May 24, 2019

Trump to circumvent Congress to sell weapons benefitting Saudi Arabia, UAE

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed to lawmakers on Friday that President Trump will invoke an emergency provision allowing him to bypass Congress to sell nearly $8 billion worth of weapons that would benefit Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, reports the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The "rare" move to declare an emergency in an effort to push through 22 arms deals is troubling to both Republican and Democratic lawmakers who are concerned that the White House is tipping the system of checks and balances, per the Post. Some fear that selling weapons to Gulf nations could fan the flames of tension between the U.S. and Iran, per the New York Times.

The context:

  • The U.S. has previously sold weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. What worries lawmakers is the use of these weapons against civilians in Yemen, per the New York Times.
  • Both the House and Senate passed a resolution to cut off American support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen, but Trump vetoed the legislation.
  • Saudi Arabia has been using American-made weapons against Iranian-backed groups in the Yemeni Civil War.

What they're saying: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) has been blocking the sale of weapons and released a statement saying Trump is ignoring long-term U.S. security interests and "granting favors to authoritarian countries like Saudi Arabia," per the Washington Post.

Go deeper: Why the U.S. got (and stayed) involved in Yemen's brutal war

Go deeper

New Zealand sets sights on coronavirus elimination after 2 weeks of lockdown

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gives a coronavirus media update at the New Zealand Parliament in Wellington. Photo: Mark Mitchell - Pool/Getty Images

AUCKLAND -- New Zealand has flattened the curve of novel coronavirus cases after two weeks of lockdown and the next phase is to "squash it," Professor Shaun Hendy, who heads a scientific body advising the government on COVID-19, told Axios.

Why it matters: The country imposed 14 days ago some of the toughest restrictions in the world in response to the pandemic, despite confirming only 102 cases and no deaths at the time.

Go deeperArrow48 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2:30 a.m. ET: 1,431,375 — Total deaths: 82,145 — Total recoveries: 301,543Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2:30 a.m. ET: 399,886 — Total deaths: 12,910 — Total recoveries: 22,461Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Acting Navy secretary resigns over handling of virus-infected ship — Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill — Trump said he "didn't see" memos from his trade adviser Peter Navarro warning that the crisis could kill more than half a million Americans.
  4. States latest: California Gov. Gavin Newsom is confident that more than 200 million masks will be delivered to the state "at a monthly basis starting in the next few weeks."
  5. Business latest: America's food heroes in times of the coronavirus crisis. Even when the economy comes back to life, huge questions for airlines will remain.
  6. World updates: China reopens Wuhan after 10-week coronavirus lockdown.
  7. 2020 latest: Polls for Wisconsin's primary elections closed at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday, but results won't be released until April 13. Thousands of residents cast ballots in person.
  8. 1 Olympics thing: About 6,500 athletes who qualified for the Tokyo Games will keep their spots in 2021.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Tariff worries hit record high amid coronavirus outbreak

Data: CivicScience, margin of error ±1 percentage points; Chart: Axios Visuals

Concern about President Trump's tariffs on U.S imports grew to record high levels among Americans last month, particularly as more lost their jobs and concern about the novel coronavirus increased.

Driving the news: About seven in 10 people said they were at least somewhat concerned about tariffs in March, according to the latest survey from CivicScience provided first to Axios.