As Yemen’s brutal civil war drags on, the scope and scale of the humanitarian catastrophe is simply staggering. Though the crisis is complex – civil wars, especially in the Middle East, usually are – Saudi Arabia’s intervention in the conflict has exacerbated the nightmarish conditions.
The role of the United States, however, cannot be ignored. We have, after all, extended considerable military support to our partners in Riyadh, which in turn has helped fuel the Saudis’ campaign.
A growing number of American lawmakers have seen enough.
The Senate has voted to end U.S. support for the Saudi Arabian-led coalition’s war in Yemen.
The bipartisan vote Wednesday is 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 last year.
The measure was co-sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Mike Lee (R- Utah). The roll call on the Senate vote is online here.
Note, most Senate Republicans opposed the measure, toeing the White House’s preferred line, but seven GOP senators broke ranks, which was more than enough to advance the resolution.
If this sounds at all familiar, it’s because the upper chamber passed a similar measure late last year, before the Republican-led House killed it. Now, of course, a very different political dynamic exists: the Democratic-led House is almost certain to endorse the resolution passed in the Senate yesterday.
Donald Trump, of course, will reject it, and proponents almost certainly won’t be able to override the president’s veto. But that doesn’t make the developments any less significant.
For one thing, this represents the first formal, bipartisan rebuke of a key aspect of Donald Trump’s foreign policy. The president appears committed to his partnership with Saudi Arabia, but the humanitarian crisis in Yemen continues, a majority of the House and Senate wants a dramatic change in direction.
For another, it comes against a backdrop in which Congress is also poised to pass a resolution rejecting Trump’s emergency declaration at the border. The Republican president has never had to use his veto pen, but as a growing number of lawmakers grow uncomfortable with his mistakes, Trump is now going to have to use it twice.
But let’s also not overlook the fact that Congress is making a little history with its rejection of Trump’s support for the Saudi campaign in Yemen. The Sanders/Murphy/Lee resolution relies on the War Powers Resolution to limit U.S. participation in a foreign war. As the Washington Post noted, “If the resolution passes both chambers of Congress, it would mark the first time that Congress has successfully invoked the War Powers Resolution to end U.S. engagement in a conflict.”
Veto or no veto, this was good to see.