The House of Representatives rebuffed the Trump administration’s support for the Saudi Arabia-led military campaign in Yemen in a 247-175 vote, which follows the March 13 Senate vote of 54-46. The vote is notable for marking the first time that Congress invoked the War Powers Resolution to rein in the executive’s power to enter a foreign conflict without the approval of Congress.
Per ABC News, Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that the Yemen crisis “demands moral leadership.”
“The president will have to face the reality that Congress is no longer going to ignore its constitutional obligations when it comes to foreign policy.”
But Trump is expected to veto the vote, as the White House claims that it presents “serious constitutional concerns.” Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas agrees, and while he acknowledged the danger that civilians face as a result of the U.S.-backed military intervention in Yemen, he said that the measure could “disrupt U.S. security cooperation agreements with more than 100 countries.”
In November, the Pentagon succumbed to public and congressional demand for less involvement in the war and halted aerial refueling for Saudi warplanes initiating attacks on Yemen. According to Benjamin Friedman, policy director for the Defense Priorities think tank, the majority of the current U.S. involvement in the war is via intelligence support for the Saudi military, per The Guardian.
“It will be a mix of intelligence including signals intercepts, overhead surveillance from satellites and aircraft, including drones. Exactly just how dependent the Saudis and UAE are on the US is hard to say.”
Breaking News: The House again voted to end US military aid for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. The bill goes to President Trump next, and he’s likely to veto it. https://t.co/j6n1aCjq3z— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 4, 2019
The war in Yemen, which the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, has cost thousands of lives and thrown millions of civilians onto the verge of starvation.
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, who co-sponsored the resolution, claims that the crisis is not just humanitarian, highlighting the fact that U.S. weapons sold to Saudi Arabia and its allies have made their way to al-Qaida associates.
“This is a moral stain on this nation every day that we continue to take part in this war but it is also making this country much weaker.”
If Trump decides to veto the measure, Congress has other options: they can reconsider the terms of the U.S-Saudi Arabia alliance as well as the degree of arms sales to Riyadh, the kingdom’s capital. Not only that, the administration could pressure the Saudis to stop preventing medicine and food supplies from reaching the millions of starving Yemenis.