Q: Do you have any second thoughts about your vote in favor of going to war?
NELSON: There are no do-overs. What we ought to be focusing on is, What are we going to do for the future? We ought to be recognizing that it isnít going to be a military
solution, but a political solution. We ought to look at dividing the country in a tri-partite solution, Kurds in the north, Sunnis in the center, and Shiites in the south. But that political solution isnít going to work unless we get the world community,
especially the Arab neighbors in the region, to enforce it and help pay for it. The US government is going to have to expend a lot of energy and diplomacy to make this happen, but thatís what we owe to our 140,000 troops.
HARRIS: We must have a
flexible strategy that guarantees our victory. If we follow the Democrat strategy of a cut-and-run, then our troops will have died in vain. The flexible strategy must be one from the military experts on the ground, not from the halls of Congress.
Voted NO on redeploying non-essential US troops out of Iraq in 9 months.
Vote to transition the missions of US Forces in Iraq to a more limited set of missions as specified by the President on September 13, 2007: S.AMDT.3875 amends S.AMDT.3874 and underlying bill H.R.2764:
The President shall commence the safe, phased redeployment of members of the US Armed Forces from Iraq who are not essential to the [new limited mission].
Such redeployment shall begin not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.
No funds under any provision of law may be expended to continue the deployment in Iraq of members of the US Armed Forces after 9 months.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. LEVIN: "The amendment requires redeployment be completed within 9 months. At that point, funding for the war would be ended, with four narrow exceptions:"
Security for US Government personnel and infrastructure
Training Iraqi security forces
Equipment to US service men and women to ensure their safety
Targeted operations against members of al-Qaida.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. McCAIN: "This year, after nearly 4 years of mismanaged war, our military has made significant gains under the so-called surge. Overall violence in Iraq has fallen to its lowest level since . Improvised explosive device blasts now occur at a rate lower than at any point since September 2004.
"Al-Qaida's leadership knows which side is winning in Iraq. It may not be known in some parts of America and in this body, but al-Qaida knows. We are succeeding under the new strategy.
"Given these realities, some proponents of precipitous withdrawal from Iraq have shifted their focus. While conceding, finally, that there have been dramatic security gains, they have begun seizing on the lackluster performance of the Iraqi Government to insist that we should abandon the successful strategy and withdraw U.S. forces. This would be a terrible mistake."
Voted YES on designating Iran's Revolutionary Guards as terrorists.
Vote on a "Sense of the Senate" amendment, S.Amdt. 3017, to H.R. 1585 (National Defense Authorization Act), that finds:
that it is a vital US national interest to prevent the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran from turning Shi'a militia extremists in Iraq into a Hezbollah-like force;
that it should be US policy to combat, contain, and roll back the violent activities and destabilizing influence inside Iraq of the Government of Iran;
to support the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of power in Iraq, including diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and military instruments, in support of the policy;
that the US should designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. LIEBERMAN: Some of our colleagues thought the Sense of the Senate may have opened the door to some kind of military action against Iran [so we removed some text].
That is not our intention. In fact, our intention is to increase the economic pressure on Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps so that we will never have to consider the use of the military to stop them from what they are doing to kill our soldiers.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. BIDEN. I will oppose the Kyl-Lieberman amendment for one simple reason: this administration cannot be trusted. I am very concerned about the evidence that suggests that Iran is engaged in destabilizing activities inside Iraq. Arguably, if we had a different President who abided by the meaning and intent of laws we pass, I might support this amendment. I fear, however, that this President might use the designation of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity as a pretext to use force against Iran as he sees fit. [The same was done with the Senate resolution on Iraq in 2002]. Given this President's actions and misuse of authority, I cannot support the amendment.
Voted YES on redeploying US troops out of Iraq by March 2008.
Begins the phased redeployment of US forces from Iraq within 120 days of enactment of this joint resolution with the goal of redeploying by March 31, 2008, all US combat forces from Iraq, except for a limited number essential for protecting US and coalition personnel and infrastructure, training and equipping Iraqi forces, and conducting targeted counter-terrorism operations. Such redeployment shall be implemented as part of a diplomatic, political, and economic strategy that includes sustained engagement with Iraq's neighbors and the international community in order to bring stability to Iraq.
Proponents recommend voting YES because:
Our troops are caught in the midst of a civil war. The administration has begun to escalate this war with 21,000 more troops. This idea is not a new one. During this war, four previous surges have all failed. It is time for a different direction. It is time for a drawdown of our troops.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
This resolution calls for imposing an artificial timeline to withdraw our troops from Iraq, regardless of the conditions on the ground or the consequences of defeat; a defeat that will surely be added to what is unfortunately a growing list of American humiliations. This legislation would hobble American commanders in the field and substantially endanger America's strategic objective of a unified federal democratic Iraq that can govern, defend, and sustain itself and be an ally in the war against Islamic fascism. The unintended consequence of this resolution is to bring to reality Osama bin Laden's vision for Iraq; that after 4 years of fighting in Iraq the US Congress loses its will to fight. If we leave Iraq before the job is done, as surely as night follows day, the terrorists will follow us home. Osama bin Laden has openly said: America does not have the stomach to stay in the fight. He is a fanatic. He is an Islamic fascist. He is determined to destroy us and our way of life.
Reference: US Policy in Iraq Resolution;
; vote number 2007-075
on Mar 15, 2007
Voted NO on redeploying troops out of Iraq by July 2007.
Voting YEA on this amendment would establish a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. Voting NAY would keep the current situation without a timetable. The amendment states:
The President shall redeploy, commencing in 2006, US forces from Iraq by July 1, 2007, leaving only the minimal number of forces that are critical to completing the mission of standing up Iraqi security forces and conducting specialized counterterrorism operations.
The President should maintain an over-the-horizon troop presence to prosecute the war on terror and protect regional security interests.
Within 30 days, the administration shall submit to Congress a report that sets forth the strategy for the redeployment of US forces from Iraq by July 1, 2007.
Opponents of the Resolution say:
This amendment would withdraw American forces from Iraq without regard to the real conditions on the ground.
The consequences of an American retreat would be terrible for the security of the
American people at home.
Our commitment is not open-ended. It is conditional on the Iraqis moving toward self-government and self-defense.
Supporters of the Resolution say:
Congress talks almost incessantly about the situation in Iraq as if on 9/11 the situation involved Iraq. Of course, it didn't. We were attacked by al-Qaida operating out of Afghanistan on 9/11.
One of the theories we hear is that somehow staying in Iraq is necessary because all the terrorists will come into Iraq, and then they wouldn't be able to attack us anywhere else. Some call this the roach-motel theory. The fact is, al-Qaida is operating in 60 to 80 countries. Yet our resources are only heavily focused on this Iraq situation.
In terms of differences from other Iraq amendments: This is binding, not just a sense of the Senate.
Secondly, we have a date; other amendments are open-ended.
Thirdly, this has an over-the-horizon force specifically to protect our security interests.
Voted YES on investigating contract awards in Iraq & Afghanistan.
To establish a special committee of the Senate to investigate the awarding and carrying out of contracts to conduct activities in Afghanistan and Iraq and to fight the war on terrorism. Voting YES would: create Senate special committee to investigate war contracts, taking into consideration: bidding, methods of contracting, subcontracting, oversight procedures, allegations of wasteful practices, accountability and lessons learned in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Voted YES on $86 billion for military operations in Iraq & Afghanistan.
Vote to pass a bill that would appropriate $86.5 billion in supplemental spending for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Fiscal 2004. The bill would provide $10.3 billion as a grant to rebuild Iraq. This includes:
$5.1 billion for security
$5.2 billion for reconstruction costs
$65.6 billion for military operations and maintenance
$1.3 billion for veterans medical care
$10 billion as a loan that would be converted to a grant if 90% of all bilateral debt incurred by the former Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein, would have to be forgiven by other countries.
Reference: FY04 Emergency Supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan;
; vote number 2003-400
on Oct 17, 2003
Voted YES on authorizing use of military force against Iraq.
H.J.Res. 114; Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. The administration would be required to report to Congress that diplomatic options have been exhausted before, or within 48 hours after military action has started. Every 60 days the president would also be required to submit a progress report to Congress.
Nelson co-sponsored opposing troop surge: no military escalation in Iraq
Sponsor's introductory remarks: Sen. BIDEN: This bipartisan resolution opposes the President's plan to escalate the war in Iraq. This resolution says what we and many of our colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, are against: deepening America's military involvement in Iraq by escalating our troop presence. Just as important, it says what we and many of our colleagues are for: a strategy that can produce a political settlement in Iraq. That's the only way to stop Shiites and Sunnis from killing each other and allow our troops to leave Iraq without leaving chaos behind.
Excertps from resolution:
Whereas the US strategy and presence on the ground in Iraq can only be sustained with the support of the American people and bipartisan support from Congress;
Whereas maximizing chances of success in Iraq should be our goal, and the best chance of success requires a change in current strategy;
Whereas the situation in Iraq is damaging the standing,
influence, and interests of the US in Iraq, the Middle East, and around the world;
Whereas more than 3,000 US military personnel have already lost their lives in Iraq, and more than 22,500 have been wounded in Iraq;
Whereas on January 10, 2007, Pres. Bush announced his plan to deepen the US military involvement in Iraq by deploying approximately 21,000 additional US combat forces to Iraq;
Whereas an open-ended commitment of US forces in Iraq is unsustainable and a deterrent to the Iraqis making the political compromises that are needed for violence to end and for stability and security to be achieved in Iraq;
Resolved: That it is the sense of Congress that it is not in the national interest of the US to deepen its military involvement in Iraq, particularly by escalating the US military force presence in Iraq;
the United States should engage nations in the Middle East to develop a regional, internationally-sponsored peace and reconciliation process for Iraq.
Source: Bipartisan Resolution on Iraq (S.CON.RES.2 ) 07-SCR2 on Jan 17, 2007
Deploy UN multinational peacekeeping force in Darfur.
Nelson co-sponsored deploying UN multinational peacekeeping force in Darfur
Calling for the urgent deployment of a robust and effective multinational peacekeeping mission with sufficient size, resources, leadership, and mandate to protect civilians in Darfur.
Whereas hundreds of thousands of people have died and approximately 2,500,000 people have been displaced in Darfur, Sudan since 2003;
Whereas Congress declared on July 22, 2004 that the atrocities in Darfur were genocide;
Whereas the Sudanese President refused to allow the UN to deploy a peacekeeping force to Darfur;
Whereas deliberately targeting civilians and people providing humanitarian assistance during an armed conflict is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, and those who commit such violations must be held accountable;
Whereas on June 11, 2007, Sudanese President al-Bashir pledged to accept unconditionally the full United Nations-African Union hybrid deployment;
Whereas to establish conditions of peace and security, the peacekeeping mission
must be accompanied by a peace-building process among the parties to the conflict;
Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate urges the President of the US to work with members of the UN Security Council and the African Union to ensure the expeditious deployment of the United Nations-African Union hybrid peacekeeping force with a mandate affirming that civilian protection is a primary mission objective;
Provide the UN-African Union hybrid force with sufficient logistical support and airlift capacity; and necessary vehicles, fixed-wing aircraft, and helicopters for tactical reconnaissance and armed deterrence;
Be prepared to implement meaningful measures, including the imposition of multilateral sanctions, an arms embargo, and a no-fly zone for Sudanese military flights over Darfur, if the Government of Sudan obstructs deployment of the agreed upon peacekeeping mission.
Legislative Outcome: Agreed to by Senate by Unanimous Consent.
Source: Resolution on Darfur (S.RES 276) 07-SR276 on Jul 19, 2007
Iranian nuclear weapons: prevention instead of containment.
Nelson co-sponsored Resolution on Iran's nuclear program
Expressing the sense of Congress regarding the nuclear program of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Whereas, since at least the late 1980s, Iran has engaged in a sustained pattern of illicit and deceptive activities to acquire nuclear capability;
Whereas the UN Security Council has adopted multiple resolutions since 2006 demanding the full suspension of all uranium enrichment-related activities by Iran, particularly possible military dimensions;
Whereas, in Nov. 2011, the IAEA issued an extensive report that documents "serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme";
Whereas top leaders of Iran have repeatedly threatened the existence of the State of Israel;
Whereas the Department of State has designated Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1984;
Whereas Iran has provided weapons, training, & funding to terrorist groups, including Hamas, Hezbollah, and Shiite militias in Iraq;
Whereas Iran had forged a "secret deal" with al Qaeda to facilitate the movement of al Qaeda fighters and funding through Iranian territory;
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives, that Congress--
Reaffirms that the US Government has a vital interest in working together to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability;
warns that time is limited to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability;
urges continued and increasing economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran until a full and sustained suspension of all uranium enrichment-related activities;
expresses that the window for diplomacy is closing;
expresses support for the universal rights and democratic aspirations of the people of Iran;
strongly supports US policy to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability;
rejects any US policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat.
Nelson co-sponsored Iran Sanctions Loophole Elimination Act
Congressional Summary:Prohibits US-based correspondent accounts or a payable-through accounts by a foreign financial institution that knowingly:
conducted or facilitated a significant transaction on behalf of the Central Bank of Iran, or another Iranian financial institution, or a person involved in the energy, shipping, and shipbuilding sectors of Iran
Authorizes sanctions pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
Arguments for and against bill: (New York Times, May 8, 2013): Seeking to escalate pressure on Iran, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation that would deny the Iranian government access to its foreign exchange reserves, estimated to be worth as much as $100 billion. The legislation would be the first major new sanction confronting Iran since its inconclusive round of negotiations last month on its disputed nuclear program.
Sponsors of the legislation contend that Iran is not bargaining in good
faith while it continues to enrich uranium. Part of the reason, they say, is that Iran has been able to work around the worst effects of the sanctions by tapping its foreign currency reserves overseas, which are largely beyond the reach of current restrictions. "Closing the foreign currency loophole in our sanctions policy is critical in our efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability," the sponsors said.
Critics said the new legislation risked further alienating Iranians who suspect that the sanctions' true purpose is not to pressure Iran in the nuclear negotiations, but to cause an economic implosion that would lead to regime change. "When we've cemented a sanctions escalation path, we're creating a trajectory toward actual confrontation," said the founder of the National Iranian American Council, a Washington group that opposes sanctions. Some Iranian leaders, he said, see the sanctions "as a train that can only go in one direction and has no brakes."
Iran must accept long-term intrusive nuke inspection.
Nelson signed demanding that Iran accept intrusive nuclear inspection
Excerpts from Letter from 85 Senators to President Obama We all hope that nuclear negotiations succeed in preventing Iran from ever developing a nuclear weapons capability. For diplomacy to succeed, however, we must couple our willingness to negotiate with a united and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime. We urge you to insist on the realization of these core principles with Iran:
Iran has no inherent right to enrichment under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Any agreement must dismantle Iran's nuclear weapons program and prevent it from ever having a path to a nuclear bomb.
Iran has no reason to have an enrichment facility like Fordow, and that the regime must give up its heavy water reactor at Arak.
Iran must submit to a long-term and intrusive inspection and verification regime.
Iran must not be allowed during these negotiations to circumvent sanctions.
Iran must clearly understand the consequences of failing to reach an acceptable final agreement. We must signal unequivocally to Iran that rejecting negotiations and continuing its nuclear weapon program will lead to much more dramatic sanctions, including further limitations on Iran's oil exports.
Opposing argument: (Cato Institute, "Enforcing Iran Nuke Deal," Jan. 25, 2017): More than anything else, the Iran nuclear deal must be kept because the alternative is a return to ever-heightening tensions and clamoring by hawks in both countries. From 2003 to 2014, years of unrelenting U.S. sanctions and confrontation, Iran went from 164 centrifuges to 19,000. The hostile approach generates a more expansive, less transparent Iranian nuclear program and increases the chances for another disastrous U.S. war in the Middle East. Let's hope the Trump administration chooses not to go that route.
Source: Iran Nukes Letter 14LTR-NUKE on Mar 18, 2014
Sanctions on Iran to end nuclear program.
Nelson signed Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act
Expresses the sense of Congress that:
diplomatic efforts to address Iran's illicit nuclear efforts, unconventional and ballistic missile development programs, and support for international terrorism are more likely to be effective if the President is empowered with explicit authority to impose additional sanctions on the government of Iran;
US concerns regarding Iran are strictly the result of that government's actions; and
the people of the United States have feelings of friendship for the people of Iran and regret that developments in recent decades have created impediments to that friendship.
States that it should be US policy to:
support international diplomatic efforts to end Iran's uranium enrichment program and its nuclear weapons program;
encourage foreign governments to direct state-owned and private entities to cease all investment in, and support of, Iran's energy sector and all exports of refined petroleum products to Iran;
on the Central Bank of Iran and any other Iranian financial institution engaged in proliferation activities or support of terrorist groups; and
work with allies to protect the international financial system from deceptive and illicit practices by Iranian financial institutions involved in proliferation activities or support of terrorist groups.
Amends the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 to direct the President to impose sanctions if a person has made an investment of $20 million or more (or any combination of investments of at least $5 million which in the aggregate equals or exceeds $20 million in any 12-month period) that directly and significantly contributed to Iran's ability to develop its petroleum resources. (Under current law the sanction thresholds are $40 million, $10 million, and $40 million, respectively.)