WASHINGTON – The Senate rejected Tuesday a resolution that would prohibit AMERICAN troops from the help of a Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen. Still, the unusual mood, such as Saudi Arabia, the crown prince was in Washington intensified, and the continued unease in the Congress with military efforts abroad.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warned senators against the measure. But the GOP leader had little choice but to use the vote that was forced by the coalition of liberal and libertarian-leaning lawmakers, under the leadership of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. They argued Congress must not cede its war authority to the White House.
The resolution, which would stop AMERICAN military involvement in Saudi-campaign against iran-backed Houthi rebels, was filed, 55-44, effectively shelving it for now.
“The founding fathers gave the power to authorize military conflicts to the Congress, the branch most accountable to the people, not the president,” Sanders said during the floor debate. “The time is long overdue for the Congress to reaffirm that the constitutional authority.”
It is the last attempt at a war authorization vote as legislators regularly ask about the overseas military actions, but are not able to muster enough votes in Congress to halt, or to approve.
Congress last authorized the use of military force in Afghanistan in 2003. This authorisation is used by the President, Donald Trump, and President Barack Obama for him to justify US military intervention in Syria and other unstable areas where extremist groups operate.
Supporters were pushing the resolution forward, but Tuesday’s vote came as the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman opened a three-week tour of the United States in the meetings with the Trumpet in the White House and leaders on Capitol Hill.
The Pentagon against the measure, and informed the senators last week about the US role, which mainly involves filling up in Saudi jets and provide information, military advice and logistical support. No AMERICAN troops to fight Houthis immediately, officials say.
Secretary of defense Jim Mattis has strongly defended what he calls the AMERICAN non-combat support for the Saudi war in Yemen.
“New limitations on this limited U.S. military support could increase civilian casualties, jeopardize the cooperation with our partners on combating terrorism and reducing our influence with the saudis which would further worsen the situation and the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, Mattis wrote in a recent letter to McConnell.
Both in the united states and saudis view the Houthis as an Iranian proxy. Mattis said that the withdrawal of AMERICAN support would embolden Iran to increase its support for the Houthis.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, urged the senators against the decision, with the promise of a full debate about the use of violence against a forthcoming session in April.
“We are not afraid of this debate,” Corker said. “The right way to deal with these issues, and to deal with them in the commission.”
The panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, a meeting with the crown prince before the vote, and meant the difficult debate ahead. While Menendez said he was not ready to abandon an ally, that he expects to see diplomatic measures and to alleviate the human suffering in Yemen.
“My vote today is not a blank cheque for US military support,” Menendez said. Nor, he said, was a “thumbs up” to Saudi Arabia for the “business as usual.”
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