In the midst of Trump's tweets, the dysfunctionality of Congress and the general craziness of Washington, it's easy for the media and the public to lose sight of some enormously important issues.
And one of those issues is the growing global arms race, increased saber rattling and the large number of armed conflicts taking place around the world. Billions of people on the planet today live in abysmal poverty, while country after country spends more on weapons of destruction. The military industrial complex becomes richer, while poor children die of easily prevented diseases.
One of the reasons I voted against the recent budget agreement was that, with very little attention, it increased military spending by $165 billion over two years. Even in Washington, that's a lot of money.
Meanwhile, with very little notice, the United States is actively participating in a morally indefensible war in Yemen that most Americans know nothing about and that Congress has never voted to authorize.
Thanks to this Saudi-led war and blockade, the people of Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world, are undergoing unimaginable suffering:
Already, as a result of this war, some 10,000 civilians have been killed, 40,000 wounded and 3 million have been displaced. More than 15 million people lack access to clean water and sanitation, and there are more than 1 million suspected cases of cholera reported -- potentially the worst outbreak in the history of the world. More than two-thirds of the population needs some kind of humanitarian support. The World Health Organization has called the situation in Yemen the world's largest humanitarian crisis as the country faces famine.
Our role in supporting this humanitarian catastrophe is a moral stain on our nation, only made worse by the fact that Congress has actively abdicated its constitutional duty to debate and vote on our direct involvement.
That is why I have joined with U.S. Senator Mike Lee, a conservative Republican from Utah, and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, to introduce a bill that would require Congress to vote on U.S. participation in the war in Yemen. We cannot continue to become involved in wars just because a president wants to. It is very clear that under Article I, Section 8, clause 11 of the United States Constitution, it is the Congress that has the sole power to declare war, not the executive branch. The time is long overdue for Congress to reassert that authority, which is what our resolution does.
If Congress does not authorize U.S. participation in this war, our bill would require our involvement to end.
If the president or members of Congress believe our participation in the Saudi-led war in Yemen is in the interest of the United States, then let them come to the floor of the Senate and the House and make their case, and then let's have a vote. Otherwise, our involvement is unauthorized and unconstitutional, and it must end.
I believe that Congress has become far too comfortable with the United States engaging in military interventions around the world. Our job is to work within the international community to forge diplomatic solutions to international conflicts, not engage in more wars.
We have now been in Afghanistan more than 17 years -- the longest war in the history of the United States.
We have troops in Syria under questionable authority and this administration has indicated that they may broaden that effort even further.
There should be no issue of more importance to members of Congress than the question of when it is appropriate to send the young people of our country into harm's way, knowing that some of them may not return alive.