Erik Paulsen regularly issues a video Correspondence Corner in which he responds to constituent questions.
It is a great ploy — Congressman Paulsen determines what question is to be answered … thus, providing him an opportunity to portray himself as effectively responding to issues that he wishes to address as if they are the most critical issues that voters want addressed.
The MN Political Roundtable will be evaluating Congressman Paulsen’s responses and encouraging readers to offer their own assessments.
Today’s topic: H.Con.Res.81 – Directing the President pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution to remove United States Armed Forces from unauthorized hostilities in the Republic of Yemen.
— Rep. Erik Paulsen (@RepErikPaulsen) November 17, 2017
The #PaulsenSpin was in overdrive in this week’s Correspondence Corner … first, Congressman Paulsen expressed his desire to help Maria of Bloomington who spoke to him about DACA (a subject that was covered in the previous commentary … yet, Congressman Paulsen fails to acknowledge that he still has not sponsored :
H.R.496 – BRIDGE Act (Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy Act)
H.R.3440 – Dream Act of 2017
H.R.3695 – Protect DREAMer Confidentiality Act of 2017
or signed the Discharge Petition that would require a vote on the issue.
Congressman Paulsen concluded the video by letting everyone know that Pete from Mound really wants him to vote YES on H.R. 1 – the Republican tax reform bill. He did … ya gotta wonder why no one told him to vote no ?
Yet, it was the middle of the segment that should put your head to spinning.
Pam from Eden Prairie asked him to support the “Pocan-Massie bipartisan resolution to stop the US participation in the Saudi led bombing of Yemen”.
The resolution in question is House Concurrent Resolution 81 – Directing the President pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution to remove United States Armed Forces from unauthorized hostilities in the Republic of Yemen.
An appropriate debate considering the fact that four soldiers were killed in Tongo Tongo, Niger and Congress apparently was unaware of that America had troops in Niger. If Congress didn’t know we had troops at risk in Niger, do they know how many are in Yemen (hint — it’s more than the four that were ambushed in Niger.)
Yemen has been a hot spot … and American troops are involved … some have given the ultimate sacrifice.
Recall the circumstances of Navy Seal Ryan Owens death and the others injured in January, as well as the death of Army Staff Sgt. Emil Rivera-Lopez in August, Congress does not talk a lot about the numbers of military personnel presently in Yemen — nor why they are there.
Further, United States has provided midair refueling services to Saudi-led Arab Coalition warplanes conducting aerial bombings in Yemen against the Houthi-Saleh alliance.
In addition to the U.S. Air Force providing refueling operations, American personnel are in the Saudi air operations center.
But some are raising questions … like Minnesota’s Eighth District Rick Nolan
America's support for this Saudi-led war in Yemen is:
1. Unauthorized by Congress,
2. Contributing to horrific starvation, disease, and death in Yemen.
3. Another endless war of choice that the American citizens have to pay for.#YemenDebate
— US Rep. Rick Nolan (@USRepRickNolan) November 13, 2017
Congressman Nolan, along with Tim Walz (D-MN-01), Betty McCollum (D-MN-04), Thomas Massie (R-KY-04), Mark Pocan (D-WI02), and over 40 other Members sponsored the legislation that Pam wanted a vote on — H.Con.Res.81.
Congressman Nolan along with over 50 other Republicans (not Congressman Paulsen) and Democrats wrote a letter on April 10 to President Trump regarding his administration’s “increased logistical support for the Saudi-led bombing campaign”
Congress has never authorized the actions under consideration. The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) sought and received by President George W. Bush, which has been interpreted to apply to Al Qaeda and associated forces, has never been cited by any government official as justification for U.S. involvement in military actions against Yemen’s Houthis. The Houthis have never been “associated forces” to Al Qaeda; they are Zaydis, a branch of Shiite Islam, and strongly oppose the Sunni Al Qaeda, which promotes sectarian violence against Shia.
But Republican leadership wouldn’t allow a vote on that bipartisan resolution – H.Con.Res.81.… but they did allow a vote on a weaker version — House Resolution 599 – Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to United States policy towards Yemen
That’s the resolution that Congressman Paulsen voted for … and as far as how the people cited by Pam, well, Congressman Massie voted NO while Congressman Pocan did not vote as he is presently recovering from heart surgery.
Congressman Paulsen also voted YES on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 ($700 billion in topline spending for national defense, $26.1 billion more than President Trump’s budget request, and an increase over the previous funding at $618.7 billion in spending.)
What will that money be spent on … well, the US Department of Defense provided about 480,000 gallons of aviation fuel to the Saudi-led Arab Coalition warplanes mission at a cost of more than $1 million in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, a 140% increase over the previous year.
So, yep, the U.S. Air Force will still be allowed to provide refueling operations for the Saudi-led coalition aircraft striking Yemen as well as airmen in the Saudi air operations center.
Yep, the #MathGuy who has preached the mantra “Washington Must Do More With Less” voted to increase military spending while responding to Pam that he voted for a non-binding resolution that was denied a vote by Republican leadership.
So, the question … did Congressman Paulsen lie ?
Well, that might be better than acknowledging that he did not know what he was voting on (incompetence is not something that will help his re-election).
Is it just another example of #PaulsenSpin … well, that would have worked if he hadn’t acknowledged that Pam wanted him to vote for the “Pocan-Massie bipartisan resolution” …. ya can’t spin the statement that she wanted him to terminate the US participation in the Saudi led bombing of Yemen when the resolution supports the Saudi-led Arab Coalition’s need to “improve their targeting capabilities“.
Is this just another example of “alternative facts” … well, it is a fact that the US probably doesn’t want to irritate Saudi Arabia … especially since the Saudi Arabian Military Industries and Russia’s state arms-export agency Rosoboronexport just signed memorandum of understanding for $3 billion purchase of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems, Kornet-EM anti-tank guided missile systems, TOS-1A heavy flamethrowers, AGS-30 automatic grenade launchers and Kalashnikov AK-103 assault rifles.
Is this that Congressman Paulsen “misspoke” [aka “misspoke” is political-speak for “lie“] … well, then Congressman Paulsen needs to apologize to Pam for misrepresenting her request and issue a correction to his Correspondence Corner — without that, the only remaining answer is Congressman Paulsen has lied.