US Senate votes to block Trump's $8bn Saudi arms sale

Cheryl Sanders
June 21, 2019

President Trump has promised to veto the Senate action in order to proceed with the deals, and lawmakers nearly certainly do not have enough votes to override that. "I am also very concerned about the precedent these arms sales would set by having the administration go around legitimate concerns of the Congress".

One of the votes was a rebuke of the Trump administration's posture towards Saudi Arabia especially in the aftermath of the death of writer and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, allegedly ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Trump is expected to veto them, and it will remain an uphill climb for Congress to come up with a two-thirds vote to overcome a veto.

At least seven Republicans joined Democrats in supporting each of three resolutions that would prevent the controversial sales announced earlier this year by Trump.

In a bipartisan effort, the Senate voted to block the sale of billions of dollars worth of arms to Saudi Arabia by a 53-45 margin today.

The U.S. says the unarmed drone was flying over worldwide waters but Iran says it was on a spy mission over its territorial waters.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cited threats from Iran when declaring an emergency to approve the weapons sales in May.

Saudi Arabia has expressed concern over a British court ruling that temporarily suspended new weapons sales to the kingdom, saying the move would only benefit its regional rival Iran.

Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have recently executed several attacks on Saudis, including the launch of a ballistic missile that struck a civilian airport in Saudi Arabia.

"To reject these sales at this time and under these circumstances is to reward recent Iranian aggression and to encourage further Iranian escalation", said Sen.

He also said that Iran would be the only beneficiary of any end to arms exports from Britain to Saudi Arabia, adding that the deployment of weapons in Yemen was legitimate.

The $8 billion arms sale included precision guided munitions, other bombs and ammunition and aircraft maintenance support.

The view of some congressmen about the alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia soured past year after the murder of US -based columnist and Muslim Brotherhood advocate Jamal Khashoggi by agents of the kingdom.

"UK advice, assistance and arms supplies to Saudi's war in Yemen is a moral stain on our country", Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said.

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, said the vote was a reminder that Congress could not be ignored.

"These are bombs that we know have killed thousands of civilians in Yemen, patients in hospitals, children on school buses", Menendez said.

Latest figures estimate that the death toll in the complex civil war in Yemen since 2016 is fast approaching 100,000 - although there is now a ceasefire - with almost 11,700 civilians killed in attacks that have directly targeted them.

"My relationship with Saudi Arabia is forever changed", he said, accusing Riyadh of taking their relationship with the U.S.

"There is no amount of oil that you can produce that will get me and others to give you a pass on chopping somebody up in a consulate", Graham said.

Other reports by iNewsToday