President Donald Trump quietly vetoed Wednesday three resolutions passed by Congress to end arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf nations.
In a series of veto statements sent to reporters, Trump described the resolutions as “ill-conceived and time-consuming” that failed to address the root causes of the conflicts in Yemen.
The White House argued the United States had a duty to defend more than 80,000 U.S. citizens in Saudi Arabia who were endangered by Houthi attacks from Yemen and the measure could prolong the conflict in Yemen by restricting arms sales.
The statements also argued that high-tech precision weapons sold to the Saudis would actually help reduce civilian casualties.
“While I share concerns that certain Members of Congress have expressed about civilian casualties of this conflict, the United States has taken and will continue to take action to minimize such casualties, including training and advising Saudi-led Coalition forces to improve their targeting processes,” the statement read.
Trump defended the administration’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, calling them an important foil to Iran.
“Saudi Arabia is a bulwark against the malign activities of Iran and its proxies in the region, and the licenses the joint resolution would prohibit enhance Saudi Arabia’s ability to deter and defend against these threats,” the statement read.
The Senate passed the resolution against Saudi Arabia in June with a vote of 53-45 that included seven Republicans.
In May, Trump declared an emergency to speed up $8.1 billion in arms sales to countries such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates to enhance protections against Iran.