Senate Republicans Vote With Democrats To Block Trump

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Donald Trump likes Saudi Arabia, and so does his son-in-law Jared Kushner. There is video of the president semi-dancing at a welcoming festivity. After all, POTUS chose Saudi Arabia for his first international visit. Kushner hangs out with the Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salmon. Very recently, Trump tried to circumvent Congress over something way over the line.

Senators Todd Young (R-IN) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) released a joint statement about forcing a vote on the U.S. and Saudi weapon sales. In it, Murphy said:

‘The consequences are clear: the more weapons we sell to Saudi Arabia, the longer the war in Yemen drags on and the more civilians will die as a result of indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks by the Saudi-led coalition.’

The Connecticut senator continued:

‘This administration has effectively given a blank check to the Saudis—turning a blind eye to the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi and allowing their ballistic missile program to expand. Congress needs to change how we do business with the Kingdom. The process we are setting in motion will allow Congress to weigh in on the totality of our security relationship with Saudi Arabia, not just one arms sale, and restore Congress’s role in foreign policy making.’

Senator Young also commented in the joint statement:

‘Our arms sales to Saudi Arabia demand Congressional oversight. This bipartisan resolution simply asks the Secretary of State to report on some basic questions before moving forward with them. The ongoing humanitarian crisis and complicated security environment in Yemen requires our sustained attention and we cannot permit U.S. military equipment to worsen the situation on the ground. I look forward to working with my colleagues to swiftly pass this resolution.’

Trump has been going around Congress intent upon selling or giving nuclear technology to the Saudis, according to Vox:

‘President Donald Trump for months has sidestepped Congress to enhance his deeply controversial relationship with Saudi Arabia. But on Monday, a bipartisan Senate effort will start a short process to force a vote on those ties — and possibly deliver one of the strongest rebukes to the administration’s foreign policy.’

After the high-level Saudis ordered the death of an American legal resident and The Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi, there was an outcry from Americans but crickets from the White House.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slipped through a loophole and exported about eight billion dollars in weapons to the Saudis in May. The lawmakers were not happy when they found out:

‘That angered lawmakers — who have the authority to approve or reject weapons sales — from both parties because Riyadh has yet to face any real punishment for the October killing of Saudi journalist, dissident, and US resident Jamal Khashoggi.’

The U.S. has been supporting Saudi Arabia in a four-year Yemani war that has caused the worst humanitarian crisis in the history of the world. The senators said:

‘Plus, both countries have  aged a four-year, US-backed war in Yemen that has killed more than 50,000 and left tens of millions in need of humanitarian aid.’

Murphy’s and Young’s resolution allows Congress to vote to make the Saudi’s provide their human rights practices, according to their notice. Then Congress must vote on “terminating or restricting” their Saudi military support. This forced vote could include:

‘…broad categories of future arms sales in addition the 22 specific sales notified last month. Upon introduction of this resolution, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has ten days to put the request for information before the Committee for consideration. Otherwise, Murphy and Young can force a floor vote on the motion to discharge from the Committee.’

The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 created the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Murphy and Young cosponsored the Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ)’s:

’22 joint resolutions of disapproval to protect and reaffirm Congress’ role of approving arm sales to foreign governments. In the Senate, a resolution can be discharged from the Committee of jurisdiction which in turn would force a vote on the Senate floor.’

The weapons export law contains a provision lets the executive branch sell arms without the Congress’ approval:

‘If an emergency exists which requires the proposed sale in the national security interest of the United States.” Administrations rarely invoke it, experts say, mainly because of how controversial it is and the high bar required to claim such a dire situation exists. The Trump administration chose to use it in this case, though, citing a perceived threat from Iran against its two Gulf allies.’