Washington D.C. – Today, House Foreign Affairs Committee lead Republican Michael McCaul (R-TX) gave the following opening remarks on the House floor regarding H.J. Res. 37, Directing the removal of U.S. Armed Forces from unauthorized hostilities in Yemen.

To watch the full remarks as delivered, click here

Remarks as prepared by Lead Republican McCaul: 

“Let me begin by saying that I completely support Congress’s solemn duty under Article I of the Constitution to authorize the commitment of U.S. troops to foreign hostilities.  But that is not the issue here.

“Allow me to quote the actual War Powers Act, from Title 50 of the U.S. Code: This procedure applies to “the removal of United States Armed Forces engaged in hostilities outside the territory of the United States”. 

“This has always meant U.S. troops being directly involved in live-fire combat.  As the Department of Defense has repeatedly confirmed, U.S. Armed Forces are not engaged in hostilities against Houthi forces in Yemen.  This resolution is directing us to remove troops that are not there.  Even the aerial refueling of coalition jets – which does not constitute traditional hostilities – ended last November.

House Joint Resolution 37 misuses this tool to try to get at the different issue of security assistance to third countries.  But it provides no clear decisions on which forms of assistance are cut off.  It does not address the humanitarian catastrophe inside Yemen.  Alarmingly, it completely ignores the destabilizing role that Iran is playing in Yemen and the region.  This irresponsible measure is trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole.

“This resolution stretches the definition of “hostilities” to cover non-U.S. military operations by other countries.  It reinterprets U.S. support to those countries as “engage[ment] in hostilities.”  This over-reach has dangerous implications far beyond Saudi Arabia.

“This approach will now allow any single Member to use this privileged mechanism to second-guess U.S. security cooperation relationships with more than 100 countries throughout the world.

“Under this model, if one Member doesn’t like something that any of our security partners does overseas, that Member can force quick consideration of a resolution directing the removal of U.S. forces from hostilities “in or affecting” that situation.  It no longer matters that U.S. forces are not actually conducting those hostilities.

“This could impact our assistance to Israel.  It could affect our cooperation with NATO allies.  It could impact our counterterrorism cooperation with African nations in the Sahel.  We could recklessly undo critical security relationships we have spent decades building.

“This is not what the War Powers Resolution has ever meant, and it should not be misused this way now.

“No one is saying that U.S. security assistance – to Saudi Arabia or anyone else – is beyond Congressional scrutiny.  Congress has many tools at its disposal.  Our committee receives regular arms sales notifications.  Congress can condition or cut off security assistance through targeted legislation or the annual appropriations process.

“But House Joint Resolution 37 is the wrong tool.  It is vague and irresponsible, and will create new doubts for our partners and allies around the world.

“For these reasons, I strongly oppose this measure, and reserve the balance of my time.”