Published: Sat, March 16, 2019
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

US Senate votes to end support for Saudi-led war in Yemen

US Senate votes to end support for Saudi-led war in Yemen

The Senate voted 54-46 today to end United States support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels, the third time Congress has done so since December.

Seven Republicans crossed over to support the measure, S.J.Res. 7 As Amended, including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Steve Daines of Montana. Trump has vowed to veto the resolution if it passed through the Democrat-led House.

The measure was co-sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the resolution's author, told reporters before the vote. Mike Lee, R- Utah.

If the resolution passes both chambers of Congress, it would mark the first time that Congress has successfully invoked the War Powers Resolution to end US engagement in a conflict.

The Saudi-led coalition of Arab states intervened the following year, waging a destructive air campaign in support of Yemen's government.

"Today, we begin the process of reclaiming our constitutional authority by ending USA involvement in a war that has not been authorized by Congress and is clearly unconstitutional", Sen.

The White House has threatened to veto the bill, arguing that USA support for the Saudi coalition does not amount to "hostilities".

His legislation calls for an end to a US role in hostilities in Yemen, a nation of almost 30 million people at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, where fighting between the Saudi-backed government and the Houthi rebel movement, backed by Iran, has been raging for four years.

"By defining "hostilities" to include defense cooperation such as aerial refueling", the White House statement said, the Yemen resolution could also "establish bad precedent for future legislation".

The rivals Houthis - who are at war with the internationally recognized government and its backers from the Saudi-led coalition - hailed the Senate step, saying that US support has "prolonged the conflict". Lawmakers from both parties have criticized Trump for not condemning Saudi Arabia strongly enough for the killing.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had pleaded with colleagues not to pull the reins right now.

The Senate vote on Wednesday brought the Congress one step closer to an unprecedented rebuke of President Donald Trump's foreign policy.

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

"We need to stay engaged (in Yemen) with the limited engagement we've had", Risch said.

"Now that the new Senate has passed the resolution, the House needs to pass the same clean version of the resolution to finally send it to the president's desk", Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs at Peace Action, said. Five years of fighting has resulted in a devastating humanitarian crisis in the country.

"Remember, we're only getting a couple of Republicans and they're voting with us as a matter of conscience", said Sen.

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