[Congressional Record Volume 166, Number 2 (Monday, January 6, 2020)]
[Pages S13-S20]

                           EXECUTIVE SESSION



  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, it has been 4 days since the United 
States carried out a military operation that killed Major General Qasem 
Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds 
Force. In the days since, I have become increasingly alarmed about the 
strike, a strike that was carried out with insufficient transparency, 
without consultation of Congress, and without a clear plan for what 
comes next.
  President Trump had promised to keep the United States out of endless 
wars in the Middle East. The President's actions, however, have 
seemingly increased the risk that we could be dragged into exactly such 
a war. It is indicative of President Trump's foreign policy record, 
which is riddled by chaotic, uninformed, erratic, and impulsive 
decision-making without adequate consideration for the consequences.
  In just about every foreign policy area President Trump touches, we 
are worse off than we were before he started with it. Whether it is 
with China, North Korea, Syria, Russia, the President has careened from 
one impulsive action to the next, with no coherent strategy. North 
Korea today--despite what President Trump said, we don't have to worry 
about them--is a greater nuclear threat than they have ever been. 
Trump's actions have been disastrous. North Korea has more nuclear 
weapons, and, by all reports, has either developed or is very close to 
developing an ICBM that can hit the U.S. mainland. That is a result of 
President Trump's bumbling.
  The situation in Syria is much worse than before. Doing what he did 
in Syria, pulling out those troops, made no sense to anybody, even the 
most hawkish foreign policy people we have, and every time the 
President seems to deal with Putin, Putin seems to come out ahead. 
Looking at the President's chaotic and rudderless foreign policy in 
hotspots around the globe, it is hard to conclude that any of the 
situations are better off than when the President took office 3 years 
ago. His policies seem to be characterized by erratic, impulsive, and 
often egotistical behavior, with little regard to a long-term strategy 
that would advance the interests of the United States.
  At times like this, it is essential for Congress to provide a check 
on the President and assert our constitutional role in matters of war 
and peace. In my view, President Trump does not--does not--have 
authority to go to war with Iran. There are several important pieces of 
legislation that seek to, again, assert Congress's authority and 
prerogative on these matters.
  Senator Kaine has a War Powers Resolution that would force a debate 
and vote in Congress to seek to prevent further escalation of 
hostilities with Iran. That resolution will be privileged, so it will 
have to come to the floor. My colleagues, we are going to vote on it.
  Senator Sanders has introduced a bill that would block funding for 
the war with Iran. I am supportive of both Senator Kaine's and Senator 
Sanders' efforts, and I urge the Senate to consider both in the coming 
  Additionally, the Trump administration must start acting with greater 
transparency. By law, the Trump administration must make a notification

[[Page S14]]

to Congress when it conducts a military operation like the one last 
Friday. That is known as a War Powers Act notification. Unusually, the 
Trump administration made the notification on Saturday, after the 
action occurred, and then they did it in a completely classified 
  Let me be clear. An entirely classified notification--in the case of 
this particular military operation--is simply not appropriate, and 
there appears to be no legitimate justification for classifying this 
  Ranking Member Menendez and I sent a letter to the President urging 
declassification. It is critical that national security matters of such 
importance--war and peace and the possibility of another ``endless 
war'' in the Middle East--that knowledge of the actions and 
justification should be shared with the American people in a timely 
manner. It is Americans who will be asked to pay for such a war if it 
occurs. It is American soldiers who will bravely risk their lives once 
  The reason the Founding Fathers gave Congress war-making authority is 
very simple: They were afraid of an overreaching Executive. They wanted 
to make sure that any act as important as war--war and peace--be 
discussed in an open manner by the Congress so it could be vetted, so 
questions could be asked, so a small, insular group--and the 
President's group seems even more and more insular because anyone of 
strength and courage, people like Mattis and McMaster, who disagrees 
with the President because he is so erratic leaves, leaving a bunch of 
``yes'' people who seem to want to do whatever the President wants. 
That means having a debate in Congress where questions are asked and 
coming to the American people so that people can hear a justification 
and see if it is actually a valid one is vital.
  The administration still has to answer several very crucial questions 
about their actions last week. Iran has many dangerous surrogates in 
the region and a whole range of possible responses. Which responses do 
we expect? Which are the most likely? What do we know about what Iran 
would plan to do in retaliation, and what are our plans to counter all 
of these responses? How effective does our military, does our CIA, does 
our State Department think these responses will be?
  The next question is, What does this action mean for the long-term 
stability for Iraq? What does it mean for our presence in Iraq? What 
does it mean to the trillions of dollars--trillions--and thousands of 
American lives sacrificed there? How does what we are doing now fit 
into that? How does the administration plan to manage any escalation of 
the hostilities? How does the administration plan to avoid a larger and 
potentially endless conflagration in the Middle East?
  These are crucial questions. Not one has been answered by the 
President or anyone in the administration. All of the tweeting and all 
of the bravado is no substitute for strategic thinking and long-term 
foreign policy goals and ways to achieve those goals. This 
administration seems to be devoid of that. It certainly was when it 
came to North Korea. It certainly was when it came to Syria. It 
certainly is when it comes to Russia, and it seems likely the same case 
is now occurring with Iran.
  At a minimum, the questions I mentioned must be answered. This is an 
important moment for our Nation. The American people need clarity that 
the Trump administration has a plan--not just a tweet but a plan--to 
keep our troops, our Nation, and our people safe.