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

President Donald Trump
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