Stephanie Young, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered remarks at a press conference this morning with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra, and Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Joe Crowley following a Democratic Caucus meeting with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. Below is a transcript of his remarks:
“Thank you very much, Leader. I join the Leader in supporting the President’s posture. I believe that the President is right to suggest the use of military force in order to prevent, constrain, prohibit the use of chemical weapons which for over 100 years has been perceived by the international community at large as unacceptable to be used in any form of warfare. I am for giving the President the authority and will vote to do so in an appropriate resolution.
“Mr. McDonough’s briefing today I thought was excellent, both the classified briefings and the unclassified briefings. There is no doubt in my mind that the Assad regime did in fact decide to use chemical weapons, has used chemical weapons on a regular basis and more limited basis than were used on August 21 but nevertheless has used chemical weapons before as one of the tools in their toolbox of weapons to use to murder their own people.
“As a result, I think the President’s suggested actions are correct. It is also once the Congress is seized of an issue, understandable, and the legislative process, that we consider the form of that resolution, which is now in progress.
“I think there has been a recent response to what has been a longstanding request of the Administration. For over 2 years the Administration has been suggesting international control of the chemical weapons held by the Assad regime. The Russians have not been responsive, nor has the Assad regime been responsive to that. As a direct result, in my opinion, of the President’s statement that military force can and will be used we have seen a response just recently of Mr. Lavrov, the Foreign Minister of Russia, and the Administration has said that they are going to test that offer. They are not going to have that be an opportunity to delay action, to dissemble, to rope-a-dope if you will, without having an effect, actually constraining and controlling those chemical weapons.
“The Administration’s purpose is to stop their use and proliferation. I think they are absolutely correct in that effort. Hopefully we will be able to pursue this in the very near term, and when I say very near term - days, not weeks. I think the Administration is correct in asserting that’s its intention so I look forward to the Administration’s response and initiatives. I look forward to the President’s speech tonight, and I am hopeful that we will act in a responsible, effective way that will maintain the position of the United States as a credible international participant in meeting crisis and stabilizing - like no other country in the world can do - international tensions.
“Lastly, let me say there are two other issues that confront the Congress of the United States that I’m hopeful we will responsibly act on. That is the funding of government at levels necessary to meet the obligations of our country, to grow our economy, and to invest in our future.
“And [finally], it is absolutely incumbent upon the Congress of the United States – Ronald Reagan said this when he was President, every president has said that since – to ensure that America remains faithful to its debtors, to its creditors, and pays its debts. It is absolutely essential that we increase our debt limit for that which we have already done, for that which we have already incurred obligations for. The most creditworthy nation on Earth must do that. Every Republican leader, every Democratic leader, has said that is what we ought to do. And we ought not to hold hostage the credit worthiness of the United States. So those three issues hopefully we will deal with responsibly and effectively, and maintain America’s credibility around the world and with our own people.
“And I now yield to the Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, the Gentleman from New York, Mr. Crowley.”