Weekend Reads: Senators clinch votes to rebuke Trump on Saudi arms sale - PressFrom - Canada

Weekend ReadsSenators clinch votes to rebuke Trump on Saudi arms sale

19:26  12 june  2019
19:26  12 june  2019 Source:   thehill.com

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Senators clinch votes to rebuke Trump on Saudi arms sale© Greg Nash Senators clinch votes to rebuke Trump on Saudi arms sale

Senators have locked in the votes needed for an initial move to block President Trump's Saudi arms sales, paving the way for a high-stakes veto showdown.

The Senate is expected to take up the 22 resolutions of disapproval as soon as next week, to block each of the sales, after Trump invoked an emergency provision under the Arms Export Control Act to push through the sales without a congressional review period.

Because lawmakers are challenging the sales under the same law, they need only a simple majority to send the resolutions to the president.

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WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of senators will try to force nearly two dozen votes rebuking the Trump administration’s decision to declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress and sell billions of dollars of munitions to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Donald Trump on June 10. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg. Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he now has enough votes to oppose President Donald Trump ’s decision to push ahead with billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and

With all 47 members of the Democratic caucus expected to support the resolutions, they needed to win over at least four Senate Republicans to have the simple majority needed to send the resolution to the House, where Democrats have pledged to follow suit with blocking the sales.

Three GOP senators - Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Todd Young (Ind.) - signed on as sponsors when the resolutions were rolled out last week. A spokesman on Tuesday confirmed that Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has signed on as a co-sponsor, giving Democrats their crucial fourth vote.

The unprecedented move to block the sales reflects growing frustration on Capitol Hill about the U.S.-Saudi relationship and would come after two votes fell short in recent years to block arms deals with Saudi Arabia. One, in 2016, garnered support from only 27 senators. The other, in June 2017, had the backing of 47 senators.

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Senators allow floor vote on cutting US military aid for Yemen war as Mattis and Pompeo fail to dampen unease about US- Saudi ties. It may yet be significantly amended, it would not stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, and would face an uphill challenge to be passed

Senators have been introducing legislation aimed at blocking the sale of weapons to the kingdom, in opposition of the Trump administration's Saudi policy. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a Democrat, and Sen . Todd Young of Indiana, a Republican, said in a statement Sunday they hope to force a vote on

Since then, U.S.-Saudi relations have soured further amid growing concerns about Saudi Arabia's involvement in the years-long Yemen civil war and the death of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Democrats could also pick up Republican support in addition to the four votes they already have.

GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Steve Daines (Mont.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Jerry Moran (Kan.), along with Young, Paul and Lee, each voted with Democrats on a resolution to end support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen. If each of them votes for the resolution of disapproval on the arms sales, that would give supporters at least eight Republican "yes" votes.

Collins said she is "inclined to" back the resolution of disapproval to block the sale to Saudi Arabia.

"On the Saudi ones, my inclination, unless the language has changed, is to support the resolution indicating disapproval given that the administration has failed to produce a report on Khashoggi's death," Collins said. "And also I think Congress should be playing a role."

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Senate defies Trump , rebuking Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi killing. The arms sales are moving forward, the person said. "Delaying these shipments could cause degraded systems Though GOP leaders oppose holding such votes , the law lets Congress force them regardless, allowing members

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Murkowski, meanwhile, said she hadn't made a decision, while Daines said he is supporting the sale.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), part of the group sponsoring the resolutions, predicted that as many as 70 senators may vote to block Trump's arms deal.

"We'll be somewhere in between 55 and 70," Murphy told The Hill on Tuesday.

Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, appeared equally confident about the vote outcome.

"It's just a question of process at this point," he said.

Several GOP members of the Foreign Relations Committee have yet to say how they will vote.

"I have no problem with the sale of defensive weaponry. The problem I have is the process by which it was done, trying to get around the congressional role in it. I think it's deeply problematic and it sets a terrible precedent," said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a senior member of the panel.

Asked what that meant for the arms sale votes, he said he's "potentially supporting the resolution" but also wants to look at making broader changes to how the administration is able to use the "emergency" declaration to sidestep Congress.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he plans to vote against any resolution to block arms sales and for sustaining a veto from the One of the measures, from Murphy (D-Conn.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) would request a report on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, which could lead

Trump said Thursday that he’s not interested in stopping arms sales to Saudi Arabia, 0 billion of which he rolled out during a trip to the kingdom However, any move that senators can make against Saudi arms deals couldn’t begin until Congress is formally notified of the next sale , which Murphy

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) said he is talking with the administration about what effect the arms sales have on countering Iran's influence in the Middle East. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who has had high-profile moments of opposition to Trump, said that while he has concerns about the process, he supports the arms sales.

"I support the Saudi arms sale. I'm concerned about the process the administration has undertaken, and that's something I'm taking a look at," he said.

The 22 sales, which will also send weapons to the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, include precision-guided bombs, Patriot missiles, mortar rounds, drones, fighter jet parts and other military support.

The administration has said there's a heightened threat from Iran as its justification for invoking the emergency sales.

"These sales and the associated emergency certification are intended to address the military need of our partners in the face of an urgent regional threat posed by Iran; promote the vitality of our bilateral relationships by reassuring our partners; and preserve strategic advantage against near-peer competitors," R. Clarke Cooper, the assistant secretary of State for political-military affairs, will tell the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, according to excerpts released by the State Department.

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“I’ve offered two prior disapproval motions on Saudi arms sales , and Lindsey led the opposition to my prior attempts to stop Saudi arms sales .” They would later need at least 67 votes to override Trump ’s likely veto. Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate . “We’ve already got three

The Senate bid to stop the Saudi arms sales is likely to fail. As President Donald Trump aligns with Saudi Arabia amid a fresh dispute among Gulf nations, senators in both parties as Several senior Democrats who voted to allow Obama's Saudi sale are now shifting to oppose Trump 's weapons

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday he will support the arms sales, but he acknowledged it would likely come to a veto-override vote, similar to the vote to pull troops from Yemen. Trump vetoed the Yemen resolution, and Congress was unable to override the veto.

"I'm as offended as everyone is by the behavior of the Saudis in the Khashoggi case. On the other hand, I think [not] fracturing the relationship we have with the Saudis, one of our best allies against our Iranian enemies, is important," McConnell said. "I, for myself, am going to support the sale, and therefore I will be voting against the resolution of disapproval and for sustaining the veto when it comes back."

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's (R-Calif.) office did not respond to a request for comment on his position regarding the arms sales.

But it's unlikely that opponents of the arms sales will have enough votes to get the two-thirds necessary in each chamber to override an all-but-guaranteed Trump veto. If an override vote fails in the Senate, it would not be taken up in the House.

Graham said he expects a "good bipartisan vote," but declined to tip his hand as to how many Republican senators he thinks he can bring with him.

"I don't know, won't know 'till we get there. But I think there'll be strong bipartisan support," he said when asked if he thought there would be enough support to override a veto.

Murphy added that he expects the administration will pull out all the stops to keep the Senate's initial vote on blocking the arms sales below the 67-vote veto threshold.

"The administration will put the press on to make sure the number stays below 67," he said. "I think we'll have our work cut out for us to beat the administration."

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