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A U.S. Airforce member near a Patriot missile battery at the Prince Sultan air base in Al-Kharj, in central Saudi Arabia in February. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency alerted Congress Tuesday about plans for a $290 million arms sale to Saudi Arabia that would include 3,000 precision guided munitions.

Why it matters: The State Department's approval of the potential deal in the Trump administration's final weeks comes despite President-elect Joe Biden vowing during his election campaign to end weapons sales to the Saudis.

Details: Saudi Arabia has requested to buy GBU-39 SDB I munitions, spare parts, U.S. Government and contractor engineering, weapon support, support equipment and other items and services, the Pentagon said in a statement. Boeing would be the principal contractor.

  • "The proposed sale will improve Saudi Arabia’s capability to meet current and future threats by increasing its stocks of long-range, precision air-to-ground munitions," the statement said.
  • "The size and accuracy of the SDB I allows for an effective munition with less collateral damage.  The potential sale will further strengthen the interoperability between the United States and Saudi Arabia."

Of note: The Trump administration's 2019 sale to Saudi Arabia drew bipartisan ire among lawmakers.

  • The State Department inspector general found last August that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acted legally when he bypassed Congress to approve the $8 billion in arms sale, but failed to "fully assess risks and implement mitigation measures to reduce civilian casualties" that resulted from the deal.
  • The Biden transition team declined to comment on the Pentagon's latest announcement, saying it "would not be appropriate for us to do so during the transition period." 

Correction: The estimated cost of the sale is $290 million, not $290 billion.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
Jan 11, 2021 - World

Pompeo's last-minute Yemen move sparks outrage in Congress

Photo: Patrick Semansky/Pool/AFP via Getty

The Trump administration is facing a revolt on Capitol Hill over Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's last-minute decision to designate Yemen's Houthi rebels as a terror group despite concerns the move will exacerbate the world's most dire humanitarian crisis.

Behind the scenes: A call the State Department held this morning to brief House and Senate committee staff on the Yemen move devolved into a shouting match and left staffers from both parties shocked by the apparent lack of a plan to ensure that food and aid continue to reach Yemeni civilians, millions of whom are already on the verge of famine.

Jan 11, 2021 - World

Jared Kushner briefed Jake Sullivan on Trump's Middle East policy

Kushner (C) in the Oval Office with Trump and Brian Hook. Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

Jared Kushner has briefed incoming national security adviser Jake Sullivan on the Trump administration’s Middle East policies, David Friedman, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to Israel, told a closed hearing in the Israeli parliament on Monday.

Why it matters: Friedman said Kushner had briefed Sullivan in particular on the Abraham Accords process through which four Arab countries have normalized relations with Israel, according to lawmakers who attended the hearing. Trump's advisers hope President-elect Biden will continue that process and encourage other countries like Saudi Arabia to sign on.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
29 mins ago - Economy & Business

First glimpse of the Biden market

Photo: Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images

Investors made clear what companies they think will be winners and which will be losers in President Joe Biden's economy on Wednesday, selling out of gun makers, pot purveyors, private prison operators and payday lenders, and buying up gambling, gaming, beer stocks and Big Tech.

What happened: Private prison operator CoreCivic and private prison REIT Geo fell by 7.8% and 4.1%, respectively, while marijuana ETF MJ dropped 2% and payday lenders World Acceptance and EZCorp each fell by more than 1%.

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