The Senate voted for a second time to end military assistance to Saudi Arabia for their war in Yemen in a rebuke of President Trump, The New York Times reports.
The Senate voted 54 to 46 to approve the resolution. House Democrats are expected to overwhelmingly pass the legislation. Trump is expected to veto the bill.
The vote came after the Saudi-led war has killed thousands of Yemeni civilians and caused a deadly famine in the impoverished nation. “According to humanitarian agencies, at least 85,000 children have starved to death in Yemen since the war began and around 14 million are at risk of famine,” Vox reported.
“The United States Congress is going to reassert its constitutional responsibility over issues of war that have been abdicated for presidents, Democrats and Republicans, for too many years,” said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who sponsored the bill. “This war is both a humanitarian and a strategic disaster, and Congress has the opportunity to end it.”
The bill, which was co-sponsored by Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy, is the second bill the Senate has approved to end support for the Saudi war in Yemen. The first bill did not get a vote in the House because Republican Paul Ryan was still speaker.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged Republicans to oppose the bill, calling it “inappropriate and counterproductive,” but Republicans like Lee, Maine’s Susan Collins, Montana’s Steve Daines, Kansas’ Jerry Moran, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, Kentucky’s Rand Paul, and Indiana’s Todd Young all voted with Democrats to approve the resolution.
Republicans increasingly willing to buck Trump:
“The resolution vote came as Republicans have become increasingly willing to register their unhappiness with Mr. Trump’s foreign policy,” The New York Times reported. “The Senate has rebuked the president on his plan to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan, and the House overwhelmingly registered its opposition to his threats to pull the United States from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.”
The anger has been more palpable since Trump dismissed his own intelligence community’s findings that Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman was behind the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Trump “blew past a legally mandated deadline that required the White House to report to Congress whether it believed the prince was personally responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s death,” The Times noted.
Senate may impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia:
The Times reported that Trump sent State and Treasury Department officials to Capitol Hill to ease tensions over the Khashoggi murder but the Senate Foreign Relations Committee floated imposing new sanctions after the closed-door meeting.
“The Senate will have to decide whether it’s going to impose its own sanctions,” Florida Republican Marco Rubio told The Times.
But Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch, a close Trump ally from Idaho, condemned the resolution passed Wednesday.
Risch said the resolution sent a “terrible message of US division and lack of resolve” and a “bad precedent for using the War Powers Resolution to express political disagreements with a president.”