For Immediate Release
May 22, 2018
Emily Latimer, (202) 604-2330
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) spoke on the floor today urging support for her amendment in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that upholds Congress’s constitutional power to declare war. The congresswoman’s amendment strikes the language of Section 1225 of the FY2019 NDAA that authorizes the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State to develop and implement a strategy to counter the “destabilizing activities of Iran” and only afterwards inform Congress. The amendment will be on the House floor for a vote tomorrow, May 23.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said:
“Make no mistake – the authorization in Section 1225 of the underlying bill authorizes our U.S. military to go to war with Iran, which is one of the main reasons why I voted against this bill in committee. This provision authorizes the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State to ‘develop and implement a strategy with foreign partners to counter the destabilizing activities of Iran.’
“The provision does not define what destabilizing activities they want our troops and taxpayer dollars to counter. It does not define a clear objective or end-state for our troops to achieve. In addition, this provision shuts the American people out from this decision entirely by circumventing Congress’s constitutional responsibility to declare war and giving unilateral power and unending authorization to ‘counter Iran’ to this and future Administrations – without defining in any way, shape, or form what the objective really is.
“It sidelines Congress and the American people entirely, with the only requirement being that the Administration report to Congress after their plan is being implemented, and only for the next 4 years, while the authorization for war has no expiration date.
“It gives after-the-fact license for what is already happening in the Middle East. Since 2015, without express Congressional authorization, US troops have been providing direct military support to Saudi Arabia in Yemen through information sharing, logistical support, and refueling Saudi warplanes which have dropped U.S.-made bombs on Yemeni civilians. The most recent attack was on a Yemeni wedding party, with two rounds of bombing killing more than 20 people and wounding dozens of others. This Saudi-led interventionist war has created one of the worst humanitarian disasters in history, worsening a situation that has led to mass starvation, cholera outbreaks, devastation, thousands of civilian deaths, and tens of thousands of injuries.
“It gives total authority to the Administration to keep US troops in Syria, or any other country in the Middle East, as long as they deem it necessary – an intention clearly stated by members of this Administration. To name a few examples, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said last month that US troops would stay in Syria indefinitely until their goals are accomplished – namely to counter Iran. National Security Advisor John Bolton said in a 2015 op-ed entitled ‘To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran’ that ‘the United States could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what’s necessary. Such action should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran.’ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently advocated that the US will ‘crush’ Iran with economic and military pressure unless it changes its behavior in the Middle East.
“It’s clear that if left unchecked, war hawks in the Trump Administration will drag our country into more Middle East wars, leaving destruction in its wake around the world and here at home. Trillions of taxpayer dollars have already been spent on these regime change wars in the Middle East since 9/11. Rather than dumping more taxpayer dollars in these wars as this provision authorizes, we should instead be investing in rebuilding our communities right here at home.
“For too long, the US has engaged in military adventurism and interventionist wars, sending our troops overseas, with no clear objective or end state. ‘Countering Iran’ is not an end state that our military or diplomats can achieve. Without a clear objective, you end up in endless war. So what is the objective of this authorization for war? Is it regime change in Iran? Regime change in Syria? More war against Iran in Syria? Yemen? I strongly urge my colleagues to consider the serious consequences of Section 1225 being enacted because it would authorize any or all of these actions. It is Congress’s responsibility and constitutional role to declare war. The American people have a right to a real debate on such a declaration. I urge my colleagues to support the passage of my amendment.”
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) is a leading voice for peace in Congress, advocating against counterproductive, regime-change wars, and standing up for Congressional authorization before military action. Most recently, she joined a bipartisan coalition of 88 Members of Congress urging President Trump to consult and receive authorization from Congress prior to ordering the use of US military force against Syria. She has also advocated for ending the regime change war in Syria and condemned US support of Saudi Arabia in the Yemen civil war.