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Cole Floor Remarks on War Powers Resolution

January 9, 2020

As delivered today on the House floor during consideration of the rule for H. Con. Res. 83, a resolution related to war powers:

This all politics. That's all it is. The political aim here is for our Democratic friends to suggest that the president either wants war with Iran or has acted hastily and precipitously and recklessly. Neither of those things are true.

Frankly, our latest dispute with Iran begins with a decision by this Administration appropriately to withdraw from the very ill-advised nuclear Iranian deal – a deal by the way that the majority of this House opposed, and the majority of the United States Senate opposed. But President Obama went ahead with it anyway.

What's been the Iranian response to our withdrawal? A series of provocations to which the president by and large has acted with remarkable restraint.

Let's just go through some of those provocations. First, it was attacks on ships in the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf. What was the president's response? Well, let's organize an international flotilla to defend these ships. He did not attack Iran.

Next, we see strikes into Iraq itself, particularly we see an attack on a Saudi Arabian oil refinery. What's the president's response? Well, let's not attack Iran, let's send defensive capabilities from our country there and protect those sites.

Then we see attacks on American forces in Iraq. What's the president's response? As my friend pointed out, let's go after the Shia militias – let's not attack Iran.

Finally, after that when the president responds, they sent another attack. And in that attack an American contractor died, and four American service members were wounded. And again, the president responds by attacking Shia militias.

Then the next response, our embassy is assaulted. Thank goodness there was no loss of life, but I think the president had had enough. And by the way, just after that assault had happened, who magically shows up – in violation of the UN resolution in Iraq? Our good friend General Soleimani, a designated terrorist for 13 years, a person who has killed hundreds of Americans, wounded thousands more, not to mention the tens of thousands across the region.

So what does the President do? He takes out a legitimate terrorist target. In Iran? No, he does it in Iraq. How anybody could have any doubt about the president’s desire to number one, strike a terrorist and number two, avoid war, I won’t ever know.

Passing this resolution sends the wrong message to the wrong people at precisely the wrong time. The president did the right thing. He’s acted in a restrained manner. He’s endured and our country has endured endless provocations. We should reject this rule, and frankly we should have a regular process where we go back to the committee of jurisdiction, and we should absolutely reject the underlying resolution.

This is the wrong vehicle, the wrong place, the wrong time, and presents the wrong consequences for our own country to pass this kind of legislation.

I yield back.