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Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in support of Rep. Ro Khanna’s bill, No War Against Iran Act, and Rep. Barbara Lee’s bill, To Repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Madam Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding. I thank him for his courageous leadership in bringing this important legislation to the Floor. I commend the two makers of the amendment – of the resolutions, Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Congressman Ro Khanna, for their exceptional leadership and urge a positive vote on this important legislation.
Just to put it in some perspective, as Members of Congress, our first responsibility is to keep the American people safe. And that includes both our servicemembers abroad and our families at home. Three weeks ago, this House honored that duty by passing the War Powers Resolution to limit the President’s military actions regarding Iran. We salute Congresswoman Slotkin – all of us – for her leadership in putting that forward.
Now, we’re taking additional steps to protect American lives and values by passing two strong pieces of legislation, Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s legislation to repeal the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force, AUMF, and Congressman Ro Khanna’s legislation to prohibit funding for military action against Iran, not authorized by Congress. We thank them for their longstanding leadership to protect American lives, and we thank all Members who’ve worked tirelessly on this priority, including Congresswoman Eshoo who had a similar legislation in this – in this regard.
Members of Congress continue to have serious, urgent concerns about the President’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran and about its lack of strategy moving forward. When the – let us all stipulate that we all agree that Iran is a bad actor, that they treat their people terribly, that they are a menace to the region, that we have sanctions against them for their spreading of technologies and other resources to terrorists in the region. In all, we don’t want them to have a nuclear weapon. I think the President’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear pact – agreement was wrong, but that’s not on the Floor today. What’s on the Floor today is for us, again, to honor our constitutional responsibility to protect and defend – we take that oath – but also to honor our responsibilities, the power to declare war, that is written into the Constitution for the Congress. And over time, that has been, shall we say, usurped by administrations, both Democratic and Republican, and now to an extent that practically abrogates whatever is in the Constitution.
I come to the Floor at this time – we had a poll this morning. This morning, a YouGov poll said 60 percent of the American people oppose war with Iran, and 68 percent want to remove all troops from Iraq. There is no appetite for war in our country.
I was stunned to recently be with a delegation in observance of the 75th anniversary of the end of the – the victory at the Battle of the Bulge – very decisive battle in World War II. Nineteen thousand Americans died in that [battle]. I know all the heads of state were there, but the VIPs for us were the veterans who were there – some of them now, 75 years later, in their 90’s, but still vigorous. One of them, who spoke for the veterans, talked about the band of brothers and the Allies, that there was multilateralism, and the horrors of war – the horrors of war. At the end of his speech – in the glory of that victory – but at the end of his speech he said, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t say this, but I will.’ He said, ‘I urge all of you to pray for peace,’ – to pray for peace. I spoke to him after and thanked him for that. He said, ‘It’s so important.’
Even our President Kennedy, who said, ‘We will fight any foe, pay any price.’ What he said in his inaugural address has said, unless we end war – unless men end war, war will end men. So, we have to be very careful how we engage and protect the American people. Remove all doubt in anybody’s mind that we will. Think of me as a lioness. You come near our cubs, you’re dead. This is not about not understanding our responsibility and our strength, but as warriors, we have to be – that gives us even more power to be peacekeepers. All we’re saying is, let’s do this carefully and not in a way that escalates.
I remember that weekend when I got a call from – after that weekend, I got a call from the Administration saying that – confirming that we made the attack on Soleimani, who was a terrible person, no doubt about that. I said, ‘Well, why did you not inform the Gang of Eight, as you are required to do?’ That Gang of Eight are the four leaders, House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, and the four leaders of the Intelligence Committee, House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans. ‘Why did you not inform the Gang of Eight?’ And their response was, ‘We really wanted to keep it close in.’ You want to keep it close in from not honoring your responsibility of notifying or consulting with the Congress of the United States? I didn’t expect to hear that from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. I did probably expect to hear it from the Secretary of Defense, but that cannot be the way we proceed.
Congress has the constitutional responsibility. The Administration has a responsibility too, and we respect that. That’s why, when we re-did the War Powers Act, it was respectful of the power of the President, but also the power of the Congress of the United States. They failed to notify appropriately the Congress. Then, the President issued an insufficient War Powers Act notification that raised more questions than it answered, and it was classified in its entirety, leaving the public in the dark about our national security. When the President finally briefed Congress, their own party members describing the briefing as insulting and demeaning, with one GOP Senator calling it the ‘worst briefing I have ever seen.’ When the press asked me if I agreed with that characterization, I said there is stiff competition for the worst classified briefing we’ve ever seen from this Administration.
And now it appears that the President may even have misled Congress and the public about the threats facing our troops related to this conflict. For two weeks, the President insisted there were zero injuries or casualties from Iran’s attack on our military bases, contradicting multiple news reports. But over the past week, the Administration has admitted that there were injuries, first reporting eleven service members were diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury – TBI – then 34, and now 50 of our troops. TBI, defined by the National Institutes of Health as ‘damage to the brain, whether from impact, penetrating objects, blast waves or rapid movement of the brain within the skull’ is a leading cause of death and disability for Americans. This serious injury is understood in both the military and medical communities to be a significant wound, and the silent epidemic of the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Yet, the President minimizes our soldiers’ wounds saying, ‘I heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things, but I would say – and I can report it, not very serious – I can report it, not very serious.’ Not very serious? That is not what the Veterans of Foreign Wars – Veterans of Foreign Wars put out a statement saying they expect an apology from POTUS. ‘TBI is a serious injury and one that cannot be taken lightly.’ I want to submit their statement for the record. Republicans have a choice: to keep the American people safe or to enable the Administration’s dangerous escalation – which is happening again without the consent of Congress or the knowledge of the public. We want to see a strategy. What is the purpose? What is the mission? What is the strategy involved in this? I urge the President to work with Congress to advance an immediate, effective, de-escalatory strategy that prevents further violence.
Our brave service men and women, and their families, and all Americans deserve smart, strong and strategic action, not the Administration’s reckless and rash policies. Therefore, I, again, urge our colleagues to support the Khanna resolution and the Barbara Lee resolution and thank them for their leadership. And, thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your moderation that you have brought to this – the experience that you have in terms of war and terms of peace, and in terms of Congress’ role in our foreign affairs.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
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