Several senate Republicans joined Bernie Sanders and Senate Democrats to pass a bill pulling all U.S. support from the Saudi-led war in Yemen on Thursday afternoon.
S.J. Res. 54, which is sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), would completely remove the U.S. military from all operations in Yemen, using the War Powers Act of 1973. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Steve Daines (R-Montana), Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), and Todd Young (R-Indiana) all voted with the Democrats. All the “no” votes came from Republicans.
As Sen. Sanders noted in a tweet, this is the first time Congress has ever invoked the War Powers Act, which was passed in order to provide Congress with a check on the White House if members of Congress feel the Commander-in-Chief has committed the U.S. to an armed conflict without the consent of the legislative branch. Sanders called the vote a “historic victory.”
HISTORIC VICTORY: The Senate has voted to stop U.S. military support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen. This is the first time ever that the Senate has voted to end an unauthorized war. https://t.co/8SLVTA5m2d
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 13, 2018
The Saudi war in Yemen began in 2015, when the Saudi regime started lending its support to the Yemeni government in its fight against Houthi rebels, who support the previous Yemeni head of state who was ousted in 2011 in the heyday of the Arab Spring movement.
Since then, the conflict in Yemen has become the worst ongoing humanitarian crisis in the world, according to the United Nations. Since 2015, international aid organization Save the Children estimates that 85,000 children have starved to death in Yemen as a result of the war, and millions are reportedly on the brink of starvation as the war rages on.
While the Saudi regime is leading the offensive, they have, so far, done so with the help of the U.S. military, which has been refueling Saudi aircraft and supplying the Saudi Arabian military with weapons. A Saudi attack on a Yemeni school bus full of children in August was conducted with a bomb made in the United States. 51 were killed in that airstrike, including 40 children.
U.S. support of Saudi Arabia has been one of the few things both the Trump and Obama administrations agreed upon. When she was Secretary of State under President Obama, Hillary Clinton called the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia a “top priority.” And in 2017, President Trump committed to sell $110 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia over the following 10 years.
The senate’s vote to pull U.S. support from the Yemen conflict comes on the heels of the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who Turkish police say was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul at the behest of Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. As of this writing, there have been no sanctions levied against Saudi Arabia in response to Khashoggi’s killing. President Trump has said he would veto the resolution if the House of Representatives voted to send it to his desk.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.