On Tuesday, the Senate rejected a measure which would have barred the Trump Administration from providing enhanced military support to Saudi Arabia. A sizable, and bipartisan group of Senators is concerned about the ongoing Saudi war with Yemen.
The measure failed by a 55-44 vote, despite support by Conservatives like Mike Lee, and Rand Paul, who wanted to see the foreign weapons deals come to a close.
The Pentagon argued that the measure would have restricted America’s ability to defend itself abroad. Secretary of Defense, James Mattis penned a letter to the Senate, writing, “New restrictions on this limited U.S. military support could increase civilian casualties, jeopardize cooperation with our partners on counterterrorism and reduce our influence with the Saudis.”
The U.S has long been a supporter of the Saudi regime – and has taken an active supporting role in the Saudi’s war against Yemen, with the military advisers assisting Saudis in targeting and attacking enemies.
“This war in Yemen has killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians, human beings, lest we forget. Each one of them possessing innate, immeasurable worth and dignity. This was has created refugees, orphans, widows,” Lee said.
“As we consider this resolution, we must fully grasp the situation on the ground and the scope of the attacks on one of our traditional security partners. Saudi Arabia has endured Yemeni-originated attacks inside its territory on a scale that no American would accept,” said Bob Menendez.
“Withdrawing U.S. support would increase, not decrease, the risk of civilian casualties. And it would signal that we are not serious about containing Iran or its proxies,” said McConnell.
Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) added, “Not all of us are as up to speed on the details of this or what the unintended impact might be as the Foreign Relations Committee that’s set up for the purpose of examining legislation.”
Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), along with the other lawmakers, had met with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and they “strongly pushed back on what is happening right now in Yemen and asked them to take strong corrective actions.”
However, with the failure to pass this measure, the issue of the Saudi’s war with Yemen has not gone away. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will soon be holding a hearing in Yemen and will be issuing a war-authorization bill in the preceding month. “We plan to have a Yemen hearing in the next few weeks to deal with this issue, but also to take up appropriate legislation. That is the way that we typically deal with issues of such importance,” said Corker.
Todd Young (R-Ind.) has called the resolution presented by Lee, Sanders, and Murphy the “wrong approach” to resoling the matter. He said, “[The] resolution sidesteps the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, doesn’t lead to the short of fulsome debate.” “The legislation is never going to become law. It will never become law. It’s an exercise in messaging.”
Trump views the Saudi Kingdom as a, “very great friend and a big purchaser of equipment and lots of other things.”