VIDEO: Ahead Of Friday’s Vote On Udall Iran Amendment, Udall Calls On Colleagues To Uphold The Constitution And Prevent Unauthorized War
Udall: “We have few greater responsibilities under the Constitution than to make the decision whether or not to declare war.”
WASHINGTON – On Thursday, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) took to the Senate floor to call on Congress to step up and halt the administration’s reckless march to an unconstitutional war. Ahead of the Senate vote on the bipartisan Udall amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which would block funds from being used for war with Iran without explicit authorization from Congress, Udall, joined by Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.)and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) – all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – urged the Senate to reassert its constitutional authority.
Udall’s remarks come following weeks of escalating tensions between Iran and the Trump administration, and after the president falsely declared this week that he does not need congressional authorization for launching hostilities against Iran.
“Whether you are in favor of giving the president that authorization, or whether, like me, you are opposed, everyone in this chamber should vote in favor of our bipartisan amendment. Because a vote in favor is a vote to fulfill our sworn oath – to uphold the Constitution,” Udall said. “These matters of war and peace are among the most consequential responsibilities that fall to Congress. These are the hard votes, and we must step up to take them.”
During his speech, Udall noted that the Trump administration set the U.S. on a dangerous path toward yet another endless war when it unilaterally withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Agreement. “Since this administration turned away from diplomacy and resorted to the ‘maximum pressure’ campaign to box in Iran, the risk of war has steadily risen. Just last week, we were 10 minutes away from a strike on Iran. Ten minutes from a nightmare of escalation in the Gulf,” Udall said.
Udall cautioned his Senate colleagues not to abdicate their responsibilities on the matter of war. “We must be accountable to the American people and to our men and women in uniform whose lives would be on the line. They are brave enough to face the danger of war. If my friends in this chamber believe they should, we should be brave enough to be held accountable for that decision,” Udall continued.
In his remarks, Udall addressed the claims that this amendment would prohibit the president from defending the U.S. against attack. “That is wrong. It’s completely false. This amendment, and the War Powers Act incorporated as part of it, allow the U.S. to act in self-defense,” Udall said. “The amendment clearly states that it shall not be interpreted, and I quote, ‘to restrict the use of the United States Armed Forces to defend against an attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its Armed Forces.”’
“It is explicit. The U.S. may defend itself against attack by Iran. The claim that the military’s hands would be tied in the event of an emergency has no basis. And cannot be used as an excuse to vote against the amendment,” Udall said.
“We must assert our constitutional authority. We must tell the president and affirm to the American people that we will assume our constitutional responsibility. And we must do so now – before – through miscalculation, mistake, or misjudgment – our nation finds itself in yet another endless war,” Udall concluded.
Udall has long championed efforts in the Senate to prevent presidents from going to war without congressional authorization, including introducing bipartisan legislation to prevent an unconstitutional war with Iran during this Congress and the last.