Washington D.C. – Today, House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul (R-TX) gave the following remarks on the House floor to oppose S.J. Res. 7, To direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress. 

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-Remarks as Delivered- 

“Thank you Madam Speaker, I yield myself as much time as I may consume.

“Let me first say at the offset, the Chairman and I, I think work very closely together. There is a recent article that said Chairman Eliot Engel and Ranking Member McCaul “forge a rare, bipartisan bond” and I think that’s the way we like to conduct this Committee. It is a national security Committee and it needs to be bipartisan, however, as the Chairman and I mentioned there are times when we do have policy differences, but we do have respect in those differences.

“We did take this up on the floor about 7 weeks ago, and I did oppose it then and I oppose it for the same reasons today.

“Most importantly because the resolution uses the War Powers mechanisms to direct the removal of U.S. troops from hostilities, the problem is there are no U.S. forces to remove.

“The premise of this resolution is that somehow, we have forces in Yemen that need be removed that are engaged in hostilities.

“But as the Department of Defense has repeatedly confirmed, no United States forces are conducting hostilities against the Houthis in Yemen.

“This resolution abuses a War Powers tool to get at a completely different security assistance issue, which Congress already has clear tools to address.  If Members want to condition or cut off U.S. security assistance to Saudi Arabia, then bring forward a bill to do just that.

“But this resolution does nothing to address the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. 

“It does nothing to secure justice for the heinous murder of Jamal Khashoggi.  It does not even make real decisions on U.S. security assistance to Saudi Arabia.

“The only thing it addresses clearly – is the mid-air refueling of coalition aircraft – ended in November of 2018, which is not in danger of restarting.

“Meanwhile, this resolution stretches the definition of War Powers “hostilities” to cover non-U.S. military operations by other countries.

“Specifically, it reinterprets U.S. support to these countries as “engage[ment] in hostilities.”  This radical reinterpretation has implications far beyond Saudi Arabia.

“This precedent will empower any single Member to use privileged War Powers procedures to force Congressional referendums that could disrupt U.S. security cooperation agreements with more than 100 countries around the world.

“Just days after Israel was forced to respond to rocket attacks from Gaza, I believe this would be a dangerous precedent to legitimize this abuse of process.

“It could also be used to call into question our commitments to NATO. Let me remind my colleagues that we are celebrating NATO’s 70th anniversary week as we saw the Secretary of NATO address a joint session of Congress.

“Finally, this one-sided resolution completely ignores the destructive role of the Houthis and their backers in Tehran.

“The Houthis violently overthrew the government of Yemen. They are attacking Saudi Arabia with weapons they got from Iran in violation of the UN Security Council resolutions. They have killed Saudi civilians and endangered many Americans living there.

“Human Rights Watch accuses the Houthis of taking hostages and torturing detainees.  The UN says that the Houthis use civilian human shields. The World Food Programme has criticized them for illegally stealing urgently needed food aid.  The Houthis have targeted ships in the Red Sea.

“These realities are ignored in the text of this resolution. And the only impact that this resolution will have on the Houthis will be to encourage them. Madam Speaker, this is very important because the last time we debated this on the floor since that time, the Houthi’s engaged in a propaganda outlet, supported by Hezbollah, actively touting this very resolution online.

“They used our debate on the floor of the Congress to advance their propaganda, a proxy of Iran in Yemen.

“This is what we are doing here today, I would submit Madam Speaker, that is very dangerous. Its dangerous and I believe its reckless. This will weaken the hand of the UN Special Envoy as well to Yemen, whose efforts currently represent the best hope we have of bringing a negotiated end to this conflict, and ending the suffering of the people of Yemen.

“For these reasons, I continue to oppose this pro-Iran, pro-Houthi resolution, and hope that my colleagues will join me in voting against it.

“And with that, I reserve the balance of my time.”