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February 13, 2020

ICYMI: Inhofe Speaks on Senate Floor in Opposition to War Powers Resolution

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, spoke on the Senate floor today against S.J.Res.68, the War Powers Resolution.

As Prepared for Delivery: 

President Trump’s decision to take out General Soleimani was the boldest defense policy decision of his presidency to date.

In a single strike, the President defended American lives and showed Iran that terrorism and – most importantly, spilling American blood—would come at a price.

The result: We are now in the best negotiating position with Iran since 1979. And Iran’s escalation – which included attacks on tankers, Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, and the killing of an American citizen – has ended, at least for now.

Yet, some Democrats have forced a vote on a War Powers Resolution, pretending as though the President is rushing to war.

But the facts just aren’t there: there is no war with Iran. An airstrike is not war. Punishing Iran for killing an American is not war.

Nor has the Soleimani strike started a new war, as the Democrats would have you believe.

It’s been three weeks since the Democrats first tried to call a vote on this resolution. And during those three weeks, nothing has happened. I’ll say that again—NOTHING has happened.

There have been no new Iranian attacks against us, and we have not attacked them. How can anyone claim that we are at war?

Moreover, nobody wants war with Iran. The President has made it clear he does not desire war with Iran.

In fact, the President’s decision to eliminate Soleimani has made war much less likely, because it showed Iran that its terrorism would come at a price.

Despite this success, today, we’re debating whether we want to tie the hands of our Commander-in-Chief – any Commander-in-Chief – to respond when American lives are put at risk – as the Constitution gives him the authority to do.

I want to be sure all of my colleagues are crystal clear on what exactly this War Powers Resolution means – what it actually will do.

This resolution calls on the President to “terminate the use of United States Armed Forces for hostilities” against Iran. But there are no hostilities against Iran. There is no war with Iran.

A resolution calling for the termination of hostilities against California would have the exact same effect.

Practically speaking, this vote will do nothing. It’s nonsense. But we should be very concerned about the symbolic effect this vote will have.

This will send a very damaging signal to Iran. The Iranians will interpret a vote in favor of this resolution as tying the President’s hands. And that will lead Iran to believe, once again, that it can get away with anything.

Our deterrence will suffer, Iran will ratchet up its aggression once again, and war with Iran will become much more likely.

Now nobody wants that – not Congress, nor the White House, and certainly not the American people. So I don’t know why we are debating a resolution that could make war more likely when we’re trying to do the opposite.

But if the Democrats insist on tying the President’s hands, then the least that we can do is minimize the damage. So while I urge my colleagues to vote against this resolution, I also urge them to support amendments to minimize the damage.

I want to comment briefly on the amendment offered by the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, my friend, the gentleman from Rhode Island.

He is correct to highlight the traumatic brain injuries that a number of our troops suffered during the January 7 Iranian strike on Iraq.

However, I would just like to clarify: I believe we were not misled on this at all.

Mild TBIs can only be confirmed through MRI scans. And the Department of Defense implemented its screening procedures properly, and made sure that all troops in the vicinity of the strike were screened. 

And once those results were made available, the Department of Defense notified the public in a press release. It then briefed our Committee.

I therefore want to commend the Department of Defense for taking all the right measures to protect our forces during the Iranian strikes, and for appropriately screening our forces for the after-effects.

And this is why I think it’s extremely important that we vote down this resolution: it will signal to the Iranians that there is no price for their aggression. It will undermine deterrence. And it will leave our troops, diplomats, and citizens vulnerable.

Nobody here should support that.

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