(Remarks as prepared for delivery to the U.S. Senate – September 12, 2017)
I rise today to oppose unauthorized, undeclared, and unconstitutional war.
What we have today is basically unlimited war – war anywhere, anytime, any place on the globe.
This vote will be to sunset, in 6 months, the 2001 and 2002 authorizations for the use of military force.
No one with an ounce of intellectual honesty believes these authorizations allow current wars we fight in 7 countries.
Some of the more brazen advocates of war maintain the President can even fight war in perpetuity without any Congressional authority.
These advocates of perpetual war argue that the Article II powers of the President give unlimited war-making powers to the President.
Madison wrote that the executive is the branch of government “most prone” to war; therefore, the Constitution, “with studied care,” vested the power to declare war with the legislature.
Former President Obama, as a candidate, agreed that a President could not use military force without Congress’ permission unless we were under imminent attack.
Once in the White House, however, President Obama bombed 7 different countries without Congressional authority.
Candidate Trump repeatedly argued that the Afghan War was a disaster and should end.
Once in the White House, however, President Trump is escalating the war in Afghanistan just as President Obama did.
Today, we will debate this issue of war and whether Congress is constitutionally bound to declare war.
We will debate whether one generation can bind another generation to perpetual war.
We will debate whether the war in Afghanistan is winnable.
We will debate whether the war in Yemen is in our vital national interest.
We will debate whether our support for Saudi Arabia is exacerbating starvation and the plague of cholera in Yemen.
For five years, I have fought to get this vote. Today, members of the Senate will stand and be counted.
Will senators stand for the rule of law? Will senators stand for Congressional authority to declare war?
Or, will senators sit idly by and let the wars continue unabated and unauthorized?
Some will argue that sunsetting the old authorizations in six months is too soon, too dramatic.
Really? Six months plus 16 years of war should be plenty of time to discover one’s position on war.
Today’s vote can be seen as a proxy vote for the Constitution.
Today’s vote is not really a vote for or against any particular war.
Today’s vote is simply a vote on whether we will obey the Constitution.
Today’s vote is a vote on whether Congress will step up and do its job.
Sixteen and a half years is more than enough time to determine whether the war in Afghanistan has purpose or real meaning for our national security.
When the vote to go to war in Iraq was taken, some senators felt they were hoodwinked. That the information to justify the war was manipulated.
For years now, some senators and candidates have lamented that they voted for the Iraq War.
Today’s vote will be remembered as the first vote in 16 years on whether to continue fighting everywhere, all the time without ever having the renewed approval of Congress.
I hope senators will think long and hard about the seven ongoing wars and, at the very least, show regard for our young soldiers and go on the record to uphold their oath of office and defend the Constitution and its requirements with regard to war.
I, for one, will stand with our soldiers, young and brave. Sent to fight in distant lands in a forgotten, forever war.
I will stand for the Constitution.
I will stand with our Founding Fathers, who did everything possible to make the initiation of war difficult.
I hope my colleagues will stand for something. I hope my colleagues will finally vote to do their Constitutional duty and oversee or discontinue the many wars we are in.
It is the least we can do to honor the service of our brave young soldiers.