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Exclusive — Democrat Rep. Ro Khanna: ‘I’d Love to Have 15 Minutes’ with Trump for a Bipartisan Coalition Meeting on Ending Yemen War

Trump, Ro Khanna
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MATTHEW BOYLE
Washington, D.C.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), a progressive Democrat, told Breitbart News exclusively that he would love to meet with President Donald Trump along with a bipartisan coalition of members of Congress to pitch the president on signing the War Powers Resolution to end the unconstitutional war in Yemen.

As part of his exclusive interview with Breitbart News on crossing party lines to work with Trump on ending America’s foreign entanglements around the globe, Khanna said he is willing to put together a bipartisan coalition of Democrats and Republicans to meet with President Trump to pitch him on ending U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen. Khanna said he is willing to put partisan politics aside because he sees a major opportunity here to stop this war once and for all.

“What the most urgent thing we need to do is have the Saudis stop the blockade of Yemen,” Khanna said. “That could cause a famine of almost 14 million people, an unfathomable humanitarian catastrophe. It’s because they’re blockading Yemen. We should completely stop refueling. The administration has put it on halt, but we should completely stop it—and we should stop any targeting assistance. Let’s be very clear: the Saudis and United Arab Emirates are supplying arms to al-Qaeda in Yemen, and those arms are being used to fight American troops. These aren’t our friends when it comes to our interests in Yemen.”

The United States has been, since the administration of former President Barack Obama, backing the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war. Obama never sought nor received congressional approval for the action, despite the fact he was having the U.S. military refuel Saudi bombers and providing targeting assistance to the Saudis in their bombing runs. The Trump administration continued this policy at the beginning of the Trump presidency, but under public pressure, especially from Congress, the administration has course corrected and stopped the refueling of the Saudi fighter planes.

Khanna has led an effort in the House of Representatives to invoke the War Powers Act, with a War Powers Resolution, to stop the U.S. involvement on behalf of the Saudis in Yemen’s civil war. The War Powers Act, passed in 1973 in reaction to the highly unpopular Vietnam War, allows Congress an additional check and balance on the executive branch should the president ever get too far afield away from Congress’s authority to declare war—a power for the legislative enshrined in the Constitution by the Founding Fathers. Richard Nixon vetoed the War Powers Act in 1973, but Congress overwhelmingly overrode the veto.

A War Powers Resolution stopping the U.S. involvement in Yemen’s civil war first passed the U.S. Senate in late 2018, the first time either chamber of Congress has ever invoked the statute to roll back executive powers since its inception in 1973. The House has passed a similar measure this year, as has the Senate again. Now, the two chambers are working on reconciling their versions of the bill, and Khanna said he expects to send it to the president’s desk with broad bipartisan support soon—and he hopes Trump will sign it. Khanna also said he is willing to meet with Trump as part of a bipartisan coalition of Democrats and Republicans, including several of Trump’s top allies, such as House Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)—both of whom also support the measure to stop the U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen. Khanna said that by signing this into law, Trump would be fulfilling a major commitment he made in his State of the Union address to end foreign wars.

“Our War Powers Resolution has passed the Senate,” Khanna said. “It’s going to pass the House and go to the president’s desk. I’m hopeful that the president will sign it. I have spoken to the president a number of times on different occasions when he’s signed my bills. I’d love to have 15 minutes with him and a bipartisan group so we can make the case to the president that signing the War Powers Resolution is about ending endless wars. It’s actually consistent with what he said in the State of the Union that he wanted to do, and it would be a big statement for him to sign it. We could open a meeting, maybe Mark Meadows, myself, Rand Paul, a bipartisan group, to at least allow us to make the case that he should sign it.”

Khanna added that it would be in Trump’s “political interest” to sign this Yemen resolution into law when it does reach his desk.

“It’s passed in the House too; we just have to match the versions—which we will in a week or two,” Khanna said. “It’s passed in the House; that was historic. It passed in the Senate; that was historic. The president signing this, that would be—it would be such a big statement recognizing Congress’s role on matters of war and peace and recognizing that we shouldn’t be in interventions overseas that aren’t in our strategic interest. In candor, the president has already ordered the Defense Department to stop refueling; that was a constructive step. [Former Defense] Secretary [James] Mattis was constructive. I was talking to Marty Griffiths, the special envoy to the U.N. He said Secretary Mattis called the Saudis after … the Senate passed the resolution, and he said the Saudis needed to come to the peace table, and that was one of the reasons we got the cease-fire in Hodeidah. So the administration recognizes the ‘humanitarian crisis’ and they are taking—or maybe—they’ve done a 180 from their policy about a year-and-a-half ago when they were refueling. The final thing the president could do would be to sign this War Powers Resolution. It would be in his political interest, and it would particularly be in his political interest given all of the current focus on the conversations that Tom Barrack or [Jared] Kushner were having with MBS [Mohammad Bin Salman, the Saudi Crown Prince].”

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