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Mr. GRAHAM. I thank the Senator.
It was very difficult politics. It was a very fragile but robust coalition back in the day. President Bush sent over two Cabinet Secretaries every week and was personally involved in trying to get comprehensive immigration reform passed in 2006 and 2007. I saw firsthand the commitment by the White House, where Secretary Gutierrez and many others came over--the Homeland Security Secretary came over--and basically wrote the bill line by line--Senator KENNEDY, myself, McCain, KYL--a bunch of people--SALAZAR. Senator Obama showed up on occasion.
But at the end of the day, the basic construct was that for a modern immigration system--merit-based immigration, a new way of doing business, better border security, better employer verification systems--Republicans would allow the 12 million to earn their way into lawful standing--a long and arduous way back to citizenship they would have to earn--and, in return, we would get a temporary worker program that would help American businesses supplement the labor force when they could not find an American worker, after paying a competitive wage.
The chamber, all businesses were for this because it gave the business community the certainty they needed regarding immigration. Part of the grand bargain was that the chamber would be able to access labor in a more modern, efficient way. The labor unions hated that part of the bill. A lot of people on the right hated the idea of an earned pathway to citizenship--coming out of the shadows and living under the law, paying taxes, and all the other things in the bill.
Senator Obama, out of nowhere, came to the floor and said: I have a commonsense amendment I would like to propose that we sunset the temporary worker program--$400,000, I think it was, allocated to American businesses--after 5 years.
Well, what would have happened if I came to the floor and said: Let's terminate the pathway to citizenship or sunset it after 5 years?
That was the heart and soul of the deal. Thank God his amendment went down. But during the negotiations and during that critical time, I think he gave in to the pressure from the unions. But he did promise, in 2008, when he ran against Senator McCain, that he would pass comprehensive immigration reform in his first year.
I looked at the interview last night and got bits and pieces of it. As I recall the first year of the Obama administration, it was all about ObamaCare and the stimulus. I do not remember any effort, bipartisan or otherwise, to deal with comprehensive immigration reform because all the political capital was spent on ObamaCare and the stimulus.
At the end of the day, the only time President Obama has talked about immigration reform was when rallies were going to be held. And here, at the late hour of the election, he tries to do something with a dream act modified in a unilateral fashion.
So at the end of the day, the Senator is right, I say to Senator McCain. He can blame others, but I think the record speaks pretty loudly and clearly where his agenda lay in the first couple years of his administration, and immigration reform was not even a blip on the radar screen.
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Mr. GRAHAM. Just briefly. I was very disappointed in the briefing yesterday too. The bottom line is that we asked questions like: How many security people were at the Benghazi consulate?
We will have to get back with you.
And you pick up the New York Times and you get a blow-by-blow description of what supposedly went on. So it was very frustrating, like pulling teeth to get information yesterday. A lot of Senators are frustrated. You pick up major papers in the country and you find details not shared with you.
One of the things I am worried about is that we are trying to find out who committed these terrible acts of terrorism. They were acts of terrorism, not a spontaneous riot.
We said: What is the game plan? Will they be held as enemy combatants? Are they going to be held as common criminals? Will they be prosecuted in Libya? Will they be brought back to the United States? Do you have to read them Miranda rights?
There was absolutely not a whole lot of information. But at the end of the day, I think it was a lost opportunity to inform the Congress.
Can we now move to the Rand Paul amendment?
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Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I do see Senator Chambliss here. I will ask him a question and get his thoughts.
To kind of follow on what Senator McCain said and to begin with, Rand Paul is a recently elected Senator who has come to the body with a lot of enthusiasm, and he is willing to make hard choices. I have worked with him on Medicare reform, on Social Security reform. I think he will take on the spending situation in this country very aggressively. I think he is very brave when it comes to entitlement reform. On that side of the ledger, I find myself very much in agreement with what he wants to do. But he does have a view of foreign policy that I think is ill-suited to the times and historically has not worn very well.
As Senator McCain said, history is full of moments where America and other powers felt that now is the time to withdraw and let those people argue among themselves. The problem with letting ``those people''--and you just fill in the blank who they might be--argue among themselves is that it ignores the fact of what goes on in one place in the world can affect us, and there is no better example than 9/11.
The entire operation to attack our Nation cost less than $1 million. The 20 or 21 terrorists who trained to attack us had about a $1 million budget. The author of this attack lived in a cave in a far-away place called Afghanistan. So it does matter what happens in places such as Afghanistan. Radical Islamists have no desire for democracy in the Mideast or anywhere else, and they are a force within the Mideast and throughout the world.
But the good news for us is they are a minority force. The Taliban, which is a cousin of al-Qaida, basically, are very much rejected by the Afghan people. When traveling to Kabul today, one sees a city with electricity, with commerce, with cars, with movement, and with women in school. The average Afghan doesn't want to go back to the Taliban way of doing business, where there is no music, there is no interaction with each other except on terms set for them. So what we see on the television at night is a political struggle for the heart and soul of the Mideast. This has been going on for a long time and, finally, the lid blew.
Egypt was an authoritarian, corrupt dictatorship. Tunisia. Libya was ruled by Qadhafi, Syria by Assad. What we see are people who have seen another way of living and they are saying, enough already, I am not going to be part of that anymore. I am going to try to change my life and my children's lives.
Within that population there also are people who are dead set on making sure that nation in the Islamic world go backward, not forward. We have to take sides. If we don't take sides, if we sit on the sidelines, we will pay a price.
I think it is better to help people fight the Taliban than it is to ignore the Taliban. I think it is good to go after al-Qaida in every country on the planet so they never know a moment of peace, but we can have a few moments of peace. I think it is better to fight these guys in their backyard than to stay home and let them come to our backyard. There is a reason we haven't been attacked in over 11 years. We have been on the offensive, and there are more ways to be on the offensive than just bombing people.
The biggest fear of the Taliban and al-Qaida, beyond having a bomb dropped on their head--and they do not mind dying; they really don't like living. They will die in a heartbeat to make sure others can't live their lives the way they like. It is absolutely of no consequence to them to sacrifice their own life and take someone with them. Their goal is: If we are going to live, we are going to live their way, not our way. But their big fear is that people will have the capacity to say no to them and the ability to fight back and win in the countries in question.
When we killed bin Laden, that was a moment of satisfaction and justice. But has that changed the war on terror? Have the terrorists given up? Have people said: Oh, the Americans killed bin Laden so we better not go over the wall in Egypt; we better not attack the consulate? No. This is a struggle between the modern world and forces of darkness, and the way America wins this war is to empower those in other countries to fight and win in their own country, without us having to be there with 100,000 troops all the time.
The biggest nightmare of the Taliban and al-Qaida is to see built a one-room schoolhouse where kids can get an education, for the people to have clean drinking water that they own and control, where people can go to a courtroom rather than a sharia court to have conflicts resolved, and to see commerce and interaction with the rest of the world, to trade with the rest of the world. That is what they fear most.
Our foreign assistance budget--foreign aid--is 1 percent of the entire Federal budget. If we took it off the table, we would be left with the following way to affect the world: Do nothing or bomb people. You know what, those men and women in uniform have been at war for 11 years. How about having a tool in America's toolbox to fight the enemy without having to use military force? When we clear a village of the Taliban, how do we hold and build that village? We bring in a health care clinic, something with the most rudimentary standards. It is not something we would even think about sending our kids to, but they welcome it because they have never had anything. We build a basic one-room schoolhouse, with a chalkboard and a few books. That lights up people's lives like we cannot believe. That is how we hold and build, with the State Department and the Department of Agriculture teaching people to plant crops other than heroin. That is the al-Qaida and Taliban's worst nightmare--and Egypt and Libya and Pakistan and Yemen, and fill in the blank, Afghanistan.
Here is where I am going to challenge the judgment, quite frankly, of my friend Rand Paul. He has offered an amendment at one of the most critical times in the history of the Mideast that would break, that would sever all aid, all assistance to Libya, Egypt, and Pakistan. Why are we so upset by this thought process? Trust me, I know we are broke--$16 trillion in debt--and that America is struggling more now than at any other time in my adult life and that we have to get our fiscal house in order. But how do we live in peace and prosperity with the rest of the world in flames? If we want to pay $10 a gallon for gas, turn the Mideast over to these crazy nut jobs.
Here is my view of what we should do. We should stay in this fight and we should do more things than just bomb people. We should help them help themselves. The good news is most people appreciate our help. What we see on TV is the result not of a film but of radical Islamists taking advantage of a moment.
Yes, the cultures are different. It is hard for people in the Mideast to understand that a film could be made disrespecting Islam without the government approving of it, because in their world nothing gets done without the government approving it. So it is important for us to say: This has nothing to do with the United States Government or the American people. This is the result of some crazy group of people who have what we call freedom of speech. It is uncomfortable, but that is the way we are.
I think it is important to let the Mideast know, and Muslims in general, that this is the way we operate. We reject the disrespect shown to anyone's religion, and that is not who we are as a people, but freedom of speech does exist here. The reason we need to explain that is because in their world they can't imagine something being done like this without the government blessing it.
Having said that, there is no excuse in any society to do harm to another human being because of the way somebody speaks or acts unless it is an act of violence.
Senator Paul is proposing disengagement in three of the most volatile areas of the Mideast at a time when it means the most. The way he has written this amendment should make everyone pause and evaluate how they want to vote. AIPAC, which most of us are familiar with, has indicated the way the amendment is written, if there is an act of violence against a U.S. interest in Israel, maybe we would have to withdraw our aid to Israel. But they have said they oppose the Rand Paul amendment because they know what happens to Egypt if this were to ever pass and become law.
The treaty Senator McCain referred to was the Camp David Accords. Israel and Egypt have been living under a peace treaty for decades now. Part of the deal was that America would provide aid to Egypt and Israel, and if we broke the agreement with Egypt, that would break the treaty with Israel.
So do not tell me or anybody else you support Israel if you vote for this amendment, because one of two things is going on: Either you have no idea what it means to support Israel or you are trying to pull the wool over my eyes. It is impossible to support the security of the Israeli nation and vote for this amendment because it will lead to the breach of a treaty with one of their strongest neighbors--80 billion people living in Egypt. It will unravel a delicate balance that has existed for decades. And I will be recorded as having no part of that. Imagine if this amendment passed what the chatter would be on every Islamic Web site in the world. And by the way, if these people had a PAC, they would be supporting this amendment.
I know Rand Paul is as patriotic as anyone in this body, but the fact of the matter is the crazy Islamic extremist terrorists who try to kill us all would love nothing more than this to pass. They know they cannot win if we stay engaged helping people, so they are trying to drive us out because that is their best hope of winning the day. So if we want to empower the terrorists who exist in this world, we should pass this amendment because they will go crazy with hope and excitement that their tactics are working. And if we want to destroy the hope of everybody in the Mideast who has been brave enough to stand up to these thugs and lose their family members, if we want to break their spirit, then vote to pass this amendment. If this amendment passes, good luck finding anybody anywhere in the world who will partner with us, who would be brave enough to stand up to these thugs and say: You will not have my children's future. If this amendment passed, America could never look anyone in the eye again in the Mideast and say: Stand with me. You can count on me.
Ladies and gentlemen of the United States, and my colleagues in the Senate, I wish the world were not as screwed up as it is. I wish it would change. I hate the fact we have been at war and we have spent so much money. But I am telling you this right now: These are historic times in which we live. And every time in history when good people were confronted with evil and they blinked, millions died, not thousands. The only reason millions haven't died in the war on terror is the nut jobs who want to kill us all can't get ahold of weapons to do it. If you don't want Iran to get a nuclear weapon, if that bothers you--that they may get a nuclear weapon and throw the whole region into a nuclear arms race or share that technology with a terrorist organization to use it against us--then vote against this amendment. Because if this passed, what would the Iranians think about America's resolve to deal with them?
The last thing I am going to talk about is the vision of the author of this amendment, who, honest to goodness, is a friend, but on this issue I think he is dead wrong. Senator Paul had the guts to write a budget, and I give him credit for that, but look at the vision of this amendment when it comes to our role in the world. In his budget, the American military's budget was reduced by 16 percent in the first year. This foreign assistance account I was talking about, which gives us a tool other than killing people--staying engaged and trying to build up their lives so they can live in peace with us, and is about $50 billion, or about 1 percent of the budget--under his proposal it goes down to $5 billion after 2014 and is frozen there forever.
It is important to note that the author of this amendment believes we can gut the military--and that is exactly what he does with military spending--and then take all the assets we have to help people off the table and we will be safe. I don't know how in the world anyone can believe, given the times in which we live, it is a good idea to take military spending below historic levels, disengage from the world, and have absolutely no influence on nations other than trying to use military force.
I hope my colleagues will come to the floor and resist the temptation to do something that sounds good in a 30-second sound bite. I know people are frustrated and war weary, and I know we are broke, and we would like to leave everybody else alone, but they are not going to leave us alone.
Look how much money we have spent after 9/11. Look what 20 people can do to this Nation if we disengage from the world.
So now I would like to ask the question of my colleague, Senator Chambliss, who is the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee--and I have asked this of the author--when you wrote this amendment disengaging from Libya, Egypt, and Pakistan, which is a nuclear-armed nation, did you ask anybody in the intelligence community? General David Petraeus? If there is ever an American hero of modern times, it is he. Have you ever asked him or Senator Chambliss or anybody else: Oh, by the way, I am thinking about pulling the plug on our aid to Pakistan, Egypt, and Libya. What is your view of that? Have you been asked that question?
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Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, we are going to have a nice discussion between Republicans and Democrats about an important issue. If you are looking for bipartisanship, your ship has come in. S.J. Res. 41 has 82 cosponsors. I am not sure we could get 82 of us to agree that Sunday should be a day off, but we have done it when it comes to the concept of not allowing the Iranian ayatollahs to possess a nuclear weapon and trying to contain them. S.J. Res. 41 has 82 cosponsors. The Presiding Officer is one of them. To my Democratic colleagues, Senators Blumenthal, Coons, Menendez, Casey--Senator Casey was the first one to step up--Senator Lieberman--it has been a real joy to work in a bipartisan fashion over something that matters, that if there is a time for the Senate to speak, it is now, regarding Iran's desire to get a nuclear weapon.
President Obama has rejected containing a nuclear-armed Iran as a national strategy. Mr. President, you are dead right on that. I know Governor Romney agrees.
What I wish to do is recognize my good friend from Georgia, Senator Isakson, and we have Senator Ayotte here, to share their thoughts. I will be joining later, and certainly Senator Blumenthal, who has been one of the leading voices on the Democratic side for this resolution.
At this time I wish to yield for Senator Isakson.
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Mr. GRAHAM. I thank Senator Isakson, who is on the Foreign Relations Committee. He is a ranking member on the African subcommittee. He has, frankly, opened my eyes with what we are doing in Africa. A little money goes a long way in Africa, trying to prevent radical Islamists from taking over the continent of Africa, combating the Chinese who are trying to buy up all the resources, and using American taxpayer dollars to create an environment and create jobs back here at home and, frankly, save thousands if not millions of young children from certain death from AIDS and malaria. Johnny is everything right about being a Senator in that regard. I appreciate him coming down here today.
If the Senator from New Hampshire doesn't mind, can we go to our good friend Senator Blumenthal? I have had the pleasure of going to Egypt with him and all these other hotspots and enjoyed working with him on this resolution. This started with a meeting in our offices, an idea to try to back up what President Obama said about not containing a nuclear-armed Iran. The next thing we know we are on the floor of the Senate today with 82 cosponsors.
My good friend from Connecticut, Senator Blumenthal.
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Mr. GRAHAM. I thank Senator Blumenthal for those articulate words about the resolution and for his kind comments. Senator Lieberman was on the ground floor of this, as he is with everything, including bills to construct foreign policy for the country.
One of the original partners we had trying to get this matter going was Senator Ayotte, who is a freshman Senator but has quickly hit the ground running and has become a strong voice on national security.
With that, Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to yield to the Senator whatever time she needs.
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Mr. GRAHAM. Thanks to Senator Ayotte for helping to get this whole process going, for being on the Senate floor and for getting this whole process started, and for her strong voice on national security.
Now I wish to recognize my friend, the Senator from Tennessee, Mr. Corker. He is on the Foreign Relations Committee and is moving up the ladder to be chairman or ranking member, depending on how the election comes out. But no matter how it comes out, Senator Corker will be there talking about constructive engagements and guarding the taxpayer dollar. I would like for him to give his thoughts about the Rand Paul amendment and the noncontainment of a nuclear-capable Iran.
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Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I thank Senator Corker for his very good, country-by-country explanation; kind of a big picture, rational approach to what we are trying to do. I understand Senator Paul's convictions. A lot of Americans are frustrated. We are broke but giving money to people overseas. They all hate us.
Well, they all don't hate us. Some do, some don't. Let's invest in the ones we can live with and stand up to the ones who want to kill us all.
Before I turn it over to Senator Hoeven, one last thought about the world in which we live. We could get hit in the next minute. We could get hit today. We could get hit tomorrow. They are trying to get here as desperately as they can. Thank God for every day we have been able to survive without being attacked again in our homeland. But I would say this: One of the reasons we have been effective after 9/11 is that we are in their backyard. We are deployed over there--not just with military force but with assistance. We are making their lives more difficult by raising money and operating and being able to maneuver and
find allies. To get to America now to attack us is harder than it was on September 10, 2001, because we are engaged in the fight. If we withdraw aid, we take one of the most valuable tools off the table. There has to be more tools in the tool kit than just bombing people or disengaging from the world. So this 1 percent of the budget is a godsend to those in the military.
S.J. RES. 41
Now I will turn back to S.J. Res. 41. Senator Hoeven of North Dakota was my first Republican cosponsor of the idea that we cannot contain a nuclear-capable Iran, and I cannot tell my colleagues how much I appreciate his leadership.
So I yield to Senator Hoeven.
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Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, before I turn this over, may I have just 2 minutes to wrap up.
I want to thank Senator Reid and Senator McConnell for scheduling this vote. Eighty-two Senators stand behind President Obama's statement that it is bad policy to contain a nuclear-capable Iran. Let me tell you right quickly why. If the Iranians get a nuclear weapon or nuclear capability, the Sunni Arab States will want one themselves to counter the Shia Persian influence, and you will have a nuclear arms race in the Mid East. That is not a good result. That is the road to Armageddon. Israel will never know a minute's peace. If the ayatollahs in Iran have a nuclear weapon, my God, what would living in Israel be like? Look at the threat you would live under the rest of your life. That is a no-go for the people of Israel.
The big concern I have above all else is that the ayatollahs will share that nuclear capability, that technology with a terrorist group. The only reason thousands have died in the war on terror and not millions is they just cannot get the weapons to kill millions of us. And if the ayatollahs had those nuclear weapons or that capability, they would share it with terrorists. That is why containment is not a good idea.
This is not an authorization to use force. It encourages sanctions. It encourages diplomacy. It says that all options are on the table. It is not authorizing force, but it is taking off the table the idea that the Iranians can get a nuclear weapon and we will try to contain them because that is just emptying Pandora's box.
One last thought. An Israeli soldier was killed today because the Sinai border between Egypt and Israel was breached. Part of our aid to Egypt has conditions that say: If you break the treaty with Israel, you lose the money. And you need to beef up the security in the Sinai.
The Egyptian Army is basically being driven out of the Sinai. They are moving back in. So if you really do care about the security of Israel, we cannot break relations with Egypt. It is a complicated relationship, but it is in our interest to be involved.
Again, we are all over the world in different fashions, and I would rather be helping people help themselves than having to send soldiers in every time there is a hot spot in the world. We cannot disengage from the world. It is our destiny to be the leader of the free world; we just need to do it smartly.
One percent of our budget is spent on foreign assistance. I think it makes sense.
With that, I will yield the floor and thank all of my colleagues for jumping
on board for a resolution that I think is timely. If the Senate of the United States ever needed to speak with one voice on a single topic, it is now, and that single topic is to the Iranian regime: You will not be allowed to get a nuclear weapon, period.
With that, I yield the floor.
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