Exclusive – Sen. Rand Paul: ‘In Principle I Agree’ with Lee-Sanders-Murphy Yemen War Powers Resolution

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 08: U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) participates in a TV interview outside his office at Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill February 8, 2018 in Washington, DC. Sen. Paul made a move to block a budget deal Thursday as the government will run out of …
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Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) told Breitbart News Tuesday that he supports “in principle” a bipartisan, anti-establishment effort in the Senate to invoke the War Powers Act to end U.S. military participation in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.

The joint resolution, introduced last week by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Chris Murphy (D-CT), aims to reassert Congress’s sole constitutional authority to declare war, calling for “the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress.”

In principle, I agree with [the resolution’s co-sponsors] that the war in Yemen hasn’t been authorized and we shouldn’t be fighting without authorization,” Paul told Breitbart News.

If passed, President Donald Trump would have 30 days to stop U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war against the Houthis in Yemen, a conflict the U.S. became involved in under former President Barack Obama.

Paul, a leading non-interventionist in the U.S. Senate, was expected to co-sponsor the Lee-Sanders-Murphy resolution, but ultimately decided against cosponsorship due to concerns he had with some of the language.

During an interview with Breitbart News, Paul explained his reasoning:

“By putting [an] exemption [regarding U.S. actions against Al Qaeda in Yemen – a separate issue than the Saudi war against the Houthis] in there, I believe that it’s sort of a tacit support for the idea that there has been an authorization for a war against Al Qaeda. To my mind, there has not been,” the senator explained.

Paul further expressed the need for a separate vote on whether the U.S. is at war with Al Qaeda in Yemen.

“Now, you can argue pro and con if we should be at war with Al Qaeda in Yemen, but there needs to be a specific vote: are we going to war with Al Qaeda in Yemen?”

While Paul “believe[s] that the War Powers Act, if invoked here, could shut down the president – and should shut down the president – in Yemen,” he warns that due to this exemption for Al Qaeda, the resolution, if successful, “could become a moot point.”

“For example,” Paul said, “the president could say ‘oh well, yeah, we are not really at war with the Houthis… we’re at war with Al Qaeda’.”

“It could be that [supporters of the Lee-Sanders-Murphy resolution] win the battle, but because they put a big hole in the resolution… it makes me feel like in voting for it, I’d have to be giving somewhat tacit support to the idea that there has been a war declared, which there hasn’t,” Paul concluded.

The measure’s introduction last week started a 10-day clock after which the original sponsors can force a floor vote if the Senate Foreign Relations Committee refuses to report out the resolution. It remains to be seen exactly when a floor vote will occur, but it is expected to come either sometime next week or the following.

Watch: Senator Paul’s response begins at timecode 13:16:

Full remarks:

As much as anyone I believe that Congress declares war. It’s in the constitution. We shouldn’t be at war. We’re in like seven different wars now, 30 to 40 different skirmishes, most of them really, if not all of them, should be authorized by Congress. I do believe that the War Powers Act, if invoked here, could shut down the president – and should shut down the president – in Yemen. I think the civil war in Yemen, there isn’t an American interest in it. In their resolution, they put in an exemption for Al Qaeda and associated forces. By putting that exemption in there, I believe that it’s sort of a tacit support for the idea that there has been an authorization for a war against Al Qaeda. To my mind, there has not been. Now, you can argue pro and con if we should be at war with Al Qaeda in Yemen, but there needs to be a specific vote: are we going to war with Al Qaeda in Yemen? So, I objected to the resolution because it exempted. So, for example, I think if the resolution succeeds, the president could say “oh well, yeah we are not really at war with the Houthis, but we’re are at war with al Qaeda and everything I’m doing…” So it could become a moot point. It could be that they win the battle but because they put a big hole in the resolution, one, it makes me feel like in voting for it, I’d have to be giving somewhat tacit support to the idea that there has been a war declared, which there hasn’t. In principle, I agree with them that the war in Yemen hasn’t been authorized and we shouldn’t be fighting without authorization.

Amanda House is Breitbart News’ Deputy Political Editor. You can follow her on Twitter at @AmandaLeeHouse.

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