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Lindsey Graham leads bipartisan effort to block Trump's Saudi arms sales

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and President Trump.
Trump meets with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office, March 20, 2018. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced 22 joint resolutions condemning weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates without Congressional approval after the Trump administration circumvented lawmakers last month to secure $8.1 billion in arms sales with the two nations.

What's happening: Congress has authority to review all arms sales. However, the Trump administration argued that increased Iranian threats warranted a national security "emergency" to push through the package without congressional approval.

Per a statement from Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul and Todd Young along with Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez, Patrick Leahy, Chris Murphy and Jack Reed, the action was critical "to protect and reaffirm Congress' role of approving arms sales to foreign governments."

Between the lines: The United States' relationship with Saudi Arabia has grown more tense since Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed under order of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman last year.

"Now is not the time to do business as usual with Saudi Arabia," Graham said.

  • The Senate also voted in March to end military support of the Saudi-led conflict with Yemen, which Trump vetoed.

What's next: Should the measures be approved by Congress, the resolutions will land on Trump's desk. If Trump vetos them, Congress will need a two-thirds vote to override.

Go deeper: Trump administration approved Saudi nuclear transfers after Khashoggi murder