House Votes To Block Trump Administration’s Emergency Arms Sales To Saudi Arabia
The move is a sign of the ongoing feud between Congress and the White House and has likely set up a presidential veto.
Lawmakers passed three distinct resolutions to halt the multi-billion-dollar sale of weapons to the pair of Middle Eastern nations, which the Trump administration has grown increasingly close to despite public condemnation over their alleged human rights violations.
Only four GOP members and the House’s lone Independent, Rep. Justin Amash (I-Michigan), joined Democrats in voting to block the White House’s weapons sales. Last month, a bipartisan group of Senators — including Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina), Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) — introduced 22 resolutions to block the arms sales.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had announced in May that the 22 arms deals the Trump administration negotiated with Saudi Arabia, UAE and other foreign countries totaled around $8 billion in value. The announcement came as tensions with Iran continued growing amid the country’s ongoing uranium enrichment efforts.
“If the administration wants to sell these weapons, they should follow the law — not misuse it — and come to Congress,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-New York), the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said Wednesday, per The New York Times. “Even if this administration will not stand up for the values, the Congress should. And the Congress will.”
Several lawmakers have already rebuked the Trump administration for cozying up to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, whose government allegedly played a major role in the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey in October 2018.
Congress has also repeatedly denounced Saudi Arabia for its involvement in a brutal civl war with Yemen, which has left more than 70,000 civilians dead over the last three years.
Congress has never successfully blocked a U.S. president from selling weapons to a foreign government. In April, Trump vetoed a resolution designed to end U.S. backing of the Saudis’ military efforts in Yemen and called the effort “unnecessary.”
On Wednesday, CNN reported that the Pentagon is preparing to send approximately 500 troops to Saudi Arabia as part of its response to tensions with Iran.