Published: Fri, March 15, 2019
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Senate Passes War Powers Resolution to End Complicity in Yemen War

Senate Passes War Powers Resolution to End Complicity in Yemen War

The Republican-led U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved a resolution seeking to end U.S. support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in the war in Yemen, in a rebuke of President Donald Trump's policy toward the kingdom.

His legislation calls for an end to a USA role in hostilities in Yemen, a nation of almost 30 million people at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, where fighting between the Saudi-backed government and the Houthi rebel movement, backed by Iran, has been raging for four years.

"Congressional authority over war was created to avoid the type of situation that's been unfolding in Yemen, where unauthorized US military support began without public debate or scrutiny", Martin said.

The measure was put to vote under the War Powers Act, which allows the resolution to be fast-tracked through US Congress.

No presidential military commitment has ever been ended by vote of Congress under the War Powers Resolution.

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Danny Burch, a former U.S. hostage in Yemen, during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 6, 2019. "In too many cases our weapons are being used to kill civilians". Mike Lee of Utah.

Wednesday's Yemen vote, and the rare bipartisanship at the heart of it, came as US lawmakers have escalated their opposition to Saudi Arabia after the October murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul. Lawmakers from both parties have called for a reappraisal of the U.S. -Saudi relationship and accused Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Khashoggi's murder, even as Trump has stood by him.

In a Senate floor speech ahead of the vote, Sanders said that Congress is reclaiming its constitutional war powers to end America's complicity in a humanitarian crisis.

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The measure will move to the Democrat-controlled House, where it is expected to pass. Trump has threatened to veto the resolution, which the White House says raises "serious constitutional concerns".

"By defining "hostilities" to include defense cooperation such as aerial refueling", the statement said, the Yemen resolution could also "establish bad precedent for future legislation".

"We need to stay engaged with the limited engagement that we have", said Senator Jim Risch, the Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

The resolution passed by 54 votes to 46 and called to "direct the removal of US Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorised by Congress".

In a Senate floor speech ahead of the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urged his colleagues to oppose the resolution, which he said would limit US leverage to end the conflict and pressure to help Saudi pilots avoid civilian casualties.

"Now that the new Senate has passed the resolution, the House needs to pass the same clean version of the resolution to finally send it to the president's desk", Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs at Peace Action, said.

The seven Republicans who backed Wednesday's vote were Sens.

"Today, we begin the process of reclaiming our constitutional power by ending USA involvement in a war that has not been authorized by Congress and is clearly unconstitutional", said independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, sponsor of the measure.

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