VIDEO: Kaine Delivers Floor Speech on Amendment to Maintain Congressional Oversight of Foreign Military Assistance
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, delivered a floor speech regarding his amendment to maintain the congressional notification requirement for all U.S. assistance to foreign militaries. The amendment has now received support from more than half of the Democratic Caucus. Specifically, the amendment would strike a provision in the draft national security supplemental funding bill that waives congressional notice requirements for U.S. funding for Israel under the Foreign Military Financing Program, but leaves the notice mandate in place for arms transfers to other nations. If passed, the amendment would preserve the congressional notification process for Israel, just as congressional notifications are required for all other nations.
“Yesterday, the comprehensive package that included the bipartisan border provision was voted down after Republican colleagues did a 180 and chose to oppose it. But there's an urgent need to move forward with a supplemental package. And so, what we are now working on in this body is a slimmed-down version that would still do a tremendous amount of good: humanitarian aid for Gazans and others around the world who need it; state disaster relief funds for states that suffered flood, hurricane, drought, wildfire; support for our allies in the Indo-Pacific to promote regional stability there; support for defense aid to Israel, and support for defense aid for Ukraine. And we're in the process of trying to find how we can move forward together on that package. And in my view, it’s very important we do so and we finish this before the recess,” Kaine said.
“I want to talk about one particular aspect of this discussion: an amendment that I am filing, together with 28 colleagues, that frankly should be a no-brainer accepted on a voice vote by all 100 senators. And it has to deal with the provision of military support for the defense of Israel… Why should Congress vote to bypass ourselves? Why should Congress say, ‘yes, you can bypass us and not give us notice of this aid, as is traditional’?” Kaine continued. “…This is not a box-checking thing. Congress having oversight over war, peace, and diplomacy is critically important. We see what's happening more broadly in the Middle East with the U.S. engaged now against the Houthis in the Red Sea and in Yemen, with the U.S. engaged against Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, with escalation of Hezbollah firing rockets into Israel. And I think many of us are worried about the U.S. sliding, slipping, stumbling into another war in the Middle East, which in my view would be a disaster.”
The amendment is cosponsored by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), and Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Mark R. Warner (D-VA), as well as U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Laphonza Butler (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and John Hickenlooper (D-CO).
Kaine has long been a leading voice calling for Congress to play an assertive and deliberate role in decisions related to war and peace. On December 30, Kaine raised concerns over the Biden Administration’s unnecessary circumvention of congressional oversight to transfer weapons to Israel. Earlier in December, Kaine’s bipartisan legislation to prevent any U.S. president from unilaterally withdrawing from NATO without congressional approval was signed into law. Last year, the Senate voted to pass Kaine’s bipartisan legislation to repeal the outdated 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMFs) that Administrations of both parties had used as a blank check to wage war across the globe, formally end the Gulf and Iraq wars, and reassert congressional war powers.
Kaine strongly condemned Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians and has been vocal about the need to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. He’s taken a series of steps to prioritize the release of hostages taken by Hamas, including directly engaging the Qatari and Egyptian governments, address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and protect civilians in Gaza and the West Bank, and counter Hamas’ terrorist threats. Kaine led his colleagues in calling for a short-term cessation of violence in order to ensure humanitarian assistance is reaching civilians in Gaza.