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Washington, D.C.- House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul delivered the following opening statement at a full committee hearing on AUMF amid Russia’s renewed full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

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-Remarks as Delivered-

“Thank you Mr. Chairman. I really appreciate you having this hearing.

We have been talking about this issue for a while, and I agree with you one hundred percent that Congress has abdicated its responsibilities, and we exercise no power more solemn than committing our nation to war. I think the last time we did that was World War II.

Members on both sides of the aisle agree that it is time to reclaim our constitutional article one responsibilities.

War should not be on autopilot as they have been the last several decades, and Congress owes our troops a clear commitment to the missions we are asking them to undertake.

I have repeatedly stated my desire to replace the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs with an updated authority scoped to current terrorist threats.

In fact, Republican Members have a discussion draft that we shared with you more than six months ago.

And I think it’s imperative to repeal and replace these AUMFs at the same time, so there is no lapse in critical counterterrorism authorities.

This will avoid sending a message of premature U.S. disengagement that could:
• Destabilize Iraq,
• Embolden Iran,
• Strengthen al Qaeda and ISIS, and
• Endanger Americans.

In addition, President Biden must comply with the law requiring that he report twice a year on how we are using the AUMF. On Monday, DOD submitted some of these reports.

But they have still not submitted the report due last December that would cover the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal.

Madam Secretary, as we have discussed the use of military force today, I also hope you came prepared to answer questions about the administration’s strategy for Ukraine. Obviously, that is the issue of the day.

For months, I implored the Biden administration – repeatedly – to take Russia’s renewed aggression against Ukraine seriously.

And for months, very substantive actions were taken.

In a decision, thoug, that still baffles me, President Biden waived congressionally mandated sanctions on the Russian influence project Nord Stream 2 in May.
Let me be clear: enriching Vladimir Putin and making Europe more energy dependent on Russian natural gas is absolutely not in America’s, quote, “national interest.”

It’s frustrating it took a full-scale, renewed invasion for the president to reverse his decision on these sanctions.

At the same time, Putin was allowed to build up nearly 200,000 Russian troops near Ukraine’s border with no consequences.

We were told by President Biden that sanctions at that time were not needed. That the “threat” of sanctions would deter Russia.

But clearly, I believe the president was wrong here.

We are now facing what is truly the nightmare scenario – the largest war in Europe since World War Two.

But I believe there is still hope.

President Zelensky and the Ukrainian people are inspiring the world as they risk their lives by standing in front of tanks like Tiananmen Square to defend their country.

Vladimir Putin has underestimated the strength and the bravery and the resiliency of the Ukrainian people – to his own peril.

But, you know, the courage of the Ukrainian people is one thing, but they need our help.

As President Zelensky reminded us over the weekend – he doesn’t need a ride out of his country.

He needs lethal weapons to fight for his country. To fight for his people.

I’m pleased the administration has finally begun to enact significant sanctions on Russia.

And while I still believe we should have used some of these sanctions before the invasion, the actions we are taking now are sending a powerful message not only to Russia, but to our adversaries around the world.

But I believe more is still needed – most importantly, secondary sanctions on designated Russian banks.

This forces countries to choose between business with us or business with Russia.

Furthermore, President Biden must stop American dollars from funding Putin’s war machine by cutting off US imports of Russian oil.

Energy exports are the lifeblood of the Russian economy. And we should not be allowing Putin to use that lifeblood to spill blood in Ukraine.

We also need to isolate Russia diplomatically as well as economically.

Yet, President Biden is reportedly still attempting to finalize a Russian-brokered Iran deal.

It should be obvious that Russia should not be serving as one of the key brokers of an Iran nuclear deal while they are waging war against Ukraine.

There is absolutely no chance Russia has U.S. national security interests in mind when it looks at Iran’s nuclear program.

And I just came back from Israel and I believe the Knesset and the Prime Minister agree with me.

It is gravely concerning the administration apparently doesn’t want Congress to review their new deal.

Bypassing congressional review of any Iran nuclear deal – especially one brokered by Putin – would be a violation of U.S. law.

So, with that, Mr. Chairman, again, these are grace times. I think as since you’ve taken the chairmanship, these are dangerous times.

It calls for action and it also calls for bipartisan action. And I am also just pleased to announce we have agreed to a sense of Congress, supporting the people of Ukraine against Putin and Russia’s aggression. With that, I yield back.”

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