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New resolution would pull U.S. support from Saudis in Yemen war

Sens. Bernie Sanders and Mike Lee introducing their joint resolution.
Sens. Bernie Sanders and Mike Lee introducing their joint resolution. Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

A bipartisan resolution was introduced in Congress on Thursday by Sens. Bernie Sanders, Chris Murphy, and Mike Lee, to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in the war in Yemen.

Why it matters: Yemen has been completely torn apart by the conflict between the Houthi rebel forces and the Saudi-led coalition which supports President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. The U.S. military has been supporting the Saudi coalition since the Obama administraiton. Sanders, Lee, and Murphy argue that Congress did not approve involvement, and therefore the U.S. should not be involved "beyond providing desperately needed humanitarian aid."

What they're doing

  • The lawmakers are citing the War Powers Act of 1973, which limits a presidents power to enter into war without Congress' authorization.
  • They wrote in a Washington Post op-ed: "It is true that the president may order military operations in limited emergency situations...But the far-off civil war in Yemen, while tragic, is not an emergency."
  • Also in the Post, they say: "Under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF)...any U.S. military action in Yemen must be limited and only directed against groups affiliated with al-Qaeda...Engaging in a war against Yemeni Houthi rebels does not qualify."
  • Sen. Sanders said in a press release: "We believe that, as Congress has not declared war or authorized military force in this conflict, the United States involvement in Yemen is unconstitutional and unauthorized, and U.S. military support of the Saudi coalition must end."
  • Former U.S. Ambassador to Yemen, Stephen Seche, told Axios: "The joint resolution introduced today in the Senate reflects deepening Congressional concern over U.S. complicity in the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Yemen as a result of material support being provided by our armed forces to the Saudi-led coalition’s nearly three-year war against the Houthi rebels."

What the Pentagon is doing

  • The Huffington Post reported on Wednesday that the DOD's acting general counsel said in a letter: "It has been the longstanding view of the Executive Branch that 'hostilities' refers to 'a situation in which units of U.S. armed forces are actively engaged in exchanges of fire with opposing units of hostile forces.' U.S. personnel providing support to the KSA-led coalition are not engaged in any such exchange of fire."

What to watch for

  • The lawmakers said on Thursday they would "try to move it through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee," the Washington Post reports.
  • This could get interesting: Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is planning to visit the U.S. in late March.
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