Senate rebukes Trump on Saudi, backs war powers resolution

Leroy Wright
March 15, 2019

The Republican-controlled Senate has passed a resolution that would end United States involvement in the Saudi-led coalition's brutal war in Yemen, countering President Donald Trump's support for the controversial conflict. The resolution requires the president to withdraw any United States troops in or affecting Yemen within 30 days. Saudi Arabia said that USA assistance was no longer needed.

It's also another strong rebuke of President Donald Trump's support for Saudi Arabia, which has been a point of tension with Congress since the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi past year. In an attempt to "halt American military involvement in a foreign conflict", this is the first time the decade-old War Powers Resolution was invoked. The Trump administration has been providing Yemen with intelligence and other support.

The caucus initially emphasized that the resolution would end USA midair refueling for Saudi coalition warplanes, which the Donald Trump administration ended a year ago shortly after Khashoggi's murder. Susan Collins of Maine, Steve Daines of Montana, Mike Lee of Utah, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Todd Young of Indiana.

Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., defended USA involvement, describing it as "intelligence support that helps construct no strike lists that enable humanitarian efforts and protect humanitarian aid workers", and "not the tip of the spear".

The bill now moves to the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, where it is likely to pass.

Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition helping Yemen fight Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

The U.S. has provided refueling for Saudi coalition aircraft, but that ended previous year after the Saudi regime was implicated in the murder of one of its citizens, journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"Peace envoys are telling us they want deeper USA engagement in this situation", Risch said in a statement following the vote.

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"We have the opportunity to cast the historical vote which will end the most horrific war on the planet right now, where 85,000 kids have already starved to death, and stop following the lead of a despotic, murderous regime in Saudi Arabia", Sen.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said before the vote that the resolution "will be seen as a message to the Saudis that they need to clean up their act".

Romney said the US now provides limited support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, including intelligence-sharing and advice on compliance with the laws of war.

Lawmakers have never before invoked the War Powers Resolution of 1973 to stop a foreign conflict, but Wednesday's 54-46 vote brought them a step closer to doing just that in order to cut off USA support for a war that has triggered a humanitarian catastrophe.

It is the second time the Senate has approved a measure that would curb USA military involvement in Yemen.

A small group of Republicans were willing to cross party lines to rebuke Trump over his support for a conflict the United Nations has declared a humanitarian disaster, which has killed tens of thousands of civilians and left half the population of Yemen on the brink of starvation.

A similar resolution to end support for the Yemen war passed the Senate in December, but it was not taken up by the House, which was then controlled by Republicans.

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