Washington D.C.—Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Lead Republican of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, spoke on the House Floor in opposition to the Democrats’ dangerous War Powers resolution. Democrats also blocked McCaul’s motion highlighting the ongoing threat Soleimani posed to Americans and affirming that the world is a safer place with him off of the battlefield. 

Click to Watch Motion to Recommit Remarks

-Remarks as Delivered-

“Here we are once again debating war powers, when the simple fact is we are not engaged in hostilities against Iran. Why are we  wasting precious Floor time when all the American people really care about today is coronavirus? Today, the WHO declared it a pandemic. That is the biggest threat to our nation today. So why are my colleagues launching more partisan political attacks against this president for taking justified military action to protect Americans against one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists? That is why my motion states that Soleimani was a terrorist and that the world is safer without him. Just like the world was safer when President Obama ordered the strike on Bin Laden, when Republicans and Democrats came together to praise his decision. President Obama conducted thousands of unauthorized strikes in Libya, unrelated to protecting Americans.

“And at that time, Leader Pelosi said that she was satisfied he had the authority for those strikes. Soleimani was a mastermind of terror in the Middle East for two decades. And that is why President Obama designated him as a terrorist. Soleimani funded, trained, and equipped Iran’s terrorist proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan. Soleimani is the one who convinced Russia to fight for Assad. Tens of thousands of innocent people in Syria are dead today, victims of war crimes because of Soleimani. Soleimani played a key role in the crackdown on protesters in Iraq that killed hundreds of Iraqis, and most importantly, Madam Speaker, he has the blood of over 600 American soldiers on his hands.

“Under Soleimani’s command, Iran tried to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States in a Washington, D.C. restaurant, less than four miles from where we are standing today. The danger he posed to the United States was not just a thing of the past. He was directing a campaign of terror and violence against us in Iraq, which killed one American and injured four other servicemen. He orchestrated the attack on our embassy in Baghdad. Look at this picture. This is not simply a brushfire, Madam Speaker. They stormed and attacked our embassy under Soleimani’s orders. What more evidence do we need than this? And Soleimani was not done after his attack on our embassy. He wasn’t on a vacation when he went to meet with his top lieutenants in Damascus, in Lebanon, and Baghdad. Secretary Pompeo testified to our Committee that Soleimani was in the region actively plotting to kill Americans.

“He was going to report back to Tehran, to the Ayatollah to plan future attacks. And what if our president had done nothing? Nothing? And our embassy was attacked, again, like in 1979 with diplomats taken hostage?  What if the president did nothing? What if more United States troops were killed? What then would the other side of the aisle be saying? Madame Speaker, the enemies of our country are watching this debate right now. They need to know darn well that if you kill or injure Americans, you will pay the price. Like President Reagan, I am a firm believer in peace through strength. When we show strength like we did with this necessary strike, our enemies back down. So Madam Speaker, I call upon my colleagues to drop their partisanship and stand as Americans as we did when President Obama struck Bin Laden and to support this simple fact, that the world is a better place without Soleimani.”

Click to Watch Opening Remarks

-Remarks as Delivered-

“I just have to say, here we go again. This is the third time in two months that the Democrat leadership has put this divisive and irresponsible debate on the House Floor, and I have to ask, Madam Speaker, what are we doing here today on this war powers resolution again? Our constituents are concerned about the impact of coronavirus on American lives and the United States economy, not partisan posturing. In fact, the W.H.O. just declared that coronavirus is now a pandemic. Madam Speaker, that is what we should be focused on here today. This political war powers resolution is based on a false premise. It orders the President to terminate hostilities against Iran. The problem is, for the other side, we are not engaged in hostilities in Iran.

“I asked Secretary Pompeo that very question on February 28th, 8 weeks after the Soleimani strike, before our Committee on Foreign Affairs, are we engaged in hostilities against Iran? His response was, we are not. Our military commander in the Middle East agrees. General McKenzie was asked yesterday at Armed Services Committee if we are engaged in hostilities against Iran or Iranian forces and he said, as Secretary Pompeo said, no, we are not. I am a strong supporter of our Article I powers as I know the Chairman is as well. If we were to launch strikes in Iran, I believe that the President would need to come before this body to ask for a new authorization, but that, Madam Speaker, is not what we are facing. This text completely ignores the remarkable restraint that the President has shown over the past few months. He’s using force only when necessary to protect American lives. I was with the President at the White House when he was deciding how to respond to Iran’s shooting down of our drone.

“He would have been justified, I believe, in taking out launch sites, but he decided to de-escalate instead. He was very clear saying, “I do not want to go to war with Iran.” The January 2nd strike on Qassem Soleimani inside Iraq, not Iran, was not an escalation by the United States. It was an appropriate response to his deadly targeting of Americans and diplomats in Iraq. Soleimani has the blood of hundreds of Americans on his hands. Most recently, he organized an escalating series of attacks in Iraq, an escalating series of these attacks which killed an American, wounded multiple U.S. servicemen, and involved a siege of our Embassy, an attack on our Embassy in Baghdad.

“The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Milley, said the administration would have been culpably negligent had they not acted to take him out. The strike on Soleimani in Iraq was totally justified as self-defense under the President’s Article 2 constitutional powers. Jeh Johnson, President Obama’s general counsel at the Department of Defense and Secretary of Homeland Security, a person I have great, tremendous respect for and who I worked very closely with when I was Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. In his words he stated that Soleimani, “was a lawful military objective and the President, under his constitutional authority as Commander in Chief, had ample domestic legal authority to take him out without an additional congressional authorization.” This is a man in the Obama administration who approved the air strikes against the terrorists. More importantly, the Soleimani strike was a success.

“Let me quote from a recent “Washington Post” article where they said the Revolutionary Guard, quote, now finds itself on the back foot. A notable change after successfully projecting its power in the Middle East over recent years. The Quds Force, Quds meaning Jerusalem, that is their ultimate objective is to annihilate the state of Israel, has been significantly deterred from retaliating further against the United States, end of quote. But the Democrats cannot admit anything good could come from this President, and that has consequences. In my judgment, we are wasting precious legislative days and setting a terrible precedent of abusing war powers procedures.

“This will be the fifth time that this Congress, and in this Congress we are considering a war powers resolution directing the President to withdraw U.S. forces from wars we are not actually fighting. Three on Iran and two on Yemen. Iran and its proxies are watching right now as we spin our wheels, and what they see, Madam Speaker, unfortunately, is not a United America but a divided America that does not fully support the ability of our Commander in Chief to adequately respond to threats against Americans. Now is not the time to tie our Commander in Chief’s hands. Now is the time to support our troops and to support our diplomats. And with that I reserve the balance of my time.”

Click to Watch Closing Remarks

-Remarks as Delivered-

“There was reference that the taking out of Soleimani was an assassination. I just want to remind this body, Jeh Johnson’s words, President Obama’s general counsel at the Department of Defense, Secretary of Homeland Security who I have tremendous respect for who signed off on air strikes under the Obama administration stating that Soleimani was a lawful military objective and the President, under his constitutional authority as Commander in Chief had ample domestic legal authority to take him out without additional congressional authorization. I think it really puts this matter to rest.

“Let me also say that the Chairman and I are very bipartisan. We respect this Committee. We respect the integrity of this Committee. We both see the world very much in the same way. I know the Chairman is not a supporter of Soleimani. I believe the Chairman believes, as I do, that the world is safer without Mr. Soleimani in it, and the Chairman and I are very staunchly pro-Israel and are for Israel and very much against the actions of the Ayatollah in Iran. So I don’t question the Chairman whatsoever. In fact, I take great pride in the fact that the Chairman and I work very well together, and when we disagree, and sometimes we do, we agree to disagree. And we do so with civility, which I think has been lost at times in this body, in this town. So I want to start with that.

“I will say that all the hearings I’ve had and briefings prove that Soleimani was a terrorist who actively engaged in a campaign of violence against Americans and our interests. After not one, two, but three times debating this issue on the Floor, I think we about said all we can say. I think we can all agree he was a brutal terrorist and that the world is better off without him. But I have to question why now are we debating this. Our country is facing a public health emergency, Madam Speaker, as I stated, the World Health Organization just announced in the time of this debate that coronavirus is now a pandemic. As of today, there are more than 121,000 reported cases of coronavirus worldwide, including over 1,000 right here in the United States.

“While the CDC maintains the likelihood of a person catching the disease is low, the fallout from the fear caused by COVID-19 is real and causing real damage. Just two days ago, people were watching as their 401-K’s and retirement funds were disappearing on Wall Street. Saw the biggest drop in more than a decade. I know in my district, the city of Austin, suffered a significant economic blow with the cancellation of South by Southwest, an event the Chairman and I were actually scheduled to speak at regarding how we were the Committee that works together and doesn’t give in to toxic partisan politics.

“Last year, this conference in my hometown brought more than $350 million to Austin, making it the most profitable event for the city’s hospitality industry, and more communities are facing economic fallout as well. And the fear is only rising as we continue to see more stories. Several Members of Congress themselves, our colleagues, are currently self-quarantining after potentially being exposed to the virus. Yet, we are talking about this resolution today.

“I just have to close by saying, I was back in my district over the weekend talking to my constituents. They were really not concerned about the war powers resolution. They were asking me, their number one concern right now is, my God, is my child going to get coronavirus? Am I going to get coronavirus? When is it going to impact my backyard? My neighbors? They want to be safe. And they want Congress to do something. I’m hopeful, Madam Speaker, and I know there are negotiations right now between the leadership of our two parties that we can come, just as we did last week, in passing a $7.8 billion supplemental to address this crisis, that we can come together as Republicans and Democrats to do good things for the American people. and to protect the American people and to make them safe. 

“Madam Speaker, I believe I’ve said about everything I can say on this issue so I won’t take up more time, other than to say, we’re not at war with Iran. If we were, I’d be the first one to say, Congress has a responsibility to act. If Soleimani was taken out in Iran, I would be the first to say we need an Authorized Use of Military Force. Congress does have the power to declare war under the Constitution and many colleagues on my side of the aisle agree with that concept. But it’s just not factually what is happening on the ground today in Iran. If that day happens, we are fully prepared to have this discussion. This is what I would call a premature argument to make. And I would say, with respect to updating the 2001 and 2002 AUMF ‘s, I’ve had several meetings with members on both sides of the aisle, many of whom were not here when those were passed by Congress in 2001 and 2002, who also agree that we should be working to modernize these Authorization Use of Military Force.

“So I think there is that consensus Madam Speaker, here today, that I would encourage my colleagues on the other side of the aisle and I know Chairman Engel is also supportive of working together to try to modernize these Authorized Uses of Military Force. But that is not the situation on the ground today and I cannot support this resolution simply for the fact it’s based on a false premise, it will tie the hands of our Commander in Chief to respond in self-defense to Americans, our diplomats serving over there very bravely, and our American soldiers who are over there very bravely.

“It ties his hands to defend from an attack launched by Iran. And lastly, to say, Mr. Soleimani was not a good man. He was an evil mastermind of terror for two decades. He killed Americans. He brought the Russians into Syria. They slaughtered tens of thousands of innocent people in Syria. He’s responsible for so much blood on his hands. So I would close and I do think there’s consensus on this issue as well. That the world is indeed a better place without this mastermind of terror, the greatest mastermind since Bin Laden, removed from the face of this earth. With that, I yield back.”