forces in that way that it is absolutely necessary. that it has been debated and that congress is on record as voting to authorize that use of force.
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guest: can i make a response? that is a co-area this most recent action by biden that gemini would have different -- jim and i would have a different perspective. i think president biden was acting within article two. it was an attack in response to a co-attack that put american contractors lives in -- at risk and kill the foreign national. it was not meant to be sustained activity, it was a warning to she had militias in iraq. i thought that was appropriate. some of my colleagues disagree, but that is -- i am concerned about long, expensive engagements as i know the chairman is. something like when we went to war with isis with obama, i think that was the right thing
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to do but congress should have voted on it. where the libya incursion, i think that was wrong and congress should have voted on that. again, i do not want to hobble the president where he can't respond to an attack, but this difference is pretty minor between chairman mcgovern and i. i think with an administration that wants to work with us, we have a chance at getting something done and we will see whether or not congress has the will to actually enforce what we get done. host: your sense is that this administration, president biden in particular, is open to talking about revising this war powers act. more broadly, where is this in part of your effort as being ranking member of the house committee reasserting some of its authority over this? this in response to the many executive orders we have seen not just in this presidency but
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the trump and obama presidencies as well. rep. cole: speaking for myself i do. jim and i don't see every issue the same way, a liberal democrat , i'm a conservative republican. i think we see the constitutional role of the institution in which we both serve in the same way. it is refreshing to have an administration that lines up with that. that was not true of previous administrations republican or democrat. we will see how far we can go. there was some concern yesterday that we might go too far with a presidential veto. i assured the republican witness that race that point that i think it's unlikely a democratic house and a democratic senate with a democratic senator tie-breaking and i think -- vice presidency with the tie-breaking vote is likely to put up bill on the president's desk he doesn't
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want to sign. i think a lot could come from the fact that the administration does appear to want to work with us and i have a lot of confident in -- a lot of confidence in my friend mr. mcgovern's leadership on this issue. host: congressman mcgovern, can you give us a timeline of when you think this bill drafted by your committee will see action on the house floor? rep. mcgovern: we had a hearing in the rules committee, the house foreign affairs committee had a hearing yesterday. there are multiple steps. there will probably be an attempt to repeal or come up with new aumfs for existing conflicts. my hope is that in the coming weeks and months that we work on legislation and move it forward. the original war powers resolution was vetoed by richard nixon, and congress overrode that. i don't want to invite of vito,
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but i just point that out for historical fact. the deal is that we need to do something. tom and i, we have different political opinions. we represent constituents who, when in times of war are called to serve, and we have an obligation to make sure that they are being deployed out of hock -- if they are deployed in harm's way it's absolutely necessary and we have a responsibility to prevent that. there is a constitutional responsibility and a moral responsibility to our constituents. we are still in afghanistan. i said yesterday that in the hearing a couple of years ago that i visited afghanistan and met with troops from massachusetts. one guy asked if we knew what was going on over there. it is so far removed from what
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the original mission was and the ash in the aftermath of 9/11. you need to know what is happening here. i think one of the problems is that congress has kind of allowed these wars to go on autopilot and we have not done our due diligence or debated these issues because there is no sunset on these aumfs. if we don't do something, 40 years from now some president will be justifying a military operation in sun country based on a 2001 or 2002 aumf. we had no idea in 2001 what the reality would be in 2021. for a whole bunch of reasons we need to take a look at this and update and modernize the war powers resolution. my hope is that we can do that in a bipartisan way. you don't have to agree with everything to agree with something. i think tom and i agree on a lot
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of something and hopefully we can move something forward that can make it through the house and senate and get on the president's desk. host: you brought up afghanistan. do you think u.s. troops should be withdrawn by the may 1 deadline? congressman mcgovern? rep. mcgovern: i do. again, people have different opinions. we have to find a way to end this war otherwise we will be there forever. i want to protect and create a more stable world, but endless wars to me do not do that. when we talk about national security we need to understand that national security means the quality of life are people here at home. we have people who are hungry, people that are homeless, people who don't have jobs. we have aging infrastructure and we are told we don't have the
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resources to finance that. yet we have the resources to spend halfway around the world in a conflict that i'm not quite sure is adding anything to our national security. my whole view is the sooner we get our troops home the better. host: congressman jim mcgovern is the chair of the rules committee and congressman thomas goal is the ranking member. we have gary waiting illinois on the republican line, go ahead. caller: thank you. what a wonderful opportunity to have a republican and democrat together. my question is, is there any way you to can get together and [indiscernible] for people that make all the machines and weapons, and maybe watch their voting record and have it put out into the public so we know. the second question would be, why is it when you have 20 minutes to vote it takes 45 minutes to an hour and a half to
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get the votes in? let third question is, i have been trying to get someone to listen to me, i am on social security, i'm below the poverty level. i don't own a computer but i would love to see it remind -- no one seems to pay any attention to me when i say that. [indiscernible] thank you very much. host: you can skip to the one point if you want. we will start with tom cole. rep. cole: in terms of the voting records, they're pretty transparent. i'm not one that thinks we stumble into wars because of the defense industry or what have you. i think they do their job in terms of making sure we have the appropriate weapon. our job is to decide how much we spend and what we do. i don't think it's difficult to find out where members stand on the issue. on the 45 minute rush and we are
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operating under covid conditions and i hope we can review that soon because most members have been -- have gotten the vaccine. it makes it difficult to execute the vote. it's not members being lazy, we are supposed to come on in tranches and leave in tranches. that is what is causing that. in terms of social security you raise an important point. i have a bill, i used to carry it with our former colleague john delaney to do what ronald reagan and tip o'neill and howard baker did which is to set up a commission to review social ready, because it's going bankrupt. the trust fund, talking about raising nicole. that would speed the time up. i don't think congress will allow that to occur. we were closer to it in 1983 the
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last time we made a major overhaul of the system. this would set up a commission, we would have to have a super majority, congress would have to vote on that. that's what we did last time, we fixed it or about 50 to 70 years. we should do the same thing. this is a popular program and we should not be at risk area we could have a debate about how much more robust to make it. it's not like there's money sitting there. money is going out faster than it's coming in and has been since 2011. we have 10,000 people a day turning 65 becoming eligible for medicare and pretty quickly after that social ready if they are not already on it. that generation is going to live longer than any previous generation, it's bigger than any previous generation. we have real strains on the system that need to be addressed and it needs to be done in a bipartisan way. host: our main topic is the war
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powers and the house effort to revive that 1973 act. we go to ethel in daisy, tennessee on the democrats line. caller: i think they ought to get out of these wars, because we have that federal budget up there with this pandemic. if you are not going to fix the economy with this virus they have to get it under control and get people back to work. so schools can be open and be open safely. i think joe biden is doing a good job about moving the vaccine and the american people ought to give him credit for it.
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i think he is a good person, and i think he is going to do great things for this country. host: thank you. jim mcgovern, do you want to respond? rep. mcgovern: i agree with the caller. i am somebody who believes that a better way to promote national security and international stability is not through war, and not through selling arms to countries with terrible human rights violations but to focus on issues like poverty or hunger. i'm the author of a program called the mcgovern dole international food for education program named after george mcgovern and bob dole who cared deeply about ending global hunger. this is basically a school feeding program and some of the poorest countries in the world. i remember visiting one of the programs in a poor neighborhood
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in columbia many years ago, and a young mother came up to me and introduced me to her 10-year-old son. she said, and this neighborhood, every day, one of the armed actors comes through here asking me, the mother of this 10-year-old boy to give up my son. if i give him up and he joins one of these armed groups, they will guarantee him something i can't which is feed him every day. she said i have come close to doing that, but because of this program i don't have to get my son up and he will stay here and learn how to read and write and become literate and may be the leader of this country someday. my view is when we do things like that and help lift people up, people like us and if they like you they won't blow you up. bottom line is we need to refocus much of our attention on those kinds of things and start moving away from militarizing so
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much of the world. personal view, i think the caller. host: congressman mcgovern, you mentioned the foreign affairs committee is taking up the legislation as well. i will ask both of you if you have heard from leaders in the military on this legislation on how they feel about it and they -- how they feel about the continued use of these authorizations for military force. tom cole, do you want to start? rep. cole: i have not heard much since the hearing, but i remember asking jim mattis when he was secretary of defense, i was and still am on the defense appropriations subcommittee and asked him if he needed aumf. he said they do. we never got a proposal out of the trump administration, i'd be unfair to the formal president i didn't say he wanted to get our troops out of afghanistan and he did not initiate major military
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operations overseas. obama and bush did much more of that than president trump. in some areas i disagree with him, like trying to reduce troops in nato i think was a mistake. >> thank you both of you. patients. in formal conversations i am privileged to have with both of you my i always learn something. i know what incredible staff you have because of the immense workload you have. our witnesses today send a clear message about fiscal support, the american rescue planet what we need to do. it is the right move getting money into people's pockets. thank you all.

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