May 24, 2018

Corker Statement at Hearing Featuring Testimony From Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today made the following statement during a hearing featuring testimony from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“We want to thank you for joining us today. And although you were here just six weeks ago for your confirmation hearing and have been in your position for only a month, again I want to commend you on an energetic and forceful start to your tenure.

“We hold a budget hearing each year – and that’s the formal subject of today’s meeting – but as you and I have talked, budgets coming from the administration these days and for many years are not really focused on that much, as you know, and there’s a process we go through here [in Congress] to really determine what expenditures are going to be made. Since it really doesn’t really have a great effect on the outcomes here, it would be my guess that there really won’t be many questions around the budget, and I think you know that, even though you are going to present it, fulfilling your responsibilities.

“While discussing the budget is not a productive use of our time today, in all likelihood, I am hopeful that your remarks will outline your management plan for the department and steps that you have taken thus far on that front.

“I also want to discuss with you our efforts to update the authorities we use to fight terror abroad. And just for members, on both sides of the aisle, today we’ve agreed to two rounds of questions, if necessary, and we realize there have been questions around the AUMF, and so I know many questions may focus on the AUMF we’ve been discussing in recent time.

“Our bipartisan legislation would replace the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs with an updated AUMF against al-Qaida, the Taliban, and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It provides the administration the flexibility necessary to win this fight while strengthening the rightful and necessary role of Congress, and I believe it is the best chance we have to finally address this issue in a constructive way for the first time in almost 17 years.

“Since last June, our committee has held four public hearings, a classified briefing and a number of other meetings on authorizing the use of military force. We have heard testimony from legal scholars, policy experts, and the Secretaries of State and Defense – twice.

“During your confirmation hearing, you testified that you believe we should update the AUMF and that you would welcome continuing to work with us toward that end.

“I know you have had experience working on this topic when you served in the House, and I appreciate your support for Congress’ appropriate role with respect to this important issue.

“I also hope while you’re here you can speak to our strategy to get a new and better Iran deal now that we have withdrawn from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“As you know, along with a majority of my colleagues on this committee, we staunchly opposed the JCPOA because it allowed Iran to maintain an enrichment capacity, and the limits on that enrichment capacity expired after only 10 or 15 years.

“While I’m disappointed, no doubt, that the Europeans were unable to reach an arrangement with the administration to address the serious flaws in the JCPOA, I’m hopeful that moving forward a new agreement that addresses Iran’s nefarious nuclear and non-nuclear activities can be reached.

“With Iran’s proxies performing well in the recent Iraqi and Lebanese elections, as well as Iran’s rising threat to our partner Israel in Syria, transatlantic alignment in countering Iran comprehensively has never been more important. I know you share that belief and have spoken to that recently.

“So, I am eager to hear your thoughts on what can be done to build on the negotiations with the Europeans that preceded the decision to withdraw from the JCPOA.

“We thank you again for appearing before us. I thank you very much for your accessibility and transparency and look forward to your testimony.”

Click here for complete testimony and video footage from the hearing.