The US Senate, defying President Donald Trump’s alliance with Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh and his foreign policy, on Wednesday voted to end the country’s support for Saudi Arabia-led airstrikes in Yemen. The country provides weapons and refueling to the Saudi coalition.
The lawmakers in the Republican-controlled chamber voted with a 54 to 46 majority, thus approving the presidential war powers which direct President Trump “to remove the United States Armed Forces from hostilities in or affecting the Republic of Yemen” within 30 days.
The seven Republicans who defied the President aligned with the Democrats.
The White House, calling the move “flawed”, threatened a veto and said it would harm the bilateral relations between the two countries and hurt Washington’s ability to fight extremism.
However, if the resolution is passed fully, it will become a historic move as it will be the first measure by the US Congress to invoke the 1973 War Powers Resolution to directly put limit on the President’s use of military powers.
“Today, we begin the process of reclaiming our constitutional power by ending US involvement in a war that has not been authorized by Congress and is clearly unconstitutional,” Senator Bernie Sanders, who is a presidential candidature for the 2020 elections, said on the Senate floor.
Republican Senator Mike Lee agreed to Sanders statement, and said “Saudi Arabia is not an ally that deserves our support or our military intervention. The Saudis are likely using our own weapons… to commit these atrocities of war. That’s not OK.”
The Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen are the world’s worst humanitarian crisis with approximately 14 million people at risk. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), almost 10,000 people have been killed.
The death toll in the war, which is between forces loyal to the Yemeni government, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, and the Iran-aligned Huthi rebels, might increase, said the WHO.
If the resolution is passed, it could be the first instance of Donald Trump issuing his tenure’s first veto.
The Senate is expected to vote on a resolution to reverse Trump’s emergency declaration on border security issue with Mexico on Thursday, which is already passed by the House.
In that case too, Trump has promised to use his veto.
The Senate’s vote on Yemen war came as US lawmakers have escalated their opposition to Saudi Arabia after the October murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
Some members of Congress have publicly stated that they suspect that powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was directly responsible for the killing, based on the CIA’s conclusions.
With inputs from agencies