The Senate on Wednesday once again clashed with President Trump’s foreign policy and supported a resolution to cut off U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war.
Seven Republicans joined all members of the Democratic Caucus in backing the bill. This move was viewed as a chance to reassert Congress’ authority to declare war, and to rebuke the Trump administration over its posture toward Saudi Arabia in the wake of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“I think Republicans are just growing thin with Trump’s foreign policy, and they are more willing now to break with him now because they see his foreign policy getting more bizarre as time goes on,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said in an interview. He is a chief sponsor of the Yemen War Powers resolution.
The White House sent top Pentagon and State Department officials to Capitol Hill to convince lawmakers that the U.S. should remain involved in the conflict. But now, the War Powers measure will soon reach the president’s desk and he has already threatened to veto it.
This resolution on Yemen comes a day before the Senate is set to pass a resolution of disapproval that will formally admonish Trump over his recent national emergency declaration. Four Republican senators have already pledged to vote for the resolution, and at least half a dozen more are considering it. The president has threatened to veto that resolution, as well.
The president has firmly stated that his goal is to bring American troops home from war zones around the world. But Trump has long opposed the Yemen War Powers effort and argued that U.S. presence in the region is critical for counterterrorism operations and pushing back on Iran.
“This war is a humanitarian and a strategic disaster,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), another leader of the anti-war effort.
Some Republicans voted for the same measure in December in an effort to send a message to the Trump administration about its Saudi policies. They wanted to give the president a chance to reset the U.S.-Saudi Arabia relationship.
“It’s becoming clearer and clearer that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not an ally that deserves our unwavering, unquestioning, unflinching support,” said Utah Sen. Mike Lee, the lead Republican sponsor of the War Powers resolution. “It is not an ally that deserves our support or our military intervention.”
Before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urged senators to oppose the measure, calling it “unnecessary,” “inappropriate” and “unproductive.”
“Pulling the plug on support to our partners only undermines the very leverage and influence that we need to help facilitate the U.N.’s diplomatic efforts,” McConnell said. “The U.S. will be in a better position to encourage the Saudi-led coalition to take diplomatic risks if our partners trust that we appreciate the significant, legitimate threat they face from the Houthis.”