Schumer Floor Remarks Decrying President Trump’s Erratic And Impulsive Foreign Policy

January 13, 2020

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer spoke today on the Senate floor regarding the Trump administration’s impulsive and erratic foreign policy and voiced his support for the Kaine and Sanders War Powers resolutions. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

On Iran.  Over the past three years, the president’s impulsive and erratic approach to foreign policy has made America less safe, less respected. Whether it’s Syria, or North Korea, or Russia, the president’s actions have failed to advance our national security. In some cases failed miserably.

Now, after the aftermath of the U.S. strike on Iranian General Soleimani, the president and his foreign policy team have insisted that “the world is a much safer place today.” That’s what Secretary Pompeo said. In recent weeks, however, the president’s actions have increased the risk of Iran rushing to develop a nuclear weapon, weakened our ability to fight ISIS, and strengthened the hands of Russia and China in the Middle East at America’s expense. How in the world is the world a “much safer place today” than when President Trump took action? It’s not. Every American should ask themselves this question: are we safer today, after these actions, with Russia and China on the ascent, with our ability to fight ISIS weakened, with Iran rushing to make a nuclear weapon?

Every American should ask this question. And as we continue to grapple with the fallout from the president’s actions, there are several important points for my colleagues to consider.

The Trump administration has not been transparent with Congress or the American people. The Trump administration did not consult with Congress prior to the strike on Soleimani, and it classified the War Powers Act notification sent to Congress without any justification. There’s no reason much of it should be classified. It took over a week for the administration to conduct a briefing for the Senate about the strike, and then the briefers – top members of the administration – practically ran out of the room after only a few questions—putting the brief in briefing. Today, Secretary Pompeo refused to testify in the House about the administration’s decisions.

On something as serious as the current situation in Iran, the administration’s lack of transparency has been completely unacceptable.

While the President has promised to keep us out of endless wars in the Middle East, his actions have moved us closer to exactly such a war—making the American people and American forces less safe. While I am thankful that nobody was hurt by Iran’s retaliatory missile strikes last week, there are several reasons to be concerned. Iran can strike us in other ways in the months ahead—through cyber warfare, proxies, or established terror networks that have destabilized the Middle East for decades. The Supreme Leader himself said the recent strikes on U.S. installations in Iraq were just “one slap” and “not enough.” Iran has also announced that it will no longer abide by any restraints on its nuclear program.

The president tweeted that “all is well” with Iran now. You’d have to be delusional to believe that. It’s sort of like saying North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat. In many ways, the president has made Americans less safe.

Unfortunately, what’s happening with Iran is typical of how the President has conducted foreign policy over the last three years: erratic, impulsive, and without regard for the long-term consequences. As a result, the president’s foreign policy is dangerously incompetent. We cannot say that any major problem area around the globe is better off than it was three years ago.

Because of this erratic, impulsive foreign policy, the Senate must not allow the president to proceed unchecked. Senator Kaine’s War Powers resolution is needed now more than ever, and I’m glad the Senate will consider the resolution this week. Senator Sanders also has a bill that would deny funding for a war with Iran. We should consider that legislation – which I cosponsored – as well. And as the situation with Iran continues to evolve, the administration must come back and finish what they barely started last week—keeping Congress briefed and up-to-speed on all major developments, troop deployments, strategy.

On matters of war and peace, when the safety of our troops, the security of our nation is at stake, congressional oversight and congressional prerogatives are not optional—they are mandatory.

On matters of war and peace, when the safety of our troops, the security of our nation is at stake, congressional oversight and congressional prerogatives are not optional—they are mandatory.

And finally, on China. Later this week, China and the United States will participate in a signing ceremony for a so-called “phase one” trade agreement, in which President Trump has agreed to cut some tariffs on Chinese goods…in return for temporary assurances from China to buy more agricultural products from the US.

After eighteen months, the president’s “phase one” deal with China is stunning in how little of substance it achieves at such a high cost. It fails to address deep, structural disparities in our trade relationship with China—disparities that will harm American workers and businesses for years. It also seems like this deal could send a signal to Chinese negotiators that the US can be steamrolled—that President Trump can be played every time.

Now, I have publicly praised President Trump when he’s taken a tough stance in negotiations with China—at some political risk. I have said that President Trump’s instincts on China were better than either Presidents Bush’s or Obama’s. So I come to this as someone who was truly rooting for the president to succeed.

For those reasons, I am even more disappointed in what President Trump has managed to achieve, or rather, failed to achieve. According to public reports, and by the Administration’s own admission, this deal does little to end China’s greatest trade abuses—it does not secure commitments on state-sponsored cyber-theft, China’s massive government subsidies to domestic industries, preferential treatment of state-owned enterprises, or dumping Chinese goods into the US market. In signing this agreement, President Trump removes our most effective source of leverage in exchange for mediocre, temporary agricultural concessions, which may not even come to pass given China’s past history. Essentially, President Trump is selling China the farm in exchange for a few magic beans—in this case, soybeans.

The American people need to understand exactly what’s in this “phase one” deal before the United States agrees to continue negotiations with China. So today, I’m sending the President a letter with a series of crucial questions: what commitments, if any, has China made with regards to its harmful government subsidies? What commitments, if any, has China made concerning state-owned enterprises? What about its practice of dumping products into our markets, or their state-sanctioned cyber theft? What help will be afforded to our farmers, who have lost billions in the last two years, when China has already many long term contracts with other soybean producers in places like Argentina and Brazil?

These issues must be resolved before we continue to move forward. But I fear that after months of costly negotiation, President Trump, facing re-election, has sold out American farmers, businesses, and workers in exchange for a photo-op.

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