Sen. Chris Murphy speaking on the Senate floor. YouTube

Washington – The Senate on Tuesday rejected an effort by Sen. Chris Murphy to block a portion of a $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

Joined by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Murphy sponsored a joint resolution of disapproval to halt $500 million of the sale President Donald Trump announced during his visit to Saudi Arabia last month.

The senators used a 1976 law that allows any senator to force a vote on halting overseas arms sales. But the Senate rejected their resolution on a 47-53 vote.

Murphy wanted to block the part of the package that included offensive weapons, including precision-guided munitions, to protest Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against rebel factions in Yemen, which the Saudi government sees as aligned with Iran. Saudi bombing strikes often target civilians, Murphy and other critics of the sale say.

Murphy has argued that the Yemenis are being “radicalized” by the Saudi strikes, and the arms sales would “give more space for ISIS and Al Qaeda to grow” in that nation.

Sikorsky’s UH-60M helicopter. Sikorsky Aircraft
Sikorsky’s UH-60M helicopter. Sikorsky Aircraft

The Saudi arms deal also includes a number of helicopters built by Sikorsky, including 14 MH-60Rs for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces, 19 UH-60 Utility Helicopters for Royal Saudi Land Forces and 30 UH-60 Search & Rescue Helicopters for the Royal Saudi Air Force. Murphy’s resolution would not have blocked the sale of those helicopters.

Although the Senate failed to block the sale, Murphy saw a victory in the vote because he picked up 20 votes since a similar resolution was voted on in the fall.

“The trend will continue,” Murphy said.

He also said the 47 votes in support of the resolution indicated a growing concern about the Saudi campaign in Yemen.

“I hope the Saudi’s hear this message loud and clear,” Murphy said.

Paul said, “I think the votes will continue to grow.”

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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