WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the U.S. Senate floor yesterday, Senator Rand Paul introduced amendment #3301 to the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement bill, which calls to end abuse of sanction waivers by the President.
Below is the video and transcript of Sen. Paul’s remarks.
Sen. Paul: For some time now, power has been gravitating from the Legislature to the President. Many in Congress, including myself, have been critical of the President’s Executive overreach. However, Congress bears some of the responsibility and bears some of the blame in that this body continues to abdicate and transfer its power to the President. Nowhere is this more obvious than in foreign policy.
During the debate over the Iranian agreement to end sanctions, many congressional voices lamented that these sanctions were enacted by Congress and should not be unilaterally ended by the President without congressional approval. As many observers, though, noted Congress has only itself to blame. For decades now, Congress has granted the President national security waivers to just about anything. These allow the Executive to do what they want, to terminate sanctions, or continue spending without any new vote of Congress.
A good example was when Egypt was overtaken by a military regime. This was not a democratic government. This became a military junta. Our laws on foreign aid said that Egypt should no longer receive foreign aid if they are not a democratically elected government. And yet the President continues to give foreign aid to Egypt because he simply uses a waiver that we wrote into the legislation. This is a mistake to continue to grant so much power to the presidency, and as we’ve done so we’ve abdicated our own power.
For decades now Congress has granted the President national security waivers on just about everything. The waivers are so flimsy and so open-ended, as that all he has to do is write a report and claim that it affects national security, and he can do whatever he wants. Then Congress complains because the President is doing an overreaching, and yet we give him the very power.
Looking back at the North Korea sanctions, we find President Clinton removed sanctions by using the national security waiver Congress provided him. Furthermore, about a decade later, President George W. Bush did the same thing, relieving sanctions against North Korea by taking advantage of national security waivers.
Jump ahead to the Iran agreement, and you find President Obama using national security waivers provided by Congress to unilaterally repeal Iranian sanctions without congressional authority. In fact, President Obama has utilized congressionally provided loopholes 40 times to remove Iranian sanctions. Everybody complains, and now we’re going to do the same thing.
We’re going to write a sanction bill with the exact same boilerplate language that we’ve had in the previous sanctions bills which will allow the President the leeway to end the sanctions if he desires. When we fast forward to these new North Korean sanctions before us, the new sanction bill does exactly what previous sanctions bills have done, namely, provide the President with the power to simply claim any nonspecific national security claim to waive sanctions.
Congressional critics of the President’s use of national security waivers to end the Iranian sanctions should decide now that they have no leg to stand on should a future President do exactly that with North Korean sanctions and remove them without congressional approval.
There are two examples. Clinton has done this and so has George W. Bush. I propose that Congress take back their power. I propose that Congress not cede more power to the presidency. I therefore ask unanimous consent to call up my Amendment 3301 at the desk which would remove national security waivers and take back the power to Congress where it belongs.