WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and cosponsor or S. J. Res. 68, spoke from the floor of the Senate this week in support of the resolution offered by Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.). The measure passed the Senate Thursday with a bipartisan vote of 55-45. Excerpts from Senator Cardin’s floor speech on the resolution are below.
“Unless explicitly authorized by a declaration of war or a specific authorization for the use of military force against Iran, there is no authority to use our military against Iran.
“Congress has the sole responsibility to commit our troops to combat. It's in Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution. Congress has the power to declare war. This is not a decision made by the president. It's a decision made by Congress. Our founders were very concerned about having the appropriate balance between the executive branch and the legislative branch. It's called checks and balances. We did not want a monarchy. We wanted to make sure that there was sufficient support before war was declared, that it is in our national security interest and that the Congress, the president and the American people are all together if we're going to have war against another country. And that war, the use of military, should always be a matter of last resort. We should always exhaust diplomacy, always exhaust other means, before America initiates war against another country or the use of military force.
“Why do we need Senate Joint Resolution 68 if we have the War Powers Act? Like Vietnam, now in Iran, the president is usurping the constitutional powers of Congress by saying he has certain authorities that go beyond what was intended in the Constitution or the War Powers Act.
· There was not an imminent threat before the president used military action.
· There was plenty of time to consult with Congress, but yet, before the military action, there was no prior consultation with Congress.
· The War Powers Act requires an end to foreign military action after 60 days unless Congress provides a declaration of war or an authorization for the operation to continue. The president has not permitted nor does he intend to submit to Congress an authorization for use of military force or declaration of war against Iran. He clearly does not intend to do it.
“In regards to Iran today, there is no AUMF. The president has shown he will not comply with the War Powers Act and is likely to use force again that could lead to a military engagement with Iran. That is a possibility.
“My generation payed a very large price because of the Vietnam War and the way that we got into the War… Let us not cede our responsibility under the Constitution or allow the president to exceed his.”