McConnell: “We Must Remain Vigilant in the Face of the Serious Threat Posed by Tehran”
‘For 40 years -- since the founding of the Islamic Republic -- Iran has consistently pursued aggression against the United States. Against Israel. Against its Arab neighbors. The question before us is not who is to blame for this aggression. It is how to best deter and defend against it.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Iran:
‘I had planned to discuss the corrosive political games that the Speaker of the House continues to play with the solemn issue of presidential impeachment.
‘But the deadly serious events of yesterday evening threw those political squabbles into the starkest possible relief.
‘I was troubled but not surprised by reports that Iran fired ballistic missiles at U.S. forces in Iraq last night. As I have warned, the threat posed by Iran has been growing for years, and this threat will continue even beyond the death of Tehran’s master terrorist, Qassem Soleimani.
‘We must remain vigilant in the face of the serious threat posed by Tehran.
‘These strikes thankfully did not kill or wound Americans, but they demonstrate the significant progress Iran has made over the last decade in building a large, long-range, and accurate ballistic missile force.
‘Many of us have long-cited the absence of any constraint on Iran’s sophisticated missile program as one of the primary short-comings of Obama’s Iran deal, and this strike stands as a reminder to the world of this growing threat.
‘We rightly talk a lot in this Chamber about American interests. But last night was another stark reminder that Iran and its proxies have been a cancer on Iraq’s sovereignty and Iraq’s politics for some time as well.
‘Tehran has long shown disregard for Iraqi lives. Just in the last few weeks its militia proxies have slaughtered innocent Iraqi protesters, and it has launched ballistic missiles at its territory.
‘The millions of Iraqis who have been taking to the streets for months to protest have understood this perfectly well.
‘I spoke to the President last night. I am grateful for his patience and prudence as he and his Cabinet deliberate how to respond appropriately to this latest Iranian provocation.
‘As a superpower, we have the capacity to exercise restraint and to respond at a time and place of our choosing if need be.
‘I believe the President wants to avoid conflict or needless loss of life, but is rightly prepared to protect American lives and interests. And I hope Iran’s leaders do not miscalculate by questioning our collective will and launching further attacks.
‘For our part, I certainly hope our own congressional deliberations do not give Tehran a reason to question this national will.
‘Top officials will provide a classified briefing to senators today. As I have said before, I hope all Senators wait for the facts before they pass judgment on the recent strike on Soleimani.
‘Patience, caution, and restraint can sometimes be in short supply around here – but when matters of national security are at hand, it is imperative that we seek out the facts, restrain our partisan urges, and concentrate on protecting the nation.
‘For this reason it troubled me that Speaker Pelosi responded to the earliest reports yesterday by leaping to blame, quote, “needless provocations” by our administration. In other words, blaming the United States.
‘So let’s be clear. We can and should debate how to responsibly respond to Iranian threats. But the notion that our administration is to blame for Iranian aggression is nonsense.
‘For 40 years -- since the founding of the Islamic Republic -- Iran has consistently pursued aggression against the United States. Against Israel. Against its Arab neighbors.
‘The question before us is not who is to blame for this aggression. It is how to best deter and defend against it.’