WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today urged senators to oppose an attempt by sponsors of a resolution on Yemen to bypass the committee process and force consideration in the full Senate. Corker noted the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on Yemen and committee members will continue working to reach consensus on legislation related to the situation in Yemen that could pass the committee. He also announced plans for the committee to consider legislation updating the 2001 authorization for the use of military force (AUMF). The Senate is expected to vote later today on whether the Senate should discharge the Yemen resolution from committee without consideration.
“So, I’m hoping that later today that when I offer a tabling motion, members of this body will respect the members of the foreign relations committee that deal with this issue, let it go back to committee with the commitment that we plan to bring forth legislation to actually deal appropriately with many of the issues relative to Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and ourselves,” said Corker. “No one is shying away from the debate. We just hope to table this and move it back and deal with it in the orderly, appropriate way.”
Corker’s full remarks from today on the Senate floor follow.
“Mr. President, I want to thank the senator from New Jersey, my good friend, the ranking member on the foreign relations committee, for his comments. Today we met with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, a very impressive young man who's transforming the country. We talked about the importance of our relationship, no doubt, but we strongly, strongly pushed back on what is happening right know in Yemen and asked them to take strong corrective actions, so I was there when this occurred, and certainly expressed the same.
“We also talked about the enrichment that they're pursuing and some of the concerns that existed there. I just want to thank the ranking member for his leadership and the words that he just gave. Let me just speak to the debate we're having on the floor.
“This is a very entrepreneurial move. I don't say that to be pejorative. I know that one of the members is on the judiciary committee that is bringing this to the floor, and I can imagine some highly important judicial issue not being debated in the judiciary committee, but just being wafted to the floor for a debate. I know that's not the way the judiciary committee operates.
“One of the other members is on the energy committee. I can imagine some complex cap and trade bill being offered and instead of it being worked through the committee, or some ethanol bill or some other type of bill, instead of it being worked through the committee somebody just figures to bring it directly to the floor.
“So, that's what's happening here today. I certainly don't shy away from this debate. I appreciate the fact that [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell] understood that very few members of our body, unless they're on the foreign relations committee, armed services committee, or happen to take a particular interest, even know much about what's happening in Yemen. And a lot is happening there.
“And so I appreciated the briefing that took place last week to give members a sense as to what is occurring there. But the proper way to deal with these issues is to deal with them in committee.
“You would think maybe there is some Yemen legislation the committee is holding and not acting on. That's not the case. Any of these members could have offered Yemen legislation relative to this issue and the committee would take it up. That has not occurred.
“So, let me tell you what is happening in the committee. We have a bill that is being worked on by Senator Young and Senator Shaheen dealing with this very issue. They're building support. They're working with the administration to make sure their definitions are correct. And they have had numbers of people involved with them.
“We plan to have a Yemen hearing in the next few weeks to deal with this issue, but also to take up appropriate legislation. That is the way that we typically deal with issues of such importance.
“Let me say this. This is an issue of great importance. It not only affects the tremendous humanitarian crisis that is occurring in Yemen, the radicalization of the Houthis supported by Iran, a proxy of Iran, but also Saudi Arabia’s own security.
“It also affects the way we deal with other countries. I think many people here understand fully that right now, or recently, we've been involved in the same kinds of activities with France as they dealt with issues in Mali, refueling, helping them some with intelligence issues.
“And so this is something, again, that we need to take up in a serious way in the committee. The committee is committed to doing so. What I hope will happen today is that members of this body will let the foreign relations committee do its job and that we will bring a bill forth that we can properly debate and amend.
“So, I’m hoping that later today that when I offer a tabling motion, members of this body will respect the members of the foreign relations committee that deal with this issue, let it go back to committee with the commitment that we plan to bring forth legislation to actually deal appropriately with many of the issues relative to Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and ourselves.
“Let me mention one other thing. We have been working for some time to deal with the authorization for the use of military force (AUMF). It's been an issue that's been before us for many years, and it's the replacement and revision of the 2001, 2002 AUMFs that many people were concerned about because it has been so long since they were enacted. We have activities taking place around the world still based on those two authorizations.
“We have a markup on AUMF on April 19 scheduled to try to revise so we can give people an opportunity to weigh in on this issue on the floor. By the way, the way the AUMF is being constructed at present, when we go into new countries, when we take on new groups, the Senate would have the ability to weigh in on those issues.
“So, I just would like to say to the body and those who are looking in, we are not shying away from this debate. There's been no legislation whatsoever that has been held up on this topic. Legislation is being introduced soon in a bipartisan way to deal with this terrible issue that's taking place in Yemen. We're going to have a hearing. We will have a markup. And in addition to that, we're going to have a markup on a new AUMF to deal with the issues that our country is dealing with around the world with al Qaeda, ISIS and other entities that have been associated parties.
“With that, Mr. President, I just want to the let people know that that's kind of way we deal with things around here. None of us are happy with the current status, but I think a better way for us to come up with a prudent solution to what is happening there is to go through the normal committee process. I hope the other members of the body will respect that.
“I'm glad that, by the way, the ranking member – by the way, this policy has been taking place in Yemen. It started under the Obama administration, the same exact policy. The Senate has acted on it by voting for appropriations. So, it's not as if we have not taken action ourselves. We've done that through the NDAA. We've done that through various State Department authorizations. So we've acted upon it. There are concerns about what's happening there. Legislation is going to be introduced to try to deal with this, and that's the way we deal with complicated issues.
“No one is shying away from the debate. We just hope to table this and move it back and deal with it in the orderly, appropriate way.”