Legislation introduced to block billions in arms sales to Saudi Arabia

Clay Curtis
June 12, 2019

The recourse helps the president spare congressional review for the exports. The administration bypassed Congress by declaring a national emergency. Here's NPR's David Welna. The paper, however, added that senators had introduced 22 resolutions - one for each sale - over the previous week to block the deals. "Now is not the time to do business as usual with Saudi Arabia".

WELNA: Graham has been a big supporter of President Trump, but he's been critical when it comes to the October murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a death Graham blames on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known by his initials, MBS.

A year after the war was launched, Trump made his maiden foreign visit to Saudi Arabia, announcing more than $100 billion in arms sales to the kingdom. But MBS behavior is a game changer. "That would give us 51 votes", Menendez said.

The legislation includes 22 "resolutions of disapproval", in reference to each of the 22 arms deals that have been given the go-ahead by the Trump administration. "The ongoing humanitarian crisis and complicated security environment in Yemen requires our sustained attention and we can not permit U.S. military equipment to worsen the situation on the ground". "By introducing resolutions of disapproval, Republicans and Democrats are standing together in support of a process of consultation that has worked well for decades, regardless of which party controls the White House". "Last time, I think we got almost 50", said Sen. But Trump and his senior aides have made clear that they still support the prince and won't try to isolate him, despite a Central Intelligence Agency assessment that concluded, with "high confidence", that Prince Mohammed ordered the killing of Khashoggi. One is that a bipartisan majority of the Senate disapproves of both the sales and the policy as it relates to what's happening in Yemen, the lack of action on the Khashoggi killing - and preserving the institutional prerogatives of the Senate in this regard as a check and balance with this or any other administration.

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WELNA: Trump, for his part, has consistently pushed for more weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. But he said that in general he does not support the arms sales. Under the deal, Raytheon would work directly with Saudi Arabia on precision-guided bomb technology, which has been used against civilians in the USA -backed war in Yemen. Democratic lawmakers had already expressed concern about the Trump administration's approving the transfer of nuclear know-how to Saudi Arabia.

"We are taking this step today to show that we will not stand idly by and allow the president or the secretary of state to further erode Congressional review and oversight of arm sales", said Senator Bob Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Asked about growing frustration among Republicans, Graham said, "I think there'll be a lot of support" for the resolutions.

"Let me get through passage first", he said.

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