U.S. Senate votes to end support for Saudi war in Yemen

From left Sen. Bernie Sanders I-Vt. Sen. Chris Murphy D-Conn. and Sen. Mike Lee R-Utah meet before holding a news conference on the Senate vote on ending U.S. support for the Saudi Arabian-led coalition fighting in Yemen at the Capitol in Washingt

From left Sen. Bernie Sanders I-Vt. Sen. Chris Murphy D-Conn. and Sen. Mike Lee R-Utah meet before holding a news conference on the Senate vote on ending U.S. support for the Saudi Arabian-led coalition fighting in Yemen at the Capitol in Washingt

The U.S. Senate will vote on Wednesday on a resolution to end Washington's support for the Saudi Arabia-led military campaign in Yemen, as lawmakers push President Donald Trump to toughen his policy toward the kingdom.

Lawmakers have never before invoked the War Powers Resolution of 1973 to stop a foreign conflict, but Wednesday's 54-46 vote brought them a step closer to doing just that in order to cut off US support for a war that has triggered a humanitarian catastrophe.

A similar measure was introduced in the US House in February, however, as The Hill reports, it "ran into a procedural roadblock" when it got to the US Senate, and was not able to be voted on in a manner that would allow it to pass with a simple majority vote, which in the Senate requires a total of 51 yeas.

On Thursday, the Senate is expected to vote on a resolution - already passed by the House - to reverse Trump's emergency declaration on border security, after the president went around Congress in a bid to secure more funding for his wall between the United States and Mexico.

Supporters of the War Powers Resolution argued the United States shouldn't be involved in the war without explicit permission from Congress. Opponents argued the U.S. does not have "boots on the ground" and is offering noncombat technical assistance to Saudi Arabia, an ally.

The resolution is a reminder that Congress has the legal ability to compel the removal of USA military forces, absent a formal declaration of war.

"We're helping a foreign power bomb its adversaries in what is undoubtedly, irrefutably, a war", said Republican Senator Mike Lee, who sponsored the resolution, urging a "yes" vote. It would be the first of his two-year-long presidency.

The four-year-long civil war in Yemen, which pits the Saudi-led coalition against Houthi rebels backed by Iran, has killed tens of thousands of people and spawned what the United Nations calls the world's most dire humanitarian crisis, with the country on the brink of starvation.

Senate rebukes Trump on Saudi, backs war powers resolution

Democrats and Republicans reintroduced the resolution two weeks ago as a way to send a strong message to Riyadh - and to Trump - about the humanitarian disaster in Yemen. Lawmakers from both parties have criticized Trump for not condemning Saudi Arabia strongly enough for the killing. He has also touted Saudi purchases of USA defense equipment as a generator of American jobs.

Wednesday's resolution will be considered in the now Democrat-led House of Representatives, and is thought likely to pass.

Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, argued that US support for the Saudi-led coalition helps facilitate peace talks and withdrawing from the conflict would delay an eventual political settlement.

The Senate had approved the war powers resolution in December, during the last Congress, the first time such a measure had passed the chamber.

"Peace envoys are telling us they want deeper USA engagement in this situation", Risch said in a statement following the vote.

"By defining "hostilities" to include defence co-operation such as aerial refueling", the White House statement said, the Yemen resolution could also "establish bad precedent for future legislation". But Republicans, who controlled the House until January, did not let it come up for a vote.

The vote may well be the first of two congressional rebukes of Trump in as many days.

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