US House Passes Amendments to Limit War in Yemen

Beginning on Thursday afternoon, the House began voting on amendments to the $733 billion military spending bill for 2020 (NDAA). This included a number of successful amendments aimed at limiting the US war in Yemen, and prohibiting US arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates related to this war.

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House Passes Amendments to Limit Yemen War in NDAA

The House of Representatives have begun voting on amendments to the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. There are an estimated 441 amendments awaiting vote, and this article will be updated as more vote results become available.

Beginning on Thursday afternoon, the House began voting on amendments to the $733 billion military spending bill for 2020 (NDAA). This included a number of successful amendments aimed at limiting the US war in Yemen, and prohibiting US arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates related to this war.

Early votes were all successful. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) had two amendments passed:

Amendment 23: Blocks funding for assistance to continue hostilities in Yemen (239-187)
Amendment 24: Prohibits transfer of defense articles or services to Saudi Arabia & UAE (246-180)

These were followed by Amendment 26 from Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), which prohibited all support of Saudi military operation against Yemen’s Houthis. This too passed 240-185.

More votes are expected, though the exact order and timing of the votes is not apparent. Another foreign policy related amendment, Amendment 31 from Rep. Elliott Engel (D-NY), which called for the extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), passed 236-189.

Senators Propose Visa Restrictions for Saudi Royals

A bipartisan Senate bill, S.2066, is looking to continue the efforts to punish Saudi Arabia over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, without provoking a veto from President Trump. The bill includes some limits on US arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

But the more novel aspect of the bill is a travel restriction pushed by Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), is that it would deny visas to all members of the Saudi royal family until the kingdom makes major improvements on human rights.

While past legislation calling for improvements in human rights just ask for the administration to sign off arbitrarily, this legislation is said to make some very specific demands, including the release of dozens of dissidents.

While Trump has generally vetoed everything remotely anti-Saudi, reports indicate that the White House has offered tacit support to this bill as a compromise on the matter, which would allow them to show some toughness toward the Saudis without threatening the bulk of the arms sales.

House Moves Again to Cut Off Support to Saudi War in Yemen

The House voted on Thursday to cut off American support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen and to prevent the Trump administration from using its emergency authority to transfer munitions to the kingdom, delivering twin rebukes as Democrats sought to leave their stamp on military policy.

The votes were the opening salvo as Democrats begin an amendment blitz that could reshape Congress’s annual defense policy bill to broadly restrict the president’s war powers and serve as an indictment of the president’s foreign policy.

The bill is shaping up as the next ideological test for Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she tries to balance the interests of the freshman centrists representing Republican-leaning districts with those of her left flank, which might resist passing a military policy bill that does not reflect its liberal priorities. Some liberal members have complained about the sprawling bill’s total military spending — $733 billion — but moderates are reluctant to cut that number, which is already below President Trump’s demands and the Senate’s $750 billion.

GOP senator: US should ‘reevaluate’ long-term relationship with Saudis

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said Thursday the U.S. needs to “reevaluate” its relationship with Saudi Arabia as the kingdom faces bipartisan scrutiny over its involvement in the killing of a journalist and the civil war in Yemen.

“We need to really reevaluate our long-term relationship with Saudi Arabia. We have a strategic interest in terms of working closely with them, but they are in complete violation, and specifically the crown prince, of our American values,” Barrasso, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on CNN.

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