Yemen War Powers

Sen. Bernie Sanders is moving toward a vote “hopefully next week” on a war powers resolution aimed at blocking U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, the Vermont senator told The Intercept on Monday.

An agreement for a ceasefire in Yemen between the Saudi-led alliance and the Houthis, who are backed by Iran, has expired, though both sides have tenuously maintained the peace. Backers of a war powers resolution say that a strong vote in the Senate in the lame duck will send a signal to Saudi Arabia that it does not have a free hand to restart hostilities, despite the Biden administration’s more placating posture amid its hunt for lower oil prices.

A war powers resolution is “privileged” in the Senate, which means that the sponsor of it can bring it to the floor for a vote without the need for approval by the chamber’s leadership once a certain amount of time has elapsed. At that point, the resolution has “ripened,” and the one sponsored by Sanders is now ripe.

Asked whether Sanders expected to have the votes to pass the resolution, Sanders said, “I think we do, yes.”

In 2019, Congress advanced a bipartisan version of the current Yemen war powers resolution, only to see it vetoed by President Donald Trump.

Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who both supported earlier versions of the bill, said they hadn’t seen draft text of the latest version of the resolution, and wouldn’t commit to how they would vote if Sanders brings the resolution to the floor. “I was not aware that it was on the docket next week,” Murkowski told The Intercept. (It’s not officially on the docket yet.)  “I hadn’t heard that, I guess we’ll find out. I’m going to take a look at it.” Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., also said he would “review it in full” before a vote.

Menendez, chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, has previously called for a “freeze” in U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia. “The United States must immediately freeze all aspects of our cooperation with Saudi Arabia, including any arms sales and security cooperation beyond what is absolutely necessary to defend U.S. personnel and interests,” he said in October. “As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I will not green-light any cooperation with Riyadh until the Kingdom reassesses its position with respect to the war in Ukraine. Enough is enough.”

Also in October, John Kirby, the White House national security spokesperson, responded to Saudi Arabia’s effort to jack up gas prices by questioning the solidity of the relationship between the two countries, saying the administration was prepared work with Congress “to think through what that relationship ought to look like going forward.”

Source : The Intercept

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