April 9, 2019
Washington D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined House Democrats for a bill enrollment photo opportunity for S.J.Res. 7, A War Powers Resolution on Yemen, directing removal of U.S. Forces that have not been authorized by Congress. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Welcome to the Ceremonial Room. This is where we welcome our dignitaries, our heads of state, even the President of the United States, and now each and every one of you, welcome. Come on in. Mr. Hoyer. Mr. McGovern. Pocan. Jayapal. Mr. Khanna. Where is Mr. Smith? Adam Smith?
Well, I do want to welcome each and every one of you here. This is a happy occasion for us over a most unhappy situation. The situation in Yemen has left an indelible scar and stain on the conscience of the world.
It was so important for us to pass this bill and I commend the leadership of the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Mr. Adam Smith, and the leadership of our colleague in California, Mr. Ro Khanna for his persistence in all of this. Mr. McGovern as Chair of the Rules Committee was very instrumental in making sure this would come to the Floor. Mr. Leader [Hoyer], instrumental leader, in bringing it to the Floor.
Thank you for the large number of votes, Mr. Whip. Congresswoman Jayapal and Mr. Pocan, Co-Chairs of the Progressive Caucus, important in all of this as well.
Here we are asserting Congress’s long-established responsibility in the oversight of the use of military force and, also, limiting Americans’ engagement, which has gone on for far too long, I think we all agree.
The President must sign this legislation. We are so proud of the bipartisan support, the bicameral legislation we will send to him to advance a peaceful, enduring solution to a public humanitarian crisis. Thank you, again, for this important step in shining a spotlight on what has been happening in Yemen, setting the standard for the kind of military engagement we take part in, how we support other nations and the impact that that has on the human dignity of the people of those countries, in this case, Yemen.
So, it is with great honor that I sit down and sign the bill. Oh, I did it in the wrong place. I did it in the Vice President’s place – turn the N into something. Mr. Khanna, did you want to say something about this legislation?
Congressman Khanna. I just want to say thanks, first, to the Speaker, to Leader Hoyer, to the Rules Committee Chairman, Mr. McGovern, to our [Whip] Clyburn, Co-Chairs Mark Pocan and Pramila Jayapal. It was really a collective effort to finally get a vote. We didn’t get a vote for two years with the previous Speaker and the consequence was thousands of people died.
People ask why I am so passionate about this and – there was a famine in West Bengal in 1943 and my grandfather at the time was in jail and three million died because of indifference. This famine could have 14 million people.
So, I really hope the President will sign the bill.
Speaker Pelosi. Mr. Leader?
Leader Hoyer. I want to congratulate Mr. Khanna for his leadership, Ms. Jayapal, Mr. Pocan. Save the Children thinks as many as 22 million people could be at risk of starvation. The inability to get food delivered to people who need food or medicine or humanitarian relief poses a challenge to the international community. This is an important step for us to take to say, ‘This cannot go on. It must not go no. We must not facilitate this continuing threat to millions of people and their lives and well-being.’Again, we had a very good vote on this and it was a very vote. The Senate has passed this as well with a majority vote and I would hope the President of the United States would concur with the majority of the United States Senate in a bipartisan vote and a majority of the House of Represenatives with a majority vote on this bill.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Mr. Leader. Mr. Clyburn, anything on the number of votes or anything?
Whip Clyburn. Well, I am very, very pleased that we were able to get to such a good place with this vote and thanks to the Co-Chairs of the Progressive Caucus for your work on this. Ro, thank you so much, not just for your work on this, but keeping all of us sensitive to these kinds of issues. I often think about the coming of the Speaker several years ago to similar circumstances and it sensitized me for a lifetime on these issues. Thank you very much. Mr. McGovern, always good to work with you. Thank you all so much.
Speaker Pelosi. And the Chair of the Rules Committee, very important in facilitating all of this. As you may recall, in a previous Administration, they struck the ability to bring this up from the rule, that didn’t happen this time. Thank you, Mr. McGovern.
Chairman McGovern. I am grateful to the Speaker and to our leadership, those here, especially Mr. Khanna, for bringing this up. As the Speaker mentioned, in the previous Congress, the privileged War Powers Resolution were indeed privileged. The Rules Committee was, unfortunately, the place where they did that. Things have changed. These are important matters. They ought to go to the Floor, they ought to have a debate and if the United States of America is going to stand for anything, we need stand out loud and four-square for human rights. What’s happening in Yemen is horrific and it is unconscionable and I am proud that the Senate and the House passed these resolutions. It goes to the President and I hope he has the decency to sign this.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Co-Chairs, Jayapal and Pocan.Congresswoman Jayapal. I just want to also reiterate my thanks to our leadership, to you, Madam Speaker, to my colleague, Ro, we have been working on this for a couple of years. Mr. McGovern, your leadership on human rights is unparalleled, in my opinion.
But there are these moments when we can do something truly consequential, bipartisan, bicameral where we can stop the suffering of millions of people and I think that this is one of these moments where we have done this now, we have done our job in both the House and the Senate, both parties. Now, it’s really up to the White House and Mr. Trump to sign this and bring some relief and some conscious back to this part of this country.
So, I’m looking forward to that moment and I’m grateful to work with all of you on this.
Congressman Pocan. Thank you to our leaders for making sure this was a priority. Ro, thank you for all your work on this.
Jim McGovern, your strategic work around this was absolutely instrumental. Three times last session, we saw this not go through. What a difference November 6th makes.
One hundred and fifty kids a day are dying of starvation, and because we were about to get this done working in bipartisan way, historically the War Powers Resolution being enacted. We hope the President signs it, it’s very important.
Speaker Pelosi. We hope so. This is bicameral and bipartisan, and I want to applaud all of you.
Mr. McGovern wears many hats in all of this. He’s the Chair of Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, so he’s concerned about what’s happening in human rights in Yemen. He’s also been a leader in ending hunger in the world. You’ve heard of McGovern-Dole. That’s not this McGovern, but this McGovern continues the work of Senator McGovern in terms of ending hunger in the world.
Since these children were starving and suffering, as Steny indicated, even dying. It had to stop. With the leadership and persistence of the Members who are here, again, I want to commend the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith, for his extraordinary leadership in this regard as well. Persistence, that’s what it takes. So now we just be persistent and hope that the President will sign the legislation. I hope he does so with pride and without incident.
Thank you all very much.