Washington – In a sharp rebuke to President Donald Trump, the U.S. Senate on Thursday approved a resolution co-sponsored by Sen. Chris Murphy that would withdraw American military assistance for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.
“With this vote, Saudi Arabia just lost the support of Congress for their disastrous war in Yemen. A bipartisan majority spoke with one voice that the status quo is over and we will no longer accept the war crimes being committed in our name,” Murphy said.
The 56-to-41 vote on the resolution, which was also sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, was a rare move by the Congress to limit presidential war powers. It also sent a message of disapproval for a war that has killed thousands of civilians, many women and children, and engulfed Yemen in famine.
Seven Republicans joined all Democrats in voting for the resolution.
The Senate also approved, by voice vote on Thursday, a non-binding resolution to hold Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the heir to the Saudi throne, personally responsible for the October killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
The non-binding measure also calls on Saudi Arabia to “moderate its increasingly erratic foreign policy.”
While Murphy’s Yemen resolution has been blocked from consideration in the GOP -controlled U.S. House, Senate support for it and for the nonbinding resolution condemning bin Salman show lawmakers’ frustration at the Trump administration’s response to Khashoggi’s murder.
“Two years ago, when @RandPaul and I introduced a bill to cut arms sales to Saudi Arabia, only 27 senators voted with us,” Murphy tweeted. “Today, 56 voted to end U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen. Thank you to everyone that called and urged the Senate to vote on this resolution.”
Trump has maintained steadfast support for Saudi Arabia and bin Salman even though the CIA has concluded the crown price directed Khashoggi’s assassination.
Thursday’s Senate votes also set the stage for broader debates about U.S.-Saudi policy when the new Congress convenes in January.
Murphy plans to reintroduce his resolution. A bipartisan group of senators are also weighing other sanctions, including a ban on the sale of certain U.S. weapons to Saudi Arabia.
“The current relationship with Saudi Arabia is not working for America,” Sen. Lindsey Graham , R-S.C., said at a press conference in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. “I’m never going to let this go until things change in Saudi Arabia.”