Washington D.C., Jul 30, 2019 / 07:40 am
The Senate on Monday failed to override President Trump’s veto of their attempts to block over $8 billion in arms transfers to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
“All evidence suggests that the Saudis have intentionally targeted hospitals, bridges, power stations, apartment buildings, weddings, schools and even a school bus filled with children, leaving thousands of Yemeni civilians killed or maimed,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) stated July 29 on the Senate floor.
“Over the years Congress has received many assurances about how U.S. arms sales, advice and assistance would supposedly help the Saudi Air Force and command authority better identify military targets and thereby reduce risk to civilians,” he said.
“Those assurances no longer stand. We cannot brand the sale of precision-guided munitions as ‘humanitarian’ weapons if the Saudis are intentionally targeting civilians in the first place.”
The sale of munitions and equipment, as part of the broader alliance of the two countries, was criticized because of Saudi Arabia’s widely-publicized human rights abuses. Critics of the arms deal have objected to the use of U.S.-supplied weapons and weapons systems in the ongoing civil war in Yemen between Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the Saudi Arabia-backed government.
The State Department in May used emergency authoritu under the Arms Control Export Act to approve the 22 arms transfers to Jordan, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia without congressional consent.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the transfers, totaling over $8 billion, were for the purposes of regional stability and support for U.S. allies in deterrence of “Iranian aggression.”
In June, the Senate passed resolutions of disapproval of the arms transfers in an attempt to block the move. Three of the resolutions, S.J.Res. 36, 37 and 38, were sponsored by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and passed by the Senate on June 20 and the House on July 17. They were vetoed by President Trump last Wednesday, who said that the resolutions would “damage the important relationships we share with our allies and partners.”