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Senate Passes Resolution Calling for End to American Assistance in Yemen

Burying Bodies, Yemen
Stringer/AFP/Getty Images
SEAN MORAN

The Senate passed a resolution on Thursday which calls for the end of American assistance to Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.

The Senate passed S.J. Res. 54 on Thursday, 56-41, featuring strong bipartisan support for the resolution. The resolution calls for President Donald Trump to remove American armed forces from hostilities affecting Yemen within 30 days.

The Senate passed a motion to proceed on the legislation on Wednesday. A bipartisan populist coalition consisting of Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) has pushed for the resolution since March, calling for America to end its involvement in a conflict in which Congress did not provide authorization, as per the Constitution.

The Senate also passed an amendment to the Yemen resolution sponsored by Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) which would prevent American armed forces from refueling non-American aircraft as part of the Yemen civil war.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who has pushed for a less interventionist foreign policy for years, cheered the passage of the Yemen resolution in a statement Thursday. Sen. Paul said:

Today, in an historic vote, the Senate sent a clear message to Saudi Arabia that we will not turn a blind eye to their abuse of human rights, killing of dissidents and innocent Yemenis, and fueling of a humanitarian crisis. Since entering the Senate, I have spoken out against Congress’ abdication of its constitutional responsibilities in foreign policy, and I have worked across the aisle to help build the bipartisan consensus that made its voice loudly heard today. I will continue working to ensure that today’s victory is just the beginning of a long-awaited change in how Congress operates.

Sanders, a key sponsor of the resolution, tweeted on Thursday, “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.”

The House could not vote on a similar resolution this week because lame duck Speaker Paul Ryan attached a rule to the Conference Report on the 2018 Farm bill which prevented the House from voting on the Yemen resolution. Republicans had enough votes to block the rule, however, five Democrats joined Ryan to allow the rule to pass.

Ryan’s actions serve as a rare instance in which matters of foreign policy were attached to domestic policy. Ryan blocked a resolution by Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) in November by including language in the Manage Our Wolves Act that would block a vote on America’s involvement in Yemen.

Khanna called Ryan’s move this week “unprecedented” and contended that Congress abdicated its constitutional responsibility to authorize or de-authorize military conflict.

Massie, in an interview with Breitbart News on Wednesday, said that American involvement in Yemen was not “America First.”

Massie told Breitbart News, “This is definitely not America First. We shouldn’t be spending our blood and treasure in the Middle East, and furthermore on another level, we shouldn’t be jeopardizing the passage of domestic policy and domestic spending with a foreign policy/ war issue.”

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