Senate rebukes Trump with vote ordering U.S. military to end support for Saudi-led war in Yemen

The Senate voted Wednesday to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, its latest rebuke of the Trump administration’s continued embrace of the Saudi monarchy despite growing frustration among lawmakers with its actions on the world stage.

The 54-to-46 vote marks the second time in recent months that the Senate has rejected the United States’ continued participation in Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign against Yemen’s Houthi rebels, waged in the name of holding back Iran’s expansion in the region. But the Saudi-led effort, which has at times targeted civilian facilities and prevented aid shipments from getting to Yemenis, has been faulted by human rights organizations for exacerbating what the United Nations has deemed the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe.

“We should not be associated with a bombing campaign that the U.N. tells us is likely a gross violation of human rights,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

The resolution must still be taken up in the House, where members passed a nearly identical resolution to end U.S. participation in the Yemen war earlier this year.

It is unlikely, however, that either chamber would have the votes necessary to resuscitate the measure if President Trump vetoes it.

Lawmakers’ willingness to break with Saudi Arabia over Yemen was amplified after Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul late last year, and intelligence strongly suggested that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler, had ordered the operation or was at least aware of it.

Last year, the Senate voted unanimously to hold the crown prince responsible for Khashoggi’s slaying. A bipartisan group of lawmakers has backed sanctions against Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s killing, as well as a halt to weapons transfers, in comprehensive legislation that has yet to come up for a vote.

Only seven Senate Republicans joined Democrats on Wednesday to back the vote on ending support for the Saudi war effort.

For supporters of the measure, the vote was not just about taking a moral stand on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, but also about asserting Congress’s constitutional privilege to declare war.

“Today, we begin the process of reclaiming our constitutional authority by ending U.S. involvement in a war that has not been authorized by Congress and is clearly unconstitutional,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the resolution’s chief sponsor, said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

 

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